THE article “Money worries push nurses to the brink” (Feb 7) points out the severe effects on nurses of the reduced value of their salaries.

It is so unjust that people in this caring profession are suffering and depressed due to poor pay and increased stress due to UK Government cuts in NHS funding. Recruitment and retaining staff is a problem throughout the health and care sectors.

This situation is particularly exasperating. According to recent research, spending on the NHS actually improves the economy by four times that investment. Those unable to get treatment when they need it not only suffer but are unable to work and contribute to society and to the economy. They may need increasing care support, more crisis hospital admissions and care-home admissions. The only beneficiaries are private health insurance companies and private health companies.

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Strikes have been avoided in Scotland due to the Scottish Government agreeing higher salary increases than in England, but that is clearly not enough. More finance must be provided to support the NHS. In the end that is not a cost to the economy, but an investment which will pay for itself several times over.

Austerity economic policies specifically to reduce funding for public services, including the NHS, were set up by the UK Liberal Democrat/Conservative Coalition Government in 2010. These policies have been enforced since then by all UK Governments, none of which Scotland voted for.

Independence is not a diversion. It is essential as soon as possible to improve the wellbeing of thePOLITICS people and the economy. Why stay with the UK, which is being steered in the wrong direction?

Jim Stamper

IN November of last year there was speculation that the UK Chancellor would increase the tax applied to Scotch whisky. The SNP called on the UK Tory Government to rule out any further duty increase. Humza Yousaf challenged Rishi Sunak over what he called an “unacceptable” and “blatantly unfair” rise in duty facing the whisky industry when the pair met for the first time.

The SNP claimed the proposed changes, which amounted to about £1 a bottle of whisky, would cost the sector around £100 million and would contradict the Conservatives’ 2019 manifesto commitment, which pledged to “ensure our tax system is supporting Scottish whisky and gin producers and protecting 42,000 jobs supported by Scotch across the UK”.

READ MORE: Alcohol prices to rise under new Scottish Government plans

Richard Thomson MP, the SNP’s business and trade spokesperson, said: “Once again, we are witnessing Scotland’s fantastic whisky industry being disproportionately impacted by a UK Government we did not vote for. “The UK Government continues to squeeze the life out of the Scotch whisky industry – an industry that plays a pivotal role in Scotland’s economy.”

On July 31, in an article in The National headed “Scotch whisky hammer blow as UK to tax 75% on a bottle”, Richard Lochhead, the SNP MSP for the Speyside area and the Minister for Small Business, Trade and Innovation, said he was “strongly opposed to the Tories’ plans to hike duty on Scotch whisky.”

He also said “These distillers are some of the biggest employers in Moray and the industry is vital to our economy. There are serious concerns within the local industry about the impact duty increases will have on future investment in our region. There’s no doubt this 10% increase in duty – the highest rise in 40 years – is a complete betrayal of one of Scotland’s most valued industries.”

Now it appears that increases to Minimum Unit Pricing introduced by our very own SNP Holyrood government will add more than £4 to a bottle of whisky. Is this £4 price hike by the Scottish Government not in fact a very much bigger complete betrayal of one of Scotland’s most valued industries?

Perhaps Mr Thomson, Mr Lochhead or even Mr Yousaf could explain the apparent contradiction in these policies.

John Baird

WELL there way we go! At the time of writing, the Stormont Assembly in Northern Ireland reconvened two days ago.

Radio Scotland, in a fine use of labelling theory, have just announced the assembly’s first “nationalist” First Minister. Didn’t take them long did it? I actually thought the party was called Sinn Fein!

According to my reading, the nationalist label was traditionally applied by the UK to countries wishing independence. Why should we be called anything other than Scottish or Irish for wanting independence from the UK? The rest surely, are British! Were George Washington, Mahatma Ghandi and Ian Smith referred to as nationalists in their day?

WJ Graham
East Kilbride