READERS’ LETTERS: Political agenda behind Citizens’ Assembly

© Scottish ParliamentDoes a country with a parliament and 32 local councils need another assembly?
Does a country with a parliament and 32 local councils need another assembly?

Madam, – What are we to make of the Citizens’ Assembly, announced by Ms Sturgeon at the same time as she announced yet another drive for a separation referendum?

Its co-convener David Martin claims it would help to detoxify the current state of Scottish politics.

So 100 people, allegedly representative of Scots as a whole, are going to change the political temperature? Are their views going to shape policy? Surely that is what the political system is for.

The Citizens’ Assembly is to meet six times over the winter, once in Edinburgh and five times in Glasgow.

I wonder how people in the Borders and the Highlands and Islands feel about that?

I can see the point of holding a Citizens’ Assembly on a discrete moral issue, as happened in Ireland with same sex marriage and abortion.

I could see the point of it discussing such an issue – say, assisted dying – in Scotland.

But it is difficult to see what useful function it can serve by discussing an open-ended issue such as the long-term challenges facing Scotland.

SNP MP Joanna Cherry gave the game away by welcoming its value as an avenue for promoting Scottish separatism.

We know very well that the SNP does not pursue an initiative unless it does that.

Jill Stephenson.

Glenlockhart Valley,



Too many assemblies

Madam, – Can I be alone in being somewhat befuddled as to what the purpose is of the so called Citizens’ Assembly which the Scottish Government is presently racing towards establishing?

We already have a 129-member citizen assembly at Holyrood and the same in each of our 32 local councils, all of which we taxpayers pay for dearly.

Surely these existing assemblies should be more than sufficient to represent the people in the country!

Could it be that this initiative is an admission that the existing assemblies are failing to address the real issues facing the country?

If so, then why do we need them?

GM Lindsay.

Whinfield Gardens,



Pay tax like everyone else

Madam, – We welcome that the National Secular Society is asking to end “the advancement of religion” as a claim to charitable status with its associated tax breaks.

This derives from days of yore when religion in itself was deemed “good for all”.

Groups which relieve poverty or save lives should continue to be eligible: their faith position is incidental.

This is not an anti-religious view, simply a fair one.

The 12,000 plus groups which currently enjoy this status must be free to organise and advance their own beliefs, but with some promoting activities such as ‘gay conversion therapy’, infant circumcision and non-stun animal slaughter they have no claim to being of “public benefit” and should pay taxes like everyone else.

Neil Barber.

Edinburgh Secular Society,

Saughtonhall Drive.


Fife road needs full upgrade

Madam, – Regarding the installation of a toucan crossing on the A92 in Fife near the Balfarg junction at the north end of Glenrothes.

It is proposed to install this crossing on a single carriageway road, which is positioned between two dual carriageway sections of road.

This is one of the main arteries in Fife, which carries traffic on a single carriageway road which is far from adequate.

Plans existed years ago to dual this section of road on safety grounds.

This did not happen because of funding.

In retrospect the money which has been spent on piecemeal improvements would probably have paid for a dualled section by now on a road which is dangerous and badly in need of a major upgrade.

Neil Rinmont.




Bogus Universal Credit scams

Madam, – I am appalled at the scam involving tens of millions of pounds to people making bogus claims for Universal Credit.

Already many members of parliament have expressed their indignation at this all singing all dancing state benefit that was supposed to save taxpayers money being abused in this way.

However, I think it is a great pity that those holier than thou politicians didn’t adopt the same pious attitude when it came to MPs fiddling their expenses.

One also wonders how many of the Universal Credit scams were perpetrated by persons who are citizens of other EU countries?

Kenneth Brannan.

42 Greenlee Drive,



Communication technology trap

Madam, – We seem to be living in an age of vast technology, but has it made us better communicators?

I fear not.

Many times recently on public transport and in restaurants I have seen people with children who spend the majority of the time on their phones and spend no time talking to their children.

What message does this send to them and in turn will those children become poor communicators?

Gordon Kennedy.

117 Simpson Square,



Ultimate faux pas for diplomat

Madam, – It’s difficult to believe a British Ambassador to Washington would be so reckless as to refer to the current US president as “inept, insecure and incompetent” or describe the discord within the White House as akin to “knife fights”.

Today no “secret memo” is really secure, so why did Sir Kim Darroch express himself in such pejorative terms?

His memos, drenched in colonial arrogance, have led to that ultimate diplomatic faux pas: he has become the issue.

Rev Dr John Cameron.

10 Howard Place,

St Andrews.


Loser wants to roll dice again

Madam, – Mr Corbyn has come off the fence.

He wants another referendum, this time on a deal to leave Europe.

Like all political parties he wants another throw of the dice.

Losers always do.

When politicians ignore democracy and the people’s will they have become closet fascists.

Even the most stupid of people must realise they don’t care about us.

John G Phimister.

63 St Clair Street,