Letters: Making our past present can help us in the future

This is 2012. I find it hard to believe that we are even discussing, in our own parliament, whether Scottish history/studies be taught in our own schools.

I am utterly dismayed that parties are opposing this basic right and using it politically – this simply reeks of negativity and desperation.

To know your history is to know yourselves. Humans throughout the planet are almost identical genetically. It is our culture, which is derived from a unique history, which defines us.

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The Scotland of today was never inevitable. It exists due to the twists and turns of history right from when the first humans crossed the land bridge of Doggerland from the Continent when the last ice retreated and found shelter and food in the foreshore of Cramond 10,000 years ago to the banking crisis today.

I was never taught any Scottish history in my 1970s schooling. I am revelling in learning about it now in my 40s. I recently read a fascinating book on the Scottish Enlightenment of the 18th century and the Scots influence both at home and abroad in medicine, engineering, philosophy, geology, chemistry and so on. When I told my ex-school teacher mother about it, she replied “The Scottish Enlightenment – I think I’ve heard of that”– a damning indictment!

We need to know our history – warts, witches and all. If we want to shape the future we need to know how we got here in the first place.

Barbara Stevenson, Balgreen Road, Edinburgh

Be smart, Alex, and axe the tax

IT’S time Alex Salmond fulfilled his promise to replace the council tax with a fairer income-based alternative, efficiently collected at source.

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Labour and Lib Dem supporters who still defend this Tory tax should reflect on the revealed unfairness surrounding London’s One Hyde Park, one of the most expensive block of flats in the world.

It was reported last November that only nine out of the 62 sumptuous apartments were registered for council tax. Most of the flats were owned by companies based in tax havens where the residents couldn’t be traced.

The council couldn’t get a response from the block’s Guernsey-based owners either.

Of the billionaire occupants who did pay council tax, just four at the £163-million-a-flat complex paid the full rate of yes . . . wait for it . . . £1375.

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Each of the other five enjoyed a discount rate because they qualified as second-home owners.

Come on Mr Salmond – axe similar unfairness in Scotland before 2014 and the SNP will walk the independence referendum without the unnecessary addition of any compromising second question, as I see it.

Jack Fraser, Clayknowes, Drive, Musselburgh

Better help for jobless, please

AS one of the unemployed, I know that the big truth about job-hunting is that the only person who’s going to get me a job is me.

Help is always good, but signing forms to promise to be good at the risk of losing benefit, plus endless advice and form-filling really doesn’t help those who are already stressed, pressurised and frustrated.

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Give the unemployed realistic help rather than frustrating them.

Jason Gray, Hutchison Grove, Edinburgh

Politicians are to blame for mess

THE political parties should remember that the mess we are in is the result of decisions made by them without consulting the voters, and the voters do not like seeing their money being wasted.

Cuts in various public services and building new prisons instead of homes are negative policies as is independence from our friends in the rest of the United Kingdom.

CJR Fentiman, Polwarth Gardens, Edinburgh