Letters: 1p incomes tax rise | Scotland Bill | Bed blocking

Nicola Sturgeon ended First Minister's Questions this week (your report, 5 February) by claiming Scottish Labour was an 'utter disgrace'. Those who choose to judge others must think carefully about the example they set.

Ms Sturgeon repeatedly claimed that everyone in Scotland who earns more than £11,000 would pay more tax as a result of Labour’s plan to raise income tax by 1p to protect vital public services. Whilst this is technically correct, she omitted to mention that those earning £11,000 – £20,000 would actually be better off as a result of the rebate Kezia Dugdale proposed.

Nicola Sturgeon is not lying. She is, however, misleading the people of Scotland.

(Dr) Scott Arthur

Buckstone Gardens, Edinburgh.

Tax burdens

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In her feature on tax (Perspective 5 February) Joyce McMillan’s comments are, as usual, thoughtful and balanced. Disappointingly, however, she repeats the same disinformation which is clearly going to be the SNP mantra in response to Labour’s proposal to raise income tax – that it will “ask low and middle-earning taxpayers to bear the cost”.

Here are the facts. Those earning less than £20,000 would be asked to pay nothing and would in fact be better off due to the £100 rebate. As to middle earners, those earning £30,000 would pay £3.65 per week and those earning £60,000 would pay £10.

Someone earning £144,000 per year such as, say, Nicola Sturgeon would pay £28 per week. These figures not only make it clear that higher earners are far from being exempt but also prove – contrary to John Swinney’s claim – that the measure would unarguably be “progressive”.

Colin Hamilton

Braid Hill Avenue, Edinburgh

Wrong footed

Nicola Sturgeon has clearly been wrong footed by Kezia Dugdale’s progressive proposal to increase the basic rate of tax by 1p and in yesterday’s First Minister’s Questions she tried to mislead voters by saying the poorest would pay more. As usual, she was playing with words.

Yes, they will pay £40 more but they will get a £100 rebate so they will be £60 better off. No-one earning less than £20,000 will be worse off, and surely someone earning £40,000 can afford £6 a week to protect our young folk from the SNP cuts.

Henry L Philip

Grange Loan, Edinburgh

Lesson to learn

Stan Grodynski returns to the fray accusing “the usual anti-SNP suspects” of being either naive or of scurrilous intent (Letters 5 February).

Such ad hominem answers to legitimate questions remind me of the tactics used by YeSNP during the referendum campaign when the response to perfectly appropriate enquiries was to accuse the questioners of either promoting “Project Fear” or of being taken in by it.

It appears that some Nationalists have not learned the lesson.

John Milne

Ardgowan Drive, Uddingston

Orwell’s advice

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I am afraid that I failed completely to make any sense of Stan Grodynski’s letter of 5 February. I hope he won’t mind if I give him a bit of advice. It is to shorten his sentences. His letter criticising opponents of the SNP government contained three paragraphs: each paragraph contained a single sentence, the longest 88 words.

If Mr Grodynski doesn’t believe me, he should take advice from George Orwell whose essay Politics of the English Language is still as relevant today as it was in 1946. One of his six principles of writing good English was number (iii). “If is possible to cut out a word, always cut it out”

Andrew Hamilton

Dean Park Mews, Edinburgh

Pass the parcel

The negotiations over the Scotland Bill must be fascinating to watch. It reminds me of pass the parcel, it’s as though they have an unexploded bomb. The SNP don’t want Scotland’s finances based on the Barnett formula as they want to be independent. They don’t want the finances based on oil as the price has fallen so much. And the Tories just want to cut, cut, cut the amount Scotland receives. And – well you can just never trust the Tories.

Phil Tate


Gap is still there

Your readers will be relieved to know that the research into the gender pay gap which Sarah McPartland disputes (Between the lines: Gender pay gap a myth beyond sell-by-date, 4 February 2016), was carried out by the Law Society of Scotland. They spoke to their members who confirmed what countless other wages surveys have shown, that the gender pay gap is all too real. Ms McPartland asks where do we get these figures from? Well the figures presented in Is Scotland Fairer all came from official sources, and we quoted the most robust data available. Whilst this might not correspond with Ms McParland’s “experience” they are the facts.

