THE headline “A proud day for Scotland: private sector firms banned from our new social security system” (The National, April 28) was very welcome and puts Scotland on the road to the kind of country that we should all want to live in.

After decades of private companies profiteering and exploiting our public service in social care and welfare, Scotland’s minister for Social Security, Jeane Freeman, gives a commitment that there will be no private companies exploiting our public services in Scotland any longer.

Those private companies currently assess claimants for some benefits and have been financially rewarded from the public purse.

This is a landmark for the Scottish Government. In less than a year from some elements of social security being devolved, they are setting about radical reforms, reforms that will benefit all, from the claimant to the assessor. No more will assessors be paid by results with claimants left destitute.

Instead Scotland is turning the corner, treating the claimant with dignity and respect, the way we would all hope to be treated.
Catriona C Clark
Banknock, Falkirk


Excluding Greens leader from TV debate is sinister

 FEEL that the exclusion of the Scottish Green Party from the forthcoming STV televised debate is very sinister indeed (The Scottish Greens blast ‘bizarre’ exclusion from STV leaders debate, The National, April 28).

I can think of no good reason for this decision other than a blatant attempt to “load the bases” against independence-supporting parties, and to give the Unionists an undeserved advantage.

I have no doubt that Nicola Sturgeon will have Davidson, Dugdale and Rennie for breakfast, but it is unfair that the Greens should be excluded as they have shown a responsible, progressive attitude throughout their time in Holyrood.

They have had a positive influence on the Scottish Government and on Scottish politics as a whole, and besides that, they have more seats, and poll more votes than the LibDems. So if STV is trying to use the minority card here to exclude, then they should, by inference, exclude the LibDems as well.

I can only conclude that it is a weasely attempt to unduly bias the whole debate in favour of the Unionist cause, as this is where the other three will try to attack from. They will try to frame the debate around independence, totally excluding all other topics and Ruthie will go into overdrive to the point of passing out on that subject.

This, of course, will allow her to try to avoid discussing the shameful antics of her Westminster cabal, and I feel that the Greens would allow for a more level playing field in the debate. Look out also for a heavily biased audience, as is the norm.

I urge everyone who reads this paper to contact STV as I have done and complain about its shameful decision. It will take you only a few minutes to do, and bad publicity usually changes corporate minds.
Ade Hegney

THE state broadcaster the BBC has abandoned any attempt at impartiality now that the stakes are getting higher. From the reluctance to broadcast the story about suspicious packages sent to the SNP (SNP are targeted by third ‘white-powder’ package in a week as police confirm incidents are General Election-related, The National, April 28), and a refusal to identify the Labour party as culpable in the falling-down schools scandal, it is becoming increasingly clear that the BBC Scotland newsroom is not fit for purpose.

What is especially revealing is its use of online photographs giving a less than subliminal message. A debate between Nicola Sturgeon and Ruth Davidson in the Scottish Parliament shows a snarling, finger-pointing Sturgeon and a smiling Ruth.

The inference is clear. Here we have in two pictures what BBC Scotland is all about. We are invited to witness a nasty, aggressive, bullying First Minister and a passive smiling victim in Ruth Davidson which, as we have all witnessed, is a role reversal. It’s clever what you can do with images that don’t cross the BBC’s impartiality test at least if you’re not switched on to it. Then there is the continuity scene before the national news that ends in the word “oneness”: where did that idea come from, I wonder? It’s a curious shot of a group of people doing strange things like posing in the water wearing bathing suits or birdwatchers with binoculars. Please, BBC Scotland before there is a national licence strike do me a favour: cut it out. As regards Theresa May, the BBC and the English newspapers learned one very important lesson from the 2014 independence campaign: don’t talk about policies.

In the latest edition of Goebbels’ Propaganda Book for Dummies the lesson couldn’t be simpler: directly attack your opponent in the crudest of ways. The reason why Theresa May won’t debate on TV is that her policies are indefensible.

She has an army of spin doctors and psychologists telling her that and even those malleable souls in the media will twig that you can’t spend an hour telling people how strong you are and how weak your opponent is. At some point you have to defend the cruel policy of taking billions from those suffering the most.

Even Boris Johnson got in on the act and the media loved it. It was childish and stupid, of course, but deadly serious when you know you have slavish outlets that will print such drivel. It has descended into farce. Grown-up politicians from Europe must be watching aghast at the ridiculous comments coming from this London Government. How can they possibly negotiate with such political barbarians?
Mike Herd

JIM Clark’s voting advice for the local elections is quite right (Letters, The National, April 28). In my ward of Hamilton South, for example, there are four councillors to be elected from seven candidates.

If I put 1 and 2 for the SNP candidates and stop there, I will be surrendering my right to have a say in who the other two councillors will be. If I carry on voting, however, I can help the Green with my 3, reluctantly give the two Labour candidates and the LibDem my 4, 5, 6 and – with great joy – leave the Tory space blank, not even wasting the pencil with a 7.
Jack Foley

AS part of my morning practice, I scan the news headlines using Google News. I can read news from the UK, the US, Ireland, Australia, etc. If I look a little harder I can find news stories about Scotland. However, I don’t ever remember seeing an article from The National. Is there a reason for this?
Iain Diamond