Second shot

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I feel obliged to respond to Mr Salmond’s letter addressed at me (Letters, 26 January).  The fundamental point I was making in my “sad and sanctimonious” missive (18 January) was that the SNP’s Pete Wishart told Scotland that it was not possible to be an MP and have a second job. Mr Salmond clearly thinks otherwise – we can all agree on that.

As for Mr Salmond’s claim to have spoken 124 times in the Commons, alert readers will note that he made no mention of his work in the Scottish Parliament.

As for Mr Salmond’s donations to the Mary Salmond Trust, these are documented on the Scottish Government’s OSCR website.

Dr Scott Arthur

Buckstone Gardens, Edinburgh

Tax on women

Women born in the 1950s and their future state pension was the topic Angus Robertson MP (Westminster leader of the SNP) addressed to the Prime Minister at PMQ’s yesterday. This is to be commended, though David Cameron’s response was far from commendable.

Westminster previously took a vote and committed to introducing “transitional arrangements” for women who will be negatively affected by the increase to women’s state pension age. However the reality is that the government hasdone nothing to assist them.

Those who will be directly affected by the rise in state pension age are women born just after April 1953 who have not had a fair transitional period to make alternative financial arrangements.

Many had hoped to be in receipt of their state pension from 2016, but only became aware of the changes in 2011. The result, no pension when expected and the prospect of having to work up to an additional five years, resulting in the loss of thousands of pounds. This is nothing short of a stealth tax.

Catriona C Clark

Hawthorn Drive, Banknock, Falkirk

The golden years

Once more it is the season for our hard-working councillors to whinge about the lack of money due to the Council Tax freeze.

But I think much of the escalating problem is caused by the increasing burden of paying the inflated pensions agreed for former employees and golden handshakes! 

Would each authority care to tell us the percentage of the proposed expenditure spent say over the last three years? I think it might be an ever increasing percentage with the ordinary taxpayer paying for the generosity.

James Watson

Randolph Crescent, Dunbar

Radioactive trail

Widow and son of Alexander Litvinenko were rightly concerned over the findings of the report into his death. Their personal tragedy ought not to obscure the wider security issue that a polonium trail was scattered around the streets of London a decade ago and not just put into a teapot in a restaurant. More than the usual diplomatic double-talk from David Cameron and Theresa May is surely called for in response to the Sir Robert Owen Report.

You can bet your boots the Kremlin would have not have been slow to act had polonium been spread around Moscow.

Jim Craigen

Downie Grove, Edinburgh

Safe way forward

John Wood (Letters, 26 January) omits a key point about cycle lanes passing behind bus stops. Experience in London shows that these “floating bus stops” can cause severe conflict between cyclists and pedestrians, who have to cross the cycle path from the pavement in order to access the bus stop.

We in Living Streets Edinburgh argue for better conditions for everyday walking, and we also support segregated cycle paths – provided they not do impact on the convenience and safety of walking. Floating bus stops are a big worry for those less confident on their feet.

David Spaven

Convener, Living Streets, Edinburgh Group,

Church Hill Drive, Edinburgh

Crude campaign

Governments need to constantly work to the benefit of their country. I’m glad that the Scottish Government now seems to want to work with the oil and gas industry to “help remove barriers to exploration, support the training and reskilling of staff, enable technology to improve ­production and address issues of access to finance, remove barriers to further exploration and improve collaboration between industry and academia to foster innovation”.

This is a significant set of issues that the government has been remiss in addressing in the past.

Given that this is the very industry that was going to prop up an independent Scotland for decades to come, the government doesn’t seem to have been doing, or even been prepared to do, very much to help it. Given the Scottish Government’s record and understanding of oil prices I fear that this is an industry it doesn’t really understand.

There is obviously an election coming. I can see many more meaningless pledges coming our way.

Ken Currie

Liberton Drive, Edinburgh

Parked policy

You reported the announcement of the Scottish Goverment’s “refreshed” national transport strategy (22 January).

When the orginal was launched in 2006 one of its five high level objectives was to “promote social inclusion by connecting with disadvantaged communities and increasing the accessibility of the transport network”.

But there was no plan to say how this was going to be achieved, particularly in regard to the needs of people with disabilities.

Ten years later we still do not have one. Although some progress has been made, there have also been setbacks and many problems remain.

Thecurrent government says it has been consulting older and disabled people, transport providers, local authorities and others interested and it hopes to come up with a plan in September.

The user-led charity, Scottish Accessible Transport Alliance (Sata), did just that in 2014 and it remains to been seen how this further process replicates its findings. Whatever plan emerges, the main thing is to have it implemented and that will take hard cash.

Alan Rees

Seaforth Drive, Edinburgh

In good faith

Edinburgh Secular Society’s diktat against schools teaching religious observance (Letters, 26 January) appear to me to be bitter and biased.

I’m no politician, but their secretary Steuart Campbell’s attack on the Scottish Government for failing to “move with the times” is laughable and his call for youngsters to be taught only “facts” dishonours the proven faith of generations – when faith was sometimes all that enabled this nation to continue opposing evil that threatened civilisation.

Mr Campell will not win by mocking the belief of millions of Christians worldwide.

Brian McGuire

North Berwick

Border zeal

The legislation approved this week by the Danish government in the face of uncontrolled immigration may mean that Denmark will lose its title as champions of human rights, but at least it shows that the Danes, unlike some other European nations, still have some common sense.

The “open door” policy espoused primarily by the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, but now on the back-burner after the tragic Paris massacre and Cologne abuses, has mobilised right-wing groups across Europe and led to calls to restore border controls in Europe, which would not be a bad thing. 

Our First Minister Nicola Sturgeon gave Mrs Merkel’s plan her ringing endorsement, possibly because she felt it to be her duty to contradict David Cameron, who had urged caution on accepting unidentifiable migrants from the Middle-East war-zone, but we should be thankful that she did not go down the line of the German 
premier.

We are a compassionate ­people and are always in the forefront of those who provide humanitarian aid wherever it is needed in the world.

But a difficult decision has to be taken, and, as Denmark has shown, national security and practicality must come first. 

Walter J Allan 

Colinton Mains Drive, Edinburgh

Alex Salmond boasts that every SNP MP and MSP will vote to remain in the European Union in the referendum. But can it really be the case that all who want independence can be so Europhile? Democracy demands a free vote.

Much of our legislation emanates from Brussels without accountability, and the EU has changed beyond recognition over the past 15 years. With Turkey set to be admitted, and Ukraine hoping to join, the institution will become even more cumbersome and unmanageable. There are also huge economic and social problems caused by uncontrolled mass immigration.

The reason for the SNP kneeling at Brussels’ door is that in the event of independence they want to use the euro as our currency, having been denied sterling and the notion of an oil-backed Scottish currency no longer credible.

William Loneskie

Lauder, Berwickshire

Proactive care

I would like to point out that it is not only the NHS that suffers when there is not enough social care for well people who have to remain in hospital awaiting a package of care (your report, 27 January).

There is a huge knock-on effect to unpaid carers in the community as those people in hospital are given priority over those outside awaiting long-term care.

I have cared for my husband who has multiple health issues for 17 years. Since last year he has been on the waiting list for long term care but because he is not at risk there is no prospect of that in the foreseeable future.

That my wellbeing as a full-time carer is at risk seems to have been ignored.

I have been informed something will happen if/when there is a crisis.

What we need is proactive provision to prevent the crises happening … and the political will to see it delivered.

Ann Fraser

Clermiston Road, Edinburgh