I UNDERSTAND why the SNP-led Scottish Government is constantly vilified by the majority of the British press, but to say it is not a radical government is ridiculous. While the divided Unionist parties are bogged down in the shambles that is Brexit, the SNP with social democratic policies has tried for several years to gather cross-party support for a “radical” new land tax.

In fact an excellent presentation on Annual Ground Rent (AGR) given by Graeme McCormack was overwhelmingly endorsed at last autumn’s SNP conference. This very “radical” one-off land tax system would be so much more efficient and fairer to all. It would replace all current taxation, including income tax, saving the government billions and benefitting every section of society along with providing proper funding for our public services.

It is interesting to note that Graeme McCormack was refused permission to present his plan at all the other political conferences in Scotland.

Let us rather rejoice in the recent caring and progressive Scottish Government Finance Bill based on equality and fairness, making Scotland the most fairly taxed country in the UK – and not the highest taxed as the Tories wrongly maintain. No British Unionist party has had the courage to raise taxes, even minimally, to protect and support public bodies such as the NHS.

As the UK Government continues to slash the Scottish Budget the calm courage of the Scottish finance minister, Derek Mackay, should be applauded, as this moderate new taxation policy protects those on lower incomes while those who earn more contribute a little more to society. In fact seven out of every 10 people in Scotland will pay the same or less in income tax under these proposals. This is a great Scottish Government achievement.

However, I guess if the SNP were ever able to achieve world peace, Tory, Labour and LibDem politicians would still moan!
Grant Frazer
Cruachan, Newtonmore

IT is disappointing that SNP HQ couldn’t find a role for Angus Robertson so that his talents and abilities would remain within the party. I wonder if the party hierarchy ever thought of offering him a role as, say, depute chief executive, where he could have used his campaigning and organisational skills to help support branches in the run up to the next referendum?

However, I would like to join the list of well-wishers who have thanked Angus not just for all the time and effort he has put into being an elected parliamentarian, but for being a very good advocate for independence.

I believe the contest to find his successor provides the party with an opportunity to look afresh at how we achieve independence. There is no doubt there is an overwhelming appetite for a second independence referendum within the membership but we need to ensure all members are prepared and have the support they require.

Maybe the role of depute leader should be more hands-on, one that deals with the organisation and motivation of members, building their capacity to take the case for independence into their homes, workplaces and communities.

There is a lot of pressure on the leader and all other members of the Scottish Government so maybe someone outwith the parliamentary bubble could provide an added insight into how the campaign for independence can be won in the hearts and minds of everyday voters.
Cllr Kenny MacLaren

I FAND ma wey til the Scots leid some twal year syne throu a CD o Scots fowk sangs. The sangs war braw, but it wis the Scots words that gruppit ma tent, skinklin out o thaim like nuggets o gowd. I wantit ti ken the meanins o aa thae bonnie words an I’v been studyin the leid sensyne.

Whit I’v lairnt ower the bygane twal year is that Scots is a rich, expressive leid wi a braw, intoxicatin soun that sings a sang o its ain. It haes a special quality an a special feel, an its words an weys o sayin pent picturs in the mynd. It’s a fascinatin leid, wi an auncient pedigree, that cairries wi’t the history, culture an tradeitions o the Lawlans. Abuin aa, maugre aa the years o bein miskent an forhou’d, Scots is a strang, resilient leid that’s aye ti the fore.

This is a letter in praise o Scots frae a frein athort the watter. It cairries wi’t the howp that Scots fowk aa wey will mynd on the leid, speak it, scrieve it, forder an hain it, for ye’ll ne’er finnd ocht bonnier.
Margaret Marenich
Michigan, USA

I THOROUGHLY enjoyed Kirsty Strickland’s article about visiting her local leisure centre, and being pleasantly amazed to find many older folk who enjoyed socialising there (The gym is underrated as a place for people to socialise, The National, February 3).

As one of these gym Oldies, I love aquarobics, chatting and singing along to the music of our youth, while keeping all our bits mobile.

I can also recommend belly dancing, which keeps us supple to lovely music, alongside some lovely young women – without having to take two feet off the ground at once.

And I can especially recommend joining pensionersforindependence@gmail.com, to meet like-minded lively people and work with them to achieve an independent Scotland soon, while we are still able to appreciate and celebrate it!

(Not so keen on the wrinkled faces part, Kirsty!)
Jean Anderson Hall