IN her response to Doug Marr’s column on the pension triple lock (“Why intergenerational fairness has to begin by unpicking the triple lock”, The Herald, July 12), although I applaud Councillor Eileen McCartin (Letters, July 15), in my opinion she doesn’t go far enough in her defence of retaining it.

As a pensioner, I am still subject to the same tax thresholds and taxation bands as everyone else that has “earnings” in spite of the fact that the Government regards the state pension as “a benefit” and not “earnings”, and even those pensioners who are far from being well off (and I venture to suggest that is in the 95% category) have to pay some level of tax. I doubt if the introduction of the triple lock has made any pensioner “rich” or “well off”.

The Resolution Foundation proposed abandoning it three years ago, and suggested that pensioners should pay higher levels of taxation, to level the playing field with the younger generation.

During my entire life of mortgage payments, I never had the benefit of the low interest rates that have now been at record low levels since 2008, when it fell to three per cent and kept on falling.

Prior to that it averaged around eight per cent, having at one time peaked close to 15%, and although the basket being used that time was different, more than a half of my earnings were dedicated to my mortgage, council rates (remember them) and insurances to protect my mortgage and my home. Indeed on two successive months, I was left with just 20p after all my bills had been paid, and was extremely grateful that our local supermarket started accepting credit card payments for grocery bills.

On behalf of all pensioners, the prices of the things that matter most to us, food, heating and home maintenance, all continue to rise at rates that need a robust pension regime, and until the 2010 election, the Labour Party, the “great protector of the poor and needy”, badly let down those of pensionable age, and indeed, Gordon Brown made a tax grab on private pensions during his time as Chancellor.

Let’s stop this nonsense of referring to the “well-off pensioner” – it simply is a myth, and let’s keep a bit of balance and context when presenting such controversial subjects.

Francis Deigman, Erskine.


APPARENTLY the “beating heart of Gaelic” is fading fast even in the Western Isles, with few signs of progress generally since 2005, so it is certainly debatable whether Scotland’s civil servants should “mainstream” its use and that taxpayers elsewhere should fund any further development ("Gaelic now in a ‘frail’ position",The Herald, July 16)

I assume Shirley-Anne Somerville does not herself speak it, so with everything else of greater urgency in her in-tray, will she now learn Gaelic? Will Nicola Sturgeon et al do so? As they want to join the EU, should their priority not be the main European languages which are falling by the wayside in Scotland’s schools – plus Mandarin, Japanese, Arabic and Russian?

They might also concentrate on English. What “literally blows me away” are the numbers of MSPs and other supposedly well-educated people who say and write “Me and my team are doing XYZ” and “for my team and I”; who ambiguously use “decimate”; and who fail to realise that by describing the NHS as “incredible” or “fantastic” they are suggesting it is “literally” unbelievable.

Other examples are marketing managers writing “As one of our valued customers, we would like….”; and even sub-editors re-positioning “only” and reversing its intended meaning – as in “it was only after two years…” or “it was after only two years…”.

Sadly, there are teachers who now want to reduce further the rigour of our language teaching. Instead of inventing new pronouns covering “he or she” and derivatives, the civil service has used “they” for years, which can be ambiguous depending on what has preceded it. With the “trans” zealots now insisting on that too the problem is compounded.

John Birkett, St Andrews.


RELIGION still dominates the world’s news – in the cause of peace, little can be more important than believers understanding other faiths, and unbelievers understanding what religion is all about.

Glasgow’s St Mungo’s Museum is one of the world’s few museums of religion, reflecting the city’s innovative approach to promoting mutual respect and understanding. Even with the current extreme financial pressures faced by local authorities, the slightest suggestion that it could be closed or reduced in scope is deeply disturbing. St Mungo’s serves not only Glasgow and Scotland but the UK as a whole, and indeed the world. Every level of government should contribute to sustaining this invaluable institution.

Please, Glasgow, protect St Mungo’s Museum.

Crispin Paine and John Reeve, Religion, Collections & Heritage Group, Liss, Hampshire.


IT is good that a few Shetland cattle, goats and two Highland ponies are being used to preserve and maintain the moorland at Culloden battlefield, the 1746 site of the last battle of the final Jacobite Rising led by Bonnie Prince Charlie (“Cows play vital role at historic battlefield site”, The Herald, July 16. It is surely an oversight, however, that in the case of a man named after three sheepdogs, a few of Little Bo-Peep’s pals are not represented.

R Russell Smith, Largs.