LETTERS: Michelle is suffering Lib-Dem smear campaign

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Apparently the MP for Edinburgh West, Michelle Thomson, is incapable of doing anything right – at least in the eyes of the Lib Dems (‘Embattled MP in bid for constituency office’, News, October 22).

Now she can’t even make arrangements to open an office to offer help to the people of the area without her political opponents taking yet another opportunity to suggest she is letting everyone down.

Well, perhaps I can help the Lib Dems out here, because this member of the constituency has personally engaged with Ms Thomson as my MP and I not only found it simple to contact her but found her and her staff extremely kind and helpful.

All this despite their claim that she will be drawn further and further away from her constituents, presumably by the distractions of constant personal attacks.

The people of Edinburgh West, no matter who they voted for, can seek help or advice on either 0131-200 6286 or her London office 0207-219 6626, so any suggestion that she is not readily available to constituents is nonsense.

Members of the public might be forgiven if they are beginning to suspect that the Lib Dem party shuns the principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty’.

Would it not be more beneficial to their cause if they were to concentrate on telling readers exactly how they intend to achieve whatever their policies are for the Scottish Parliament in 2016 and beyond, rather than continue with what, to some, is increasingly looking like a smear campaign?

Angus J Stewart, Echline Drive, South Queensferry

Capital audiences are forgetting manners

I was sorry to hear about the problems suffered by Kevin Bridges at his Playhouse show (‘Hecklers at Bridges show no joke for Playhouse’, News, October 23.

It seems some drunken fools want to spoil everyone’s fun, by behaving like idiots.

I recently attended the Chantel McGregor (pictured) gig at The Caves. The constant chatter from a certain section of the crowd, who only seemed interested in the support band, was disgraceful.

It got so bad, that Chantel had to stop her set to ask people to quieten down.

It seems ridiculous that some people go to a show but can’t stop talking over the artist. Where are their manners?

Please have some respect for all acts that make the effort to come to Edinburgh or you may find that they don’t return.

Alun Thomas, Sinclair Close, Edinburgh

Christmas is not just for Christians, Andrew

Andrew Forrest tells of his ‘horror’ at TK Maxx’s ‘Have a Merry Holiday’ sign because “This has always been a Christian country,” (Letters, October 21).

This is simply not true. At the last census only half of Scots described themselves as having any religion, with Christians being a further subset of those.

Christian myth and imagery has added to the ancient festival of Yule, which resonates for us all as the turning point of the winter sun.

Unlike TK Maxx I am happy to call it ‘Christmas’, but the religious do not own its ‘real meaning.’

Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society, Saughtonhall Drive

Can’t we do more to help the homeless?

Begging and homelessness is a sad fact of life in cities, especially ones that draw large numbers of tourists. We all have genuine compassion to help those in need, I also don’t want to socially cleanse our streets.

However, the number of beggars who are well known drug users and women/old men/amputees of Eastern European heritage who are part of begging gangs has dramatically escalated in the Old Town, especially in the Lawnmarket/George IV Bridge/South and North Bridge area.

I walked from my flat on Lawnmarket to South Bridge and counted 15 commercial beggars.

We also have a number of homeless people who have started camping out in the evening in the doorway next to the cash machines of the Bank of Scotland at 300 Lawnmarket.

They drink and use drugs, which can be intimidating when walking home and for people who use the cash machines. Also they are using Fisher’s Close to defecate in, which is really unpleasant for a resident to come across.

Calim Renton, Lawnmarket, Edinburgh

Avoid meat cancer danger - go vegan

The recent announcement by the World Health Organisation that processed meat is carcinogenic to humans adds further weight to Animal Aid’s call for such products to be treated in the same way as tobacco.

Numerous studies by prestigious medical organisations, including the World Cancer Research Fund, have already linked processed red meat to an increased risk of bowel cancer, which has the second-highest death toll for any form of cancer in the UK.

Since publishing the report ‘No Safe Limit’ in 2013, which examined this evidence, Animal Aid has called for processed red meat products to carry health warnings and for children and hospital patients to be protected from their carcinogenic properties.

As a minimum, consumers should be made aware of the risks they face by eating processed red meat and should ideally adopt a vegan diet, which is associated with a reduced risk of bowel cancer.

Free information about this can be obtained from Animal Aid.

Ben Martin, Animal Aid,Tonbridge, Kent