Readers' letters: Over-65s are far from a burden on society

Neil Anderson (Letters, 18 September) wishes to raise a levy on all over-65s migrating to Scotland. The suggestion is that they are all coming for healthcare, free bus passes and prescriptions and there’s a veiled hint that it’s mainly from England to the Borders.
A reader argues that the over-65s make a major contribution to society (Picture: reader argues that the over-65s make a major contribution to society (Picture:
A reader argues that the over-65s make a major contribution to society (Picture:

I was quite shocked. How easy it is to overlook the huge contributions made by the 65-plus (whether immigrants or natives) and time and again they seem pitted against the eponymous taxpayer as though they are a breed apart. Yet most of them still are taxpayers! I would suggest anyone on pension credit (it’s an open admission that the state pension is not enough to live on) will be too poor to move.

Maybe they’ve moved to be near family and are providing free child care to allow sons and daughters to work and thus pay tax. Or even be caring for very elderly parents.

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They will almost certainly be volunteering in huge numbers since the voluntary sector is largely comprised of the retired.These activities save the taxpayer billions.

They will have earned their pensions elsewhere but be spending them in Scotland, paying VAT on many goods and services. If you were to substitute any other group for 65-plus in the letter it would rightfully be seen as bigotry, but time and again the older citizen is the target when discussing saving or raising money. The inference is they are nothing but a burden and a drain. Dreadful ageism, forgetting that they have contributed enormously to society for decades and still do.

Lorna Thorpe, Alyth, Perth & Kinross

Limited label

I usually enjoy Brian Wilson’s Perspective articles, but I take great exception to his suggestion of 16 September, concerning our former “Do as I say, not as I do” First Minister, that forming Nicola Sturgeon Limited may be a ruse to benefit from lawful tax avoidance. Perish the thought!

It is clearly aimed at the Scottish Government’s new transparency policy and an open acknowledgement of the individual’s political governance abilities. Given their record in government, I’m sure that, in accordance with the policy, the current First Minister (when he returns from his inappropriate and high carbon footprint jaunt to New York) and his colleagues in office would be fully entitled to follow suit and use the same post-nominal appendage with pride.

Fraser MacGregor, Edinburgh

English eye

I most heartily wish that Scotland would vote for independence as swiftly as possible and give those living south of the border some future certainty.

It goes without saying the majority of English people would be far better off economically, psychologically and culturally if ties with the Celtic millstone could be severed. It does our self-respect significant harm when constantly harangued for imagined grievances in pursuit of a credible argument for independence.

Of course English independence will have its drawbacks. I anticipate thousands of economic migrants feeing south in search of a better life and an intractable “small boat” problem across the Solway Firth. However, there would be compensations with holidays in Scotland more affordable due to a very favourable exchange between the pound sterling and the Scottish groat!

David Smith, Taunton, Somerset

Iniquitous oil

While some readers might remember the horrors of the Piper Alpha platform many will have forgotten the less reported disaster ten weeks later of the Ocean Odyssey explosion on 22 September 1988.

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This was an oil rig drilling in the North Sea that also had a blow out that killed Timothy Williams, aged 25. The radio operator was on his first trip working on a rig offshore.

So while the most important issue today is our environment, our elected politicians in both Holyrood and Westminster seem incapable of challenging the very profitable major oil companies that are the main culprits of wrecking the world we all inhabit.

The oil industry does not care about jobs or climate chaos and opposes their workers’ right to be active in a trade union.

Norman Lockhart, Innerleithen, Scottish Borders

Urban bias

At the beginning of October our 129 MSPs are to provide yet more subsidies to those in the Central Belt by ending peak-time fares on Scottish railways.

Is Humza Yousaf aware that Scots, in places such as Tongue, Braemar, Campbelltown or Kirkcudbright, have no acces to ScotRail services? Surely, as a quid pro quo, rural Scots should receive free electricity to counter the largesse splashed on those living in the Central Belt!

Ian Moir, Castle Douglas, Dumfries & Galloway

Target practice

As rural communitues and the countryside come under increasing pressure from wind farm developers who are enjoying a free for all destroying Scotland's best assest, its unique landscape, can anyone actually tell us in percentage terms our current progress towards net zero? I have emailed the government but received no reply.

Alison Jarman, Chesters, Scottish Borders

Stormy waters

Alexander McKay (Letters, 18 September) obviously isn’t aware that domestic ferry safety regulations changed after the construction of the CalMac ferries commenced, which has meant modifications. The SNP isn’t physically building these ferries and there have been faults on all sides, including several design changes, and by the former management of Ferguson Marine before it was brought into public ownership. Also, construction costs are soaring in the UK compared to our EU neighbours.

Other than weather-related cancellations, CalMac has a 97 per cent reliability record on its 50 routes, which is probably better than some of the Edinburgh buses I use, but the constant media negativity has resulted in many tourists cancelling their holidays.

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While our Scottish Government has to virtually balance its books every year, successive UK governments have run up a national debt of £2,500 billion and no one can match Westminster for wasting taxpayers’ money.

Rishi Sunak has ruled out an inquiry into the Covid PPE contracts scandal which saw billions lining the pockets of Tory donors who were given preferential treatment and the Public Accounts Committee highlighted “serious defects in the government’s stewardship of public money”.

The High-Speed Rail project which was originally estimated at £56 billion in 2015 has almost doubled and is now unlikely to go as far north as Manchester while we in Scotland are still waiting for the direct rail routes to Europe promised when the Channel Tunnel was built in 1988 and also had vast overrun costs.

Fraser Grant, Edinburgh

Saving time

Reading of the uncertain future of the High Speed Railway despite the costs so far incurred, I can’t help but think that the spread of the 20mph speed restrictions on roads in built-up areas could be its death knell.

What is the point in saving those few minutes between London and Birmingham on the train when it is going to take longer to get to/from the station – unless of course, the station is rural and not in a built-up area?

D Gerrard, Edinburgh

No Holy Grail

Brian Monteith (Scotsman, 18 September) observes that: “After losing in 2014 the SNP leadership abandoned trying to convince the broader Scottish people and instead spoke only to its base – to, first, maintain the leadership’s power; and secondly the party’s domination of Scotland”.

Hence the relentless financial persecution of perceived Enemies of the People of Scotland such as private landlords, motorists (through Glasgow’s LEZ) and higher earners.

The intrusive, illegal Named Person Scheme and other more recent “progressive” social policies have outraged those with traditional family values but delighted the wine bar revolutionaries who have happily colonised the ruling coalition.

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In the process, the Scottish Government has even succeeded in alienating some of its own supporters, including former ministers. Mr Monteith goes on to say that this succession of unworkable legislation shows that the Continuity SNP/Green partnership is not in fact serious about winning wider backing for their “Holy Grail” of separation, but merely hope to cling on to the privileges of power for as long as possible.

They lack the integrity to be frank with their followers about the unpleasant consequences of separation, instead spinning them fairy tales about Guaranteed Basic Income, a four-day working week, EU membership, “Scotland’s vast natural resources” and limitless social welfare.

Martin O’Gorman, Edinburgh

Principled stance

Humza Yousaf claims that his government’s legal challenge to overturn the UK Government’s block of the Scottish Government’s Gender Reform Bill is not about the legislation per se it is actually about the principle of devolution.

Therefore it follows that in the very likelihood of his challenge being defeated in the Court of Session this means the principle of devolution is dead and then we can remove the snouts from the trough of 129 politicians and 40,000 civil servants and as a consequence save £100s millions

Stan Hogarth, Strathaven, South Lanarkshire

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