I SEE there once again appears to be a flare-up in Deadwood – no, not the gun-totin’ town of the American old west but the deadwood of Labour in Holyrood.

I refer to Labour MSP James Kelly’s bid to have anti-sectarian laws repealed (Labour MSP launches bid to axe SNP’s ‘quick fix’ to sectarianism, The National, August 1).

His claim that the law has damaged trust between football fans and the police is nonsense – unless he meant to say “some” football fans.

As some of the “law-abiding fans” spoken of by Kelly et al, myself and my season ticket-holding friends do not feel remotely targeted by the law.

Kelly’s assertion that sectarianism has existed in Scotland for “hundreds of years” may well be true but we are talking about repealing the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act here, not the unrest of the Covenanter’s era or Glencoe massacre.

Finally, I would suggest that if we had waited for Labour to tackle sectarianism in a serious way, we’d have to wait for a few hundred years more.

Malcolm Cordell, Broughty Ferry

Terminology change may be well meaning, but there are far more pressing problems with the benefits system

WE had pretty words from Mo Maclean on the Scottish Government’s plans to change the terminology surrounding benefits (Letters, August 1) and I don’t doubt that their intention is good, but you don’t change a culture of disparaging and misunderstanding claimants with semantics.

We’ve learned that from the Tory rhetoric. David Cameron supposedly “cares” about mentally ill people and the NHS. Theresa May wants us all to be equal. Aye right – by their voting habits will you know them.

I agree with Mo Maclean’s argument that denying vulnerable people the help that they need only costs the NHS, social work departments and criminal courts more money, so it makes no economic sense, never mind ethical.

But we want a real and targeted change. With the Personal Independence Payment, how about making the application form less than the present 40 pages long?

Perhaps we could do the unthinkable and employ disabled people to carry out the interviews, where these are necessary, to establish whether a claimant is entitled to benefit. If a case goes to appeal, how about employing disabled lawyers?

Others may have better ideas about how to make the system more accessible and fair, but arguing about whether to call the money a benefit or a payment is wasted breath. Language can be empty – like promises.

Pat Mackenzie, East Kilbride

AS an OAP, it made my blood boil to learn that Tory Peer Baroness Altmann, an unelected member of an unelected chamber, has suggested that the annual rise in UK state pensions, which are already among the lowest in Europe, be stopped (Tory former minister says pensions 'triple lock' promise should be discarded, The National, August 1).

It’s scandalous to think that Altmann and her like can not only lift £300 a day of taxpayers’ money tax free by simply signing an attendance book, but can also dine in a five-star restaurant at McDonald’s prices. That this millionaires’ club, funded by the general public, exists in the 21st century beggars belief.

The sooner we gain independence and banish this type of greed-driven snobbery forced on us from Westminster the better. Any Scot who can support such an affront to human decency while Scottish children are living in poverty should hold their head in shame.

Louise McArdle, Lanarkshire

WILLIAM Ross makes a valiant attempt to defend the House of Lords (The Long Letter, August 1), but he is defending the indefensible. The House of Lords is an affront to the most basic rules of democracy and accountability: a cosy, lucrative club for retired, often failed, politicians; rich people prepared to “buy” a title by donating to party coffers; and bishops who represent a church dwindling in influence and relevance.

No other country in the world has an unelected lawmaking body; it is a ludicrous anachronism, and one which costs the taxpayer dearly, so I feel I have a right to “rage on” at this particular Aunt Sally. If we must have a second chamber then it should be democratically elected, but I have yet to be convinced we need one, especially in an independent Scotland. Having a single legislative chamber works perfectly well in small countries such as Denmark and New Zealand.

Mr Ross claims there is “nothing undemocratic about Westminster as a system of governance”. Yet in the 2015 General Election, when 63 per cent of the electorate did not vote Conservative, we ended up with a Tory government.

No UK Government has been elected with a majority of the vote for more than 40 years, resulting in the majority of people being governed by a party they did not vote for. Mr Ross argues it is the EU that is undemocratic, and as far as Scotland’s representation is concerned, I would agree with him, but that would change after independence. I also agree the EU needs reform, but then so does Westminster and changes are more likely in the former than the latter.

I believe the UK leaving the EU will be a wake-up call to the rest of Europe to put its house in order, and an independent Scotland could have a role in that process.

The rest of the UK will become even more insular, isolated and embittered, as they face years of economic and political chaos and declining influence.

Pauline Taylor, Elgin

IF EU membership was included on the referendum ballot paper, this would weaken the Scottish Government’s negotiating position with the EU (Nicola Sturgeon urged to include EU membership reference on ballot papers for indyref2, The National, August 1).

It would also be possible for the UK Government to try to strike bargains with EU states on condition that Scotland was refused entry, resulting in Scotland remaining part of the UK. Also the amount of time needed for negotiations and uncertainty would extend, which would be detrimental to Scotland.

Jim Stamper, via email

WHO decides what the mouse-catchers of Whitehall will be called? We have Palmerston, of the Foreign Office, named after he of the gunboat diplomacy era and the 19th- century Opium War with China.

Meanwhile, as Theresa May launches a £33 million war on modern slavery, the Treasury has Gladstone, presumably after William Gladstone, whose father John was a slave owner who who awarded £83m in today’s money for loss of earnings when slavery was abolished.

Can we expect the next cats to be called Thatcher and Blair?

Frederick Stewart, Portlethen

Letters II: Railway revolution will only happen with independence