I AM fortunate as I have a smart meter. Many others do not, and some have pre-payment meters.

As a young laddie, of seven or eight or maybe a little older, I can still remember the glee and excitement when the “gas man” came. He would open the meter box and the coins were spilled out onto the bunker. Efficiently, he (always a man) counted out the shillings (5p coins on decimalised currency post-Feb 15, 1971).

Once the count was over, mum got back what she had overpaid into the meter. The glee came to me when I got one or two shillings to buy sweets.

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When a household ran out of money – which never happened that I can recall, but my mum would not have declared this to our household – the option to borrow from a friend or neighbour was required. After all, the man of the hoose needed his tea when he came in. Payback occurred on pay-day, normally Fridays. The next shilling in the box put the gas on again.

Those days are in the past. It is a different story now.

Running out of credit in your pre-payment meter allows customers to get emergency support which will last for a few hours or days depending on the consumption rate.

However, your debt is still increasing as the standing charges are still being counted on your account. What is a kick in the teeth is that as soon as your benefit payment arrives and you buy an credit token, this token gets drained to pay for the standing charge before any power credit is provided.

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In some cases a significant portion of the new credit is “grabbed” by the standing charge, leaving almost nothing left for power.

Power companies need to abandon standing charges for pre-payment meters as the consumer is already paying “premium” rates for the power being delivered.

Pre-payment users are getting a raw deal, and they in general need cheaper energy.

I note that the Conservative party chairman states the solution is for people to earn more money. Can you understand why “detestable” seems an appropriate adjective?

Alistair Ballantyne
Birkhill, Angus

JUDGING by the comments in her otherwise superb speech to the SNP conference, Nicola Sturgeon has been taken in by our propaganda-drenched media. It is as if we are being asked to believe that Putin awoke one rainy morning and thought “What am I going to do on this miserable, cold morning? I know: I’ll invade Ukraine. That’ll keep me busy.”

I offer this crazy theory because no better reason for Russia’s action in Ukraine has yet been advanced.

The fact that Nato knowingly and deliberately crossed Russia’s red line regarding the neutrality of Ukraine, thereby causing Russia’s military response, is never mentioned by our media. That our defence secretary Ben Wallace jubilantly announced that Nato intends to keep the war going indefinitely until Russia is worn down militarily, economically and financially is kept out of the media. Neither will there be any mention of the thousands of deaths and massive destruction visited on Ukraine by the utterly irresponsible policies of Nato (whose leaders were described by French President Macron as “brain dead”).

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We have clearly decided that Russia is our enemy, but nobody seems to know why. Russia has not spread its armies all over Europe as Nato has done. It is no longer a communist state. It has a parliament just as Scotland, England or the USA has. The only beneficiaries of this war are the armament manufacturers who are making billions.

Right now, our government in Westminster is being blackmailed by the crypto-fascist, Macarthy-ite faction controlling USA foreign policies. Were they giving us their priority instead of slavishishly following USA orders, they would be standing down from Nato and opening negotiations with Russia so that we can get our supplies of fuel and wheat etc, thus bringing down our cost of living by 15% at least.

This in turn would, I am sure, encourage other countries in Europe to follow our lead and stand with us bringing this murderous Nato-created war to an end.

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President Biden, the doddery megalomaniac who seems to believe that the USA has the right to run the world as he sees fit, is risking our lives with policies which have no place in this nuclear-armed world. The Russian deputy defence secretary has declared that with their Satan-2 hypersonic, unstoppable missiles, Britain – including Scotland – could be totally destroyed in just four minutes.

Putin has three times offered to stop the war and enter into peace talks. But Zelenskyy, the CIA-operated puppet, has to insist on keeping the war going regardless of how many Ukrainians and Russians are slaughtered.

Our British government should be demanding the UN uses all its powers to bring about a cessation of the war in Ukraine and cause immediate peace talks between Russia and Ukraine to begin – without the interference of the USA.

I know Russia would agree because Putin has said he would.

But as for crypto-fascist Nato? Aye, there’s the rub.

David Lee
Kingston upon Thames