I REMEMBER Callum Murray speaking in support of the motion which I moved at the SNP Autumn Conference in October 2016, calling upon the Scottish Government to grant state schools the same tax privileges enjoyed by the private sector (It was against the rules for me to speak at SNP conference – but I did, The National, January 27).

Like Callum, I’m pleased that the Scottish Government have decided to act upon the recommendation of the Barclay Report to remove the exemption of private schools from having to pay full non-domestic rates.

The Barclay Commission drew the conclusion that it was simply unfair for state schools to have to pay full non-domestic rates but to grant private schools an 80 per cent reduction.

However, the private education sector will continue to be able to claim charitable status and therefore be entitled other privileges, including a significant reduction on VAT.

In the interests of educational equality and of fairness the Scottish Government, at the very least, need to examine the issue of charitable status for private schools.

There is a strong argument that charitable status for an already privileged group can not be justified and it should be removed.

Graham D Sutherland

THE news that the British Labour Party in Scotland will only now draw up an anti-sectarian strategy, after leading the charge to abolish the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act (OBFA), is simply stunning. How has this political party managed to survive so long if they are so bereft of ideas that their only policy is SNP Bad?

The OBFA may not have been perfect, but just about every poll showed the public supported it. Yet Labour are happy to abolish it and let the ugly face of sectarianism go unchecked in Scotland. When Labour were in power in Scotland from 1999 to 2007 they failed to do anything significant to tackle sectarianism, and now they’ve revealed that they still have no idea how to tackle this issue.

It is absolutely incredible that Labour politicians have been campaigning to replace the OBFA for years but have never thought through the consequences of this, and what they would do to replace it. It certainly makes it looks like Labour’s only policy is to shout at the SNP “gonnae no dae that”. How can anyone believe that Labour could form a credible alternative government in Scotland after this?

Councillor Kenny MacLaren

GOOD to hear from Jim Taylor and the many National online correspondents who have responded to my complaint about poor service from RBS (Letters, January 29).

Some of the online commenters managed to conclude that for some reason I’m complaining about not being able to withdraw a fiver every so often, but that’s because they haven’t bothered to read what I wrote.

Jim, however, has contrived to lift a comment of mine totally out of context: in my original letter, I followed “I don’t go to the branch that often” with “for obvious reasons”. I thought at the time of writing that the context was clear: I don’t go to the bank very often because standing for 15 minutes or more is beyond my powers.

Never assume, Jim: I am nearly 70 and have chronic fatigue syndrome. I also don’t do supermarket shopping, haven’t done for just over two years. It’s a red letter day for me when I manage to leave the house. But I need to have £55 twice a month to pay my cleaners, not that I can really afford them, because I’m not well enough to manage the cleaning myself.

But my situation – and I am mad as hell that you’ve forced me to share it with you, Jim – is nothing compared to the problems faced by rural bank customers in Scotland, some of whom are now left with no access to a bank of any kind. I lived and worked for about 15 years in Argyll, a lot of that time in Islay. Once upon a time there were three RBS branches in Islay. Now there’s just one branch, in Bowmore, and it’s part-time. These days people drive to Bowmore from all over the island to access a cash machine, although I imagine they can use the post office – if it’s open.

If you live in Kintyre, you’ll also be driving a long way to get access to a bank branch. And if you live on Barra, you can whistle for banking service – or take the ferry to Oban to get your own money out of a cashline.

Not everyone has gone or can go “cashless”, Jim.

Jean Nisbet

COLIN Waddell’s letter (When will the SNP concentrate on bringing about Indy, The National, January 25) ends with the following paragraph: “You never know – independence may just galvanise the other parties to work for the greater good of Scotland rather than simply carry out the orders of their Unionist masters”.

A Yes vote would of course see Scotland become an independent sovereign state. The Tory, Labour and Liberal parties operate under English masters, and foreign political parties funded by foreign money would not be allowed to operate in any sovereign country. If these parties wished to continue to seek Scottish votes they would need to set up autonomous Scottish parties, not branches, funded entirely by Scottish money, and it would be a criminal offence for them to accept funding from any source outwith Scotland.

What’s not to like about that?

Bruce Moglia
Bridge of Weir