Your letters to The Buteman: April 1, 2016

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The looming Scottish Parliament election dominates the letters page in the latest issue of The Buteman, while there’s also a plea for dog owners to keep their pets under control in public.

If you have a burning issue you want to get off your chest (whether election-related or not!), you can see it in our next print edition by emailing by 5pm on Monday.

Please include your name and adress for publication, and a daytime phone number in case we need to check any details at short notice - though the latter will not be printed.

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Owners must keep their pets under control

I don’t usually moan about dog owners, but would like to remind people they should keep their animals under control at all times.

I was at Ettrick Bay on Sunday, March 27, when I saw a family walking along the beach with a husky (which was off the lead). Along came another family with a Jack Russell, also off the lead.

The wee dog ran over to play with the big dog, and the husky then attacked the terrier without warning, sinking his teeth into its neck and trying to ragdoll the poor wee thing.

Fortunately the husky’s owner pulled the bigger dog off - the other owner was in tears, but the wee dog seemed to have escaped without serious injury on this occasion.

Here’s the point, though – the husky owner didn’t apologise for his dog’s actions. He didn’t check the other dog was OK, and he refused to put a lead on his dog until we threatened to call the police. The beach is meant to be enjoyed by everyone – adults, kids, dogs, horses, whatever. What if that had been a small child? Would they also have escaped without serious injury?

The husky owner didn’t seem surprised by his animal’s actions. I think it has attacked other dogs before.

If you can’t control your dog, think of others and keep it on a lead at all times - or take it to behaviour training classes.

Brian Davidson, 23 Crummock Gardens, Beith

Stop meddling with health and education

I thoroughly agree with Craig Borland’s observations in his March 18 editorial regarding the claims and counter-claims surrounding the NHS.

I attended a hustings in Edinburgh during the late 1990s, and recall that when a question was asked regarding the city’s Royal Infirmary, every politician seized the opportunity to castigate not only central government but every political party - other, naturally, than the one they were representing.

I find it amazing, and exasperating, that politicians of all parties make the claim that “we will put more money into the NHS”, totally overlooking the fact that they had the power previously to do just that and did very little with it.

The big excuse, that it was all the fault of the previous administration, is brought out ad infinitum.

I also absolutely abhor condescending phrases used by politicians such as “our dedicated nurses” and “angels of the wards”.

If the nursing profession really is so highly valued, then the work they do for patients should be rewarded with a decent wage and the dependency on agency nurses - who, I stress, carry out the same duties, much appreciated by the public - phased out.

My comments on health could equally apply to education. When I was a pupil at Rothesay Academy it was widely claimed that the Scottish education system was the best in Britain, but now, as with the NHS, it seems it is just being used as a political publicity machine.

As far as I am aware, the vast majority of our politicians have no experience of working professionally within either health or education. It should be mandatory that the views and recommendations of the people who actually work in both professions are listened to - and, more importantly, acted upon. Stop the patronising ‘lip service’ culture, please.

It will be interesting to hear what the contenders for the Scottish Parliament election say about this when they appear at The Buteman’s hustings in the United Church of Bute hall on April 13.

Indeed, I already have two questions in mind:

1. Apart from your own party intentions, aspirations and commitments, which of the other party’s proposals do you think would serve the NHS and education systems the best?

2. Are you, rightly or wrongly, going to follow your party line even if you personally know that one or more of the other party’s proposals are, or will be, more advantageous to the country as a whole?

You may notice that I have not mentioned any political party in my letter. Nor do I intend to as, in my opinion, every party on the spectrum is equally guilty, including the one I vote for.

Iain Gillespie, 37 East Princes Street, Rothesay

Lib Dems’ empty promises

In his letter to this newspaper last week Mr Reid, the Liberal Democrat candidate for the Holyrood election and the ex-MP to Westminster for this constituency suggested that the Labour candidate for the upcoming election should work with him. In coalition I wonder!

Of course, as the former Westminster MP for Argyll and Bute, Mr Reid was part of the Liberal Democratic parliamentary group which formed a coalition with the Conservatives.

So after spending his final years supporting a Conservative austerity government, he now wants to work with Labour!

I also note that Mr Reid is making pre-election promises. He states that the main national issue in this election is whether or not to have another independence referendum.

This analysis simply provides more evidence (if any were needed) that the Liberal Democrats are so far off the pace in politics that they have nothing to offer the future development of Scotland.

I am sure the next Scottish Government will meet head on the main national issues that face Scotland, for example in health, education welfare and the economy (to name but four).

Instead of his weekly letter berating the SNP, Mr Reid should explain his party’s view on issues.

For example, how is it at their recent conference the Scottish Liberal Democratic membership called for the current restrictions on fracking to be lifted - yet the leader of the party publicly stated that his position is that they do not support fracking?

That action does not sound very democratic.

On the other hand, Mr Reid, don’t bother to enlighten us, as that would come into the context of a pre-election promise, and we know through bitter experience that Liberal Democratic pre-election promises are not worth the paper they are written on.

David Coll, 17 Argyle Place, Rothesay

‘Neverendum’ threat hangs over Scotland

Last Thursday (March 24) would have been Independence Day had the Scottish people believed the extravagant promises made by the SNP during the referendum campaign.

Fortunately the Scottish people were too sensible for this.

Being part of the UK means that the Barnett formula enables the Scottish Government to spend about £1,500 more per head on public services in Scotland, compared to the amount spent in England.

That’s with the same level of taxes in both countries.

Leaving the UK would mean losing all that money and that £1,500 per person would have to be found from tax rises or spending cuts.

Despite this obvious drawback, the SNP leader has promised that if the SNP win the election, the Scottish Government will continue to campaign for independence and yet another referendum.

Such a ‘Neverendum’ would be a huge diversion from the real challenges we should be tackling.

I wish the new health and social care partnership well in their important task of redesigning health and social care on Bute. Congratulations to everyone involved in the fundraising campaign for a dialysis unit for the island and I wish them all the best in their efforts.

These are examples of the tasks the next Scottish Government should be concentrating on, not an independence ‘neverendum’.

I also believe that the NHS should pay for hospital equipment like a dialysis unit for Bute, unlike the SNP who believe that the unit should only be provided if local people raise the funds themselves.

Alan Reid (Liberal Democrat candidate, Argyll and Bute), 136 Fairhaven, Dunoon

Conservatives ‘on the side of taxpayers’

Both the SNP and Labour are now competing in a tax war of escalation with both parties solely focussed on who can tax the most.

Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that the nationalists will not pass on tax cuts announced by the UK Government, meaning people in Scotland will pay more income tax than anywhere else in Britain.

In the last five years alone, 140,000 Scots have been dragged into paying the higher rate of income tax, including public sector servants such as nurses, teachers and policemen.

The SNP and their weak appeasers, the Scottish Labour party, have both promised to become the hammer of Scots by slapping what amounts to a tartan tax on everyone in Scotland.

The Scottish Conservatives will be the only party going into this year’s election on the side of taxpayers, and with a large number of polls showing us overtaking Labour to be the main opposition party in Scotland, now is the time to give your support to the real unionist party in this year’s election.

Alastair Redman, 23 Shore Street, Portnahaven, Islay