Last throw

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I AM sure that many of your readers will consider the Labour Party’s 1p income tax increase as their “last throw of the dice”.

This “postcode tax” suggested by Labour leader Kezia Dugdale will be impossible to administrate fairly and will no doubt be open to very many legal challenges should it be passed. Hundreds of thousands employed in North Sea oil and gas industry from all over the UK work shoulder to shoulder in often dangerous situations.

Yet only the Scottish workers are singled out and discriminated against by this proposed extra tax burden.

As a “has-been” Labour voter, I feel that Ms Dugdale must come up with some other constructive idea before the May elections to stop an imminent “whitewash”.

Ms Dugdale’s persistent scaremongering will not wash with the Scottish electorate.

Donald J Morrison

Haig Street, Portknockie, Buckie

Tax questions

In response to Colin Hamilton, may I start by saying that I do not, for one minute, think he set out to deliberately to mislead readers with his comments on the Labour plan to add a penny to income tax. By the same token I don’t believe the Scottish government is trying to mislead the electorate when they say these changes will affect lower earners.

The history here is interesting because 17 years ago when the SNP came up with the slogan “A penny for Scotland” Labour argued that it would hurt low and middle-income families. Indeed, at the Scottish Labour conference Kezia Dugdale said: “A fairer Scotland isn’t one where everyone pays more tax.”

Rather more important is the failure of Labour to provide clarity about how this policy will be administered. This applies in particular to the planned rebate for the lower tax payers.

Douglas Turner

Derby Street, Edinburgh

Fiscal farce

Peter Jones rightly concludes that the fiscal framework negotiations are being largely driven by political interests rather than any concern for the well-being of the people of Scotland (The politics of the fiscal framework, 9 February). After all the discord and expense through the referendum, Smith Commission, Scotland Bill and now fiscal negotiations, it must be hugely frustrating for all concerned to find the SNP putting so much effort into stirring grievance from the process rather than genuinely seeking a pragmatic agreement.

While the Smith Commission did contemplate an outcome with “no detriment” to either side as the block grant is reduced for new taxes raised in Scotland, it is a stretch to extend this into a never-ending adjustment removing risk for Scotland.

As Peter Jones explains, Nicola Sturgeon has probably concluded that deal or no deal, she and the SNP will continue to spin this to best effect in the coming elections.

Keith Howell

West Linton, Peeblesshire

No alternative

Local authorities were given until 9 February to accept the reduced funding from Holyrood in the sure knowledge that there will have to be serious cut-backs on essential services to balance the reduction in funding.

There was little alternative for the local authorities to accept the SNP administration’s stingy offer as rejection would have incurred the most damaging of financial penalties. They made them an offer they couldn’t refuse.

Dennis Forbes Grattan

Mugiemoss Road, Aberdeen

Oil rig threat

The latest devastating news of 150 oil rigs shutting down in the North Sea is frightening not just for jobs but also for future revenues for Scotland.

The cuts to spending, tax increases and borrowing increases that would face an independent Scotland right now would make the Celtic Tiger collapse in Ireland look like a minor setback.

SNP politicians need to stop blaming others about austerity and start accepting that their economic case has been blown apart by world events influencing the oil price.

Perhaps, just perhaps, they won’t cry “scaremongering” the next time someone questions their financial predictions.

Michelle Smythe

Dalry Road, Edinburgh

Blame game

The ongoing debate on the use of the Scottish Government’s powers to amend the Scottish Rate of Income Tax provides yet further proof of the SNP’s sole priority. Increasing taxes may cost the SNP votes but, let’s face it, they can afford to lose a few and still be returned to power in May. If ever there was a government which could afford to take some mildly unpopular decisions for the betterment of all, surely it is now?

Instead, Sturgeon and Swinney would rather sit on their hands and simply pass on “Tory cuts” in the hope that the electorate will look south for someone to blame; desperate to maintain popularity for the only thing that matters to them – another referendum.

Fraser Whyte

Aboyne

Integrity question

Lesley Riddoch (Scottish Perspective 8 February) says that to question Nicola Sturgeon’s integrity is “laughable”. Really?

Ms Sturgeon is the leader of a party which, had it succeeded at the independence referendum, would have led Scotland to financial ruin. Despite the catastrophic collapse of oil industry revenues, she continues to promote the same political objective.

This sub-school-debate level bluster not only reveals a void where a proper answer should be, it also illustrates with perfect clarity the benefits of remaining within the UK.

The loss of oil revenues for an independent Scotland would have been disastrous. Ms Sturgeon, and her party, all know this perfectly well, but the rocks will melt in the sun before they admit it. Integrity beyond question? I don’t think so, Ms Riddoch.

GM McLeod

Muirs, Kinross

Stroke appeal

After the devastating moment when a stroke strikes, the healing process can be a labour that takes a life-time. It takes mettle, tenacity and patience, not only from the survivor but a legion of family, friends, medical professionals to reassemble the fragments of yourself.

The Life After Stroke Awards are an opportunity recognise the courage of stroke survivors and their supporters everywhere.

I would like to urge anyone who knows an undaunted stroke survivor or a remarkable carer to nominate that person for a Life After Stroke Award today.

There are around 121,000 stroke survivors living in Scotland, which means there are a lot of unsung heroes who deserve recognition and celebration.

Nominations for the awards are open until 30 April 2016. For more information, go to www.stroke.org.uk/lasa.

Andrew Marr

Stroke Association

True debate

Your editorial (9 February) avers that the referendum is really “all about the economic advantages and disadvantages of being part of a European union”.

It is, or should be, about whether or not we should be governed by our own elected Houses of Parliament and subject to our own judiciary – which are frankly much easier decisions than the economic one, and which would enable us to adopt any or all of the rulings determined by Brussels and Strasbourg should we legislate accordingly after proper parliamentary scrutiny.

John Birkett

Horseleys Park, St Andrew

Bishops’ move

We were disappointed to learn that a petition to remove the 26 unelected Church of England Bishops from the House of Lords has been flatly rejected by the government.

The government’s response claims that they bring “an important independent voice and spiritual insight”.

Independent? Sure, unless they’re discussing keeping children’s’ education segregated by the religions of their parents or voting to maintain the second class citizen status of British LGBTI people.

Let those who wish their lives to be guided by religious belief be free to have it that way but when we disagree with our government we must be free to vote them out.

Neil Barber

Edinburgh Secular Society, Saughtonhall Drive

Culture vultures

Merci mille fois Essential Edinburgh, inter alia, for the latest “creation” in their theme park takeover of St Andrew Square.

A concatenation of neon-lit stick figures performs a danse macabre around Lord Dundas’s austere pillar. Meanwhile, at the base of all this is the memory of grass and snowdrops and crocuses, and in the middle distance middens of mud.

Councillor Richard Lewis has said: “This project has been tailored by the French artists to suit the square.”

One wonders whether the French collective “Groupe Lap”’ are soulmates of the Gallic company which designed those equally soulless and risible new bus-stop shelters that protect few from Reekie’s horizontal rains or winds that arrow to the bone.

Is this the city council’s slant on our once admirable “entente cordiale”?

The council should be ashamed of turning a blind eye to Essential Edinburgh’s cynical and systematic vandalism perpetrated in St Andrew Square and elsewhere in our World Heritage site, ostensibly in the interests of “culture”, but increasingly in what Councillor Lewis chillingly describes as profitable “footfall”.

John Ross Maclean

Drummond Place, Edinburgh

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