I RARELY find myself at odds with Mhairi Black but she’s wide of the mark in Supporting Paisley as UK City of Culture (It is time to stop looking down on thriving Paisley, The National, February 4).

I thought the purpose of the SNP was independence for Scotland, and to achieve this our political leaders must undermine the British state at every opportunity. William Wallace must be birling in his grave(s).

Instead we are seen to embrace Britishness as if being UK city of culture is better than being Scottish city of culture. Greatness is not determined by size.

Why doesn’t the Scottish Government create its own Scottish city or burgh of culture? We have hundreds to choose from. It’s not as if the UK Government piles money into the winning entry. Hull City Council invested in it and encouraged the private sector to make up the funds. As far as I can see the UK Government hasn’t made any financial contribution.

We could do the same to far greater effect. So let’s have our leaders think independence with every action they take.

Let’s avoid the small Britain mentality and proclaim our culture to the wider world.
Graeme McCormick
via thenational.scot


Tories appear to think they can treat us like fools

RECENT performances by the Tories beg the question of how competent they would be were they ever to get near government in Scotland.

In September Ruth Davidson claimed doctors had warned the Scottish NHS faced “pockets of meltdown” this winter. The quote was from Dr Mark Holland in a report of 94 acute medical units across the UK – only three of which were in Scotland. She was complaining about the NHS where her own party run it! And as the Christmas period showed, it was the English NHS the Red Cross said was having a “humanitarian crisis”.

Two weeks later Davidson complained that the Scottish Government wasn’t doing enough to produce energy to go into the National Grid. Yet it’s her party’s Government in Westminster which cut subsidies to the growing renewables industry – in which Scotland has a massive natural advantage. And it’s also her party’s Government which has failed to change the electricity charging regime that sees electricity produced in Scotland charged more than that around London.

Then in December we had new Tory MSP Jamie Greene – the Scottish Tories’ connectivity spokesperson – tweeting that mobile phone coverage was awful under the SNP. He quickly deleted the post when it was pointed out that mobile phone coverage is a power held by his party’s Government in London.

Now we have Tory finance spokesman Murdo Fraser claiming the Scottish Government is making cuts when the fact is that his party at Westminster controls the overall level of Scottish spending and the independent Fraser of Allander Institute says they will have cut it by £1.6 billion by 2021!

It’s an emerging pattern that either suggests the Tories are incompetent or they think the public will blame the SNP for the mess their party is making! It’s like they think they can treat voters as fools and get away with it.
Andrew Stuart

SHONA Craven raises some very interesting points in relation to wealth inequality, but may in some respects be a bit simplistic (Never mind income – unearned wealth must be tax target, The National, February 3). We should not forget several very important facts about unearned income.

First and foremost, every penny of interest on any form of savings, even a child’s bank account, is unearned income. It does not have to be the proceeds of a rich person stashing loads of money away to earn yet more.

Secondly, we are still living through times when the prospect of retiring with a good pension is disappearing into the mists, and we are exhorted to save during our working years to compensate.

To do this without the expectation of at least some unearned income to help increase our hard-earned savings would get us nowhere. It would be the same as stashing money under the mattress and would leave us reliant on an impoverished state or living in poverty.

Thirdly, those now in retirement who saved while times were better did so, not as Ms Craven suggests, to “hoard it as a gift”, but to ensure that their retirement, if possible, was adequately funded without dependency on the state, even if they lived to a ripe old age or ended up needing care. If they simply spent instead of saving, what would they live on for perhaps 20 years or more? So it is surely reasonable that the proceeds of their saving from already taxed income, if unused by early death, should pass to their family?

Finally, in this scenario, there is no direct correlation between the amount of the inheritance and the financial status of the recipients. While the super-rich may well pass on wealth to already rich family, modest savings could equally well pass to a young family struggling with a mortgage and other burdens.

For all these reasons, I think the recent changes removing tax from the lower levels of unearned income can only help people to provide for themselves in old age and save a burden on the state. Finding a solution for taxing the super-rich is an entirely different question.
P Davidson

SHONA Craven suggests that inheritances and by extension inheritance tax are taboo subjects in Scottish political circles.

There is no valid reason why this should be so. In 2013-14, the latest year for which detailed statistics are available, 1,200 estates in Scotland had an inheritance tax liability and the total “bill” was £209 million.

Transferring responsibility to Holyrood would provide an opportunity to reform a tax burdened with illogical reliefs and exemptions. Would reform be “toxic for politicians”? Surely the design and introduction of a fairer system would be widely welcomed. Whether any inheritance tax, or indeed wealth tax, would significantly reduce wealth inequality remains to be seen but there is no political (or other) reason why reform shouldn’t be initiated ... and at Holyrood rather than Wesminster.
Gerry Brown

MY calendar tells me February 6 is the anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth “the second”. Most National readers, of course, know that this is a common error, as the present Queen is the first UK monarch of that name.

I can’t believe that it would be beyond the scope of modern technology to make a gradual recall of the faulty coins in Scotland and overstamp the Roman numeral for two with a wee thistle, for instance.

Douglas Hunter
Ancrum, Roxburghshire