Readers' letters: Police Scotland is another SNP failure

Scotland’s Chief Constable Sir Iain Livingstone has tendered his resignation from Police Scotland (Scotsman, 24 February). Sir Iain’s retirement was announced as he and Lynn Brown, chief executive of the Scottish Police Authority, presented a paper to the SPA meeting that warns policing north of the border is “unsustainable”. Sir Iain also said, “hard choices lie ahead”.

Police Scotland was created as the “brainchild” of the then Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill under the pretence of financial probity and vast savings. It was blatantly obvious that Mr MacAskill’s then party, the SNP, created a national(ist) police force to give total political control over one chief constable.

After three chief constables and as many chairs of the SPA, MacAskill’s creation has been an unmitigated disaster. The force has been starved of funds and there is a substantial financial black hole, never any bobbies on the beat, scruffy, untidy officers with little public/community awareness and, I understand, low morale with considerable retirements this year.

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After eight years of this nationalist regime, Police Scotland is another SNP failure and the architects should hang their heads in shame. Just another great Scottish institution trashed on the misguided altar of independence.

Chief Constable of Police Scotland, Iain Livingstone, poses with his medal after being appointed as a Knight Bachelor during an investiture ceremony at the Palace Of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh earlier this yearChief Constable of Police Scotland, Iain Livingstone, poses with his medal after being appointed as a Knight Bachelor during an investiture ceremony at the Palace Of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh earlier this year
Chief Constable of Police Scotland, Iain Livingstone, poses with his medal after being appointed as a Knight Bachelor during an investiture ceremony at the Palace Of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh earlier this year

​Douglas Cowe, Newmachar, Aberdeenshire

Too many exams

Judith Gillespie (Letters, 23 February) is entirely correct regarding the time restriction limiting the number of subjects in S4 to a maximum of six if pupils were to be presented in all of them at the end of the year.

One key element of CfE however, appears to have been forgotten. It was recognised that there was too much assessment in the upper school and there was broad agreement that S4-6 should be treated as a three-year “senior phase” with learners being presented for exams and certification at the appropriate time and level – for example, some learners would bypass the National 5 examination altogether. This would have provided ample opportunities for learners to study a wider variety of subjects with more time for more in-depth study, time being gained by not needing to prepare each year for the annual exam diet.

Unfortunately government benchmarking measures continued to focus on end-of-year attainment and therefore this continued to be a focus of HMI inspections rather than a focus on the attainment at the point of leaving school.

Unsurprisingly schools looked at ways of increasing attainment at the end of S4 and S5 in particular, one of which was to increase the number of subjects studied and presented.

The outcome of all this is that despite all the promises of CfE, we still have a senior phase that continues to subject learners to excessive summative assessment.

Jeremy Morris, Kirriemuir, Angus

Snoop away

I am informed by someone who knows far more about the digital world than I do that there is already quite enough accessible in passports, bank accounts, local authority and tax records and the like to enable “state snooping” (Letters, 24 February).

If that's true then the proposal for a compulsory identity card merely eases such observations and investigations. If this awareness helps to keep us all on the straight and narrow then personally I have no objection just as long as I can check what's on record for accuracy.

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Other countries seem to manage with similar identity cards and they do have enormous advantages to compensate for their downside. Perhaps if managing the system was placed in the hands of the Courts rather than the government people would be more relaxed about accepting the proposals?

Tim Flinn, Garvald, East Lothian

Salmond’s bridge

Your regular contributor, Fraser Grant, states, inter alia, that “Nicola Sturgeon’s achievements are too numerous to list, but these include building the magnificent Queensferry Crossing” (Letters, 23 February).

Quite a bit of historical revisionism going on there.

The contracts for the Queensferry Crossing were awarded in 2011 and construction started later that year. It was Alex Salmond’s administration that initiated the construction of the Queensferry Crossing.

Nicola Sturgeon only became First Minister in 2014, by which time construction of the bridge was well under way. Is Mr Grant seriously suggesting that Nicola Sturgeon be given credit for completing a project started by her predecessor?

