THE suggestion by the Women and Equalities Committee at Westminster that political parties should be fined if they don’t ensure 45 per cent of their candidates are women is frankly outrageous (Parties ‘must do more to tackle lack of female MPs’, The National, January 10).

The law currently gives women the same rights as men to put themselves forward for selection as candidates, so what is the need to have women-only lists and now a 45 per cent rule? Many women are currently at the helm of public life, getting there through their determination, merit and ability, not because of their gender. What next, are we going to demand voters in certain areas vote only for women candidates to allow quotas to be achieved and the correct political balance, political correctness going mad! What exactly does direct discrimination, which this is, bring to the table?

For my community and for the bigger picture of the country, I and indeed we, should endeavour to select the correct candidate who wants to take up the challenge of representing their constituents instead of selection due to gender which ultimately demoralises any woman.

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Catriona C Clark
Banknock, Falkirk



FOR once, I completely agree with everything Kevin McKenna wrote in today’s National (FM only told us what we knew about an indy vote in 2017, The National, January 11). In the first instance, Nicola Sturgeon is the First Minister for Scotland, and in the second, a trained lawyer. It is here that she is using her courtroom skills, both as the Defence and prosecution, with the utmost professionalism, skill and dexterity you would come to expect.

McKenna writes of Nicola Sturgeon’s own deductions that a hard Brexit will be the only eventual outcome of any negotiations between herself and Mrs May and right from day one. My own thoughts entirely.

What the First Minister has done thus far is, as McKenna puts it, to “stir the pot a few times”, as with her interview on Sunday’s Andrew Marr Show, forcing May to respond as expected with “no concessions” to Scotland yet again.

The arrogance that is continually shown by the Tories that they know best, is replicated where a report in the same paper concerns the HMRC Centres being cut back by the same Westminster Government. Why? To “transform the HMRC into most modern digital tax authority in the world”. Westminster is so incestuous it believes that whatever it does, it is still a world leader. Well, we will wait and see how it crawls out of the EU referendum mess this same Tory Government created, and how it will fair as a hopeful world-trading nation. The way it is carrying on remains to be seen especially by other world (and European) nations in response to this “world-leading” government that chooses to ignore its own United Kingdom countries in the forthcoming Brexit negotiations.

Alan Magnus-Bennett

DISCUSSIONS on increasing direct taxation on the better off, to mitigate the continued austerity imposed on Scotland by the Tory Government, are invariably met with the Scottish representative of the latter retorting smugly, that this would make Scotland the most heavily-taxed part of the UK.

This typically induces sheepish looks and silence on the part of other (non-Tory) participants.

It’s time that they took the higher moral ground and responded with the observation that, as we appear to be avoiding the chaos occurring in the NHS and other areas of public sector south of the Border, maybe they should be taking a leaf from our book?

Archie McArthur

WHILE I sympathise with Lovina Roe’s dilemma (Letters, January 10) over whether she should still support independence if it means continued membership of the EU, I believe that this brings into focus an argument that has been too seldom discussed or promoted.

Should we not be highlighting the fact that, even for those who may wish to leave the UK and the EU, independence is no barrier to achieving both? Once we have independence, if we are still by some means in the EU, we will have the right to make our own decision on whether to remain or leave that union. We could trigger our own Article 50 as, when and if we so decided. Better still, we would then have the example of the pitfalls encountered by Westminster in their process to help us smooth our route and achieve a better outcome. We would also be free to make our own decisions about many other debated issues, such as Nato, Trident, etc.

We might even find that the shock of England leaving makes it much easier to generate reform within the EU itself, making it more accountable and responsive to its member states, thus satisfying the concerns of current Leavers. As to the likelihood or otherwise of Scotland receiving special consideration from the EU, if one looks for them, there are quite a few articles and speeches by fairly important representatives of major EU countries which reveal a willingness to investigate just such possibilities, including ideas such as associate membership.

Let us never forget that, even now, in Scotland sovereignty rests with the people, not government, and if that right is ignored and trampled on, only independence can restore it.

L McGregor

I AGREE at least in part with Lovina Roe. I disagree with her suggestion that the EU is run by a cabal of bankers and multinational companies in their own self-interest.

I do agree that we should not link the second referendum solely to continued membership of the EU. That is a decision for us to make collectively after independence.

In the meantime, we must do all we can to win over those who were sceptical last time, whether or not they support the EU or not, continuing with education free at the point of use, or increased pensions and how we fund them. The list goes on. What is important is we get them to vote positively for our future.

Pro or anti-EU, republican or royalist, rich or poor, we really are all in this together. An independent Scotland can then decide on the way forward. It’s an exciting prospect.

Malcolm Brown
Blairhall, Fife

I AM very happy to see Craig Dalzell bring to the fore the debts and assets when Scotland gains independence (The National, January 11). Mr Dalzell explains what has or is happening in independent European countries (formerly Czechoslovakia). Issues exactly like this and currency have to be examined in detail to argue against “project fear”, which is on the return.

Paul Freedman
Springburn, Glasgow