JANE Lax (Letters, September 6) acknowledges that there will be an impact for claimants from the removal of the temporary uplift (£20 per week) to Universal Credit and goes on to suggest that the Scottish Government has it within its welfare remit to alleviate any impact. Can I suggest to Ms Lax that using the Scottish budget to continually mitigate against Westminster’s austerity is really a shameful indictment on The heartless Conservative Government? Thankfully, the Scottish Government recognises the need and has in many incidences in the past put mitigating measurers in place: the bedroom tax, the establishment of the Scottish Welfare Fund, the Scottish Child Payment, increases in Carers Allowance have all been necessary as a result of Westminster’s attack on the vulnerable, the sick and the needy.

I would suggest the Scottish Government need take no lessons from Westminster on fighting poverty, when Westminster is at the root of poverty for so many hard-working households.

Catriona C Clark, Falkirk.


WHY is the Tory Government even thinking about raising National Insurance, or perhaps income tax, for the whole UK to pay for English care ("Funding guarantee call amid National Insurance rise plans for care reforms", The Herald, September 4)? Either of these would be making folk in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland pay extra from their wages to pay for better care in England alone, as there is no mention of a related Barnett payment for devolved governments. Shades of the Poll Tax?

There is another, obvious and much more lucrative way of raising the necessary funds. The UK is the only country, of the 20-plus countries in which BP and Shell operate, to have given a subsidy, instead of taking tax. Every other country took tax as normal and these companies have made no effort to move out as a result.

So why not collect current and back tax from them? Problem solved.

P Davidson, Falkirk.

* THE proposed increase in the National Insurance contribution is unfair.

The poorest working people in society, with the lowest wages, are faced with a large tax increase to fund the NHS and social care.

There are surely other ways to raise income through taxation?

Look at some of the anomalies in the current system. The school head or highly-paid public servant who delays retirement pays no National Insurance and sees their income increase, enjoys a free bus pass and blocks his younger colleague from promotion. The retiree with an income from his own business likewise pays no National Insurance.

I believe that National Insurance should be paid by all those earning an income from paid work, until they fully retire.

John Ewing, Ayr.


REFERRING to the Scots, a certain prominent politician published the following words when he was editor of a publication not many years ago:

"It's time Hadrian's Wall was refortified,

To pen them in a ghetto on the other side.

I would go further. The nation

Deserves not merely isolation

But comprehensive extermination."

It's a bit odd then that David Bone and Douglas Sooman (Letters, September 4) should take exception to a few dafties displaying some mildly offensive banners in Scotland. As it happens I am English, raised in Scotland, and having worked in England as a young man I can inform Mr Bone and Mr Sooman that I was exposed (being perceived as Scottish) to casual racism on a regular basis in England, nothing violent of course and apparently amusing to the perpetrators, and very much a minority as Mr Bone admits about anti-Englishness in Scotland.

As many readers will know, the prominent politician I referred to in the first paragraph was our Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.

John Jamieson, Ayr.


DAY after relentless day we see the spectacle of Ian Blackford lumbering on to his well-shod feet delivering with bombast assaults on Boris Johnson and the Westminster Tory cohort. The accompanying SNP braying all too frequently exhibits personal invective. Pete Wishart personifies this style in his oft-repeated jibe that the Prime Minister is a "clown in clown’s shoes".

Whatever one’s opinions of Boris Johnson, he has soaked up such insults with remarkable fortitude and stoicism.

Contrast that with the speed with which our First Minister turned her fire on Tess White, the Tory MSP who had the temerity to make an Anglophile remark from a "sedentary position" overheard by Nicola Sturgeon and weaponised by her. Prompt sending for the cavalry in the shape of the Presiding Officer resulted in a strong rebuke and demand for an apology ("White turns grey as Presiding Officer turns the screws over off-colour remark", The Herald, September 3). Ms Sturgeon testily had taken Ms White’s remark as a personal insult.

The impression given to this reader by this event is that Ms Sturgeon and the senior SNP ranks are all too quick at dishing out ridicule and contempt for their political opponents and all too quick at over-reacting to "insult" when confronted with criticism. Ms Sturgeon may well profess that she has no anti-English leanings but a strong vein of manufactured contempt for England courses throughout elements of the SNP.

Perhaps in return for acknowledging Ms White’s apology Ms Sturgeon would consider taking a couple of lessons in anger management. A lighter-touch leadership style would surely suit her ends better, particularly if it were garnished with a little humour.

(Professor) Douglas Pitt, Newton Mearns.


DAVID Leask ("Why an independent Scotland is unlikely to copy Ireland’s sham neutrality", The Herald, September 3) highlights the need for a politically mature approach to Scottish independence.

Irish history is very different from Scotland’s. However we should note that Ireland only became independent from the UK at a slow pace. The men of 1916 had to swear allegiance to the British Crown in 1921 and had to accept two British naval bases. It took 17 years before the British voluntarily removed the bases and it was 28 years before a republic was established. There was a Common Travel Area and a common currency. A separate currency only came in 1999, 78 years after independence. Full political separation only came in 2016, when the Republic did not follow the UK in leaving the EU.

The first step for Scotland is simply to win an independence referendum. The rest follows step by step. A brand-new, post-referendum nation state has to take into consideration the likely 40% who voted No and the needs of the former UK partner.

In defence needs, Scotland covers the key Norway-Iceland gap, containing rich oilfields. The new Scottish state will have to meet the needs of the United States and the EU. Trident is therefore likely to stay, with a 25-year territorial lease to UK at some £1 billion a year rent – cash the voting public in the new nation will welcome to further social justice.

Tom Johnston, Cumbernauld.


THE reason for the requirement of say 60 per cent minimum support for a referendum, a travesty of democracy according to Peter Dryburgh (Letters, September 4) surely is that this proposed referendum is not a simple mercantile contract that can be changed or amended in a couple of years' time. It is a one-way, single-track road without a roundabout or escape route at its end. There is no turning back. In those circumstances a simple 50% plus one option is inappropriate.

It is to be hoped that this fact is clearly expressed by both sides in the coming months.

Robin Johnston, Newton Mearns.


CHLOE Smith (“Elections Bill will make sure votes are protected”, The Herald, September 6) uses more than 60 per cent of her article to defend the requirement that voters should have photographic identity when they vote in person. She suggests that the Victorian test of simply asking for your name and address can easily be faked. In reality photo identification can also be readily faked. Just ask any young person how often they used fake identification to facilitate entry to establishments where there was an age limit. Family members can often impersonate relatives, often with their permission. All that I would have needed to impersonate my father would have been a pair of glasses, a wee hat and a walking stick for good effect.

These new proposals are likely to disenfranchise many people. The photographs on driving licences are of poor quality and even colour photographs on bus passes are often not a good likeness of the holder. Those turned away at voting stations because they have recently grown a beard or have a new hairstyle will be disenfranchised.

Sandy Gemmill, Edinburgh.

Read more: SNP opened the Pandora's Box of anti-English sentiment