I share Daniella Theis’s optimism regarding our improving attitudes to immigration but only to a certain extent (“Immigration enriches our society – I’m glad to see attitudes changing”, The Herald, September 18). As she states we need to change the language and tone when discussing immigration.

Currently any discussion amongst politicians and the media almost immediately defaults to “stopping the small boats” and the immigration process. It seems to me that we have forgotten the basic principle involved here, namely that we are dealing with human beings, just like the rest of us, with their human instinct for self-preservation, their fears, and their desire to participate economically and support themselves and their families. They are not statistics nor are they commodities or assets to be “traded” by way of quotas to perform tasks for us; they have a right to and desire for self-determination.

Immigration is of course inextricably linked to racism, but I contend that we are not as racist as we are told we are. Europe is a continent already characterised by significant anti-discrimination laws which might go some way to explaining the mass legal and illegal migration from across the world to Europe and especially the UK.

As Ms Theis eloquently puts it, diversity should be celebrated, and I would add that if that comes about by way of a progressive and humanitarian immigration policy so much the better. I hope Ms Theis is right and that people listen and reflect.

Keith Swinley, Ayr

Starmer is just being pragmatic

There is a widespread view that Labour cannot win without Scotland, but as the House of Commons Library points out (“General Elections without Scotland, Part 1: 1945-2010”) there have only been four occasions since 1945 when how Scotland voted made a difference to the UK result.

In 1964 our MPs gave Labour a small majority rather than the Conservatives being the largest party. In the first 1974 election, they made Labour the largest party rather than the Conservatives, while in the second they gave Labour a small majority rather than just being the largest party. In 2010 they denied the Conservatives a majority, forcing them into coalition.

Thus, of 18 elections since 1945, how Scotland voted has been influential in only four of them. Neil Mackay claims Starmer’s decision about future relations with the EU demonstrates his contempt for Scotland. I don’t claim any insight to Starmer’s thinking but would suggest that perhaps Starmer’s is a purely pragmatic judgement.

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton

Council tax is inherently unfair

Doug Maughan finishes his letter with the quote “the fundamental idea of a tax based on the house you live in is a sound one” (Letters, September 21). This is nonsense. A tax based on your inside leg measurement makes as much sense. All forms of taxation must be based on the ability to pay and there are no exceptions to this. The idea that the notional value of your property more than 20 years ago defines your ability to pay for your share of local services is ridiculous.

Property values for council tax purposes are assigned on what appears to be, in many cases, a fairly random basis and take no account of the number of earning occupants in a property or the associated use of council services. A single elderly occupant of a family home will pay the same council tax (minus a 25% discount for single occupancy) as the professional couple with two working children next door. The family use of water services and council facilities will far exceed that of the elderly occupant next door. It is also the case that many users of council services do not pay any council tax at all.

Council tax is inherently unfair and must be abolished as soon as a fair replacement can be found. It is a violation of human rights to treat citizens unfairly and unequally for no valid reason and council tax does that because there is no relationship between council tax banding and the ability of occupants to pay. The burden of local taxation must be spread over all earners and users of council services and must be levied as a percentage of income.

I have responded to the Scottish Government’s consultation but I have little confidence that there is the integrity to right the wrong of decades of unfair council tax. The lazy solution is simply to continue with the current system and ignore its disgraceful unfairness and stupidity. In which case I would suggest that we create a citizens’ movement and stop paying until the government comes to its senses.

Joe Berry, Glasgow

Return to the basics of policing

I imagine Robert Peel would be turning in his grave if he learned what the SNP have done to Scotland’s police force.

Police Scotland said at a recent Criminal Justice Committee meeting that it will have to make compulsory redundancies in reducing police officer numbers by 600 before the start of the next financial year. Not only that but they are having to make £18.9million worth of savings between August 2023 and the end of March 2024, much of which was due to overtime caused by the number of staff having been cut.

To assist with saving money, crimes in some areas of Scotland will now not be investigated – crimes such as theft which don’t involve a threat or harm to individuals. I’m sure the police would love to be able to reassure those in the north-east that they take all crime seriously but that is not to be with the cuts inflicted on them.

It must sit in their craw to know that the police are now being asked to set up a new Hate Crime Unit to deal with the new legislation due to come into force next year. Already under pressure, how much will Police Scotland spend on overtime when it has to deal with complaints about hurty words and trying to work out how something was meant compared to how it was taken?

We have moved so far away from what Robert Peel intended. One only has to look at his main aim which was to prevent crime. Running around looking into who said what rather than patrolling our streets or issuing advice to homeowners on how to keep their belongings safe was not what he intended.

Jane Lax, Aberlour

The Tory PM is at it again

So our illustrious Prime Minister is at it yet again. It really doesn’t matter what your views are on climate change or net zero, the point is we have yet another Tory Government flagship policy cancelled at short notice with minimal, if any, consultation, and tossed in the bin. Who knows, when we get to 2030, it’ll maybe be extended to 2040. It seems some senior Tory Government ministers had not even been handed the revised script in the days leading up to the announcement.

Rishi Sunak hasn’t got a clue. This is the man who recently spent £50k flying up to Scotland in a private jet (not much regard for climate change there then) to announce the granting of 100 new oil and gas headlines. This will be the same oil and gas that the Tories told us in 2014 had dried up.

Now we have early signs of prevaricating over the pension triple lock guarantee with no firm commitment given. People are now fighting to have the government honour this commitment. This was also given headlines in the government manifesto. What is the point in writing a manifesto?

The point about both the above issues is that neither corporate Britain nor private individuals can carry out any form of forward planning with any degree of confidence.

Stewart Falconer, Alyth, Perthshire

Assurance over a No vote

At the risk of being even more repetitive, may I remind Laurence Wade that in 2014 we were assured that the only way Scotland could secure our place in Europe was by voting No to independence. Nobody needs to be reminded of how that went, but on a positive note, I would suggest that the enthusiastic comments from EU leaders and experts regarding an independent Scotland joining the EU speaks volumes.

Ruth Marr, Stirling