AS someone who has recovered from a debilitating mental illness, I was shocked to hear what appears to be common sense (and dare I say it understanding) coming out of the mouth of Ian Duncan Smith (IDS sets his sights on mentally ill benefit claimants, The National, August 25).

What he said on the topic of supporting the mentally ill in their return to work struck a chord with me: I had to carry out a quick reality check to make sure I hadn’t fallen through a crack in the pavement into some alternative dimension where Tories have hearts.

As Smith points out, the artificial can work/cannot work binary equation excludes the possibility of “might be able to work a bit”. Towards the end of my illness I would have loved to get back to work for just an hour or two a day to ease my way in. Indeed, just crossing the threshold would have been a good first step.

But then I remembered my old grandad’s saying – don’t judge a psycho by what he says he will do, but by what he has already done.

IDS is playing a well-rehearsed Tory con, and it’s no surprise that Eilidh Whitford (the SNP’s Work and Pensions spokesperson) wasn’t fooled by it in her response. But for my money she was far too polite.

This is the man who heads a department whose main role is not to help but to bring misery to thousands. Suicides, hunger and deprivation are caused by Duncan Smith’s twisted ideology and punitive sanctions, designed only to drive people off benefits.

Whether they end up back in work or under the wheels of a train isn’t IDS’s concern. He is on record as believing millions of sick people are scrounging, and thinks it’s OK to lie about the merits of his systems of torture by making up statements from fictional sanctioned claimants singing the praises of the system.

Make no mistake, IDS is a cunning and ruthless ideologue who will use every trick in the Tory book of schmooze to fool us into thinking there is virtue in his thinking.

But according to my old grandad’s homily “virtue” is not a word that sits happily in the same sentence as the words “Ian Duncan Smith”. Beware the empathic assassin.

Stewart Robinson

IAIN Duncan Smith suggests we need a system of support for the mentally ill based on what they can do and the support they’ll need. But would you trust a man with his track record to work out what you can do? And isn’t he the last person you’d look to for support?

John Macanenay

I FULLY agree with Iain Ramsay of Greenock (Letters, August 26) on the cost of Touristville. As a tour coach driver I am also shocked at the prices charged for food and entry to our national treasures. Poor-quality fare and exorbitant prices must make the foreign guest think twice about coming back to visit our amazing gem of a country.

Why are the prices so high? Is it greedy landowners, is Visit Scotland out of touch with the finances of the average traveller; do we only want millionaires to visit? As if it isn’t enough that it is already a playground for the wealthy.

I am immensely proud when I transport visitors around my country. My heart swells when they gasp at its beauty, and comment how lucky I am to live here. Let’s make it more accessible for all.

Dave Williams

WATCHING the purge going on at the moment in the Labour Party leadership race, perhaps there are lessons to be learned.

Could I propose that in the next referendum in Scotland only those who support the aims of the SNP and Independence are allowed to vote?

Richard Easson

WE were struck by the latest figures which highlight the fact that more than half of health boards are failing to meet an 18-week waiting-time target for children and young people to access treatment for mental health conditions (Health Secretary: We must do more to hit waiting targets, The National, August 26).

While we applaud the additional £100 million of funding the Scottish Government has invested in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), more action is clearly needed to ensure these vulnerable young people receive the vital support they both deserve and require.

Indeed, only 0.45 per cent of NHS Scotland expenditure is spent on child and adolescent mental health, compared with 0.7 per cent in England and 0.8 per cent in Wales.

Against the background of a greatly increased demand for CAMHS it is vital the Scottish Government acts quickly and increases investment from this current figure, as well as ensuring health boards failing to meet waiting-time targets are given the support they need to address this.

This will mean that those children and young people requiring these vital services do not miss out.

Families usually experience months of waiting even before a referral to CAMHS and the consequent delay in diagnosis and appropriate support can result in crisis for the young person and their family, and the need for costly extra resources.

The long-term cost to society of failing to treat these conditions is well-established, with those affected more likely to be unemployed, in the criminal justice system, or ending up in extremely costly long-term care.

