Letter: Tyler's prophecy

ON THE day I received notification from Scottish Gas of yet another hike - 16 per cent - in electricity costs, I read of a Liberal Democrat MSP whose hotel bill per annum amounts to £13,000 from the public purse (your report, 18 July).

And all because said MSP finds the one-hour journey from his Galashiels home to the Scottish Parliament, and vice versa, too taxing on his bureaucratic constitution.

Matters were made even worse when it was revealed that this 70,000-a-year politician owns, together with his wife, five homes estimated in value at around 1.25 million, and that other MSPs also own multiple properties.

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In contrast to this, I am an IT field service engineer of 30 years who still earns the same 20,000 per annum he earned seven years ago. I travel the length and breadth of Scotland, sometimes 400-mile journeys, for which privilege I have to pay an extra 100 per month in company car tax.

Together with other taxation, bills and the generally rocketed cost of living and clothing, I am only grateful I own my ex-council house. I fear to contemplate what it must be like for those taxpayers in my position who have mortgages besides.

At any rate, the financial mess this country is in after decades of taxing the worker to nanny the shirker, while simultaneously permitting bankers, politicians and fuel company executives to plunder further the workers' pockets with impunity, brings to mind the 1887 prophetic observation of Edinburgh University professor, Alexander Tyler:

"A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury.

"From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse over loose fiscal policy, (which is] always followed by a dictatorship."

Between greedy politicians and executives on the one hand and great numbers of lifelong state-supported louts on the other, with the average taxpayer caught in the crossfire, I look forward to the forthcoming dictatorship, so long as it is moral and just.

Martin Blackshaw

Glen Road

Livingston, West Lothian

THE Taxpayers' Alliance provides a useful service in highlighting many items of government and politicians' expenditure which appear wasteful.

However, picking on MSPs who have claimed hotel expenses for overnight stays in Edinburgh when they own flats in the city which are tenanted (your report, 19 July) is particularly petty.

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In the current housing situation the more properties which are bought by landlords for letting the better for the many who cannot purchase at the moment because of difficulties in borrowing.

Why should MSPs not have housing investments? The tax they pay on the income will more than meet the hotel bills incurred in their work.

We love to criticise our rulers but on this occasion MSPs who are property investors should be praised.

Brian Adair

Hanover Street