TUESDAY’S long-awaited Edinburgh trams inquiry confirmed what we already knew – this was not Scotland’s finest hour. Predictably, Conservative leader in Scotland Douglas Ross wasn’t slow in putting the boot in.

“The findings of this inquiry raise serious questions for the SNP to answer,” he said. “SNP ministers have to take note”. Well, here’s the thing, Dougie. No, it doesn’t and no, they don’t. And here’s why.

Firstly, the original trams idea predates the SNP’s period as Scotland’s government. Indeed, having become the minority government in 2007, and with the trams legislation up for discussion, the party actually voted against it and wanted to spend the money on dualling the A9, as the SNP stated in their manifesto ahead of the Holyrood election.

That’s something to keep in mind whenever Ross et al whine about a lack of transport infrastructure, and he should be reminded that his party voted down the road upgrade in favour of the trams clusterbouroch in cohorts with all the other Unionists in Scotland’s chamber. Cheers for that, lads.

Secondly, this was of course a joint project with Edinburgh City Council which, at the time, wasn’t even run by the SNP. I shouldn’t have to declare an interest in the face of such predictably arrant nonsense, but I am a member of the SNP. And I should also say that if there’s a legitimate debate to be had about the party’s record in government – and believe me, there is – then I want to be part of the discussion.

Wheesht for indy I wish no part of. But my bigger concern is that a robust response to this seems to be lacking. Ross’s words were ludicrous, but also predictable, and the party now has a CEO with a strong media background. I may have missed something, but why aren’t we all over this?

And where, incidentally, is the robust championing of the First Minister doing what we should expect him to do at least some of the time – going abroad and selling Scotland to the world?

We boast then we cower. Once again we are reactive, not proactive, and the episode speaks I think to a wider inertia from Scotland’s largest party not just to a confected stooshie about transport but to independence itself.

In short, if we don’t believe in ourselves, why should anyone else?

We have to get on the front foot. It’s later than we think, and Scotland can ill afford to miss the last tram to normality.

Alec Ross

Stranraer, Wigtownshire

The UK is failing due to the centralisation of banking, political power and wealth.

The UK has one of the world’s most concentrated financial systems with just five large banks: 86% of their loans are for property purchases and financial credit – only 14% are for productive investment.

Big banks lend to big companies, not small companies (SMEs). SMEs are an economy’s engine. In Germany, 1500 local, not-for-profit community banks provide credit for German SMEs. These small, local family businesses make up a big chunk of German exports and their success means stable growth, local jobs, more equal income and wealth distribution and no financial crises. Local German banks hold 70% of bank deposits and give people a place to put their money which benefits their community.

The UK and Belarus are the only two European nations that use the first-past-the-post voting system. It results in the lack of majority rule, voter apathy and corruption because the system is structured to allow powerful interests to gain undue influence.

The corporate and financial interests that control UK politicians are diametrically opposed to those of the people who want decent healthcare, education, housing and energy but are denied them by a government beholden to its corporate donors.

The economic and political centralisation of power has shredded the social fabric and led to the UK being one of the most unequal nations in Europe. The rich are engorged and undertaxed, the middle-class is disappearing as real wages fall and the poor are destitute as benefits are cut.

Scotland could end this downward spiral, create community banks, return political power to the people and build a fairer society. But not within the UK.

Leah Gunn Barrett


While some readers might remember the horrors of the Piper Alpha platform many will have forgotten the less reported disaster 10 weeks later of the Ocean Odyssey explosion on September 22, 1988.

This was an oil rig drilling in the North Sea that also had a blowout that killed Timothy Williams, aged 25. The radio operator was on his first trip working on a rig offshore.

So while the most important issue today is our environment, our elected politicians in both Holyrood and Westminster seem incapable of challenging the very profitable major oil companies that are the main culprits of wrecking the world we all inhabit.

The oil industry does not care about jobs or climate chaos and opposes their workers’ right to be active in a trade union.

Norman Lockhart