THE Business section of The Herald on August 10 led with two stories of successful Scottish companies who have developed innovative environmental technologies.
Both have been bought out by large global companies, one a Japanese corporation and the other a US company financed by one of the private equity giants (“Sale of Scots green packaging firm highlights success of entrepreneur” and “University spin-out bought by Mitsubishi Electric”)
These are presented as good news stories. They are, for the talented individuals who have created these companies, and one is another success for our universities’ spin-off programmes.
But why is there so little concern about our loss of high-potential Scottish companies?
The Scottish economy is already one of the most externally-controlled of advanced economies. Profit streams go elsewhere, strategic decisions go elsewhere.
If the board in Tokyo or New York decides that production would be cheaper out of Scotland then, as we have learned over the decades, we are powerless.
Of course, the argument is that buy-outs can bring more investment and facilitate international marketing, but there is no commitment to Scotland. The decisions will be made by the bean-counters.
This used to be a major issue in Scotland – for the SNP, for the Labour Party, for the STUC, for the Scottish Council Development and Industry, for academic research. But today we appear like supplicants, so grateful for global business graciously to buy up our successes and our resources.
Do the Scottish Government or Scottish Enterprise or the Scottish National Investment Bank or the political parties have any policy on this? Given that Scottish Enterprise was one of the partners in the Smarter Grid Solutions Company, I think we know the answer.
The Herald’s recent investigative series on Who Runs Scotland needs to become a permanent news feature.
Isobel Lindsay, Biggar.
PASS RATES DON’T TELL THE FULL STORY
IT seems the recent critical OECD report into Scottish education was wrong. The new exam results, whilst fractionally down on last year, show an 87.3 per cent Higher pass rate at A to C level.
This is excellent news, and very welcome, until you look at the figures for the last year formal exams were held, 2019, when the comparable pass rate was only 75%.
Either the “Curriculum for Excellence” is just that or the new methods of judging pupils are somewhat flawed.
Will the SNP admit to the fact that the pandemic has, unfortunately for Scottish schoolchildren, had a real influence on these results, or are our children really getting smarter? Given previous SNP claims, it will be the latter.
If this is the case it is good news as all the current vacancies for teachers, doctors, dentists, engineers, nurses, ancillary medical staff et cetera will soon be filled by well-educated Scots. If, however, the opposite is the case then Scotland is looking at a huge skills shortage in the very near future. “Judge me on education?”
Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow.
‘CATASTROPHIC’ EDUCATION RECORD
THE Scottish exam results reveal the further destruction of a once world-leading education system all on the watch of this discredited SNP government.
It is nothing short of a national disgrace but more importantly, it is a tragedy for our young people looking to make their way in the world.
There are regretfully too many damning statistics from the results to highlight, but bearing in mind that the First Minister said it was her “mission” to narrow the attainment gap and she should be “judged on her record”, then one must start here.
The fact not in doubt is that attainment of Grade A in Higher Exams was 22 per cent higher in the least deprived areas of Scotland compared to the most deprived.
This attainment gap is now the largest for five years.
We also have the question of “grade inflation”. The percentage of students who achieved an A grade in Higher exams was 47.6% compared to 28.3% in 2019.
Are we seriously meant to believe that this difference of nearly 20% in two years is simply down to the quality of the candidate and the better learning programme they have experienced?
The time has now come for even a diehard nationalist supporter to examine his/her conscience and consider this SNP’s record on education, which is nothing short of catastrophic and has severely and tragically impacted on the life chances of far too many young people.
Richard Allison, Edinburgh.
HARDIE AND THE UPPER CHAMBER
MICHAEL Sheridan (letters, August 10) suggests that I may have understated the contributions of Keir Hardie; perhaps, but I very much doubt if a founder of the Labour Party who didn’t approve of the House of Lords in the 20th century would approve of it in the 21st century.
I can’t see him condoning the £305 daily attendance fee, or the subsidised dining enjoyed by the Lords while foodbanks flourish the length and breadth of the land, or that not a single peer in the House of Lords was elected by anyone. And I can’t see him applauding the fact that members of the Labour Party have donned the ermine and been awarded fancy titles.
However, if he’d been alive today, something neither Keir Hardie, nor anyone else would find in the unelected chamber is a Lord sent there by the SNP, as that is strictly against party policy.
Keir Hardie – no ‘Sir’ in front of his name – might birl from joy at that.
Ruth Marr, Stirling.
HARDIE THE CAMPAIGNER
I REFER to the correspondence concerning the life and legacy of Keir Hardie.
Worthy of more attention was his concern for the environment . This was most powerfully illustrated by his actions in relation to the chrome -making factory in Rutherglen, the Shawfield Chemical Works.
He exposed not only the adverse effects of the chemicals on individual health and on the surrounding air, but also the disposal of poisonous liquids into the nearby river. His criticisms were collated in a pamphlet entitled ‘White Slaves (?series? – Labourlist.org
He learned that the procedures at the Rutherglen factory were widespread, and urged local authorities to act.
He also advocated that central government should act to take measures to prevent coastal erosion and to ensure that steps for renewal were being taken when forests were being felled for commercial purposes. In many respects with regard to the environment, he was ahead of his time.
Ian W. Thomson, Lenzie.
THE SNP ADMIT THEIR MISTAKES …
STEPH Johnson’s letter August 10) betrays loathing of the SNP in abundance, accusing it of “endless vacuous media soundbites” and several other offences.
Perhaps it is worth noting that the SNP has governed the people of Scotland for decades now, that they are a Scottish party working for Scottish people, rich or poor. They make mistakes, which they mostly admit to.
On the other hand, the Westminster government is propped up by billionaire tax-evading psychopaths who have only the interests of the elite few in mind, and have created chaos and poverty beyond all reason in the UK in those same decades.
It is high time for the likes of Steph Johnson to observe the bigger picture
Kevin Orr, Bishopbriggs.
… BUT ARE STILL ‘TARTAN TORIES’
DOES anyone remember, a long time ago, when the SNP were emerging as a political reality, they were known as the Tartan Tories?
Look around us now and see how apt a description it was.
Fiona Gordon, Cupar, Fife.
LET’S NOT OVERDO THE LATIN
PAST correspondence in this newspaper has lamented the decline in the teaching of Latin. More recent news suggests it may be revived. There are good arguments for teaching Latin in schools, but let’s not overdo it.
Boris Johnson is a graduate in classical studies, trumped up Oxford-style as “Greats”. It seems to have left him innumerate and bamboozled.
When decisions are required based on quantitative data, as has been the case during the pandemic, he appears ponderous and dim-witted. He likes a spot of empty boosterism but cannot cope with serious decisions based on balance of risk.
“Greats” may be a well-trodden route to the top in the UK, but this antiquated approach to education is yet another reason for Scotland to go its own way.
Bill McKinlay, Balerno.
SOUND ADVICE ON DRUGS
KUDOS to William Hague for his thoughtful words on drugs decriminalisation. No chance of that happening, I fear.
S. Marshall, Glasgow.