Readers' Letters: Don't blame Gordon Brown for heavy industry woes

Some of the hundreds of workers employed on the construction of the Cunard liner Queen Mary at John Brown's shipyard, Clydebank, leaving the vessel at lunchtime, circa 1935  (Picture: General Photographic Agency/Getty Images)
Some of the hundreds of workers employed on the construction of the Cunard liner Queen Mary at John Brown's shipyard, Clydebank, leaving the vessel at lunchtime, circa 1935 (Picture: General Photographic Agency/Getty Images)

However, Mr Melvin's remark that our heavy industries were obliterated by the actions of both Conservative and Labour governments is somewhat erroneous. This is an accusation made frequently in The Scotsman by both columnists and letter writers, though normally the blame is laid at the foot of Conservative Governments.

In fact the blame lies elsewhere. The late activist Jimmy Reid, in a TV interview some years ago on the demise of shipbuilding on the Clyde, said it was the fault of “lazy management and lazy unions”. I think Jimmy Reid, because of who he was, had a better knowledge and understanding of the issue than those more interested in grinding a political axe.

And Sir Tom Devine, in his book The Scottish Nation 1700-2007, when discussing shipbuilding in the 1950s, wrote: “Scottish shipbuilding, once a world class industry, was in a sorry state and its many previous problems had simply been concealed by the post-war replacement boom.”

Shipbuilding was at the heart of Scotland's heavy industries, its demise brought about the end of Scotland's heavy industries which supplied the materials and ancillary machinery, steel being one of them, required to build ships.

John B Gorrie, Edinburgh

Different drug

Mairianna Clyde blames Scotland’s addiction problem on Margaret Thatcher, but it was present long before her (Letters, 28 August).

I am in my eighties, and as a child in Edinburgh I remember asking my mother why some people were staggering in the street, or becoming ill on public transport. Drugs hadn’t been “invented” then, but drink, thankfully, had, and was clearly being used to relieve people from whatever misery affected them at that time, such as a ghastly work environment, long before the days of health and safety.

But today’s drug problem has nothing to do with Thatcher, and everything to do with highly organised gangs both here and abroad, with chains of distribution and recruitment that introduce young and old to their evil products.

The answer to that is to make drug dealing a serious criminal offence with a long prison sentence, and to establish clinics for the relief of addiction, which is not unique to the disadvantaged. Drugs are an immediate problem that must be dealt with for the sake of Scotland’s aspirations.

Malcolm Parkin, Kinnesswood, Kinross

Dump reforms

Total control over everything Scottish is the modus operandi of the SNP “government”. This was the way under Nicola Sturgeon and it seems Humza Yousaf has adopted the same tactics. This latest piece of back of a fag packet legislation to control the law, and in particular our judges, (“Lawyers attack Scotland reforms as risking seriously undermining the rule of the law”, 27 August), should be booted into the long grass asap.

I believe that under Sturgeon the courts and police force were subjected to interference and pressure from Holyrood and this latest ploy to further the path to totalitarianism must be halted before any more damage is done to our justice system.

Ian Balloch, Grangemouth, Falkirk

Lonq question

The Swedish Government's National Covid Commission, which examined their handling of the pandemic, reported after just 20 months. They concluded that Sweden had a lower level of “excess deaths” than most countries which locked down.

Given the desire to avoid duplication with the UK Hallett Inquiry, why is it anticipated the Lord Brailsford Inquiry needs to take four years?

John V Lloyd, Inverkeithing, Fife

Bank debacle

Susan Dalgety is misleading in writing that RBS “nearly” collapsed in the great crash of 2007/08 (Perspective, 26 August). RBS was effectively bankrupt and was rescued by taxpayers via the government's bailout.

Unfortunately the then Business Minister, Lord Myners, despite being a City grandee and supposedly an expert in such affairs, omitted to require the RBS Board, as a condition-precedent of the bailout, to limit all pension entitlements to the mandatory sum of about £27,000 per annum then applying to all bankrupt companies. Neither Gordon Brown nor Alistair Darling seemed aware of that either. So Goodwin et al walked away with their vast phone-number pensions, the former's being £713,000 per annum from the age of 50, which we taxpayers effectively finance as we still own over 38 per cent of RBS (now Nat West).

