WHILE the UK economy heads down the toilet, the public in Scotland is being deliberately distracted by a blemish on the bowl.

Everyone associated with the ambitious Ferguson ferries contract is no doubt sorry for the delays and cost over-runs but, without making excuses for genuine mistakes made, it appears there is little wider objectivity to be found in most criticisms.

Of course it is not surprising that Tory politicians, especially under the current catastrophic economic conditions they themselves have created, are seeking out every speck on the Scottish Government’s performance they can seemingly spot.

It is also not surprising that when the Prime Minister and Chancellor went AWOL as the pound was free-falling, the significance of the over-budget ferries was again magnified by willing media commentators.

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What is disappointing, though, is the lack of broad balance across our media in economic/financial reporting and the lack of effort to separate good intentions from mischievous use of public funds for the benefit of personal friends or political party donors.

BBC Scotland has taken a leading role in the “ferries vilification”, not only with its Disclosure and “news” reporting but even on Debate Night in Dundee (not on the Clyde last time I looked at the map) host Stephen Jardine appeared desperately fixated on attempting to get someone on the panel to concur with his leading questions that a public inquiry was now necessary (even though it would add further cost to the public purse).

Even allowing for delays resulting from the pandemic and issues that have arisen due to innovative design, the estimated cost approaching £300 million is a very high price to pay for two ferries initially budgeted at a price of under £100m. That said, this cost represents less than 5% of the cost of the UK’s two delayed and over-budget aircraft carriers with no aircraft.

It is less than 0.5% of the combined cost of failures associated with Covid-19 testing and procurement (much of that money finding its way into the hidden bank accounts of Tory donors, in a corrupt process that the BBC and the media in general seem reluctant to investigate).

It is also less than 0.05% of the estimated damage to the UK economy caused by a single “mini-Budget” (seriously affecting the personal finances of everyone from pensioners to first-time home-buyers but of negligible benefit to anyone except hedge fund managers and the super-rich).

By all means let’s dot the i’s and cross the t’s on Ferguson, including the pivotal involvement of our Monaco recluse Jim McColl, but let’s also get government decisions into proper perspective and not accept duplicitous Tory politicians, or the BBC, determining Scotland’s news agenda and our future.

Stan Grodynski

Longniddry, East Lothian

THE age of the CalMac fleet should not be an issue – so long as the ships are serviced regularly and updated as necessary. You do not get a more demanding ferry service than the Hurtigruten operation up and down the coast of Norway.

A ship sets off from Bergen each day on a 12-day round trip calling in at 34 ports each way – and yet seven of the ships are more than 25 years old and one is 39 years old. There was an even older ship, “Nordstjernen”, which at the time of its withdrawal from service in 2012 was 56 years old! She has since been preserved as a national treasure but still operates special sailings for Hurtigruten.

Ian Lawson


MUCH has been said about Nicola Sturgeon’s plan to hold a de facto plebiscite at the next General Election should the Supreme Court rule against the Scottish Government. Unlike some, I believe it is an inspired strategy.

How many times have we heard “the Scottish people don’t want...” without any supporting evidence from local branch managers DRoss and Sarwar? How many times have we heard from their big cousins down south that they “believe in democracy ... just not the Scottish kind”?

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Well, a one-question manifesto for a General Election will clarify the matter beyond a reasonable doubt. So, surely NOW must be the time, before the legal arguments are heard, for all the independence-supporting parties in Scotland to step up and publicly and noisily join the SNP and Greens in this strategy. To ensure that the fabled Unionist British media and their government know, beyond a reasonable doubt, that if our case falls in the court, IT IS NOT THE END. That a vote for this party or that party in the next General Election will be, without any ambiguity, one more vote in the Yes column for indyref2.

With all independence parties unambiguously in play, the British Government and media will struggle to beat us. Their dubious democratic credentials will be exposed and I believe the international community will exert some influence in the face of an immaculate display of democracy from Scotland and its legal legitimacy.

We will get our indyref2 ... and then? All we’ve will have to do is win it! Simples!

I Easton