The Scottish Children’s Services: Kindred Scotland; Spark of Genius;Who Cares? Scotland; Falkland House School; Young Foundations 

CAT Boyd (Alliance that will help us RISE against the old order, August 25) states that RISE – the new Scottish left party standing for Respect, Independence, Socialism and Environmentalism – “continues in the spirit” of the Radical Independence Campaign (RIC). She forgets to mention that RIC is still alive and well.

Lately, commentators seem to assume that RIC has turned into the Scottish Left Project (SLP), or RISE.

Lesley Riddoch has claimed the SLP was “a pact between the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) and RIC.” Tommy Ball, in a blog piece critical of the SLP, claims that it “replaced” the RIC.

It’s an easy mistake to make. Both organisations have the same co-founders, some of the same supporters, and similar values.

However, RIC and RISE remain separate and distinct. RISE is an electoral alliance, starting from scratch and aiming for seats in Holyrood.

RIC is focused on issues-based campaigning and non-hierarchical organising, with several years of experience. We welcome activists from all parties and none.

When the next referendum comes – and come it will – it will be vitally important to have a radical, non-party-political campaign group, committed to a Yes vote and to transforming Scotland. With all best wishes for RISE, it’s important to acknowledge it is not RIC.

Myshele Haywood
On behalf of RIC Aberdeen

CAT Boyd said our electoral system “empowers tactical voters to choose smaller parties”. She has this the wrong way around. One of the main points of proportional systems is to eliminate tactical voting, not to encourage it, as supporters of smaller parties are free to back the party they actually support, instead of backing the main opposition to the candidate they least like, as happens in pure first-past-the-post systems.

As an active SNP member, I wish fellow travellers in RISE and the Greens success (those who back independence, that is...), but I hope they succeed on the back of their policies, rather than trying to dupe SNP supporters into lending them sympathy votes by claiming that SNP list votes will be wasted.

There are still plenty of non-SNP voters out there – wouldn’t it be a far bigger help to the cause of independence if these parties were attracting support from last year’s soft No voters, rather than simply trying to live off the misinformed charity of SNP supporters?

Clearly manifestos are yet to be written and policy platforms established, but if the tactics being assumed by some supporters of the smaller parties are a glimpse into the next eight months, I struggle to see how the 2016 election is going to provide a mandate for a second referendum.

If people are looking for a return to minority government – only this time with pro-independence parties providing the main negotiation partners – then it would be nice if they could simply be honest about that, rather than claiming to be able to predict the future, before a single vote has even been cast.

Doug Daniel

“WEIRD” and “bizarre” – so says James Naughtie of Alex Salmond’s recent references to Nick Robinson (Naughtie: Criticism of Robinson “weird”, The National, August 25). I didn’t hear Mr Naughtie’s performance at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, but I was present at his conversation with our former First Minister at the Beyond Borders event at

Traquair House.

There, it was Naughtie himself who introduced the subject of the protest outside the BBC’s Pacific Quay site, thereby obliging Alex Salmond to explore again the reasons for the spontaneous anger that gave rise to the protest, principally the notorious misrepresentation by Nick Robinson on national news of a press-conference exchange between the two.

Throughout Alex Salmond’s response, Jim Naughtie made several attempts to interrupt, including one (and here the word bizarre is truly appropriate) saying: “We’re not here to discuss the BBC” – the very subject he had raised.

Not to be deflected (as if!) Alex Salmond gave a characteristically thorough response and having dealt with “Nick-gate” went on to address equally forensically Mr. Robinson’s more recent outbursts in which, as you report, he drew the comparison with Putin’s Russia and also, in a recent tweet, implied that the Scottish Government instigated the anti-BBC protest.

For Jim Naughtie then to head off to Edinburgh and give the audience there his own misrepresentation of the exchange at Traquair merits not only the descriptions he unjustifiably applied to Alex Salmond, but also a couple more, such as “disingenuous” and “unprofessional”.

If Putin’s Russia has parallels in today’s UK, they are to be found in the casual, routine manipulation of news by some representatives of our state broadcaster.

John Fox

The National view, August 27: We have to stand up for those being persecuted by the Tory Government

How where you live affects rate of benefits sanctions

When compassion disappears ...

Alex Neil, Social justice secretary: We need Labour to commit to working with us