Up for discussion today are the quality of election candidates, MSPs campaigning during Holyrood session time, the Catholic church, speed bumps, the Forth Energy plan for Dundee and the travel concession scheme.
Poor election candidates whipping up apathy Sir,-This General Election is supposed to be the online election or the leaders’ debates election but my experience of assisting in one candidate’s campaign tells me that the major characteristics of this election are apathy and incompetence.
The response of the public to public meetings and campaigning activity has been woeful, with attendances at meetings being in the region of 20 to 30 people and activists having to work very hard to have the public accept their party’s election literature.
This is understandable given the fact that all the main parties are threatening the electorate with unemployment, greater poverty and poorer services but the sheer incompetence of most of the candidates at meetings I have attended is hard to believe.
At one hustings, one candidate attempting to represent a constituency with an economically inactive population of 30% admitted that he knew nothing about the DWP crisis loans.
Another candidate had such a grasp of new technology that he did not know if the microphone was on or off on three separate occasions and another, who had been parachuted in by HQ over the heads of local party members, could hardly string three words together.
Yet another admitted he worked in the public sector, yet still supported extensive cuts in public expenditure, reminding all present about turkeys voting for Christmas.
Despite their heroic efforts, it is no wonder that our democratic system is disappearing down the drain and that the turnout in this particular election is heading for a figure of somewhat under 40%.
Raymond Mennie.55 Milnbank Road,Dundee.
Sir,-It cannot be right for MSPs to be out campaigning in support of their potential Westminster colleagues when the Scottish Parliament is in session and their salaries are being paid by the taxpayer.
This surely amounts to taxpayer-subsidised political campaigning.
Can this be legal? It will be interesting to see their expense submissions for this period.
George Lindsay.Whinfield Gardens,Kinross.
Missing the target
Sir,-So the Roman Catholic Church is outraged at a spoof memo.
Perhaps it might be given a tad more credibility if it showed its outrage about the abuse, seemingly covered up by the church authorities, that so many of its priests perpetrated on so many innocent children.
Tom McDonald.57 Durham Street,Monifieth.
Speed hump anomalies
Sir,-Jack Burgess (April 24) is the latest in a long line of letter writers complaining about road humps.
Whenever I ask the same questions of Fife Council I am told about the continuing reductions in road casualties.
Those reductions are great news but are speed cushions in particular playing a part?
If they are, why are they designed to exempt buses, delivery vans and the larger, four-wheel drive vehicles?
I have now asked the council for a detailed answer.
This is taking time, which leads me to think that I am right. If they had ready proof, they would have produced it by now.
(Cllr) Dave Dempsey.7 Carlingnose Park,North Queensferry.
Block this landscape blot
Sir,-Many people in Dundee will be under the impression that they will not be affected by the proposed developments at the harbour by Forth Energy.
This may well not be the case.
If you can see the recently arrived oil rig from your house, street or neighbourhood, then the proposed turbines will impact on you.
The turbines and chimneys of the proposed biomass plant are virtually the same height as the rig. The rig will be gone soon but if the turbines are erected, they will be a blot on the landscape for
many years to come. Do not let this happen to our city.
Richard Bishop. 2 Albany Drive,Broughty Ferry.
Simplistic view of fare subsidies
Sir,-With the inevitable war of election leaflets, it is important to clear up just exactly what has happened in Fife over concessionary rail travel (April 24).
It is simplistic for Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray to claim that his councillors in the region opposed that cut, or that it poses a threat to the entire travel concession scheme.
In the February budget, the SNP/Lib-Dem coalition decided that the 50p each-way off-peak fare would apply to train travel only, and to the 19 stations within the county.
Labour did not oppose this cut entirely. It wanted the cost for travel to all these stations and Dundee, Edinburgh and Perth to be increased to £1 each way. This proposal, I understand, would actually have increased the subsidy paid by Fife Council to ScotRail to run the scheme.
What will happen on May 23? The existing off-peak day-return fare from Markinch to Edinburgh, for example, is £9.70. Passengers over 60 will still be able to travel to Inverkeithing for £1 return, and then to Edinburgh for a further £4.70 return, a total of £5.70 and a saving of £4.
The saving could be even more with the purchase of a railcard (currently £26 a year), bringing the concessionary fare to about half the normal price. Still too much?
Well, remember that the 50p concession was introduced almost 20 years ago. Fares have risen a lot since then. Any rise puts the entire rail network and the welfare of pensioners at risk. But Labour needs to keep a sense of proportion about the impact the change will have.
Bob Taylor.24 Shiel Court,Glenrothes.