THE Prime Minister, who has said ad nauseam that “now is not the time”’ on the Scottish Government’s call for an independence referendum, has appeared to change her mind. As has Ruth Davidson.

They have both called for a referendum on independence via the local council elections. Their party political broadcasts and election literature state that a vote for the SNP is tantamount to voting for an independent Scotland and have urged Unionists to vote against them. This a clear example of someone shooting themselves in the foot while also cutting off their nose to spite their face.

So on Star Wars Day, May the Fourth, send the evil emperor and her minions the message that Scotland will no longer accept the rule of this evil empire but will support the rebellion.

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May the Fourth be with you!
James Mills

NOW that the Three Tory Party Stooges have officially endorsed the municipal elections as a vote against independence, does that mean that if we win we can officially declare unilateral independence?
Donald Anderson


The DWP does not provide ‘best value’ to anyone

THE DWP states that it routinely review its work to ensure it “delivers the most effective support for the most vulnerable in society, while also ensuring the best value for the taxpayer” (Former DWP chief Crabb admits poor planning is to blame for its £200m overspend’, The National, April 15.) Firstly, this is the usual kind of divisive hogwash spouted by the Department for Want and Poverty and its Tory overlords to justify immoral policies: chronically sick and disabled people reliant on benefits, and taxpayers, are not two distinct or static groups; for example, today’s taxpayer may be just a redundancy, an accident, a diagnosis etc away from becoming one of “the most vulnerable” and partly or totally reliant on benefits for which they have been paying National Insurance.

Secondly, I wonder what the DWP means by “best value for the taxpayer”? The transfer of safety net provision into fewer and fewer private hands and the payment of vast and increasing taxpayer-funded sums to these private companies, whose target-driven role is to deny as many people as possible social security – aside from the horrendous human and social costs of these things – actually cost the taxpayer significantly more.

The huge number of successful appeals against both PIP (Personal Independence Payment) and ESA (Employment and Support Allowance) decisions, aside from highlighting the amount of avoidable stress and suffering caused to those sick and disabled people concerned, also come at a significantly increased cost to the taxpayer.

When the Tories boast of spending £50 billion per year on “supporting” disabled people, the vast amounts paid to private profit-guzzling companies to persecute people and the cost of all the cruel and unnecessary appeals are included in the figure. This figure also includes the administration of misery known as Work Capability Assessments: when transferred from Atos to the new company, Maximus, the cost increased from £115 to £190 per assessment.

Why such a significant increase? Even the so-called Work Programme – another taxpayer-funded wheeze for predominantly private companies – which had billions poured into it, supposedly to “help” long-term unemployed people and some sick and disabled people into work, was said to be less successful than if it hadn’t existed. Not to mention the fact that, when you slash the social safety net, you not only cause immense suffering to “the most vulnerable in society”, you also pass greater costs on to wider society and to the economy. So again ,where is the “best value for the taxpayer” here?

Answers on the back of a fag packet. Yours in solidarity for an independent Scotland.
Mo Maclean

THE secretary of state for work and pensions in 2016, Stephen Crabb MP, has come out lambasting the department he was once in charge of. This is indeed surprising and one would hope his criticism would be regarding the treatment of claimants, but alas it is of the current spending of the department.

The DWP awarded contracts to assess claimants of the Personal Independent Payment (PIP) in Scotland, England and Wales to Atos and Capita, contracts that as I see it exploit our public services. The DWP forecast costs from 2013 until the end of 2017 for those awarded contracts being in the region of £500m. To date, those forecasted costs are in excess of £578m.

It is interesting this previous secretary of state is lambasting his old department’s costs – costs that are clearly as a result of the Westminster Conservative Government’s policies of austerity and cuts. Perhaps Mr Crabb should have been calling for a complete review of his old department and the present system of assessment and private contractors exploiting public services. Is it any wonder costs are spiralling out of control when so many assessments result in appeals, in many cases successful appeals? The DWP is not fit for purpose and requires urgent review.
Catriona C Clark


RUTH Davidson, is out there arguing for the rape clause. But Ruth! Isn’t it driving already disadvantaged people into poverty? Wheesht, it’s being done in “the most compassionate way possible”. Ah, I suppose that’s all right then.
Derek Ball

I RISE on Easter Sunday to hear the Prime Minister exhorting us to “Unite to build the better, fairer Britain that we all want”. I don’t think I want to hear about better and fairer from Rape Clause Theresa, Bedroom Tax Theresa, Benefits Sanctions Theresa or Grammar School Theresa either.

We will have a much more realistic prospect of building a better, fairer Scotland once divorced from this autocratic xenophobe who, in truth, is running in thinly concealed panic from her very own pack of (barely) post-imperial fantasists.
Colin Stuart
Saline, Fife

TO all who listened yesterday to Theresa May’s awesome Easter message to the plebs – touching gently on the source of her own compassion and Christian values – WOW. Who’d have guessed that her exulting wee speech would make us all forget rape clauses, grim George Osborne cutbacks, and Theresa’s very own bossy Brexit deal, one size fits all? Who indeed.
Jack Newbigging