Readers' letters: Love of Westminster is blinding Murray

Once again, Ian Murray’s tribal adherence to West-minster rule blinds him to the numerous measures the Scottish government has taken to mitigate the worst excesses of current Tory government (News, 12 May).

By The Newsroom
Monday, 16th May 2022, 7:00 am

Labour has consistently opposed giving our Scottish parliament significant fiscal powers, yet the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has shown that the SNP policies on tax and benefits have created a fairer, more progressive system than is in place in the rest of the UK - including Labour-run Wales.

The reluctance of the UK government to impose a windfall tax on energy companies is down to the fact that it will boost next year’s GERS figures and ignores that in 2019 Norway earned $21.35 from every barrel of oil compared to $1.72 in the UK and all profits made from oil and gas extraction in Norway are subject to a 78 per cent windfall tax yet this has not deterred investment in the Norwegian North Sea area.

As well as high energy costs, thanks to Brexit, and the poor handling of Covid, the UK economy will be sluggish for at least five years yet Labour merely wants Brexit done better rather than supporting Scotland’s opportunity to escape the cost of living crisis as a thriving independent member of the EU just like Denmark, Finland and Ireland.

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Mary Thomas, Edinburgh.

UK energy strategy no help to Scotland

The UK energy strategy won’t alleviate the climate crisis. The FT branded it cowardly, incoherent and a missed opportunity.

It prioritises extracting more oil and gas, which Scotland was told in 2014 would run out in five years, and building hugely expensive nuclear plants when there is no solution for nuclear waste. It fails Scotland in three ways.

First, the privatised National Grid charges Scottish energy companies ten times what English companies pay for grid connection. It won’t connect Scottish offshore wind for a decade and won’t invest in renewable energy storage facilities that could save consumers millions.

Scots pay the highest energy costs in the UK, an absurdity since Scotland produces a quarter of UK renewable energy. Scotland has enough wind, solar, tidal and hydro energy for its own needs and more but needs investment. Second, the strategy makes consumers foot the nuclear bill because private companies won’t take the risk of paying for uneconomic reactors.

Unlike renewables, nuclear costs are rising. When finished, the Hinkley Point C plant will be one of the most expensive power stations in the world.

Third, UK housing stock is the least energy efficient in Europe. The strategy doesn’t provide incentives for consumers to reduce demand, relying instead on householders borrowing money for home insulation.

Scotland is being forced to accept terms that hurt its economy and won’t reduce fuel poverty or emissions.

Leah Gunn Barrettt, Edinburgh.

Education oversight should be democratic

In 2014 Edinburgh Secular Society’s petition asking for the removal of unelected religious representatives from education committees was heard by the parliamentary petitions committee.

So we are delighted that Humanist Society Scotland (HSS) remind us that this issue has not yet been resolved (News, 10 May)

HSS are arguing for the removal of voting rights, but with many religious groups holding illiberal and unscientific beliefs of little benefit or relevance to education, we fail to see any wisdom in their having seats at all.

Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society.

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