I AGREE with Frank Wood’s sentiment (Letters, Jul 19) in regards to Michael Russell’s column in which he expressed a negative opinion of Angus B MacNeil.

For decades, the president of the SNP was an elder states-person whom refrained from picking sides in regards to internal political debates. I don’t see how Angus can have any sense of a fair process from the SNP conduct committee – who ultimately report to the NEC, of which Mr Russell is a member and would have a vote in any ultimate outcome – when the president of the party has already expressed an opinion on Angus’s actions.

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Furthermore, the president of the SNP only actually has one job – to defend the constitution of the party. Perhaps, instead of attacking Angus in his column, Michael should be more concerned over the fact that Angus has been suspended from the party for carrying out a “public resignation” when under no measurable standard could a rational person on the street come to the conclusion that Angus resigned his party membership when it was Stephen Flynn that suspended Angus from the SNP Westminster group in the first place.

Over the years many SNP councillors have resigned from their council group but remained members of their local SNP branch – and even continued to attend Association of Nationalist Councillors meetings. Patrick Grady “stepped away” from the SNP Westminster group but he didn’t have his membership of the party suspended.

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Natalie McGarry withdrew from the SNP whip at Westminster in 2015 but she wasn’t suspended from the party for a public resignation. Derek Mackay resigned from the SNP group at Holyrood in 2020 and he wasn’t suspended.

In fact, in our area, Councillor Innes Nelson previously resigned from the SNP council group but remained a member of the SNP branch for about a year before he again rejoined the SNP group.

It seems it’s one rule for Angus and another for everyone else. It does make me wonder if this is all political, to stop an MP who puts independence being achieved at the ballot boxes in an election front and centre from being able to seek re-election as an SNP candidate.

Margaret Keogh

YOUR article “Alba leader argues for mitigation of benefit cap” (Jul 20) was interesting, but deserves further comment. Mitigating measures by the Holyrood government are costing the country billions annually. The Holyrood Budget 2022/23 allocated almost £3 billion – yes, £3bn – to help mitigate the current cost-of-living crisis. This is a massive amount and mitigates against such policies as the “bedroom tax”, something Labour have not given any indication of abolishing.

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The SNP government at Holyrood recognise the damage caused by the Conservative government that has control of 86% of welfare spend in Scotland. Yet another mitigating measure by the Scottish Government is the massive financial increase to the Scottish Welfare Fund and crisis grants to assist low-income families and households. One of the first announcements by First Minister Humza Yousaf was to increase the Scottish Fuel Insecurity Fund from £10m to £30m annually, something that simply should not be required in energy-rich Scotland, but energy is the remit of Westminster.

So, with a limited budget and no borrowing powers, how long can Scotland’s government continue to mitigate against the damaging policies of Westminster? While we consider this question, perhaps those in the Labour Party in Scotland might want to consider if they can sit comfortably beside the policies being spoken by Sir Keir Starmer.

Catriona C Clark

I FEEL sure that when the majority of MSPs spoke against the imposition of the rape clause they would have united to pass a bill mitigating the effects of the cap at that time if that had been a straightforward process.

In giving advice to Humza Yousaf on getting rid of the child benefit cap, neither Jackie Baillie nor Alex Salmond mentioned that as this appears to be a reserved matter Humza Yousaf will have to persuade the Westminster parliament to agree to devolve power over the child benefit cap to Holyrood.

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Was it not the case that the SNP and Labour persuaded the Westminster parliament to devolve power over the bedroom tax to Holyrood in 2014 so that it could pass the legislation needed before the Scottish Government could provide councils with the funds to mitigate the tax?

It would be helpful to the public if, when suggestions are made by these very experienced politicians, they could explain how the Scottish Government or Scottish Parliament can put them into effect.

John Jamieson
South Queensferry

SIR Keir Starmer is refusing to commit to ending the two-child benefit cap policy. Apart from the poverty, misery and hunger it inflicts on tens of thousands of children banned from receiving UK Government benefits, the two-child cap policy contains the so-called “rape clause”. A mother can claim benefit for a third child if it was conceived due to her being sexually assaulted by rape.

She will have to declare this on an eight-page UK Government form and therefore relive the entire traumatic, disgusting experience officially to the civil service.

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If any of the mother’s children can read and catch sight of this documentation then they will be made aware that they, or their sibling, is a product of rape, possibly by a relative.

The two-child cap policy is morally inhumane and the so-called “rape clause” is totally repugnant and utterly disgusting. What does that tell us about George Osborne and the Tory party who implemented it and a Labour Party that will not commit to getting rid of it?

Watson Crawford