Readers' Letters: Scotland can do more on cost of living crisis

A long line of SNP politicians have been commenting on the “cost of living crisis” in recent weeks, including highlighting the impact of the upcoming rise in National Insurance from April.
Could Finance Secretary Kate Forbes do more for Scots amid cost of living crisis? (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)Could Finance Secretary Kate Forbes do more for Scots amid cost of living crisis? (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Could Finance Secretary Kate Forbes do more for Scots amid cost of living crisis? (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Why are none of them calling on the Scottish Government to lower the income tax rates or increase the personal tax allowances in Scotland? These are under the control of the Scottish Government and could be used to offset the rise in National Insurance.

I suspect it's a case if it being far easier to attack, than act. If you're truly concerned then cut the taxes you control now and put more money back in the pockets of Scottish taxpayers.

J Lewis, Edinburgh

Clarity needed

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When the SNP finally publish their prospectus for the referendum they wish to hold, I safely predict it will be little more than a mixture of hopes, wishes and fantasies. The separatists continually assert various things “will” be true if Scotland secedes from the UK but they have absolutely no way of knowing if that will be the case.

However, there is a way to eliminate doubt and at the same time stop all the to and fro bickering on the letters page – the SNP should use the mandate they claim to have and begin negotiations with the UK government right now to ascertain what the terms of separation will be.

What kind of border will we have? What will the trading arrangements be? What currency will Scotland use? Who will pay pensions? All that and much more can be hammered out and then presented to the voters of Scotland so that everyone is clear about what is being voted on.

Of course, the SNP will not take this obvious path because they know that the UK is a far bigger and more economically powerful entity than Scotland and therefore would largely dictate the terms of secession to its advantage. In these circumstances I am sure that the majority for remaining part of the UK would greatly exceed the 55 per cent at the last time of asking.

Had the UK government carried out a similar process with the EU before the Brexit referendum, the result would almost certainly have been different. Enough people bought that pig in a poke as a result of being fed lies and fantasies. Let's not compound and repeat the error with Scotland.

Bill Cooper, Kinross, Perth & Kinross

A bright future

Look forward to Independence. Don’t fear it. The first years may be hard but so exciting as we all realise that every penny we pay in taxes goes some way to making Scotland a richer, greener country to live in. Look at Ireland. Their GDP is way above ours. Holiday in Ireland and you meet confident, happy people in a welcoming country. The helpings at mealtimes are enormous and delicious. Even their rugby team is second to none!

Our young people are all for independence and we should not deny them their right to become the experts in their fields of work and the powerful people of the future who carry our country forward .

I am tired of Westminster ensuring that Scotland comes off second best when new opportunities arise. We should be able to make the most of this new surge of windfarms in our sea, not have to see profits slide away to Westminster as they did when oil was first discovered. The Irish had to fight for their freedom. We only have to vote for it.

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It’s time to grab the opportunity for our children and theirs to have better work opportunities and a better life; even better pensions, perhaps. The present one from Westminster will soon take the wooden spoon in Europe when, without the triple lock, there is no reason Westminster has to raise it to match inflation.

Elizabeth Scott, Edinburgh

Swing time

Christine Jardine is naive to claim that the meltdown in Boris Johnson’s popularity is not being reflected in support for Scottish independence (Perspective, 14 February). All the evidence shows the opposite, with the most recent poll indicating an increase in favour, with an equal split between yes and no. Even in early December, when Johnson began getting into serious trouble, The Scotsman reported a “significant swing in favour of Yes”.Ms Jardine goes on to lament the SNP’s record in government, claiming that they are bereft of ideas and a radical agenda, concluding that they have become the political establishment. While there is some truth in this argument, Ms Jardine fails to mention that the opposition parties have abjectly failed to even get so much as a shot off to bring down 15 years of SNP government. There is no explanation of why the SNP continue to poll more than double the next most popular party and about eight times the support for the Liberal Democrats.Where Ms Jardine is undoubtedly correct is that despite the powers of devolution there is an abject failure from the Government to address NHS waiting lists, council budgets, overcrowded classrooms and crumbling roads. She could have also mentioned one of the worst school attainment levels in Europe, the highest drug death rate in Europe, one in four in child poverty, a mental health crisis and the staffing crisis in care.

