AS we move into the period of “purdah” ahead of the Holyrood election on May 6, it is incumbent on the state broadcaster, the BBC, to ensure fair and impartial political coverage during that period. Given that its Question Time, Debate Night, Politics Live, Newsnight, Politics Scotland, The Andrew Marr Show and The Sunday Show programmes are ostensibly neither politically fair nor impartial, this will be a difficult, although not insurmountable, challenge.

Furthermore, while Coronavirus Briefing Reaction programmes were initiated in Scotland, supposedly to provide opposition parties at Holyrood the opportunity to provide their opinions on coronavirus issues, no such programmes have been initiated to provide opposition parties at Westminster the equivalent opportunity.

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It was noted that in a previous Debate Night programme the opposition Conservative party were afforded greater than 50% more time than the SNP, and even the Labour and Liberal parties were afforded more time than either the SNP or the Greens. Watching one of the few BBC Politics Live programmes in which an SNP representative, Ian Blackford, was allowed to attend and stay for the duration of the programme (March 23), the contrast could not be starker with the SNP only afforded half the time (7m40) of the Conservative party representative Steve Brine (15m20), and that is without considering the contributions of Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock or the customary contributions of a right-wing media representative (on this occasion Christopher Hope of The Daily Telegraph).

If the BBC is serious about professionally conducting its public service role during purdah it has a clear choice: either it stops broadcasting these political programmes in Scotland altogether or it makes a genuine effort to ensure political impartiality in its programmes by strictly limiting talk times (simply cut microphones according to pre-specified times), without pejorative questions and repeated interruptions. This does not require rocket science and if the BBC, or a subsidiary, is to have a long-term future in Scotland it needs to start living up to its public responsibilities now. In the meantime the SNP could assist this desirable democratic evolution by formally requesting its immediate implementation along with the request/demand that the BBC strive to achieve the highest standards of fair and truly impartial public broadcasting.

Stan Grodynski
Longniddry, East Lothian

I HAVE just noticed an online an advert from clothes retailer Primark. It seems that they are “providing children with over 20,000 warm coats”.

When I first saw this I thought Primark were donating to children in the third world or in refugee camps. No, it’s here in Scotland in 2021.

It seems that over the course of the past week Glasgow the Caring City in partnership with Primark has distributed 7500 new, warm outdoor jackets to pupils in primary schools and nurseries across the city, to support outdoor learning and play.

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Am I alone in thinking that this sounds like something from 1921 or even 1821? Have we moved on so little? The UK Government is spending untold billions on more nuclear weapons to kill potentially millions of children in far-off lands while many of the children of its own citizens now rely on charity for a warm coat as well as a warm meal.

It is also spending £37 billion on a failed track and trace system for the 56 million people resident in England. A mind-blowing £660 a head if my arithmetic is correct.

For these vast sums of money the young children of all the UK’s poorest families could be both well fed and well clothed.

Brian Lawson

FIRST let me congratulate Roddie MacPherson on his excellent letter (March 19) concerning where to put your list vote.

I am furious – like many, I am sure – to see so much in-fighting in the SNP by those and such as those who, I feel, should know better. Do they not realise that one of the main rules of the Tories is “divide and conquer”? The Unionists must be delighted that we are succeeding to damage ourselves when they have been unable, thanks in many ways to a first-class FM.

It looks as though there might be four independence parties to choose from for the list vote. What an excellent way of splitting and thus nullifying the independence vote. The Unionist parties must be jubilant.

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For goodness’ sake, I hope we see some sense and keep things simple, and would suggest either both votes SNP or SNP for the constituency and Green for the list otherwise, the damage caused could cost us the majority we wish for and deserve. There is still time.

The less said about the Salmond affair the better, only to say that it is pathetic to see the completely innocent parties, Nicola Sturgeon and her government, being hounded by the Unionists. It is obvious to me that their interest is not the good of Scotland but to see how much damage they can inflict on the SNP.

Peter D Cheyne
Barbaraville, Ross-shire