IT’S welcome news that Finance Secretary Derek Mackay has vowed to produce an alternative analysis on the state of Scotland’s finances to the deeply flawed GERS report. About time too. 

The GERS report starts with the intention of showing that Scotland is too wee, too poor and too stupid to be independent and then all the figures are chosen and manipulated to justify that intention. 

READ MORE: Derek Mackay to launch pro-independence GERS report alternative

Maybe the Scottish Government could go further and deny any of its resources in the production of the GERS report, or simply file it under fiction! You’re more likely to find a truthful comment in a Boris Johnson speech than in the GERS report. 

Last year’s report claimed that Scotland spent more of its GDP on defence than any other country in the world, including the USA, Russia and even China. It is simply fake news from the British establishment.

Cllr Kenny MacLaren

UNLIKE Michael Fry I am pleased to learn that the Scottish Government do not always listen to their economic advisers (We need fewer ‘wacky theories’ and more plans to increase growth, January 14). 

For far too long we have listened to neoliberal economists, people who have been so wrong, so often. Their ideas are based on assumptions which have been debunked but according to their guru, Milton Friedman, it does not matter if the assumptions are disproved. 

READ MORE: Michael Fry: Fewer ‘wacky theories’ and more reality please

Yet for some time most university economics departments have taught nothing but neoliberal economics, perhaps because they were to some extent dependent on donations from big corporations and the very wealthy. It is only because some students are rebelling against such a narrow curriculum that some of them are beginning to change. 

As ever, Fry is fixated on growth despite all the evidence that we have to think differently for the sake of the planet and therefore for all who live on it. He dismisses the promotion of “wellness” as “wacky”, but if economics is worth anything at all it should surely be about finding ways to make life better for as many as possible and not just a select few.

Andrew M Fraser

I WAS very pleased indeed to see the “Hector” emigration from Lochbroom in 1773 being brought to the attention of a wider audience by Hamish MacPherson last week (An extraordinary tale: the voyage of the Hector, January 7). As a resident of Lochbroom, and trustee of the Clachan Lochbroom Heritage Trust, I can add some touching details of the emigrants’ last hours in Scotland, and their descendants’ emotional return.

The emigrants camped near the head of Loch Broom. The minister of the Lochbroom parish church near the shore at Clachan, James Robertson, held a communion service for them.  The church building of those days was too small to hold them so the service was held outdoors despite the fact that it was raining. Afterwards the emigrants were rowed, a few at a time, out to the “Hector”.  

READ MORE: Stories behind Celtic Connections: The voyage of the Hector

This summer, as every year, “Hector” descendants visited Lochbroom. One group of 27 came from Pictou itself and our Trust opened Clachan church for them and told them this story, and more. It wasn’t only the visitors who became emotional, knowing they were standing on the same ground as 
their ancestors, seeing the unchanged view that was their ancestors’ last view of home.  

Scotland’s family is worldwide but still close at heart and their stories touch us all.  We can reflect on the current migrant experience – not so different from the situation in 1773. 

Our Trust was formed locally to buy the current church from the Church of Scotland in 2018 in order to preserve its availability for its traditional purpose and also to widen the range of community use.  Together with Ullapool Museum we hope to be part of this year’s “Coast and Waters” festival and also mark suitably the 250th anniversary of  the “Hector” in 2023.  

However our building needs some sizeable repairs to get ready for increased visitor numbers and to extend community use. If the clans and descendants sent us £5 each that should do it! Further information can be found at and the Friends of Clachan Lochbroom Facebook page.
There is more to say about the minister James Robertson – a Hanoverian in a Jacobite parish in 1745 – and the kindly role of a later minister in a local Clearance.  Clachan Lochbroom was at the heart of major events in Scottish history.  Perhaps enough material for a future article by Mr MacPherson?

Sarah Mackenzie
Treasurer, Clachan Lochbroom Heritage Trust

IN film critic Damon Smith’s review of the movie 1917 (Sunday Life, January 12), he assures us that hundreds of actors undertook daily military drills in hobnail boots. It’s a pity they weren’t allowed to use them in the film, as the publicity shot published alongside his article, clearly shows the soldier on the left wearing what look suspiciously like modern synthetic-soled boots with a ribbed pattern, certainly not hobnailed. Explanation please!

Dick Levens
via email

I NOTE Dominic Raab is warning a foreign country (Iran) against “slipping further and further into political and economic isolation”. Remarkable, given that Britain is to leave the EU in a fortnight’s time.

Alan Y Lawson