There are reports that the recent CEO, Dame Alison Rose, who had to resign after breaking a cardinal rule of banking, may be “entitled” this year to payments and shares totalling £11 million (plus possibly a large pension).

I have banked with RBS/NatWest since 1959, and my mother's cousin, Lord (Tom) Boardman MC TD DL, was the Nat West chairman from 1983-89; I doubt if he, any more than I, would “align with its values” currently.

John Birkett , St Andrews, Fife

Portrait of waste

At the time of a cost of living crisis, one could be critical of the government spending £8 million of taxpayers' money to enable the portrait of King Charles to be hung on the walls of public buildings throughout the UK, including schools (your report, 27 August).

To many this longstanding practice is outmoded and could be construed as being more reminiscent of despotic regimes than a centuries-old democratic country. Within the wider budget, the proposed sum is a mere drop in the ocean, but the fact that civil servants, no doubt working from home, are engaged on such frivolities must raise questions as to where the government's priorities lie.

That said, if I had to choose between the King's portrait or one showing First Minister Humza Yousaf adorning the walls of public buildings, there would be no contest!

Bob MacDougall, Kippen, Stirlingshire

Selective memory

One takes it Jamaica intends handing over all the trillions they get for “slave reparations” in turn to the surviving descendants of the Tahino people whom they helped colonise, exterminate and marginalise in the first place?

Thought not. Funny how people's memories of wrongs requiring reparations is so selective.

Mark Boyle, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

Beautiful games

I found myself watching the denouement of the World Athletics Championships on TV on Sunday. Was I alone in thinking that it was more like a fashion parade or beauty contest than an athletics event, featuring posturing peacocks with artificial fashion accessories and paint factory explosion hair? Plainly the sponsorship genie is long out of the bottle, but it seems light years from the Chariots of Fire ideal.

David Edgar, Symington, Biggar

Cash flashed

Presumably from down the back of the Bute House sofa, the First Minister has found £24 million of our taxes to pay for “climate-related” problems in three African countries.

This cash was clearly not available to help with the Scottish drug death crisis or to alleviate poverty or assist those sleeping rough on our streets; nor was it made available to our councils to make an attempt of some kind at lifting our roads and infrastructure up from the Third World level they occupy at the moment.

Why is it that with the SNP/Greens running things cash can always be found for prestigious “Scottishy”, “look at me” items, and inevitably for jollies for the usual suspects, but not for the basics of decent human life in this country?

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

Chaos ahead

Dr Rupert Read (“It's time for Scotland to get real on scale of climate crisis”, 26 August) wonders how much chaos will be left to future generations .
In his book Our Final Warning, Six Degrees of Climate Emergency (2020 ), Mark Lynas laid out the worldwide consequences of various degrees of warming. He predicts a 2 degree C rise by the early 2030s with the Arctic Ocean free of ice, 3 degrees by 2050, 4 degrees by 2075 and 5-6 degrees by the end of the 21st century with a 50 per cent chance of a 1 metre rise in sea level. A 1 degree rise was achieved in 2015.

All scenarios are chaotic and bad for us and the global environment. By 2030 we will be back in the Pliocene epoch which ended 11,700 years ago.
However, the UK is a bit player in global warming, albeit feeling its effects. It may escape the worst of the hothouse for a while due to changes in ocean circulation. That's no consolation as the severe effects elsewhere will change wildlife and human migration patterns. Who will stop this chaos?

Steuart Campbell, Edinburgh

Fired up

There is much in the news at the moment about climate change causing wildfires. But the Greek government has recently arrested a total of 79 people for arson. Almost the same number have also been arrested for fire-related negligence. Arson and negligence are not climate change.

Geoff Moore, Alness, Highland

Write to The Scotsman

We welcome your thoughts – NO letters submitted elsewhere, please. Write to including name, address and phone number – we won't print full details. Keep letters under 300 words, with no attachments, and avoid 'Letters to the Editor/Readers’ Letters' or similar in your subject line – be specific. If referring to an article, include date, page number and heading.