Letters: John Swinney is wrong to back poll tax amnesty

In the referendum campaign the SNP painted a picture of an independent Scotland being a cross between the big rock candy mountain and a land of milk and honey where freebies and universal benefits would abound.

This persuaded hundreds of thousands of people previously unregistered on the electoral roll to sign on in the belief there would be a something-for-nothing society if the SNP won.

However, by registering, the poll tax non-payers identified themselves to their local authorities who could then more easily pursue them for their unpaid debts.

They need not fear, for riding to the rescue has come finance minister John Swinney, who has told local authorities not to pursue the debts. He claims that since the poll tax was deemed to be unfair this was the right thing to do.

Whether it was unfair or not, it was the law of the land and most of us paid it. Mr Swinney, in creating this amnesty, is rewarding the feckless who have flocked to the SNP in their droves, thus ensuring their continued support. It is so cynical it is sickening.

The unpaid amount is £425 million, which cash-strapped councils are desperate for. The Scottish Government has offered to compensate councils to the total amount of £869,000. This is taxpayers’ money.

The same honest taxpayers who paid their poll tax are now subsidising those who broke the law. Things will get worse in the weeks and months to come. Don’t blame me – I voted No.

Donald Lewis, Beech Hill, Gifford, East Lothian

Corporation tax battle would harm us all


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Alex Orr questions why Northern Ireland has been given the power to set its own corporation tax (Letters, December 9).

The reason is because it has to compete with the Republic of Ireland right on its doorstep, where they have the lowest CT in the EU – much to the annoyance of other countries in the EU. Ireland also allows companies to engage in tax dodges involving Luxembourg.

If Scotland were given a similar power it would try to entice companies here from England. England would then have to cut CT too in order to compete. The result would be that the finances of both countries would be in a worse mess that they are now and we would all be poorer.

Not so long ago Mr Orr was regularly advising your readers to vote Yes and even made the ludicrous suggestion that we could set up an oil fund while, in fact, we were running a bigger fiscal deficit than England. That was when oil was around $110 a barrel. It is now around $65. Sir Ian Wood said only a few days ago that the current price would cripple development in the North Sea.


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All the exaggerated and fantastic promises from the SNP were based on a minimum price of $113 a barrel and a strong suggestion it would rise significantly higher. Do we hear any apology for misleading people? We do not. Quite the reverse in fact.

Donald McBride, Craigleith Hill Crescent, Edinburgh

Adoption’s not the best way for Susan

It was reported in the Evening News a few weeks ago that Susan Boyle was to attempt to adopt a child. While that is to be considered a very worthwhile aim, having read the article in which she speaks of suffering panic attacks, (News, November 17), I would personally be very concerned if she were even considered for adoption.


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While I have every sympathy for her trying to manage the symptoms of Aspergers syndrome, surely the symptoms she describes – mood swings, the need to remove herself from situations and the resulting ranting and raving if she doesn’t – would ring alarm bells with the authorities.

I am in no doubt that Ms Boyle would provide financial security for any child placed with her, but surely the emotional and educational needs would have to be of utmost importance to a child’s long-term welfare and security.

Being a celebrity does not, or should not, open doors that would remain closed to those who are not household names.

Sheila Fraser, Edinburgh


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Nativity scene would help improve St John’s

I was enjoying my visit to Edinburgh today, until I reached the end of Princes Street and gasped at a painting of four men on the wall of St John’s Church.

What Adolf Hitler, Oswald Moseley and Nick Griffin were doing there, I could not imagine. Neither could I think why such a genial fellow as Nigel Farage was with those three.

Could I suggest something more appropriate for a church at this time of year – perhaps a mother with a baby, and some gentlemen bearing gifts.


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Merry Christmas to St John’s.

Malcolm Parkin, Kinnesswood, Kinross

Good manners should be respected in young

I carry a walking stick and when I am offered a seat on the bus or the tram I never refuse. What I don’t like to see is anyone refusing a seat, particularly if it’s from a young person. On one occasion the seat was refused with a dismissive wave of the hand and a “I am al -right than-you”.


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I think it is discourteous to refuse and could embarrass a youngster who would be put off from offering a seat again, especially if they have been told by their parents always to offer their seat to an elderly person.

The only time I refused a seat was from a man I was horrified to see looked older than me. I always feel good when offered a seat and I am sure the young person does as well.

George Ritchie, Edinburgh