IT was interesting to read the article by Tom Gordon (“First Minister needs to grasp the tax nettle without delay”, The Herald, September 9) and the letter from Graeme McCormick (September 9) about the Programme for Government (PfG) announced by Nicola Sturgeon.

On the one hand we have Tom Gordon correctly pointing out the pitfalls of raising taxes and how Nicola Sturgeon is attempting to invite the other parties into the “blast zone” to share the “blame around”. Then we have Mr McCormick’s wrong-headed view that the SNP should appoint a Minister for Independence to ensure that all policies promoted by the Scottish Government must pass the litmus test of advancing the cause of independence rather than find pragmatic solutions.

More importantly, both  appear to accept that tax rises are inevitable rather than acknowledge that we are spending too much and not growing our economy fast enough; or a combination of the two.

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The misunderstanding of where the money comes from to finance the high spending by the Scottish Government is endemic within the SNP and supporters alike. The extra £1,500 per capita spent on public services (compared to England) is paid through the Union dividend and would cease if we became independent.

Whether the higher taxation in Scotland is from the failed penal land tax, the higher income tax rates, job destroying business rates or what has been proposed by the recent PfG, the course has been set for a basket-case economy whereby our competitiveness with the rUK will have been seriously compromised. Ms Sturgeon has given up on the Growth Commission and has decided not only to “tax the rich until the pips squeak” but also that everyone will pay higher taxes, giving us all a foretaste of what her independence dream will look like in reality.
Ian Lakin, 
Murtle Den Road, Milltimber.

Keith Howell (Letters, September 12) seems to think that the SNP is to blame for the lack of consensus at Holyrood but he needs to look at the whole picture rather than reverting to the “SNP bad!” position of most Unionists.

When the SNP first came to power it was in a minority and sought alliances with the other parties, most notably the Liberal Democrats who had happily been in coalition with Labour for the entirety of the new parliament’s existence. The LibDems made it a precondition that the SNP abandon its core principle, presumably believing that the Nationalists would simply cave in for the sake of power. 

The SNP then went alone and proved to be a successful and popular government; so popular that it subsequently achieved the impossible and gained an overall majority at the next election.

When we see the London Government betraying promise after promise to the Scottish electorate and excluding the devolved parliaments from any influence over the Brexit negotiations (other than the DUP which happily accepted the Tory bribe), it’s refreshing to see a party willing to stick by its principles.
David C Purdie,
12 Mayburn Vale,
Loanhead, Midlothian.

I MUST challenge Kevin McKenna’s assertion that the First Minister’s legislative programme offers us a vision of Scotland that is enlightened, inclusive and striving to reverse the destructive influence of unearned privilege and false entitlement (“A wish list perhaps but at last Sturgeon offered positive vision”, The Herald, September 9)

This programme, for the most part uncosted, will demand the introduction of a more “progressive” income tax system; that is,  significant tax increases. The First Minister surely realises that a 1p in the £ increase will only raise £300 million.

Where are the initiatives for essential economic growth? Why has Keith Brown, the Economy Secretary, not delivered a serious speech about the way forward?

If phasing out diesel and petrol cars by 2032 can be validated by recent research so be it; but achieving this eight years earlier than the 2040 recently announced by the Westminster Government is gesture politics.

Small wonder there was no mention of a second independence referendum as the First Minister knows she needs the £34 billion annual grant from Westminster to sustain present and future expenditure. This enables   Nicola Sturgeon to duck the real issues.
Ronald J Sandford,
1 Scott Garden,

Nicola Sturgeon complains again about what she terms a devolution power-grab by Westminster, despite it having been explained to her that legislation must pass from Brussels via Westminster before it can be devolved to Holyrood (“Sturgeon calls for consensus to head off a power-grab”,  The Herald, September 12).

Manufacturing anti-UK, anti-Westminster grievances is what the First Minister does best. The SNP, as recently as November, on Angela Constance’s watch, proved incapable of taking over a raft of newly devolved welfare powers from Westminster.  At Holyrood’s request, authority for a number of key benefits has to remain with the UK Government up to 2020.

With the SNP’s lacklustre management of public services over the past 10 years, this is unsurprising. Ms Sturgeon knows Brexit will make Holyrood an even more powerful administration. Whether the Nationalists are capable of delivering what we require of them from more devolved legislation is another matter. 
Martin Redfern, 
Woodcroft Road, Edinburgh.

Can someone clarify the specific powers devolved  from Westminster to Holyrood that are to be eroded or lost by what Nicola Sturgeon emotionally calls the power-grab by Westminster as a consequence of the Repeal Bill processing through Westminster?

I understood the essential purpose of that Bill was to restore to Westminster the powers it had ceded previously to Brussels, so none of those powers can lie at present with Holyrood. 

If so, how can the Ms Sturgeon expect to be taken seriously when, as you report, she says this Bill not only “erodes the devolution settlement” but also “ threatens the underpinning principle of devolution and many of our vital national interests “ and requires that “our Parliament must be protected “? Should we not expect better from the First Minister ?
Alan Fitzpatrick,
10 Solomon’s View, Dunlop.