EARLY-MORNING radio sometimes provides interesting listening, however on Wednesday, at the start of the new Westminster term, there was a depressing narrative being trumpeted by the new reshuffled team in Number 10.

A consultation document is out for eight weeks. The long-term unemployed are the target of this focused energy. Getting them back into work is the goal. The Office for National Statistics advises that

2.4 million people are described as such. Earlier, on the radio programme Up All Night on Radio 5 Live, one could listen to individuals talking about how the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) operates to “encourage” benefits recipients into work.

Several contributors listed their individual physical and mental health issues and described processes used to encourage their return to work as more than a little stressful. The DWP will contact recipients and ask if they are still the same, and could they start looking or take up a wee job.

For those suffering from long-term disability these interrogations are unhelpful and answering the DWP questions inaccurately can get you taken off benefit, so you need to appeal. The plan is to make it more difficult for claimants to claim, and make them work from home.

Frequently, when the DWP advises benefit is withdrawn, it is restored on appeal. However, the DWP also puts in another blocker before restoring the benefit to allow it to review the decision.

The DWP policy when compared against the law is found wanting and deliberately so. Charities advise that often additional support equipment is required, which only big companies know about or can afford. The common “trope” of “it is not worth it to work, when I could work for 30-plus hours per week for an extra £20” is being re-circulated, in the early-morning media, once more, demonising the long-term sick. How sick is that?

Alistair Ballantyne


IN my letter of August 28, I said the Bute House Agreement has “led to a number of Green policies helping to drag down support for the SNP to a level that it is now in imminent danger of being overtaken by the Scottish branch office of the UK Labour Party”.

It seems that day has arrived, as the article “Labour catch up to SNP vote share” (Sep 7) has sadly indicated. Failures to advance the basic independence case and a fixation with policies apparently not popular with the electorate have taken their toll.

No amount of baby boxes and child welfare payments seem to be able to balance out this situation. The UK General Election, possibly in May of next year, could now see a large number of SNP MPs, possibly around half of them, becoming political casualties.

This position has been reached even without, for example, the pending gender recognition court cases, the potential of large council tax rises, and the Green-led uncosted proposals designed to see the outlawing of our gas heating systems.

The result of the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election will be very interesting in that it may unfortunately indicate how far we have fallen. The final irony might see the SNP defeated by a margin less than the total of Green votes.

The SNP annual conference will then follow in a few short days. I rather suspect that the termination of the Bute House Agreement and a leadership contest will not feature in the final agenda but I am fairly sure it is beginning to feature in the minds of some SNP members.

It seems that the work of a whole generation of SNP activists has been sacrificed on the altar of gender recognition, a number of unpopular policy choices, transport procurement problems, a seemingly endless investigation into the party’s finances, a deceit over the number of SNP members and a complete failure to capitalise on the momentum generated in the wake of the

2014 referendum.

May 2026 and the Scottish Parliament elections will soon be upon us. This gives us just over

two years to rescue the situation or see the prospect of at least five years of a Labour government in Holyrood, possibly propped up by the Greens, our current partners in government!

Brian Lawson


OVER the last few days there has been a noticeable change on the “de facto” referendum, with correspondents becoming aware that Westminster may block such a move, and highlighting that solutions must be found within the next 15 months at most before the General Election.

There are probably several realistic solutions to the problem, but something a recent correspondent mentioned here a few days ago got me thinking about how we get the most support from the international community and media exposure over the next 15 months.

The SNP leader always has two questions at PMQs and by asking the right questions he can highlight our case, and remind the Prime Minister that it was David Maxwell Fyfe, 1st Earl of Kilmuir, the former Conservative solicitor general, attorney general and home secretary, who introduced the European Convention on Human Rights, and that allows nations such as Scotland to determine our own future without Westminster approval.

Secondly, the Treaty of Union has never been effectively updated or amended in its 316 years. However, various acts have rendered it obsolete, not to mention the way trade is conducted today and the way we live and work. This calls into question who has the right for Scotland to renegotiate the terms of the treaty, and if the treaty is still in effect or is now null and void.

If it is void, then why are we sending MPs to Westminster? Obviously, the Conservative Party as the party in government can’t negotiate for Scotland. That must fall to the SNP.

Depending on how Stephen Flynn poses the questions, this would mean that if Rishi Sunak refused to renegotiate the treaty, it would bring it to an end by a given date.

Alexander Potts


“Third of MSPs backing short-term let scheme delay have links to sector”, The National, Saturday 2nd September 2023.

If the owners have not applied for licences how does Fergus Ewing, and the others, know that it is tens of thousands of hard-working law-abiding people who operate these unlicenced and unregulated businesses?

The apparently vast number who do not want to apply for a licence should be enough in itself to cause the government to wonder why this particular business can only flourish in anonymity.

John Jamieson

South Queensferry