MSP Colin Keir works hard in Holyrood roles

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we refer to your recent article describing the challenges to Colin Keir MSP for reselection in the Edinburgh Western constituency and wholeheartedly support the right of every member and every branch and constituency to select the candidate they feel will do them and the constituents justice (‘Lazy’ MSP faces selection fight from six challengers, News, July 11).

That is democratic and at the heart of the SNP movement. That said, we cannot sit by and allow accusations that Colin Keir can be accused of a “lack of activity” or is “lazy” to go unchallenged.

We have worked with Colin for four years in the Scottish Parliament and have found him to be hardworking for his constituents individually and pursuing local issues assiduously on their behalf.

He has contributed in key roles in several voluntary cross-party groups, including on aviation, key to his constituency, and on parliamentary committees, where he currently serves on two substantial committees: Audit and Health and Sport.

In our SNP group he is a team player, but first and foremost he represents always the interests of Edinburgh Western.

Stuart McMillan MSP (West Scotland)

Mike Mackenzie MSP (Highlands and Islands)

Mike Russell MSP (Argyle and Bute)

Joan McAlpine MSP (South Scotland)

Willie Coffey MSP (Kilmarnock and Loudon)

Christina McKelvie MSP (Kilmarnock and Loudon Valley)

Bruce Crawford MSP (Stirling)

Gil Paterson MSP (Clydebank and Milngavie)

Colin Beattie MSP (Midlothian North and Musselburgh)

Christine Grahame MSP (Midlothian South Tweeddale and Lauderdale)

Clare Adamson MSP (Central Scotland)

Richard Lyle MSP (South of Scotland)

Free prescriptions are crucial to sick poor

I was so annoyed at Helen Martin’s column comment that paracetamol is cheap and we don’t need prescriptions (News, July 6).

She may be lucky to have good health, but like many thousands with chronic pain and severe crippling arthritis, I need several items monthly – at one time I had to pay for six items each month.

The system was very unfair as most people with severe, long-term illness were having to pay, including for MS, Parkinson’s, diabetes and cancer. Two or three conditions were exempt.

The Scottish Government ran a consultation and as it would cost a huge amount to screen everyone, decided to give all free.

Pharmacies are only permitted to sell very small amounts of paracetamol at a time. Ms Martin should get her facts right. I need eight daily, plus many other drugs. That is 56 weekly and my doctor gives me a box every two months.

We should not have to struggle to buy these, we are lucky to have a caring SNP government.

Ms Martin should do her research. It’s irresponsible to write misleading rubbish.

Mrs J Johnson, Bellevue Road, Edinburgh

Scotland needs control over workers’ rights

the Tory government has announced that it will further restrict trade unions’ right to strike, leaving Scottish workers with some of the weakest legal protections in the developed world.

While the UK Government is keen to tackle the UK’s poor productivity levels, countries that rank highest for workers’ rights have higher productivity than the UK, underlining the folly of the UK Government’s plans to restrict trade union rights.

According to OECD statistics, the vast majority of EU countries, 
including Germany and France, ranked best by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) for workers’ rights have higher productivity than the UK. Eleven members of the EU are top rated for workers’ rights by the ITUC – the UK is ranked in the third highest category of country.

This attack on workers’ rights is, therefore, not just morally wrong but will also undermine economic progress.

With full powers over trade union and employment policy, the Scottish Government can work more effectively in partnership with trade unions, the third sector and business to boost growth, to increase productivity, to support employment and to deliver more and better jobs.

Alex Orr, Leamington Terrace, Edinburgh

BBC should put its own house in order

The BBC has taken over responsibility for funding TV licences for the over-75s.

James Heath, the BBC director of policy, said that this move would “reduce the BBC’s income by 
£725 million” a year and suggested that the over-75s might like to voluntarily pay for a licence to plug this hole.

The BBC is overstaffed and its mega-highly paid executives would never survive outside the BBC. The BBC ‘stars’ are paid more in a year than most people earn in a lifetime.

A cull of personnel and programmes is long overdue.

Mr Heath, and those over £100,000 a year, should lead by example and voluntarily reduce their salaries by at least five per cent.

Clark Cross, Springfield Road, Linlithgow