IT is reported that Kate Forbes and with fellow MSPs Ivan McKee and Michelle Thomson are launching a new group which will focus on eradicating poverty in Scotland. This launch is very timely because we have just had a report published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation bringing home the stark reality that nearly half a million households in Scotland are living in very deep poverty. This poverty is exacerbated by high inflation, higher mortgage rates, higher fuel costs and generally higher household expenditure just for the weekly shop.

Poverty is a reflection on our society and in a full-bodied attempt to meet the challenge head-on, perhaps the Scottish Government should consider appointing a Minister for Poverty Eradication. The Scottish Government are doing the most in the UK to meet the challenges of poverty with the game-changing Scottish Child Payment (£25/week per eligible child), something Ms Forbes certainly advocated for when serving as Scotland’s Finance Secretary.

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The Scottish Government have continued to mitigate the austerity cuts imposed in Scotland by the Westminster government, mitigating against the bedroom tax and the largest cut to welfare since the Second World War. Fuel poverty has become a major issue in recent times for far too many households and the announcement by Ofgem that pre-payment energy meters can be force fitted again is an outrage. However, Ofgem have conceded that fittings will be banned in homes with residents aged 85 and over! An absolute outrage, begging the question, to the Westminster government that holds reserved powers over energy, where are you on this announcement?

Well, UK Energy Secretary Grant Shapps breathtakingly welcomed Ofgem’s announcement, clearly demonstrating how out of touch the Conservative government are. Fuel poverty is eye-watering in energy-rich Scotland and unbelievably the energy capital of Europe.

The launch of Ms Forbes’s group calling for action on poverty is to be welcomed. We need a whole new approach, we need action for future generations, we need action for society as a whole to benefit.

Catriona C Clark

GLANCING at the front-page headlines of the Scottish press on Tuesday it was interesting to note that amidst all the gleeful Nat-bashing, the story of the number of Scots living in very deep poverty doubling since 1997 almost passes without comment. Indeed in Unionist newspapers like The Scotsman this article shared the same front page as a story informing us that the cost of food staples has risen by 80% in the last year (nothing to do with Brexit, I’m sure) and more waffle about the forthcoming coronation.

Recent estimates of the cost to the taxpayer of King Charles’s coronation are in the region of £100 million, an obscene figure that defies common sense and rectitude.

READ MORE: Scots living in ‘very deep poverty’ rises by 48 per cent in last decade

This antediluvian farce is not constitutionally nor legally required, but it will still go ahead as thousands struggle to pay fuel and food bills. It is the epitome of bread and circuses, and those who believe that this antiquated circus masquerading as tradition is relevant or deem it necessary must be sadly deluded, obsequious or without a moral compass.

The British royal family, as well as their countless hangers-on, continue to provide a costly and frankly nauseating soap opera for the shallow and intellectually challenged, but it mercifully appears that the young are largely disengaged from the institution and that it will disappear in a generation or two. Until this happens, they still provide a lynchpin for the UK’s pseudo-democratic institutions such as the absurd House of Lords and act as cheerleaders for the maintenance of the class system.

We will have many priorities when Scotland finally becomes independent, yet a referendum on the ties with the monarchy will be essential to finally jettison the stench of British imperialism and the inequality inherent in sustaining an essentially parasitical royal family.

Owen Kelly

I WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree with John Baird from Largs (Letters, Apr 18). The case of Margaret Ferrier is a witch-hunt. There’s no reason to force a by-election. Margaret was foolish to behave the way she did. But this kind of persecution is a Unionist thing. I think she has been punished enough. I’m not a member of the SNP, but in the spirit of reconciliation she should have the whip restored or at least be welcomed back into the party.

The SNP has serious problems to overcome; this is just a sideshow. The credibility of the party is under threat, aided and abetted by the BritNats and mainstream media. Restoring the party’s integrity is the pressing issue. Let’s not lose sight of the ultimate prize: independence for Scotland.

Colin Counter
via email

WHAT are opinion polls other than mayfly-life-span snapshots of crystal ball-gazing, Ms Pannell (Long Letter, Apr 18)? Opinion poll questions are designed to seek the result the originators of the poll wish to attain. Your letter makes my point for me – people only ever quote opinion polls that favour their argument. Opinion polls that are quickly superseded in the public purview by the next opinion poll.

The reality remains: a bill of the Scottish Parliament to bring Scots law into line with ECHR guidance on sexual minorities, which a majority of MSPs voted through, is being undemocratically blocked by a Tory Viceroy.

You do not like the bill. I am OK with that – you have that right, as do others of your disposition – but if this Section 35 is not contested, how many more times will a spiteful, failing and panicking Tory, UK government use a Section 35 to disembowel the powers of the Scottish Parliament?

Peter Thomson