Depressingly, the gender pay gap in Scotland remains at 7.3 per cent (according to Scottish Government data November 2015) and any narrowing of the gap in recent years is the result of men’s wages falling during the recession rather than women benefitting from wages rising. Perhaps once Ms McPartland has had a chance to compare the official data with her personal experience she might reconsider and join us in working to close that gap once and for all?

Chris Oswald,

Head of Policy, Equality and Human Rights Commission, Scotland

Bed blocking

The biggest problem currently with the Scottish NHS is bed-blocking caused by local authorities who are strapped for cash and left without adequate budgets to afford decent care to allow older patients back home in the community.

Ironically it is the SNP that have added to the problems by insisting the council tax freeze policy is to stay. If it weren’t so serious it would be laughable.

Dennis Forbes Grattan

Mugiemoss Road, Aberdeen

Gloss tarnished

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I laughed so much when I read Joyce McMillan’s article on Scotland’s current tax debate this morning and her bizarre use of the word “serenely” (Perspective 5 February) that I nearly choked on my Tunnocks Tea Cake.

The SNP’s shameless indecision on vital policy issues will ensure that they are not carried “serenely through the May Holyrood elections”.The tartan gloss is beginning to fade and it is going to be a very interesting election.

Fiona Campbell

Stobo, Peebles

Women of note

Lori Anderson (Perspective 5 February) raises the issue of who merits “to become the new face of the Scottish £10”. Is there any compelling reason why the “new face” has to be from the distant past? Apparently the purpose of using a female scientist is to “inspire a whole generation of young female scientists”.

A face from the end of the 18th century could be off-putting for young female students. Why not picture the face of a contemporary female scientist with considerable achievements to her name? Professor Anne Glover seems admirably qualified.

Ellis Thorpe

Old Chapel Walk, Inverurie

Trading terms

David Cameron and Nicola Sturgeon are determined to talk up the benefits, as they see them, of being in the EU.

The EU claims that it has provided peace and security to Europe since the last war. They say the UK would suffer by leaving this political union and would have to pay to access the EU market.

The EU has not provided peace and security to Europe. That was done by Nato, of which the US and UK were the main muscle. Half of the present EU was in the Warsaw Pact.
It must be understood that we are the EU’s second-biggest market. If they wish to trade with us, they will do so on our terms, or we will not be buying their Mercedes and Skodas, olive oil and champagne.

Andrew HN Gray

Craiglea Drive, Edinburgh

It doesn’t add up

It was brought home to me recently just how serious the state of numeracy is nowadays. I was paying a lunch bill in a restaurant by credit card. The bill was £77.50 and I told the girl to round it up to £85. She could not work out in her head how much to put in the space for gratuities.

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Standards of literacy in both spoken and written English are dreadful. Matters can only get worse as the pupils, poorly taught, become teachers themselves. The downward spiral is not going to be a simple matter to reverse. We even had our education secretary famously telling an interviewer that “the figures have went down”(sic).

Donald Lewis

East Lothian

New for old

Mr W Douglas’s observations about the flood-mitigation scheme being trialled in the Eddleston Water holds a number of misconceptions. His attempt to equate the vast conifer forests planted 30-60 years ago in the watershed of the Teviot upstream of Hawick, with the very small-scale plantings along water courses between Peebles and Leadburn, is misinformed. In the past, the planting of commercial forests was always preceded by the extensive construction of drains to dry out the often water-saturated ground.

In contrast, one of the methods of retaining the water before it reaches the river is impeding these same drains with dead branches and other debris to partially block them. The tree-planting he deprecates almost wholly consists of deciduous trees such as alder, birch and willow, hardly species that the wood industry would be interested in.

Yes it is only a small tributary, but if the few tens of thousands of pounds spent on Eddleston Water was applied to some of the hundreds of other tributaries of the Tweed and elsewhere, it would still be small change compared to the £31.4 million currently being spent to prevent flooding in Selkirk. Incidentally it was the Tweed that flooded Peebles, not the Eddleston Water.

Ray Murray