IN his Autumn Statement last November, UK Chancellor Philip Hammond made it clear that further cuts in spending would include scrapping the triple-lock on state pensions after 2020.

This is the mechanism by which for a number of years state pensions have been increased each year by whichever is the highest of average earnings, inflation as measured by the consumer prices index, or 2.5 per cent.

Labour MP Frank Field, chairman of the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee, has also said recently that “it is time for the triple-lock to be shelved”.

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Thus both the Tories and Labour at Westminster are committed to scrapping this protection for the future value of state pensions.

In contrast, the SNP Scottish Government has pledged that, after independence, it will maintain the triple-lock indefinitely.

If pensioners wish to see the value of their pensions protected in future, they should seriously consider voting Yes in the next referendum. Anyone wishing to be kept informed about pensions issues and the case for independence is invited to email
Peter Swain


Why are Unionist parties silent on local services?

DO the Westminster parties standing in Scotland’s local elections have any actual policies so voters know what they will get if they happen to take control of those councils? Because looking at their leaflets paints a picture of parties obsessed with issues that councils have no control over.

Despite an opinion poll showing 72 per cent of voters place local services as their top priority in the council elections, the Westminster parties’ leaflets are obsessed about the constitution and putting Westminster before Scotland.

We have a Tory Party trying to protect their Westminster Government’s plans to drag Scotland out of the single market despite a clear majority in Scotland voting against it. Labour just sound like an echo of the Tories as we hear even more about how they will willingly ally with the Tories to put them into power in Scotland’s local authorities.

Voters would be right to ask why those parties do not seem keen to tell them how much they will increase council tax, rents or local charges; or what cuts they plan for local services. The absence from their literature of these issues and lack of any headline proposals to benefit their local areas is striking.

Is it because in the case of the Tories their record in local government is not one they want to advertise? In England, council tax is increasing by as much as nearly five per cent because of a crisis in the way they run social care. The English Local Government Association says that despite these increases services will still be cut. The NHS in England – described as having a “humanitarian crisis” over Christmas – is yet another example of what people can expect for local public services with Tory administration.

I very much doubt that is what people in Scotland’s local authorities want repeated in their areas with the connivance of a Labour Party which has lost all sense of its previous opposition to Tory policies.

The choice in the local elections is coming down to having an SNP-led administration that will have told you how it will focus on closing the attainment gap, affordable childcare, integrated transport networks, growing the local economy in partnership with others; or a Tory one with Labour support of which you know very little about its plan and whose record in England shows you can expect taxes well above Scotland’s and “crisis” in the running of public services.
Andrew Stuart


ONE wonders why you do not invite Ruth Davidson to contribute a piece on her Government’s policies to The National, taking in the bedroom tax, the rape clause and the ceaseless attacks on disabled people, not to mention all the other goodies, requiring her to justify all this to the people of Scotland (a locution she particularly likes) and explaining how she expects an equitable, civilised and united society to emerge therefrom. However, perhaps it would be simpler just to watch Duck Soup one more time – it is just as mad as any Tory conference and includes an eerily prescient portrait of Ruth herself, delivered by Margaret Dumont.
Daniel McCormick
Heraklion, Crete

THE fake Scottish “recession” dreamt up by desperate Unionists was a frantic attempt to steal the thunder of the First Minister’s very successful trip to America. It had been a particularly bad week for Unionists. A major new oil find in Scotland’s waters with possibly more to follow, Spain’s confirmation of not vetoing Scottish entry into Europe specifically released to counter misleading speculation in the British media, promises made by top European parliamentarians to fast-track an independent Scotland into Europe – they all conspire to weaken the Unionist cause.

The ubiquitous unelected Ukip spokesperson so beloved of the BBC made the claim on television without the hint of embarrassment that Theresa May in her negotiations with Brussels holds all the cards.

The only playing card she has left is the joker but there is a board game she could play. She has the power to allow Scotland to continue to be a member of the single market if she so wishes. Could this be her last gasp, eleventh hour get-out-of-jail card?
Mike Herd

THE myths they are a falling and at a pretty rapid pace since the triggering of Article 50 by the English, sorry UK (for now) Government. It seems like only last week that we were being told that Spain would veto any suggestion of Scotland becoming an independent member of the EU and, anyway, we would have to “join the queue” and it would take years and years and years ... oh wait, that was last week! And yet here we are one week on, and lo and behold Spain confirms no veto and other influential figures in the EU confirm there is no queue and an independent Scotland would face a simple and speedy entry to the EU. Well blow me down with a blast of Better Together/Brexiteer hot air!

Add to this the increasingly valid debunking of the GERS figures regarding Scotland’s supposed “deficit” and it’s becoming easy to see why Theresa May wishes to refuse a new independence referendum – she and her yoon Project Fear buddies are fast running out of ammunition to throw at us next time around.

Maybe she’ll just resort to real ammunition a la Gibraltar – unfortunately nothing is beyond the realms if fantasy now, so let’s be careful out there.
John Murphy
West Lothian