CAROLYN Leckie argues for a “fair tax” to guarantee the future of the NHS in Scotland. Don’t we already believe that our National Insurance contributions are that “fair tax”?

However, no-one can deny that with lengthening lifespans and the increasing cost of medicines and technology, not to mention wages, it is clear that there is a serious underfunding issue.

Perhaps the real problem is that, like other taxes, NI contributions may or may not be solely used to fund the reason why it is levied in the first place.

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We need to understand precisely where the money is going. Is it funding health or the government excesses of nuclear weapons, HS2 and Brexit? Why can’t we see what portion of our NI goes directly to the NHS on a national basis? With this money separated from the bottomless government spending pot, wouldn’t we then have the information needed to ask the electorate, through election manifestos, whether they would be prepared to pay more directly to the NHS; knowing that it can’t be hived off for other pet political projects, and in order that they benefit from an NHS that is better designed to meet their needs, free at the point of use?
Jim Taylor


More bombing will fix nothing in the Middle East

I DON’T suppose I have any more in common with Cat Boyd than does your correspondent William Ross (Letters, April 11). But I do not share his confidence in the ethics or effectiveness of bombing people into submission, whether it is in the Middle East or the Balkans or anywhere else.

As an example, the Royal Air Force has been bombing the Middle East region more or less consistently since its formation in 1918, using at every stage the best available technology that money could buy. The results are plain to see. All that has improved is the technology of war and the profits of the oil and armaments industries.

The root of that long, tragic history is the political betrayal of our then allies the Arabs by Britain and France after the First World War and the crude partitioning of this oil-rich region between the Western powers. Since then the disillusioned Arab people have been variously described as rebel tribesmen, Arab nationalists, Islamists and murderous extremists as the misguided policies of the West have driven them steadily further away from any hope of democracy.

Instead they have been driven into the arms of a succession of charlatans, military dictators and fanatics, who ironically have frequently enjoyed the covert support of the very people now bombing them. Anyone wishing chapter and verse on that shabby story should consult the book Web of Deceit, by Mark Curtis.

The point is that more and better bombing will not cleanse this madhouse. What is needed is some visionary leadership and a programme for the area similar to the Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe after the Second World War. Don’t look for that to come from America this time.
Peter Craigie

A LEAFLET was delivered today to raise support for a Liberal Democrat candidate in the forthcoming council election. As would be expected, he concentrated on local issues, but said that people also wanted to know his view on the independence referendum. He is opposed to holding another, as “the Liberal Democrats are pro UK and pro EU”.

That was a valid viewpoint in 2014, but is illogical now that the UK is turning away from the EU in a seemingly hard Brexit. How can the LibDems possibly reconcile the two parts of that statement? They need to choose which union to support!

Shirley Robins Dunoon THE people of Scotland are sick and tired of the Tories, Labour and LibDems saying the people of Scotland don’t want another indyref.

Could Nicola Sturgeon please make it the major part of her manifesto for the local elections that if you vote SNP you are also voting for a second indyref? Then there is proof the inadequate politicians are 100 per cent wrong.
Gus Brooks

I AGREE with Mireille Pouget in her comment (Letters, April 10), which reminds me of Bob Dylan’s song of changing times. I’m of an age to remember the 1980s, and how we queued up behind the Tories to asset strip the nation as Thatcher sold off our nationalised industries and the obscene rush to sell our shares to the gleeful global corporations desperate to buy.

The rush to buy up council house stock, leading to today’s housing crisis, the radical 1970s dumped for a quick buck. Then we fell hook, line and sinker for Tony Blair’s plastic New Labour and the promise of neo-liberal jollies.

I’ve never had any illusions about my generation. Our cynical liberal rhetoric was always a veneer – think of Gordon Brown thundering at the dispatch box to eradicate child poverty in 10 years. Instead we got Osborne, austerity and food banks. My generation owe it to our children and grandchildren to back Scottish independence.

Mireille Pouget is right, and to paraphrase Dylan’s great song: “just get out the way if you can’t lend a hand”.
Terry Keegans
Beith, North Ayrshire

WITHDRAWAL from the EU single market and agreement over the free movement of people has the obvious potential for a considerable reduction in the Scottish tax base with the knock-on diminution in public services and business funding.

Without further devolution in the areas of particularly immigration but also in additional powers over energy, taxation and borrowing, the effects of a hard Brexit seem likely to significantly perhaps fatally undermine the fiscal framework in the 2016 Scotland Act.

There can be little doubt that a material change has occurred as a result of the EU referendum over the efficacy of the current settlement although the PM has made no commitment to further compensating devolution in any terms which would prove accountable – on the contrary the indications would seem to point to increased centralisation.

Peter Gorrie Edinburgh THE BBC did mention the huge sacrifices made by the Canadians and Scots at Arras on Radio 4 on its early morning news (Letters, April 11, but later on the same day, all mention of the Scottish casualties was dropped.

I am more surprised at the earlier reports!
Jim Cairns
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