Indeed, one of the many differences between Mr Salmond’s administration and Ms Sturgeon’s is that where Mr Salmond’s will be remembered for delivering many transformational infrastructure projects, Ms Sturgeon’s will be remembered for being unable to deliver two ferries.

George Shanks, Edinburgh

Entry credentials

In view of the high level of incompetence shown by the candidates in the SNP leadership election, and more widely in the membership of both the Scottish and UK parliaments, is it not time that anyone standing for either should have to have either a legal or accountancy qualification or a degree in economics or politics?

Colin McAllister, St Andrews, Fife

SNP infighting

As is typical of independence supporters Grant Frazer (Letters, 24 February) blames the “media” for a “fraudulent” approach in questioning Kates Forbes on topics such as the Gender Recognition Reform Bill and gay marriage.

Mr Frazer may not have noticed that the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister (Scotsman, 23 February) questioned whether someone with Ms Forbes’ views on these issues should be in such high office in Scotland. It is interesting that if Ms Forbes, as seems likely, achieves her goal our current incumbent considers her unfit for office.

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Also typical is that Mr Frazer puts “bringing together the independence movement” above the “good governance of Scotland”. That approach will see the career of the next incumbent following that of the current one in abject failure.

Colin Hamilton, Edinburgh

Personal views

It both amuses and irritates me to read commentators such as Conor Matchett (Scotsman, 23 February) stating that personal views based on religious belief should not be allowed to influence social policy. Aren’t he and Kate Forbes’ critics doing this very thing themselves?

Each one of us holds particular views on social and political issues based on our upbringing, training, experience and rational argument, leading to the worldview we have developed, whether religious, agnostic, atheistic or eclectic and internally incoherent. Everyone has a right to hold and declare these views. This does not mean “imposing” them on others.

Each of us should use rational argument to persuade others if we stand for office. Ruling out Christians or anyone else who are open about their faith or lack of it has no place in a democracy, unlike the totalitarian regimes in the world today.

Rev Dr Donald M MacDonald, Edinburgh

Right candidate?

As the first Muslim and ethnic minority candidate, Humza Yousaf may be right in thinking that for him to be elected First Minister would be a seminal moment for the country.

However, surely the importance of the position demands much more than that in relation to competence and effectiveness. Mr Yousaf's health brief has been a nightmare for him having to contend with disruptive NHS strikes, spiralling waiting lists for treatment and declining A&E treatment times.

Now Audit Scotland has outlined yet another failure in the Scottish government's plan to recruit more GPs and mental health staff to cope with a vastly increasing workload (Scotsman, 23 February).

Worryingly, there does not seem to be any clear strategy to map out the future of the NHS in Scotland to lift the organisation out of stagnation and Mr Yousaf's commitment as First Minister to bring about radical improvement really does seem a hollow promise which we have all heard before from previous First Ministers.

Bob MacDougall, Kippen, Stirling

Stolen resources

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Did you know 1921 was the last year the British state published Scotland’s contribution to the UK Exchequer? That year, Scotland contributed £119.7m, of which £33.1m was spent on Scottish services and £86.6m was retained in London for ‘Imperial Services.’ Irish independence was most likely the reason publication ceased. London didn’t want to give the Scots ideas above their station.

Another brief glimpse of Scotland’s contribution to the UK Treasury came in 1952/3. That year, Scotland’s revenue of £409.6m exceeded by £100m the combined revenues of Norway (£183m) and Denmark (£130m).

After North Sea oil was discovered in Scottish waters in the early 1970s, Scotland’s revenue exploded into the billions. The UK Government reacted by hiding the McCrone Report that showed just how wealthy Scotland would be if it retained its oil revenues. Again, London couldn’t risk Scots finding out how wealthy they were.

In 1999, on the eve of the opening of the Scottish Parliament, Tony Blair and Donald Dewar moved the maritime boundary from Berwick to Arbroath, reclassifying 6k square miles of Scottish sea as English, along with seven major oil fields.

The UK’s ongoing theft of our natural resources should be reason enough to end this union farce. The SNP leadership candidates, if serious about independence, should be shouting this from the rooftops.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh

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