Would Iain Duncan Smith work for nothing?

Sir, I was astounded by the arrogance of Iain Duncan Smith when talking about unemployed people working for free. The question I have to ask is: would he work for nothing?

He really seems to be prejudiced against unemployed people.

There are a lot of people in this country desperately seeking work with very little support.

A work placement should only be considered an option if there is going to be a vacancy arising within the near future at the employers.

That way people on the placement could show the potential employer their skills, but otherwise I see little benefit to unemployed people and only big employers will benefit through free labour.

Two years ago I did a 12-week work placement at my local council. Due to funding I was not offered work at the end of it and two years later I am still unemployed.

These schemes should be banned unless there is hope of a job at the end of them.

Gordon Kennedy. 117 Simpson Square, Perth.

Should listen to Gerard Eadie

Sir, Awards are handed out for almost anything these days and, bearing that in mind, it would be most appropriate that, if there is a “brass neck of the year” award, it goes to Iain Duncan Smith.

Here is a man whose earnings are more than substantial trying to justify forcing people to work for nothing by penalising them for not taking every opportunity to search for non-existent jobs under pain of losing benefits for failing to find one.

It would do him a power of good to heed the opinion of Gerard Eadie the chairman of CR Smith Ltd, who understands the principle of being paid for doing a job.

It just might make the minister appreciate that expecting people to do something for nothing which he would never do himself, I’m sure is both morally and practically wrong. With his attitude he would be the prime candidate for the title role (unpaid, of course), of Alan B’stard MP in a new version of the comedy series The New Statesman.

Allan A MacDougall. 37 Forth Park, Bridge of Allan.

Only viable option

Sir, In his reply to me (Letters, February 13) Arthur Davis misses the point completely.

Alistair Darling tells us there is a compelling case for the union yet singularly fails to tell us what it is, or what is on offer if we vote no.

I did not use the term “boring”, I described the Better Together campaign’s insistence on talking down Scotland’s capabilities as “dire”.

I note too he refers to the No group as “Better Together”, yet uses the term “nationalist” when referring to the Yes campaign. Another mistake.

The Yes campaign is made up of a number of groups, not just the SNP, and includes a growing number of Labour supporters.

Indeed, last week John McAllion, former Labour Dundee East MP and MSP, made public his support for independence and cited the serial failure of numerous Westminster governments as the reason for his decision.

This from a man who has worked in both parliaments and who has now come to a conclusion he once thought impossible. Independence is the only viable option if we want to end this country’s continuing decline under Westminster.

This debate is not about party politics as Mr Davis would have it. It is about the future well-being of Scotland and its citizens.

An aspiring, confident, wealthy Scotland is not the “fantasy” of Mr Davis’s words, but a reality which only needs courage for it to be grasped.

Ken Clark. 335 King Street, Broughty Ferry, Dundee.

Time to think differently

Sir, As we all know, there is a chronic shortage of affordable accommodation, especially for the thousands of young people out there who find themselves in long queues for council housing, or are unable to get on the housing ladder for one reason or another.

I can suggest two ways out of the current crisis.

Firstly, the conversion of the thousands of empty shops in our high streets and town centres into small flats and, secondly, the provision of ultra-cheap prefabricated housing units which could be easily manufactured and assembled by local labour or even by DIY.

Suitable sites would have to be found for the latter, however, neither of these radical “solutions” could happen unless the current plethora of red tape is removed.

Lateral thinking is not new, but we may have to do a heck of a lot of it to solve many of our current social problems.

Bob Smart. 55 Bellevue Gardens, Arbroath.

Mad, mad world right enough

Sir, We live in a mad, mad world.

The Courier February 18, page 13, 26% of children live in poverty in Dundee.Page 14, Dr Robert Peat, aged 57, leaves a council position with a £110,000 lump sum and a handsome pension then gets another position funded by the public purse to the tune of another six figure sum.

Enough said.

Ercell Carruthers. 11 Poplar Avenue, Blairgowrie.

Need action not words

Sir, The most overworked words in the vocabularies of our politicians are “vow”, “pledge” and “promise” and yet the more they spew out their promissory rhetoric the less they do.

The most recent example of this thinly veiled mendacity comes from the Home Secretary, Theresa May, who in a spectacular bout of shadow boxing warns the British justiciary that she is just the one to take them on head-on if they do not start deporting the droves of foreign criminals who are holing-up in Britain.

Truth to tell, this fake Conservative has had ample opportunity to grip the immigration monster by the throat since her inception but with the evasive talent that is the hallmark of every politician she has flunked the issue and in this case blamed the judges.

No one who observes the performance of our judges, major and minor, these days can escape the conclusion that they are riddled with the liberal sickness that afflicts everything in the body politic.

However, if Theresa May were true to her duty as “an elected representative of the people in Parliament” she would use that sovereign power to override the justiciary and rid the country of foreign criminality.

Alastair Harper. House of Gask, Lathalmond, by Dunfermline.

New country scenario cuts both ways

Sir, The unionists keep telling us that if Scotland becomes independent it will have to re-apply as a new nation to a number of international bodies and treaties including the EU, United Nations, etc. I understand the unionist camp says that Scotland would have no right as an equal successor state to automatically be a member of those organisations and treaties.

Let’s agree for a few minutes that the No camp is right and that the newly created country called Scotland would have to re-apply to all those international bodies and treaties. If true, then, in my opinion, the newly created country called New UK or Rest of the UK would also have to re-apply to all those international bodies and treaties because it would also become a new country.

All those existing treaties are between others and a United Kingdom comprising England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. When Scotland becomes independent the other three countries might want to lay claim to the name UK and say they have an automatic right to inherit, but the bottom line is, surely, that it will be a new country too?

Rudi Vogels. 1 Barassie Drive, Kirkcaldy.

Not such a small country

Sir, I am continually surprised by the number of people, who should know better, who refer to Scotland as a “small” country.

I have yet to see the same adjective applied to England yet the facts are as follows:

From the cradle to the grave, when someone is referred to as “bigger” than someone else, the reference is to height. On this basis Scotland is “bigger” than England thanks to Ben Nevis and many more of its ilk.

Scotland has a longer coastline than England and, indeed, a longer coastline than the Eastern Seaboard of the USA, hardly indicative of “smallness”.

Most importantly, when territorial waters are taken into account, Scotland occupies a larger area of the globe than England, which is conclusive proof that, at least compared to the country to our south, we cannot be described as “small”.

So, let us take a fresh look at Scotland, from the perspective of the confidence that comes with the stature that allows us to look southwards and downwards.

Joseph G Miller. 44, Gardeners Street, Dunfermline.

Recruitment puzzler

Sir, Last week I wrote to you angrily about the treatment meted out to our military personnel by being made redundant and thrown out of their military accommodation, then refused a premier place in the queue for a council house.

Imagine my surprise, then, to see the Scots Guards on a recruitment drive in the centre of Dundee recently, complete with display and recruiting personnel.

Can someone explain to me why the army is still recruiting when they are making fully trained, battle experienced and decorated soldiers redundant against their wishes?

(Captain) Ian F McRae. 17 Broomwell Gardens, Monikie.