Dear Mr Salmond
Last Saturday I praised your announcement that children of fallen military personnel will receive extra financial support to help with their education.
As we have more Scots joining the British armed forces per head than from any other part of the United Kingdom, I thought your policy was an exceptionally worthy gesture from the Scottish government.
But then the doubts crept in. On 8 April this year the MoD proclaimed a policy (The Education Scholarship Scheme) of undertaking to provide university and further education scholarships for children of service personnel who have been killed on active duty since 1990.
All who qualify will receive £1500 a year towards full-time further education (college). Those who are resident in England and wish to study for a degree at an English university will receive annual payments of £8240, while those who are resident in Scotland and wish to study at a Scottish university will receive £4950 - a difference of £3290. Young people resident in England but choosing a Scottish university for study will receive £6770. (source) The variable rates reflect the difference in tuition fees - or lack of as is the case in Scotland.
Surely, I thought, you couldn't be reiterating the MoD's new policy, but in order to put my mind at rest early last week I emailed the Scottish Parliament asking if the bursaries you announced prior to Armed Forces Day were in addition to the UK government's announced in April. As yet I have received no response; not even an acknowledgement.
For 13 years the Labour government in Westminster regurgitated their policies with regularity. Blair and Brown were masters of this devious art.
Much as I would like to think that the Scottish government was offering additional funding to children resident in Scotland, I suspect your bursary announcement was nothing more than a repeat of the Westminster policy. Children of military personnel who live in Scotland will not receive additional funding from the Scottish government.
Mr Salmond, don't behave like Labour. In May people here in Scotland decided your party were the best to lead us forward. That's because you were not the Labour party. Rehashing policies, be they from Westminster or Holyrood, is not smart politics. As one of Britain's canniest politicians you should know that.