I’VE enjoyed Rab McNeil’s articles for many years, both for their humour and for the grains of truth hidden among his quips. Occasionally, the truth is less veiled and shines out openly, as in his powerful article on Saturday ("Must poverty always be part of life’s rich tapestry?", Herald Magazine, November 7). Rab (it doesn’t seem right referring to him as Mr McNeil) points out the pathetic inadequacy of our welfare and benefits system, and is spot on with what he says.

The UK is a rich country, by any standards. There’s more than enough wealth to ensure that every citizen can live in reasonable comfort, with enough to eat and in a warm and secure home. Yet millions don’t, and they’re not just the feckless few that some Tory MPs seem to obsess over. They include children, pensioners, and those who have worked hard for years at steady jobs, but have found themselves thrown out of work by circumstances beyond their control.

As Rab points out, Universal Credit isn’t anywhere near enough to live on, and the basic pension isn’t much better. Surely we can do better than this. I can’t see Westminster addressing the situation, especially in light of Boris Johnson’s foot-dragging attempt to deny free school meals to children in real need; and I can’t see Sir Keir Starmer’s London elite doing much better. But a self-governing Scotland might do it, if we come together and demand it. It will mean the wealthy, both individuals and companies, paying more tax; it will mean our children, our pensioners and our needy can live a decent life.

The naysayers will claim it can’t be done; but it can, as other countries have demonstrated to varying degrees. And it certainly won’t happen if we don’t attempt it.

Doug Maughan, Dunblane.

ACCORDING to Leah Gunn Barrett (Letters, November 9) "Scotland does not have a deficit". According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Scotland's deficit will reach 28 per cent of GDP in 2020-21. Ms Barrett, like all nationalists, makes the false claim that Scotland is badly treated by England.

Far from being treated badly, thanks to the Barnett formula, every Scot, man, woman and child, has more than £1,800 spent on them compared with England's average. It is only because of this cash that all the freebies which the SNP claim for its own can be afforded. Separation would end this cash. Scotland spent £15 billion more on public services than it generated in tax last year. If it became independent the SNP would not only have to terminate the freebies, but hike VAT, national insurance, and slash spending on the NHS, the police, education, and transport. We would really know the meaning of austerity then. The nationalists know this but they ignore it. It's time for them to tell the truth to the people.

William Loneskie, Lauder.

IN a situation redolent of the Raj a Westminster-appointed panjandrum most Scots wouldn’t recognise if they came across him in their soup announces that the England-dominated Westminster Parliament won’t let us Scots decide our collective future for 40 years. Democracy my bahookie, in effect we live in the same feudal society as our forefathers did when they had no say in us joining the Union. We have the cheek to poke fun at the presidential pantomime in the United States when this travesty is happening here.

David J Crawford, Glasgow G12.