Letters: Marginalising SNP voice in Westminster is wrong

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Proposals by David Cameron and George Osborne that SNP MPs should not be allowed to vote on the UK budget is bizarre and utterly reprehensible.

For good or ill, Scots rejected independence last September, the UK was retained and as such SNP MPs clearly have as much right to vote on the UK budget at Westminster as MPs from south of the Border. We are all part of the UK and the creation of two types of MPs is simply not tenable.

This is further reinforced by the recent statement from the First Minister that SNP MPs should vote to save the English NHS. Indeed, in 2003, for example, SNP MPs voted against Foundation Hospitals in England on the basis that moves to privatise the NHS in England pose a threat to Scotland’s budget under the Barnett Formula.

The SNP position at Westminster has very honourably been not to vote on matters which don’t impact on Scotland. However, privatising the English NHS threatens the Scottish budget and until such time as Scotland becomes fully financially autonomous, it would be highly irresponsible for SNP MPs to turn their backs on a matter of such significance.

Alex Orr, Leamington Terrace, Edinburgh

Spirit of Christmas lives on in our streets

It’s heartwarming that here in Edinburgh the spirit of Christmas doesn’t just fizzle out with the passing of the festive season.

It’s almost February and yet decorative piles of Christmas trees still adorn and prettify the streets around the Capital’s famous big black on-street waste containers. A reminder, perhaps, that although all things must pass, some things take longer than others.

David Jackson Young, India Street, Edinburgh

Voters gullible over anti-Labour rhetoric

I sometimes despair of voters’ gullibility in listening to the SNP rhetoric about the Labour/Tory roles during the referendum and its relevance to forthcoming elections.

The referendum was about a single issue in which both sides drew support from groups that in other circumstances would be politically opposed to each other.

The SNP have cynically sought to portray Labour as being the same as the Tories as they supported the same argument. Does this then mean that the SNP are the same as the Socialist Workers Party who were on the same side of the argument as the SNP? Utter nonsense and disappointing that voters have not seen through this slur on Labour.

On the subject of ‘strange bedfellows’, the Nationalists seem to have a short memory and conveniently forgotten about 1979 when they joined forces with the Tories to bring down the Labour government which heralded in the Thatcher years, and have also forgotten that between 2007-11 they formed a minority government in Holyrood and governed with the help of the Tories. Stones and glasshouses come to mind.

It’s time voters woke up and smelt this cynical political deceit and based their judgement on past achievements (or failings) of electoral promises and the future.

Paul Lewis, Guardwell Crescent, Edinburgh

We need joined-up thinking to elderly care

figures released from Age UK and the Campaign to End Loneliness, reveal that one million people aged 75 and over are lonely and the number is to soar by half a million by 2028.

Our charity supports more than 750 older people over 75 years of age in Scotland who are at risk of social isolation. Our network of more than 1000 volunteer drivers and hosts provide monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties through 85 groups from the Borders to the Highlands.

This outing once a month can make the world of difference to our guests. Over the past 50 years, our staff and volunteers have heard the stories of thousands of older people who live alone and have no day-to-day contact. These stories are incredibly sad and, as well as the emotional impact, we know loneliness can seriously affect physical health and wellbeing. Two of the most significant issues we need to address are those of confidence and access to services. It takes a lot for an older person to say they need support without the additional hurdle of not knowing where to turn and what is available.

There needs to be a joined-up social care approach which can cope with the increasing pressures society will continue to face in the coming years.

Valerie Crookston, Scotland executive officer, Contact the Elderly, George Street, Edinburgh

Familiar face behind cyclists’ hobbyhorse

It is interesting to note that the claims by cyclists against trams for accidents are being handled by the same firm of compensation solicitors that is heavily associated with Cycle Law Scotland and that well publicised campaign over the past few years, by lawyer Brenda Mitchell, to bring in strict liability laws in favour of cyclists.

Gus Logan, York Road, North Berwick

Trams have the rails, bikes have handlebars

I am truly amazed at the recent press reports that 60 cyclists are to take legal action against Edinburgh City Council for alleged failure to keep cyclists and the tram system apart.

My understanding of tram systems is they require sunken rails along the length of the route to function and bicycles are fitted with handlebars.

At 69 and having ridden bikes since my primary school days I have never found cause to sue a council because l didn’t know what handlebars were for.

Colin Cookson, Glenrothes