THE suggestion – now partly denied by a Tory minister – that the UK Tory government is going to stop issuing free lateral flow tests sums up the irresponsibility of this corrupt government.

In the week when the UK becomes the first European country to admit to more than 150,000 deaths from Covid, you would have hoped there would have been a time for reflection and examining what could be done to stem the flow of deaths from Covid. But that’s not how Boris Johnson and his crooked Cabinet work – instead of saving lives they are only looking for opportunities to make money for themselves and their supporters.

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No doubt the kite-flying exercise to see if they could get away with charging people for lateral flow tests was to see how the public would react, and it looks like Johnson and co might delay this move.

Of course, as highlighted by the First Minister, any decision to remove the free lateral flow tests would have meant that Scotland could not rely on Barnett consequentials to pay for such tests in Scotland and maintaining these essential tests would have impacted on Scotland’s fixed budget. Yet another example of why the Barnett Formula works against Scotland’s interests. How many more reasons do we need to withdraw from this corrupt Union? Let’s not waste any more time and fast forward to our freedom with independence.

Cllr Kenny MacLaren

TO allow the NHS to survive the epidemic of Covid, why isn’t the English Prime Minister releasing the £350 million per week to the NHS as promised when leaving the EU?

John McCulloch
via email

I WOULD like to begin the New Year positively, as I believe many of us in Scotland would.

Scotland’s poor health and high levels of poverty are constantly being featured in the mainstream media as an example of Scotland’s inability to manage itself. But there is an irony in this – if we are so much better together, why is poverty in Scotland so endemic and why are our levels of poor health so much worse than in England?

My own view is that the Westminster government has little interest in developing a strategic long-term plan to fund and support initiatives to alter the Scottish statistics for poor health and poverty. The latest example of this is the Conservative government’s refusal for the establishment of safe, clean spaces for Scottish drug users to access help and support.

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The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been universally admired for her cautious and well-informed approach to the handling of the Covid crisis for the last two years.

Westminster vetoes and an open border make it difficult for the long-term management of Omicrom and whatever virus follows it.

The Scottish Government should capitalise on the success of the First Minister’s management of this health and economic crisis by turning its back on the doomed idea of asking for a Section 30 order. Instead it should make peace with the Alba Party, and call all elected members of all parties to a National Convention. We should take a vote on independence and if there is a majority we should act. We should declare independence by withdrawing from the Treaty of Union or by calling a plebiscite election. If this is legally contested by the UK Government, we can by then have won international support and recognition by United Nations and some of our friends and colleagues in Europe.

We need to find our courage like some of our famous forbears.

Maggie Chetty

GREAT to read that the marshalling of the “troops” for the impending battle is about to start (SNP set to equip grassroots army before indy battle, Jan 9).

We see from the article that Toni Giugliano is to chair a series of seminars, but if a full programme was published we could work this into a “training” programme at local level working to maximise attendance at these events.

Its great to see that the party understands the benefit of building local partnership with Greens and Believe in Scotland, and having a prospectus agreed by both will cement the foundation of this necessary partnership.

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Let's not forget, however, to ensure that party members are also fully on board with the content of this indy prospectus. The majority will be champing at the bit to get off the starting blocks, but let’s not take their support for granted. Let’s make sure they get a chance to fully understand what we expect them to explain on the campaign trail.

Gus McSkimming

IT saddens me to see the cynicism among so many nationalists anent that Downing Street wallpaper. Has it never crossed anyone’s mind that aiblins the donor mannie micht jist hae lykit the bonnie blae een of Johnson? Aye richt.

Robert Mill Irving
Gifford, East Lothian

IN another bizarre and acrobatic twist of reasoning, Pope Francis has suggested people who choose to have pets over children are acting selfishly, adding it "is a denial of fatherhood and motherhood and diminishes us, takes away our humanity."

So the very humanity Catholic doctrine denies its clerics then?

Reminding ourselves that The Vatican regularly “blesses” Fido but absolutely not the love of a same-sex couple, we must again ask why this religious sub-group gets taxpayers' money to run schools.

Neil Barber
Edinburgh Secular Society

IF the Queen or the Cabinet can do nothing to prevent the “dubbing” of Tony Blair, could a big boy be persuaded to do it and run away?

James Ahern
East Kilbride