JUST over a week ago I watched on TV as Scottish Government minister Lorna Slater clamber aboard a privately chartered boat to visit the isle of Rum. She was pursued by a television crew eager to ask her why she could not use the CalMac ferry like ordinary mortals. She simply ignored their questions, preferring to look the other way, turn her back to the camera and sail off into the distance. It was behaviour I would have expected from the likes of Tory Liz Truss.

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I felt genuinely ashamed that I support the SNP, her so-called partners in government. To add insult to injury it now seems the charter cost £1200. I suppose to be honest I am a wee bit less concerned with the money involved and a lot more with the arrogance and lack of thought displayed by Ms Slater. I was equally disappointed to note the First Minister has now supported the boat charter. Does no-one in our government see the potential for contrast with the many of our folk who struggle to feed their children and pay their bills, or do we just not care any more?

It was to all intents and purposes a PR disaster, one of several which revolve around this same minister. However, the £1200 may pale into insignificance now the Deposit Return Scheme is being dumped, with little hope of it being recycled (pun intended) in the near future. Millions of pounds of compensation claims may follow. No doubt Ms Slater and the First Minister will point the finger of blame at the Westminster government, but it will certainly not foot any of the costs for the scheme’s demise.

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It was clear even before Westminster’s involvement that many producers, essential to the scheme’s success, were not ready, willing or able to implement it by Ms Slater’s original timetable of August 2023. It was naive of her to expect the UK Government to facilitate the scheme in any way, shape or form. The DRS may well go down in history as really good idea really badly planned.

I am sure the incorporation of Greens into the Scottish Government makes life easier for the SNP when it comes to voting on major issues but is it worth it? Those of us who joined the SNP in the 60s and 70s, when it was less fashionable, are seeing decades of work undermined by what the public now see as the arrogance, inaction and frankly sometimes apparent incompetence of the current Scottish Government.

Brian Lawson

TUESDAY’S National contains articles on praise for the Scottish Government from the Trussell Trust on the Scottish Child Payment and the proposed plan to end the need for food banks.

There is also an article which features Maggie Chapman MSP, who said Scotland must look to England to learn from the trial on Universal Basic Income (UBI).

Your reporter, Steph Brawn, states that “the Scottish Parliament does not have powers to bring in the UBI”. I don’t know what section of the Scotland Act 2016 justifies that assertion. Perhaps Ms Brawn would care to comment.

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The Scotland Act is silent on Universal Basic Income so it is not a “reserved matter” to Westminster. Under Section 28 of the Scotland Act, the only material restriction on the Scottish Parliament’s power to create new benefits is that the funds used should not come from the Consolidated Fund, the National Insurance Fund or the Social Fund or money provided by the UK Parliament. These are all funds under the control of the UK Government.

Funds that are generated by the Scottish Government through its own funding sources and do not seek to replace UK Government-controlled benefits such as state pensions can pay for a Universal Basic Income without UK Government consent.

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As your regular readers will be aware, I have previously demonstrated how the replacement of all devolved taxes with a form of Annual Ground Rent can raise a Universal Basic Income of £200 and more per week for every adult and child. This is eminently affordable and can be introduced very quickly.

There is a contradiction in terms suggesting that a trial of UBI is universal when the trials thus far are targeted at certain small cohorts. Scotland does not need to trial UBI; it must embrace it. People are poor because they don’t have money to live. Put money in their pockets and let them blossom.

Our march to independence will be far shorter and more certain if we are more nourished and confident in our ability to end poverty now.

Graeme McCormick

STEPH Brawn’s piece on poverty (Scotland ‘should look to learn from’ trial UBI scheme in England, Jun 6) exposes a solution that needs to be enacted urgently.

If anyone has doubts about the power of a Universal Basic Income Guarantee, I strongly recommend viewing Rutger Bregman’s TED Talk “Why we should give everyone a basic income”.

Imagine how much energy and talent we would unleash if we got rid of poverty once and for all!

David Ashford
Isleornsay, Isle of Skye