AS our local elections approach, giving voters the opportunity to democratically elect local councillors for our local services, perhaps it is worth remembering those local councillors make decisions that affect us all as soon as we open our eyes in the morning.

So I was rather taken aback with the party election broadcasts by the Conservatives and Labour parties in Scotland and the launch of the LibDems election manifesto for those local elections.

All three parties concentrated on the issue of “better together” – the issue of a second independence referendum.

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This was in stark contrast to the SNP’s broadcast which completely concentrated on informing voters of the vital services run by our local authorities along with an example of the voting system for those elections.

This leaves me with the question, who is getting on with the day job and focusing on the job in hand?
Catriona C Clark
Banknock, Falkirk


Nothing good can come from the 'rape clause'

LIKE many I found the introduction of the so-called “rape clause” last week as horrifically cruel and immoral, a truly damning indictment on the direction in which the UK Government is currently heading (Davidson under fire over backing for rape clause, The National, April 13).

The policy came into force as part of welfare reforms limiting claims for child tax credit and Universal Credit to the first two children. An exemption requires rape victims to prove their third child was born as a result of non-consensual sex or while in a coercive relationship in order to claim tax credits.

The impact of rape on a woman is truly devastating, no more so than on her mental health, and the way in which this rape clause is to be administered will cause significant psychological harm.

Given that a major reason that survivors of rape do not come forward is a legitimate fear of not being believed, it is unhelpful that the new process will ask women to provide evidence to support their claim.

It forces women to disclose details of their history to professionals for administrative reasons. This may cause flashbacks, renewed shame and emotional turmoil, and consequently affect how mothers bond with their children.

For those children and adults who have been born of rape, finding this out and managing the identity crisis it can cause carries significant psychological risks.

To force mothers to remember the circumstances of conception for administrative reasons is unethical and potentially damaging to both the mother and the child, who is ultimately denied a right to privacy.

This is a morally repugnant and barbaric policy and one can only plead with the UK Government to rethink its approach on this vile clause.
Alex Orr

THE “rape clause” is repellent, yes. But the key issue is the Family Cap – George Osborne’s plan to limit child tax credit to two children. No government should means-test benefits intended for children’s welfare. All children, by virtue of being children, deserve a modicum of state support. They are blameless, they have nothing to do with austerity, they are here.
Karen Owens

THE failure of Scottish Unionism over many decades is painfully clear to see.

Put simply, there is an outrageous level of poverty in some areas of our country and a rate of economic growth well below that of other northern European countries of similar size. Clearly change is needed. But despite this record of failure the Unionist parties offer us nothing to improve the situation.

Instead, against all logic, they cling desperately to their begging-bowls, pinning their faint hopes on ever more fiscal transfers from the southeast of England, the very policy that has so manifestly failed in the past.

It is particularly odd that Scottish Conservatives should accept this fallacy. After all, they are supposed to favour individual enterprise, self-reliance and the courage to stand on your own feet. Instead they embrace a dependency culture that speaks only of defeatism and demoralisation.

So let us embrace the change we need. The direction of travel is now perfectly clear. Just give the Scottish Government the tools it needs to finish the job.
Peter Craigie

I MUST commend the numerous Unionist correspondents who rightly point out the barefaced cheek of our First Minister and Scottish Government for presuming to believe Scotland should speak “nation unto nation” as our dearly beloved BBC would put it.

After all, we cannot condemn Scottish Nationalists for being parochial and inward-looking if they are going to have the effrontery to visit and speak to other nations regarding such twaddle as climate change and world peace.

No sir!

Scotland and the Scots should be placed in their box, perhaps atop the bedroom wardrobe beside the Christmas decorations, and then be opened only for Burns night and perhaps Hogmanay, so that the “best wee country in the world” can showcase her talents to the world!

That is how it has been for 300 years now and I, for one, will be damned if I am going to allow Nicola Sturgeon to pretend we have a voice and our views are valued or that we can influence thinking many miles from our shores, particularly when it is so obvious that Scotland is unable to do that right here on our doorstep!

Doesn’t the woman learn? So, please Ms Sturgeon, when Scotland needs a voice I shall seek it in re-runs of Scotch and Wry, with perhaps a wee dram of the craitur and reflect on how simple life is when you allow all others to make decisions for you.
Henry Malcolm

DEAR Boris, your attempts at foreign diplomacy are a complete Eton Mess. Or a meringue?
Richard Easson

A POLITICIAN infamous for being photographed in ridiculous situations accuses Nicola Sturgeon of “losing the plot” over independence as he kicks-off his party’s local government election campaign – by sitting on a giant lawnmower and highlighting the importance of independence in the election. Who else but Willie Rennie?
James Mills