Letters: Selective truth is no help in independence debate

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It was interesting reading Ian Cunningham’s letter on Monday about the economic reality of the “Norway model” that the Yes campaign continually herald.

It linked in with Alex Salmond’s statement at the Edinburgh Book Festival that both sides of the debate are stretching the truth.

As with most voters, I am frustrated at the lack of hard facts on the benefits of independence. However, what concerns me even more is when facts are quoted giving a biased part of the story. A Yes leaflet delivered over the weekend gave comparison figures on the amount of pension paid in the UK and Denmark. Inevitably the UK pension was lower than that paid in Denmark with the conclusion that under independence Scottish pensioners would receive more.

However, what was not pointed out is that in Denmark the cost of living is nearly ten per cent higher than the UK and as an individual you pay national tax of between 36.5 and 42 per cent, state tax of 6.83 per cent minimum, municipal tax 22.5-27.5 per cent, health tax five per cent and social security tax £10 per month, which gives a total average tax rate of 55.6 per cent of income (even the official Danish Government’s website states that the country has the highest taxes in the world).

There is also a VAT rate of 25 per cent with no exceptions, no universal free prescriptions and no universal free pensioner bus travel.

We want facts but not selective ones, which are worse than no facts at all.

Paul Lewis, Guardwell Crescent, Edinburgh

MP Morrice is wrong on animal research

I was disappointed to read the comments of Graeme Morrice, Labour MP for Livingston, on animal research, since I thought he had more compassion.

In a week in which an experimental treatment for ebola, derived from mouse antibodies and tested on monkeys, seems to have cured a care worker from the US who contracted the disease in Africa, it is wrong for Mr Morrice to suggest either that this is not a worthy purpose or that animal research is “outdated”.

It is illegal to test cosmetics or their ingredients on an animal, or to use an animal for any scientific purpose if there’s an alternative. Such research is for medical, veterinary and environmental purposes, and as such has given us everything from insulin, to cancer drugs to the badger TB vaccine. More than 98 per cent of research animals are mice, rats, birds and fish.

A strictly anti-vivisection viewpoint may seem ethical at first glance, and indeed we support all efforts to develop non-animal alternatives, but it is a poorly-developed philosophy.

Indeed, I believe it is because the position of the National Anti-Vivisection Society has been ruled as “gravely injurious” to human and animal health that they are denied charitable status.

Chris Magee, Understanding Animal Research, Farringdon Lane, London

Referendum pales into insignificance

Am I alone in being sick to death of this referendum circus? There are so many terrible things happening in the world today that are so much more important to us all than this.

People are donating money that could do so much more good to people in need.

Neighbours are falling out because one has Yes stickers and one has No stickers when really, if nothing happens, life will still go on for us all as normal.

Scotland, get a grip of reality and think what would change your life for better or worse and I’m sure you would conclude that being in or out of the United Kingdom is not top of your list.

As they say, being together we are stronger and could do more for the rest of the needy world who are so much worse off than any of us.

Susan Smart, Penicuick

Street cafe society is not a winter activity

Essential Edinburgh seems to have missed the vital point that a 
pedestrianised George Street can be a boon and a success in August when Edinburgh is full to bursting with Festival and Fringe tourists, but a waste of time, money and space for the rest of the year, when it is normally cold, windy and often very wet.

We live in Scotland, not the tropics or the Mediterranean. Who is going to sit out at a bar in George Street in February, or enjoy a lovely steak as the wind howls around the tables? Who is going to stroll through the beautiful New Town in November enjoying the horizontal rain lashing their backs? More civic madness from the people who brought us The Tram!

Brian Bannatyne-Scott, Murrayfield Drive, Edinburgh

Tram concessions should be open to all

In reply to the letter from your reader Mr Bill Armitage (‘Trams should be open to all concession cards’), I wholeheartedly agree with him that the national concessionary travel scheme should include Edinburgh Trams regardless of where a passenger lives.

After the Scottish Government made a decision not to extend the scheme to cover the trams, the council managed to find the finances within our own budget to cover Edinburgh-issued cards. However, this is clearly far from ideal, especially for those travelling in from surrounding local authorities such as Fife, West Lothian, East Lothian and Midlothian.

Can I urge Mr Armitage and anyone else who shares these concerns to make representations to their MSP at the earliest opportunity? We need to find a way to resolve this so that everyone with concessionary travel cards can make the most of Scotland’s newest and most modern public transport system.

Councillor Lesley Hinds, Edinburgh