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Police VAT bill raid was an act of spite

Police officers investigate a murder in Montrose.
Police officers investigate a murder in Montrose.

Sir, – The public may now distinguish that there are two sorts of politicians in Scotland today.

There are those with ambition about building a successful, inclusive, country who want to make life better for all its citizens and those who want to continually demean Scotland and frustrate progress.

While Police Scotland had a difficult birth, it had almost universal political support, with only the Liberal Democrats opposing it.

With the current state of the UK’s finances, a country of Scotland’s size could not afford eight police authorities each with a chief, deputies, HR and purchasing departments and each with its own contact centre.

Setting up a unified force has allowed resources to be pooled to deal with organised crime and drug dealing across old police borders.

That has achieved results. When there was a murder in Montrose in 2015, Police Scotland was able to bring in officers from all over Scotland to investigate a difficult case and quickly apprehend suspects. That would have not happened in the days of the Tayside force.

Ron Sturrock (January 28) raises the issue that Police Scotland’s VAT bill is the SNP’s fault, notwithstanding the fact that the Metropolitan Police force does not pay VAT and neither does the Northern Ireland police authority.

Neither do new academy schools in England, taken out of local authority control and specifically exempted from VAT by a change in the law in 2011. They can reclaim VAT. It seems VAT law can be amended for the Tories’ pet schools project in England but not for policing in Scotland.

One is left with the conclusion that levying VAT on Police Scotland is an act of political spite by the Westminster Government.

That act of spite in denying funds to fight crime in Scotland is supported by unionist politicians such as Mr Sturrock.

Cllr Bill Duff.
5 MacDiarmid Drive,


Time to stand up and govern

Sir, – A £200 million black hole in the police budget, college places down by 40% since 2007, child obesity the worst in Europe, operations cancelled, falling school standards particularly affecting our poorest children and economic growth lower than in the rest of the UK.

The disastrous eight-year freeze on council tax was very populist but has had obvious consequences.

A freeze on Holyrood for the past eight years would have had much less effect on the Scottish public. New tax and spend powers have been gained by the Scottish Parliament but minimally used.

When will the SNP stand up and govern Scotland?

Graham Hay.
47a Panmure Street,


Cool heads must prevail

Sir, – Amid the clamour for another independence referendum next year, some wise words have come from former MP Jim Sillars (January 26).

There would be a good deal of crossover between the debate about independence and the difficult negotiations about the UK’s exit from the European Union.

Mr Sillars is right to point out that this would lead to uncertainty. At the moment, enough claims and counterclaims are flying around about the costs and benefits of Brexit.

Imagine the confusion in the public mind if that was to be coupled next year with another fractious debate about Scotland’s future.

The SNP Government must realise that there is still a lot of work to do on the currency, on citizenship, on defence, on pensions, on the balance between public and private spending and on how the country’s future is to be secured in a post-oil economy.

It may take years for a coherent programme to be worked out.

The public is in no mood to have to listen to the shouting matches and point scoring that were such a sad feature of the two referendums in 2014 and 2016. It is time for cool heads to prevail.

Let’s get the detail sorted out on Europe before we even think about another poll on Scotland’s destiny.

Bob Taylor.
24 Shiel Court,


Need for mobile Post Offices

Sir, – While not directly affected by the closure of the post office in Broughty Ferry, I can’t help wondering why the Post Office does not provide mobile services like banks do in rural areas. It would useful if the Post Office were to keep a few vehicles fitted out as mobile counters to provide service to the public in an emergency.

Alister Lockhart.
7 Elie Place,


Trade deals will be worked out

Sir, – On the day that Scotland’s 2015 total international and rest of the UK exports (excluding oil and gas) was estimated at £78.6 billion, up £3.1bn (4.1%) in the year, Westminster’s man in Scotland, David Mundell, was quick off his mark to use these figures as justification for Scotland just getting on with Brexit.

He rightly pointed out that Scotland exports almost four times to the rest of the UK as we do the EU.

However, this fails to tell the whole story. After the USA, Scotland is the rest of the UK’s biggest recipient of goods, more than £60bn a year.

Are we to believe that should Scotland choose independence, Westminster will impose the least favourable trading conditions between our two nations?

Let’s be honest, as soon as we exit the EU, Westminster will seek out a new UK and EU trade deal.

So ultimately, if Scotland decides to leave the UK, we’d be looking at a rest of the UK with its own EU trade agreement, and an independent Scotland having some kind of access to the EU single market, whether as a full EU member or not.

With both nations having access to the EU, an optimal Scotland and rest of the UK trade arrangement would overwhelmingly be in the interests of both parties.

Kenny Ritchie.
94 Woodside Way,


SNP needs a history lesson

Sir, – Alex Salmond claimed on Newsnight that he wanted to “maintain our thousand- year connection and history with Europe as a European nation”.

A thousand years ago there were no European nation states as we know them today, Scotland as we know it today did not exist and the only significant connection we had with Europe was when Vikings came raping and pillaging. Is this really what Alex Salmond wants to maintain?

Our connections with Europe were largely forced on us much later by the Norman kings of England who coerced King David I (who was himself no more than 10% Scottish and was king only because of Anglo-Norman backing) to flood Scotland with Norman and Flemish henchmen as he imposed the feudal system on Scotland, the same feudal system whose residue the SNP now whinges about.

The SNP seems only too happy to play fast and loose with Scotland’s history. Shame on them.

AC Grant

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