THE National recently highlighted that food banks have in some cases seen a ten-fold rise in people needing support in the form of an emergency food parcel (Call for cash support for those at risk as food bank use soars amid pandemic, January 10). The completely solvable issue of food poverty in Scotland will continue to be the number one reason that I want to see us push on and finally achieve our independence in 2021.

For more than a decade UK Governments (Tory, Labour and LibDem) have made food poverty the norm. It is not normal. Food poverty can only end when people have the money to afford to buy food. The reality is that people do not have that money. The system that we currently live in leaves people behind, and they have absolutely no alternative than to access a food bank.

READ MORE: Call for action as food bank use surges in Scotland

Years have passed and many solutions have been proposed as to how we end food poverty in Scotland. The UK Government have continually buried their heads in the sand on welfare policies and productive changes that could have helped ease food poverty in this country.

The big supermarket chains are quick to take credit for supporting food banks while you buy the food in their shops. They continue to normalise food poverty while making millions from it. It’s high time that more emphasis and awareness is put on why all these food donation bins exist in our shops. Perhaps having some kind of signage stating: “Please donate to your local food bank as the Conservative UK Government refuse to give welfare claimants a reasonable sum of money to live on and the minimum wage is so low we have in-work families in food poverty.” Perhaps this would help to remind people that food poverty and food banks should never be normalised.

I do agree wages need to go up for low-paid workers, we do need to make the £20 increase in Universal Credit permanent, we do need to scrap the five-week wait for benefits and yes, people are needing cash right now due to Covid instead of food parcels.

We must do all we can to keep everyone including our volunteers safe through this crisis. However, the elephant in the room on how we eradicate this problem forever is clearly Scottish independence. Surely anyone can see that the UK Government, whether it’s red or blue, will never end food poverty in our country. More and more people are plunging deeper into poverty due to the pandemic, and things are going to get worse in Bojo’s Brexit Britain. It is only with independence that we will finally say goodbye to food banks in Scotland.

Natalie Don
SNP Candidate for Renfrewshire North and West

MR Chris Duffy correctly points out the very different historic and political narratives that surround the struggles for both Irish and and Scottish independence (Letters, January 12). But while he is undoubtedly right on that point, he is equally wrong to imply that this negates in any way the parliamentary mandate route to independence, because the principle must be separated from the context here.

The principle of national self-determination is inviolate and has been accepted in international law since the formation of the ill-fated League of Nations a century ago. The context of the British reaction to the Irish general election of 1918 was led by policy-makers whose mindset was formed deep in the bowels of the 19th century. To suggest that Westminster would react in exactly the same way today is simply not credible. Indeed, there is much comment that the civil service acknowledges that Scotland will be independent within ten years.

READ MORE: Letters, January 12

Mr Duffy argues that we can only achieve independence “at the ballot box in a referendum that both sides have committed to respect”, but in continually refusing a Section 30 the Tories have shown a gross lack of respect to the Scottish people, and the only way to change that is if Yes parties go into the Holyrood election clearly stating that a majority of pro-independence MSPs, of whatever party, is a mandate for an independence referendum, and this to date has not happened.

It is entirely correctly that Joanna Cherry MP has recognised this, because one of the greatest weaknesses of the Yes case in 2014 was the lack of international support. SNP MPs are in a key position to educate policy-makers abroad about Scotland’s right to national self-determination.

Cllr Andy Doig
Co Founder and Nominating Officer, Scotia Future

MIKE Herd hits the nail on the head (Scottish coverage in UK news is tokenistic, January 11). It reminded me of the humorous poem by James Robertson The News Where You Are, highlighting the inadequacies of the BBC news output in Scotland and the inference that only news down south is real news.

READ MORE: 'UK' broadcasting about the pandemic is almost entirely focused on England

Why on earth can we not have our own news hour at 6pm, based on the same format as The Nine, covering local, national and international events? The BBC Scotland channel was clearly set up to fail, having been given less money than it cost to upgrade the set on EastEnders. On the odd occasion when I have watched The Nine, I have liked the less formal format, but putting it on at a time when most people are watching a drama or film makes it hard to get any traction. I also have to wonder why we need both a BBC1 Scotland and a BBC Scotland channel, which just causes confusion.

George Dickson

THE UK Prime Minister seems to want to continue his undignified, childish game of refusing to call the SNP by their correct name. It might be fitting were our SNP MPs in the Commons to take heed of Chris Patten, the former chairman of the Conservative Party.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson rebuked by Ian Blackford for getting SNP's name wrong

Chris Patten said in a radio interview last month: “I don’t think that Mr Johnson is a Conservative. I think he is an English nationalist.” Ian Blackford and others would be more accurate if they referred to Johnson as the leader of the English Nationalist Party.

Gavin Brown