Don’t blame SNP for Osborne’s savage cuts

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Henry Philip (Letters, February 5) seems to forget that the Scottish budget has been savaged due to George Osborne’s plans to cut £20 billion from government spending. Or that in the crucial vote in the House of Commons on July 20 last year, 80 per cent of Labour MPs, including Ian Murray, abstained rather than opposed George Osborne’s cuts.

Jimmy Haddow (Letters, February 5) fails to mention that the SNP are giving local councils an extra 
£250 million for social services plus £100m more protecting education.

Labour’s proposed tax increases will hit three out of every four workers. A newly-qualified nurse will pay £112 more and the average income tax bill will rise by five per cent next year but only two per cent for the better off. That’s not progressive.

There are no existing powers to hand out rebates or change Scottish income tax bands, so Labour is promising pie in the sky to the lowest paid workers.

By contrast the SNP’s fully funded council tax freeze has saved the average Band D household £1500, which also helps to stimulate the economy in times of austerity.

Thanks to Labour, we missed the best opportunity to end Tory austerity on September 18, 2014.

Mary Thomas, Watson Crescent, Edinburgh

Time for Rise to shine in a fairer society

As someone who pays over £40 a week in council tax and one who has campaigned relentlessly to have this unfair and regressive tax replaced with an income-based alternative, I fully support Mrs June Fleming’s view that the SNP should not raise council tax (Letters, February 6).

Tax is such a contentious pre-election issue that it must be addressed on the premise that although few of us want to pay tax, tax is good in a civilised society. But our tax systems must be progressive, enabling the state to reduce inequality by taking an increasing proportion of income as it rises as opposed to regressive which increases inequality by taking a decreasing proportion of income as it rises.

The council tax is regressive. If taxes are regressive, future problems are inevitable. We just need to look at our present social policy which is failing our NHS and our public services because mainstream politicians shy away from progressive taxation.

Although I am still undecided as to which pro-independence party or parties to support in the coming election, I have been quite taken with the progressive manifesto of Scotland’s new left alliance Rise.

Rise has pledged to raise the top level of income tax, replace the council tax with an income-based alternative, abolish charitable status for private schools, crack down on tax dodgers and cut links with expensive unelected monarchy.

Progressive policies are out there. Perhaps we just need the courage to go out and vote for them.

Jack Fraser, Clayknowes Drive, Musselburgh

Sticking two fingers to our cultural heritage

Merci Essential Edinburgh for the latest “creation” in their theme park takeover of St Andrew Square.

Neon-lit stick figures perform a danse macabre around Lord Dundas’ austere pillar. Meanwhile, at the base of all this is the memory of grass and snowdrops and crocuses, and in the middle distance middens of mud.

Councillor Richard Lewis has said: “This project has been tailored by the French artists to suit the square.”

One wonders whether the French collective Groupe Laps are soulmates of the Gallic company which designed those equally soulless and risible new bus-stop shelters that protect few from Reekie’s horizontal rains or winds that arrow to the bone.

Is this the city council’s slant on our once admirable entente cordiale?

The council should be ashamed of turning a blind eye to Essential Edinburgh’s cynical and systematic vandalism perpetrated in St Andrew Square and elsewhere in our World Heritage Site, ostensibly in the interests of “culture”, but increasingly in what Councillor Lewis chillingly describes as profitable “footfall”.

John Ross Maclean, Drummond Place, Edinburgh

Green Party’s not 
so small after all

I always enjoy Ian Swanson’s commentaries on Scottish politics and his piece on the battle for regional list seats in Lothian is no exception (News, February 20).

Ian was quite right to highlight the Green prospects on that list vote with both current Green MSP Alison Johnstone and Scotland’s leading land and democracy campaigner Andy Wightman heading up the Green list.

A regional vote for the Greens which sees Andy in parliament is far more enticing than a vote, on the list, for the SNP which will almost certainly prove, as in 2011, to lead to no additional MSPs.

However, I was intrigued by the labelling of the Greens as a “small party”, implicitly compared to the Lib Dems as a “main party”.

This will be the Greens who already have a Green MSP in Lothian while the Lib Dems have none. It will be the Greens who have three times as many councillors in Lothian than the Lib Dems. And the Greens who have as many members in Lothian as the Lib Dems have in all of Scotland.

It seems that in political headline writing there is still some catching-up to do with how much Scotland has changed.

Gavin Corbett, Green councillor for Fountainbridge-Craiglockhart