Manifesto destiny

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YOUR EDITORIAL (The Scotsman, 20 April) criticising political parties for the late publication of their manifestos is very much to the point. The delay is perhaps understandable in the case of the Labour Party, which had some of its headline policies copied and pasted into the SNP manifesto at the last minute before the Westminster elections. Presumably the SNP have been hanging on again in an attempt to repeat the manoeuvre in the Holyrood elections.

Your suggestion that all parties should have their policies in print by a fixed date sufficiently in advance of the election is a good one. Perhaps even better would be a requirement that they all publish their manifestos on precisely the same date. What party could object to that?

Colin Hamilton

Braid Hills Avenue, Edinburgh

Tax facts?

In the absence of manifestos from the major parties, electors are being left to decide for themselves who to vote for two weeks hence.

We know the SNP are committed to continuing austerity, the recent cuts to council budgets is evidence of that. The inability to obtain an early appointment with a GP or at hospital and increasing cancer referral times is evidence of how the NHS is managing under the SNP.

On taxation, the SNP’s only proposed change is to increase the higher rate threshold for higher earners by inflation. On the other hand, Labour propose to increase the basic rate to 21p for all but the lowest earners, increasing the top rate of tax to 50p.

Labour’s plans would increase taxes by around £1,000 million, SNP around £300 million. Labour, it seems, will tax the highest paid more, and use the proceeds to reverse some of the austerity policies, the SNP will slightly benefit the better off.

On council tax, both Labour and the SNP will increase the top bands, but whilst the SNP will leave the lower bands alone, contrary to their position in previous elections, Labour’s replacement of the council tax will mean 80 per cent of people will be better off.

Forget PFI, NPD, the EU referendum, Chinese investment deals etc, it is all about our lives now; this is what this election is all about.

Carry on the same or increase some taxes and reduce others to try to stop the effects of austerity, and the continuing cuts to services we all depend on.

M Mackenzie

Grange Loan, Edinburgh

Elizabeth first

Whilst we celebrate the 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II, we should acknowledge the role played by another Elizabeth, Elizabeth Stuart, Queen of Bohemia.

The daughter of James VI Scotland (James I of England), born in Dunfermline, Elizabeth is key to our current monarchy. If the gunpowder plot of 1605 had been successful, Elizabeth was to be kidnapped and made to be a puppet queen. Fortunately, that fate never befell her and instead she married the Count Palatine of the Rhine, and on their wedding day John Donne dedicated a poem to the couple. They were the Prince William and Kate Middleton of their day.

As they crossed Europe to reach Heidelberg, they were welcomed with open arms. Shortly after settling into married life, they were to become king and queen of Bohemia – but this was to last for just one year, as they were on the losing side of an early battle in the Thirty Years War. Fleeing for their lives they were provided refuge in The Hague, where they lived in exile. Elizabeth made it her mission to attempt to get back what they had lost long after her husband’s death and was partly successful in gaining back some of the land of the Palatinate. However, it is through one of her children, her daughter Sophia, that her legacy lives on with us today. Sophia married and became the Electress of Hanover. If she had lived just a few months longer she may well have become our queen, replacing Queen Anne, but this was not to be. Instead Sophia’s son became George I, the first Hanoverian King.

The legacy of the Georgians cannot be ignored. Just walk around the New Town in Edinburgh and you can see George Street and Hanover Street.

Elizabeth was a European queen facing the challenges of modern day European politics, just like our current Queen. However, maybe it is time our history acknowledges the forgotten contribution of Elizabeth Stuart, Queen of Bohemia.

Arguably, without her we wouldn’t be celebrating our own Queen’s birthday today.

Catherine Stihler MEP


Not so good

The SNP party political broadcast earlier this week boasted that everyone in Scotland has benefited from SNP policies. Today we read that Scottish unemployment rose by 20,000 between December and February to stand at 6.2 per cent compared to the UK level of 5.1 per cent. In addition, employment fell by 21,000 jobs. What benefit have these people realised from SNP policies? The SNP perpetuate the belief that politicians will say anything to be elected.

Ken Currie

Liberton Drive, Edinburgh

My referendum

As a committed No voter, I now think we should have another referendum. However, this one is for Scotland to rejoin the rest of a prospering Britain. We would enjoy lower taxes, higher GDP, more college places more organised policing, higher spending on the NHS, no nominated persons, in fact, better all-round prosperity.

Especially no more Gaelic signage, which very few can understand.

Alastair Paisley

Baberton Crescent, Juniper Green

Site for sore eyes

The National Trust for Scotland are always looking for more funds but their disclosure that they are using laser scanning technology fired from a plane to examine the Culloden battlefield represents sheer extravagance on a site that already has been subject to vast overspend.

The importance of Culloden is overrated, particularly to tourists who come away wrongly thinking it was a Scotland/England confrontation. It was all about a Royal who wanted his “inheritance” and failed, and the brutal retribution of a government to dissuade any recurrence.

There are many more important sites that could benefit from laser scanning. The continued expenditure at Culloden gives rise to the suspicion that it is being preserved, even after 270 years, as an example to the peasants or others who may consider “revolting”.

Brian Hunter

Liberton Place, Edinburgh

Choice annoys

John Birkett (Letters, 16 April) homes in on some vital issues concerning the location of schools.

He cites the example of Fife Council’s proposed replacement, Madras College, St Andrews, at a Green Belt site on the most inaccessible location in the catchment that could be imagined.

The leader of the council, Mr David Ross, has repeatedly claimed this is the only site suitable and available.

This is like a man deciding what car to buy who argues: “I looked through the car magazines to check out the dozen or so cars that my budget could afford, and I’ve gone for the Reliant Robin because it’s available in my pal’s lock-up, and it’s suitable because it has three wheels.”

(Dr) John Amson

Shore, Anstruther


GM Lindsay highlights the diametrically opposed objectives of the SNP in increasing air travel to and from Scotland by 30 per cent but also increasing the carbon emissions reduction target from 42 per cent to 50 per cent by 2020 (Letters, 18 April).

After some thought, is this really a surprise ? The SNP oppose renewal of Trident but are equally keen to remain a member of NATO, sheltering under the nuclear defences provided by the United States and France.

The SNP want to repatriate powers from Westminster, foregoing the financial benefits flowing to Scotland under the Barnett Formula but are willing to continue to concede powers to Brussels, paying millions each week for the privilege.

Andrew White

Murieston Vale, Murieston South, Livingston, West Lothian

Bard timing

Martin Redfern’s letter of 20 April hit a new low in banality. To criticise the SNP for doing nothing to commemorate the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death really is clutching at straws.

Let us consider the scenario of the Scottish government setting up a series of public events to celebrate this anniversary, then I feel sure Mr Redfern would be railing on your pages about the waste of taxpayers’ money.

Any directive to schools to teach Shakespeare on this day would be seen as Big Brother tactics.

No doubt those feelings would be intensified if the SNP suggested, heaven forbid, we do the same for Burns!

I would encourage Mr Redfern to continue to hold the Scottish Government to account, as well as, I would hope, the other parties which make up Holyrood.

However, his desperation to lambast the SNP at every opportunity is becoming tiresome and to quote the bard himself “…full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”.

D Mitchell

Cramond, Edinburgh

Symbols crash

Nicola Sturgeon is caught encouraging young children to paint SNP symbols. Where’s a Named Person when you need one?

Martin Redfern

Royal Circus, Edinburgh