WHEN Caroline Nokes (Conservative MP), chairwoman of Westminster’s Women and Equalities Committee, sat on the panel of the BBC’s Politics Live for 45 minutes on Monday, host Jo Coburn did not ask a single question about the recommendations of the committee on gender reform (made more than a year ago), or about the incarceration of transgender persons across the UK.

This apparent apathy was in stark contrast to the furore of last Thursday evening, when for around half of the hour-long Question Time programme Fiona Bruce appeared to orchestrate a series of misleading and at times distasteful statements, overall effectively denigrating an already highly marginalised minority. Little mention was made of the international context of 33 countries having already introduced similar simplified processes to those contained in the blocked Scottish Gender Recognition Reform Bill or that the bill is “broadly in line” with the recommendations of Westminster’s own committee.

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The BBC’s persistent focus on Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP in this matter to the exclusion of the other parties and their leaders, in news and political programmes, appears to be another duplicitous attempt to effectively smear the First Minister and to undermine the cause of self-determination.

To any objective witness the rapidly increasing catalogue of such examples of political bias across the BBC conclusively remove any pretext that the BBC can be viewed as politically impartial, especially here, where its own advisers have recognised that even BBC Scotland essentially reflects political opinion in England.

Of course, powers over broadcasting in Scotland are currently reserved to Westminster, which is what one would expect for a colony or region, but surely there is now sufficient evidence compiled over many years for the Scottish Government to demand that, comparable to many regions across Europe, Scotland be allowed to establish its own public broadcaster independent of politically biased central-government control from London.

Stan Grodynski
Longniddry, East Lothian

IT seems to me that a campaign is being waged against Nicola Sturgeon by the the Telegraph and Daily Express both print and online. I’ve noticed a sustained campaign of criticism over the last two weeks. Don’t fall for the BS, folks, and don’t be joining in either. Unity is strength, and that’s what frightens these plastic Unionists!

Steve Cunningham

IT is being widely reported that some Conservative MPs and ministers are pressing the Prime Minister to withdraw the UK from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and that he is seriously considering this.

The ECHR is NOT part of the European Union but was set up in the wake of World War Two, largely initiated by Winston Churchill and the British government, with its main author being a British Conservative MP.

After the horrors of the war, the ECHR’s aims were simple: to protect in law the right to life and liberty, to freedom from torture and slavery, to a fair trial, to demonstrate, to free elections, to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, to freedom of assembly and to education etc.

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The UK Government is already planning to weaken human rights in the UK with its Bill of Rights (which has been dubbed the Rights Removal Bill), but to compound this by leaving the ECHR is very concerning.

Not only could this reduce our rights as citizens, it would make a mockery of the UK criticising other countries for their human rights abuses. It would also be a breach of the Good Friday Agreement, putting peace in Northern Ireland at risk.

Should anyone think no UK Government would actually consider reducing our human rights, look at Westminster’s current attempts to curtail the right to demonstrate or assemble and – by introducing restrictive ID requirements – even the right to vote.

C Donaldson

LAST Friday the Scottish Parliament held its 15th Business in Parliament Conference, an opportunity for business leaders, employers and entrepreneurs to come together along with workshops and finally a question session with politicians.

In the very week of the Brexit anniversary, three years since the damage was done, there was no shortage of examples of impacts on our economy. There were pleas from the business sector, calling out for assistance in filling job vacancies amid the dearth of EU workers as a result of Brexit and the removal of “free movement”.

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Consider the financial criteria that allow EU workers to apply to come to the UK. A salary of £25,600 must be secured before an application can proceed – legislation from the Westminster government, which has powers over immigration. An outrage considering the current national minimum wage based on a 35-hour week amounts to £17,290 annually. How many in the food sector, hospitality, the care sector, teaching assistants, hospital cleaners and porters earn in excess of £25,600 per year? Yet they are the very sectors in desperate need of recruitment.

Trying to run our economy here in Scotland saddled with such legislation is not only working with one hand tied behind your back, it is shooting yourself in the foot, yet Scotland did not vote for Brexit and we were not invited to the negotiation table! If business in Scotland is going to continue making a huge contribution to our economy, we need to find a way back into the single market, the customs union and the EU recruitment market.

Catriona C Clark