LET us hope that Andrea Bradley of the EIS is right and the teachers’ strike is averted, but all union negotiators need to remember that although the Scottish Government has assisted by funding higher pay awards than in the rest of the UK, it is not master in its own house when it comes to funding devolved matters (Teachers ‘very hopeful’ of new pay offer ahead of Thursday’s strike, Nov 21).

Education, the health service, police, fire, transport, agriculture, fishing, local authorities, etc are all fully devolved matters but there is a catch – the Scottish Government’s balanced budget.

The “block grant” funding all devolved matters is actually the return of a percentage of Scottish tax revenue, collected by HMRC, to the Scottish Government based on the total spent per person by the UK Government on devolved matters in England.

Consequently if the Scottish Government spends more than the UK Government in one area it has to reduce spending in other areas by an equal amount in the same financial year to balance its budget.

For example, NHS Scotland operates four aircraft and pays nurses more than those in England. This has to be paid for by taking money from other devolved areas as NHS England does not operate any aircraft and pays its nurses less.

Although many matters are fully devolved, just remember that the overall budget is still a matter that is very effectively reserved to the UK Government.

John Jamieson
South Queensferry

AS always, Hamish MacPherson gives us an excellent brief history of a historical figure in this Sunday’s Back in The Day column (Remembering the life of John Knox, Nov 20).

Hamish suggests that “Scottish people should know more about him ... ” and laments the fact that the Church of Scotland have “missed an opportunity” by failing to educate people about the “Great Reformer”.

I agree. Scots should make it their business to learn what they can about Knox – if for no other reason than that he, and his ilk, were instrumental in laying the groundwork for an amalgamation of Scotland with England.

Knox and the reformers fought against Scotland’s French connection – and sided with the Protestant powers in England, as Hamish tells us. There is little doubt that the Catholic church in 16th-century Scotland needed a reformation of some sort – it’s just a pity that the changes wrought by Knox and his supporters came (ultimately) at the price of Scotland’s freedom.

Recently I visited South Leith Parish Church, and met an elder of the Kirk who discussed Knox’s Leith connections when the reformers, aided by English troops, opposed the Catholic faction helped by the French. The elder described Knox as an “embryo” Unionist, and I wouldn’t argue with that description.

Yes, Knox’s legacy is still with us today, and many tell us that the Calvinism which was adopted by the Reformers here has had a lasting impact on the outlook of Scots.

We are often portrayed as having a gloomily fatalistic outlook – hardly surprising when for centuries we were subjected to a religious tenet which must have a disheartening effect: Calvin’s theory of predestination. For anyone not familiar with this theory, go to the first verse of Burns’s Holy Willie’s Prayer. Burns summed it up in a few words.

So it is sad if Scots are not aware of Knox and his doings. We all should be, although I can understand perfectly if the Kirk would prefer not to celebrate him and his legacy.

Jim Butchart
via email

BRIAN Quail’s message (Letters, Nov 18) on the hatred of nuclear mass murder being integral to our independence struggle cannot be over-emphasised given the danger to Scotland as a prime nuclear target due to Trident and other nuclear weapons here, especially with the current risk stemming from the Ukraine war and Russian direct threats to Scotland.

The SNP and other nationalist forces must make getting rid of nuclear weapons in Scotland their top priority for independence as cost of living and the EU are relatively less important than this clear and present danger of nuclear annihilation.

Colin Beattie
via email

THERE is more divisive destructive anti-SNP bile now in The National than there is in the Record, the Mail or the Express.

A lot of it is from people who have never contested an election, held any serious political post and have absolutely no understanding how politics works. But some do and indeed I would imagine a percentage of them will be trolls and plants. I would be very surprised if that were not the case.

I have no sensible idea why this is happening, as the only constructive way to effect political positions is to provide different positions and policy considerations in a constructive manner.

Dave McEwan Hill
Sandbank, Argyll