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We need longer prison terms for offenders

We need longer prison terms for offenders

Sir, – Fife’s Chief Superintendent Angela McLaren states 251 violent crimes in 2014 were “incredibly low” because the five-year average was 282 and the 2015 figure was 299.

Others might disagree, for example, the parents of the 15-year-old girl whose attacker was sentenced to only a minimum of four years (plus life-long monitoring) by Lady Wise, a leading family specialist, as “a very significant punishment for terrifying ordeals of abduction, assault and cruel, depraved, inhumane, violent, repeated rape” (February 18).

Another judge gave 42 months to a convicted killer released after only three years of a seven-year sentence for a “cowardly, vicious and terrifying” axe and knife attack, scarring his victim for life (March 3) and another judge gave two serial attackers only two years, despite using a hammer and knife repeatedly on a shopkeeper’s head, in front of a customer and six-month-old child (March 9).

Such persistent thugs should still be in jail, unable to commit further atrocities.

While many crimes do not merit incarceration, society needs more jail space and longer terms for certain criminals, with more effective in-house education and after-release rehabilitation.

But will such violence decrease significantly until some politicians, judicial authorities and/or their families, are themselves victims?

John Birkett. 12 Horseleys Park, St Andrews.

Folly of two-tier parliament

Sir, – I would like to thank John Cameron for his letters which are regular reminders of why we need to keep fighting for independence from Westminster.

In the March 15 issue he repeats the suggestion from his letter of December 31 that Scotland is a “one-party state”.

At the time I replied that for decades, the UK has been a one-party state with the London establishment running the country for its own benefit.

We have been able to choose between blue, red or yellow establishment but it has made no discernible difference to the policies inflicted on us.

Scotland uses proportional voting at all levels of governance and the reason the SNP has a majority is because more than half of Scots support the party.

Compare this to the current UK Tory Government which only has the support of around a quarter of the electorate.

John also argues for a second chamber. Is he seriously suggesting that we copy Westminster and have a bloated House of Lords full of unelected retired politicians and party donors who bought their seat?

Andrew Collins. Ladyburn House, Skinners Steps, Cupar.

Will SNP try to control debates?

Sir, – The SNP would like us to believe that it suffers BBC bias all the time. We now hear that members believe that the Question Time audience was loaded against them in Dundee a couple of weeks ago.

But the same SNP itself has a proven record of shipping-in supporters. Remember the so-called spontaneous mob which assembled at the BBC Glasgow offices during the referendum?

Alex Salmond wanted us to believe the mob gathered without any organisation, yet many were carrying pre-printed banners 20-feet long and eight-feet high.

How likely was it that John Swinney thought that he could have used the Question Time programme as a party political broadcast but was not able to get his plan off the ground?

We now know that the BBC will televise two Scottish election debates in late March and early May, so maybe the SNP should get to pick who chairs the debates, choose the audience and select the opposition parties.

That seems to be about the only way to stop people like Pete Wishart, John Swinney and Alex Salmond claiming the BBC has it in for them.

Colin Cookson. Hatton Green, Stenton, Glenrothes.

Shocking spin on oil support

Sir, – Callum McCaig, the SNP energy spokesman said he welcomed George Osborne’s announcement about the £1 billion tax cut boost for the oil and gas sector but went on to say that the Chancellor “had caved in to SNP pressure”. Really?

However, he did not dispute Mr Osborne’s claim that his vital life-support package to the oil and gas sector was the biggest anywhere in the world and that “none of this support would have been remotely affordable” if in a few days’ time Scotland had separated from the rest of the UK.

Perhaps before making such a silly comment, Mr McCaig should have had a reality check and consulted the latest OBR figures which state that the oil and gas revenues are forecast to be in the red, down from the £2.2 bn in 2014-15 and that receipts are expected to be negative until 2021.

It would not surprise me if we hear Mr McCaig demand the UK Government changes the North Sea “assets” allocation (if we became independent) from a geographical split to a per capita share to improve Scotland’s worsening fiscal deficit.

To even the most casual observer, the disconnect from reality shown by Mr McCaig’s comment at best beggars belief and at worst is another example of the shocking con tricks used by the SNP on the Scottish people. They deserve better.

Ian Lakin. Pinelands, Murtle Den Road, Milltimber.

Trump appeals to US masses

Sir, – It would appear that the fury directed towards Donald Trump is based mainly on two suggestions he made in the early debates.

The first was that “illegal immigrants should be deported”.

I would have thought that was a widely-held view below the Olympian heights of the metropolitan elite.

It is an inconvenient fact that most “illegals” are Hispanic which has allowed Trump to be portrayed as a racist.

The second suggestion was a temporary ban on Muslim immigrants from areas of high terrorist activity until the US can work out a satisfactory method of filtering out potential bombers.

As this was said in the aftermath of the Paris atrocity it is not an unreasonable idea.

Rather than denouncing Trump, it might be better if Western Muslim leaders encouraged their people to warn the security services when a young man in their community has been radicalised.

Donald Trump may come over as a buffoon to European sophisticates but he is clearly saying things with which many of the dispossessed and overlooked in America agree.

Rev Dr John Cameron. 10 Howard Place, St Andrews.

Holyrood must help Kincardine

Sir, – What explains the reluctance of the Scottish Government (March 18) to help finance a Longannet recovery plan?

It was not slow to act over the possible closure of the nearby Grangemouth complex.

More recently it has intervened to help sort out the log-jam over subsidies to the farming community.

It has not been slow to point out the help given in Fife following the closure of the Tullis Russell plant and the Velux facility in Glenrothes.

Yet for some reason it seems lukewarm over the problems in Kincardine and beyond which will follow the demise of the power station.

This plant is one of the most prominent in Scotland’s industrial profile.

I think most of us understand the strong environmental reasons that made it no longer viable.

But all the more reason that Holyrood should show some vision of what businesses might grow up in its wake.

Simply leaving the plant to stand as a relic of the past is not acceptable.

It is up to the combined expertise of councils, energy companies, local communities and governments to bring forward practical proposals for the future.

It is idle to pretend that this can be done simply by goodwill. It needs cash to support business acumen. The most important player will be Holyrood and that is why the plea must now be, First Minister, think again.

Bob Taylor. 24 Shiel Court, Glenrothes.