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We need to restore the principles of a compassionate and caring society

Well done to Anne Johnstone ("Why do we blame poverty on the poor?", The Herald, January 31).

She articulates a growing ethos in Scotland that it seems to me was not there before.

I grew up in a Scotland that believed in the social contract. My support for an independent Scotland came about after years of receiving Westminster governments I hadn't voted for and did not reflect what I believed were Scotland's civic values.

Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga wrote: "Why is it always the money of the poor that is lost? How come the money of the rich is always saved? When it comes to alleviating poverty, there are no resources. But when it comes to saving the rich, there are always resources."

The Cardinal's words were written before the present welfare reforms and before the bankers' bonuses and corporate tax-avoidance scandals. They were not specifically about the UK. They express a universal truth.

Anne Johnstone's column and the letter from Detective Superintendent John Carnochan (January 31) left me with a tiny hope that all is not lost. He writes of the "feckless and stupid" and his response to them is a clear analysis of a situation that has always existed. In the past we recognised there was a small section of Scottish society who would always need help, often through no fault of their own.

In Ian McEwan's novel, Saturday, the doctor speaks of such individuals damaged by their genetic code: "It's a dim fate, to be the sort of person who can't earn a living, or resist another drink ... No amount of social justice will cure or disperse (that) enfeebled army."

How fortunate that we have such a compassionate and realistic man as Mr Carnochan working in Scotland today.

It is not about phones or televisions in prison cells, it is about attitude.

Can we hold on to, or restore, the old values that believed in creating a caring and civilised society? It is only in such a society that Scotland can flourish.

We must resist the oldest tactic in the book – turning the deserving poor against the undeserving poor while the true culprits get off scot-free.

Pat Dishon,

62 Inchview Terrace, Edinburgh.

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