Letters: Is the SNP government seeking to depopulate the Western Isles?

A CalMac ferry leaves for North Uist from Uig, on Skye (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
A CalMac ferry leaves for North Uist from Uig, on Skye (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

I COULD easily detect Brian Wilson’s contained anger on the state of CalMac’s ferries and the lack of any movement by our devolved government to mitigate the situation while the Port Glasgow and Turkish new-build vessels await delivery (“Cynical calculations shape ministers’ views of ferry fiasco”, August 2).

Is it possible that at least one of the Turkish boats will be delivered before Hull 802 is completed?

A few thoughts arise out of this latest piece by Mr Wilson. The first is – is there actually a concealed agenda within the SNP government to depopulate the Western Isles? A small population or no population does not need big expensive ferries.

Then I recalled that the ferry companies of the 19th and early 20th centuries, David MacBrayne amongst others, used ships that could not always access the piers in certain ports. The ships anchored offshore and a series of community ‘flit’ boats were used to transfer cargoes to and from the shore.

Puffers are no more, but what if the island communities took matters into their own hands and found suitable ships to provide their own services?

For example, there are landing craft-type vessels, that could operate from slipways or beaches rather than piers, available for sale or charter on brokerage web sites.

I am totally aware of the impracticality of this idea, but would the threat of taking matters into their own hands be enough to get Caledonian Asset Management Ltd (CMAL) and Jenny Gilruth to actually do something in the medium term to get over this major catastrophe?

Or, as Brian Wilson says, our politicians at Holyrood are playing the long game and have decided to wait things out and use diversion tactics as and when needed.

Ian Gray, Croftamie.


CALMAC ferry spotters and enthusiasts no longer need to make a long journey to the Western Isles, as they can travel to Greenock and see them tied up. It is also ideal for artists who no longer require to paint from memory or a hastily-taken photograph – indeed, they are still life.

The Glen Sannox is currently in dry-dock being sand-blasted to her bare steel and repainted from keel to deck. She has not even turned a propeller in anger. Twenty tonnes of barnacles have been removed from her hull to landfill, which flies in the face of her green facade. Perhaps it is as well that the LNG fuel has not been used either, as it now appears to be even more toxic than diesel.

The MV Hebrides is back to keep her company whilst, as the Scottish Government fiddles, the Hebridean economy burns.

I would like to take issue with the “CalMac” banner being attached to all these ferry catastrophes. CalMac should be applauded for being able to operate ancient assets in the face of adversity. Despite everything, they do a really good job.

The real villain of the piece is CMAL, who own and manage the 35 ferry assets and are clearly not living up to their company name.

Nor are the company directors, who state on their website that “We are wholly owned by the Scottish Government with Scottish Ministers the sole shareholders.”

One might have thought that they were also answerable to them?

Peter Wright, West Kilbride, Ayrshire.


SETTING aside the recent disrespectful remarks of the Conservative and Unionist leadership contender, Liz Truss, about Scotland’s First Minister, the status of devolution in Scotland is now seriously under threat.

While most Tory politicians will deny this to be the case, actions speak louder than words and there has been a series of recent actions by the Tory Prime Minister and his cabinet, including the leadership contenders, which confirm their enduring hostility to devolution and the Scottish Government.

Simply maintaining the constitutional status quo of 2014 is no longer a reality, as the views of almost 75% of the voting electorate in 1997 in favour of significant devolution for Scotland are deliberately being scorned by a party. A party, moreover, that represents the views of just over 20% of Scottish voters and led by a soon-to-be Prime Minister selected by only around 0.2% of the UK population.

What is worse is that in spite of the devastating consequences of Brexit for the prosperity of Scotland and the plans and aspirations of many of our businesses and young people, the Better Together parties, aided and abetted by London media barons, will continue to work together to deny the people of Scotland the independence referendum which they elected the Scottish Government to deliver.

Never mind the utter representative inadequacy of the archaic United Kingdom first-past-the-post voting system and the persistent embarrassment of the unelected second chamber. This is not democracy.

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry, East Lothian.


I AM, to be blunt, disgusted at the responses from some of your correspondents to Liz Truss’s talk of “ignoring” Nicola Sturgeon.

Ms Sturgeon is an internationally respected politician with a record of many years’ service as head of a competently-functioning national government; Ms Truss is — well, what, besides a sign of the total political bankruptcy of the Westminster system?

There is not a single item in her career which gives grounds for belief that she is even remotely qualified to hold any position of responsibility, never mind the post of Prime Minister.

And though it is hard to believe that the recent pattern of each successive Prime Minister proving worse than the last could go any further, that is exactly what will happen if she is appointed.

For a nonentity like Ms Truss to talk of “ignoring” a politician with ten times her ability is impertinence, plain and simple.

It passes belief that some of your correspondents apparently regard it as fitting behaviour.

I am sure of one thing: if Ms Truss becomes Prime Minister and attempts to veto our holding an independence referendum, it is she who will find herself ignored.

Derrick McClure, Aberdeen.


IN relation to your lead letter (“Truss insulted us all. Now get ready for even more acrimony”, August 3), it is curious how “attention-seeker” is such an insult, but “an empty vessel filled only with ambition” is valued journalistic insight and perception.

As your columnist Iain Macwhirter says elsewhere, politicians say things about one another, get over it. It is not as if Ms Sturgeon hasn’t spent a career doing this sort of thing herself, and has got much worse in recent years with the army of spin doctors she now has available to her.

Her relentless sniping and talking over people are orders of magnitude worse, and Ms Truss has only said out loud what many of the rest of us think.

Ms Truss, to her credit, is thick-skinned enough to deal with these things. Ms Sturgeon and her supporters, apparently much less so.

Victor Clements, Aberfeldy, Perthshire.


JOHN Swinney has huffed and puffed that Liz Truss deriding Nicola Sturgeon as an “attention-seeker” shows “contempt for Scotland”. How?

Ms Truss shows contempt for Ms Sturgeon, certainly, but since when did Ms Sturgeon embody the very concept of Scotland?

Will she soon be standing on the podium to proclaim, “I Am The State”?

The SNP frequently equate themselves with Scotland, holding themselves to be the only pure representatives of the nation.

To criticise them is not to criticise just one of a wide spectrum of parties and policies but to criticise Scotland itself, and so anyone who votes for another party is an un-Scottish traitor or an evil foreigner.

The SNP will deny it of course: they often protest that they are multicultural, inclusive and “civic”.

But this latest statement from Mr Swinney is another occasion when the mask has slipped and we see the arrogance of their self-regard and how they belittle their own countrymen.

If any party has a “contempt for Scotland” it’s the SNP.

Robert Frazer, Dundee.


TO Napoleon is attributed the question, “I know he is a good general, but is he lucky?”

Nicola Sturgeon may or may not be good – but gifted, first, Boris Johnson and then, in all probability a lady who not so much turns (Ruth Marr, letters, August 4) as pirouettes, she is truly blessed.

Alan Carmichael, Glasgow.