It can only be concluded that Nicola Sturgeon’s personal popularity is what keeps SNP support high and despite a recent fall her rating is far ahead of any opposition leader. The electorate’s continued trust in Ms Sturgeon’s leadership is in stark contrast to Mr Johnson’s and opposition MPs like Ms Jardine need radical ideas of their own if they don’t want Scotland to sleepwalk into independence.

Neil Anderson, Edinburgh

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Unfair barrier

As someone who voted for Scottish independence in 2014 and delivers groceries around Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire I suppose I could use the Prime Minister's excuse for the fact the Prime Minister is still in place. In essence, nobody warned me voting for Scottish independence would see me debarred from deciding who is Prime Minster if we decided to stay in the union.

That is exactly as it is, as independence supporters are not allowed to join the Conservative and Unionist Party, as I understand it, or therefore become a backbench Tory MP.

I could, if I wanted to, join the Scottish Labour Party or, as someone who also believes in electoral reform, House of Lords reform and some form federalism, the Scottish Liberal Democrats, as I understand they do not stop independence supporters joining them.

That does not help when neither the Prime Minister or some of his backbench MPs fail to understand his behaviour is harming the union.

Peter Ovenstone, Peterhead, Aberdeenshire

Bad diplomacy

The Prime Minister warns that “the evidence is pretty clear” that Russia may invade Ukraine within 48 hours.

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Is he trying to encourage Putin to carry this out? Threats made by either or both sides in a negotiation rarely work positively. The Foreign Secretary is “upping the ante” too by urging British citizens to leave Ukraine. Playing out these threats in the media is hardly likely to put Mr Putin in a positive negotiating frame of mind.

As for the Defence Secretary’s claim that some European diplomatic efforts to ease the Ukraine crisis have a “whiff of Munich in the air”, do we need to antagonise Europe along with Russia? None of us want war, but the way the UK Government is going about these negotiations makes me wonder. Ministers could do with some basic lessons in negotiation skills.

Fiona Garwood, Edinburgh

Green error

Is it now, perhaps, time for the SNP to revisit their deal with the Scottish Greens? The latter have made it plain that they do not want to be associated with the Freeports scheme to which the SNP have signed up. That is because the Greens dislike anything which could lead to increased economic activity and the greater resulting prosperity it will create. Their position is completely at odds with anyone who wants the best for future generations.

They oppose and have persuaded even Nicola Sturgeon to agree to oppose the development of the Cambo Field in the North Sea. However, this means that the gas and oil that we require for the economy would simply have to travel a long distance and result in large quantities of unnecessary CO2 being created to reach us. Many Scottish nationalists oppose this.

Perhaps the time has come for the SNP to rethink their tie-in with the Greens. It is counter-productive for everyone. The Greens' economic illiteracy is embarrassing and cannot do the SNP any good at all.

Peter Hopkins, Edinburgh

One-sided view?

I read the article on Scotland's involvement in slavery by Martyn McLaughlin (Perspective, February 16) and noted the accusations made by Sir Geoff Palmer that Sir Tom Devine and others were members of an “academic racist gang”. About a decade ago, I first heard Mr Palmer, as he then was, giving a talk to our local Rotary Club about slavery in the West Indies, and since then I have read letters by him on the same theme in The Scotsman letters pages, and have even viewed him on Antiques Roadshow telling one of the valuation experts all about the subject.

Now I agree with him that slavery was a terrible thing, and Scotland's involvement a disgrace, but we were not alone, and so far as I know, in none of the talks or written articles Sir Geoff has made, has he ever mentioned the involvement of the Black tribal chiefs, who sold their own people into slavery, and the Arabs who transported them in chains to the coast to be sold for transportation by European ships to the Americas.

In the interests of accuracy and fairness, let's hope Sir Geoff can rebalance the blame in his future pronouncements and accept that racism is not perpetrated only by white people.

Bill McKenzie, Penicuik, Midlothian

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