An open letter to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

THANK you from the bottom of my heart for your government’s decision to ban private companies, such as Atos, from gaining profits while they humiliate and shame disabled and vulnerable people during their horrendous Personal Independence Payment assessments. The weight this has taken from our shoulders is immense.

The shaming stigma against disabled people within much of the media, and both the Conservative and Labour parties, is spiteful, ill-informed, judgemental and downright unfair. The Conservatives’ assault on disabled families such as mine has been brutal and relentless.  My husband and son both have a rare genetic disorder, a muscular condition which is both life-limiting and degenerative. Day to day, we do not know if one or both will be paralysed or in partial/full body spasm. They have to be watched as they eat due to choking. They have to be bathed, dressed and toileted when symptoms are very bad. Knowing both will continue to get worse is unimaginable.

I now suffer from ill-health because care is down to myself and my other son. Having a disabled person in the home is hard work. It is all-consuming and it affects every part of our lives.

If you believe Ruth Davidson and her London counterparts, we could do more for ourselves, we could work, get off our backsides and contribute to this country. We did until we couldn’t. My husband served in the forces. Both my sons are in education (thanks to the SNP policies which provide care for disabled children within education). We don’t choose to live like this, and truly wish both my husband and my youngest son were fit enough to hold  down jobs.

Attempts were made last year to take away benefits from my husband. We had to fight to get them back and we were told he will continue to be assessed every two years. We felt like cheats, as if we were begging for help. It was degrading and hurt us deeply. We can’t get care as our local authority don’t send people out unless the disabled person is infirm for two weeks. When the person is able to do a little for themselves, the care is withdrawn due to lack of funds and because my able-bodied son is able to help me. 

I know some ill-informed people will seek to blame the SNP for council cuts. I don’t. I blame the Westminster Government. I blame the banks for their greed. I blame Cameron and his cronies for the games they played with people’s lives. I blame Ruth Davidson for not standing against her party in London and standing up for the rights of Scottish people. 

I know I may sound bitter, but bitterness is running through us all now. We as a country are so angry at how drastically our lives have changed (mainly the way the economic divide is growing) that we seek to blame the easiest targets for the state of our country – be they disabled, unemployed, elderly or refugees – anyone but those who truly caused all of this. 

The SNP and the Greens are the only parties who see the people behind the policies and are trying to clean up the mess the Tories, LibDems and Labour have made. Nicola Sturgeon is giving many families, including mine, a sense of hope –hope that we are believed, trusted, and will be helped.

Neither Ruth Davidson, wee Willie Rennie nor Kezia Dugdale has said what they would do, if in power,  to protect disabled or vulnerable people, or pensioners. If they cared, they would protect the people of Scotland. Instead, they shame us all.  To you, First Minister, the SNP and the Greens, God bless you all. Thank you for continuing to care about Scotland and its people, and about our world. 

(full name and address supplied)


Scotland has its own problems with exodus of the young

MIKE Fergus (Letters, The National, May 1) makes the fair point that Scotland’s population  is being bolstered by immigration from Poland, the Baltic States  and Romania, to our benefit  and their detriment.

However, this situation should be taken in context as Scotland has been losing its young people since Victorian times and before. In 1891, the population of England was  27.2 million while that of Scotland was four million. England’s population is now about  54.8 million while that of Scotland  is 5.4 million.

In 126 years, England’s population has doubled while Scotland’s has risen by only 35 per cent. In effect, Scotland has a missing 2.6 million people that we have donated to aid the development of the economies and culture of England, America, Canada, Australia New Zealand,  and lots of other places.

This, of course, continues.  Two close friends have between them three sons and two daughters, all educated to a high level in Scotland – three engineers, a dentist and a teacher. Three are in London, one in Canada and one in Leeds. I note  Mr Fergus is in Norway; is he Scottish and working in Norway,  I wonder?  We desperately need to hang on to our young people, while welcoming those from elsewhere who choose to live and work here.

At least Poland, Romania and the Baltic States are in the EU, and can look forward to benefiting from its continuing policies aimed at addressing regional imbalances.

Scotland is soon to be out of the EU because England has decided to take us out, whether we like it  or not.

We will thus no longer benefit from the distribution of EU monies to support Highlands and Islands infrastructure, upland farming, and so on, while those in Europe who are minded to move to Scotland and thereby support its development and enhance its cultural diversity are to be excluded, whether we Scots  like it or not. 

Ken Gow

MIKE Fergus asks in his letter whether it is right that Scotland and other countries should benefit from the migration of workers from Eastern European countries who leave their homes, never to return, in search of higher wages and better prospects here.

Well, Mr Fergus, the fundamental principle of multi-national companies is to maximise profits at the expense of their workforce and the communities in which they live, so they close down factories in countries which pay decent wages and offer fairly good working conditions in favour of moving to countries with almost no worker protection and pittance wages.

They have no qualms about exploiting men, women and children in their pursuit of profits.

The young people from the Eastern European countries Mr Fergus cites are prepared to come here to work in menial jobs, on minimum wages, many working far below their educational level, because they understand that the jobs open to them at home simply line the pockets of the multi-billionaires who own the companies offering work. As Mr Birling observed in An Inspector Calls: “We employers at last are coming together to see that our interests – and the interests of Capital – are properly protected.”

As for community, Margaret Thatcher said: “There’s no such thing as community.”

So, no, Mr Fergus, nobody cares about countries which have been drained of their young people.  It’s all done in the name of globalisation, a system  supported and approved of by politicians of every hue. And post-Brexit, as now, these young people will be welcomed here with open arms.

Lovina Roe

THE TaxPayers’ Alliance has revealed Scotland’s local authorities have spent nearly £1 million on 147 electric vehicles since 2011. For example, a car purchased by Edinburgh City Council in December 2014 for £21,037 has done only 5803 miles. Glasgow City Council has 17 electric vehicles but refused to provide costs. Something to hide?

It is easy to parade your green credentials when someone else is paying the bill and in this case it is the hard-pressed council tax-payer.

Electric vehicles good value for taxpayers? I think not.

Clark Cross