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I CANNOT believe the naivety of Iain Macwhirter and Guy Stenhouse in advocating Scotland’s retention of nuclear weapons nor the distasteful language they use in dismissing our First Minister’s speech in Washington as “nonsense” and “twaddle” (Macwhirter, “Somebody remind Sturgeon that Nato is a nuclear alliance”, Stenhouse, “Wishful thinking from SNP won’t keep us safe in a dangerous world”, both May 18).
It is disingenuous, and a put-down of a woman who is trying to promote an alternative to the macho man’s domination of the world through sophisticated weapons, nuclear being the ultimate one that will wipe out the planet.
Why can’t Scotland be the leader of nations, ridding our small, beautiful country of the eyesore that is Faslane.
What is the alternative? Every country having the “deterrence” including Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen? That would indeed be madness.
The war in Ukraine is a man’s war. Even the much-heralded President Zelensky forces the men to fight whether they want to or not. Women along with children are evacuated from the war zone but consequently their voices are silenced.
God bless Nicola Sturgeon. She is an important voice of reason and can be a true leader, stepping back from the brink and scrapping Trident.
Susan Martin, Rutherglen.
BORIS’S BLUSTER AND BRAGGADOCIO
FOR how much longer will the nation put up with the braggadocio and bluster of the incumbent of 10 Downing Street? It all sounds like a tired old vaudevillian act which should have been put out to pasture long ago, having outlived its usefulness.
It is all bells and whistles without any underlying substance. Promises galore, yes; delivery in short supply, also yes.
Boasting about the lowest unemployment figures pales into insignificance when many in the workforce are compelled to use food banks (sadly, one of our booming services) owing to the inadequacy of the rewards they receive from working in a low-wage economy.
Boris’s bluster and extravagant promises butter no parsnips when the essentials, represented by parsnips, are in increasingly short supply, though the butter from Boris’s boastfulness never seems to run dry.
Talk about 73 new trade deals, which neither mask nor make up for the shortfall created by the fallout from Brexit, has to be placed alongside the fact that the UK has the highest inflation rate of all Europe.
This puts the pound into a perilous state which eats away at the income of those on low incomes with the rising prices of essential commodities, and at the savings of anyone lucky enough still to have them.
If there is one area which reveals the failure of Boris and his crew in all its tawdriness, it’s the mess he created with the fabrication of the Northern Ireland Protocol, which he is desperately trying to disown and distance himself from as though the EU imposed that condition upon the UK .
Now that the Met has concluded its Partygate investigation, the sooner that Sue Gray releases her excoriating report into the affair, and the results of the two by-elections on June 23 are known, the sooner will the country be shot of this man who has long since shot his bolt.
Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.
INCOMPETENCE OVER FERRIES DEAL
REGARDING the ferries saga, you report the Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes, stating that “it is quite clear, that the reason why they are overdue and over-budget is a question of construction” (“Forbes refuses to set timetable for delivery of overdue ferries”, May 18). This is a cart-before-the-horse explanation.
Scottish ministers were warned by Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) that ministers taking the financial risk of awarding a contract without a 100% Builder’s Refund Guarantee (BRG) would be “totally off the track of what is normal practice for the shipping industry”.
Critically, ministers were also warned by CMAL that they were then adding that to that substantial risk backdrop of not having a BRG by also then contracting with “a newly established shipyard with no track record at all of building ferries of this size”.
If ministers had listened to these high-risk alarm bells CMAL raised, rather than underwriting CMAL’s financial risk so they could sign the contract, the contract could not have been awarded to Ferguson Marine Engineering Limited (FMEL).
The letter from Transport Scotland to Scottish ministers of October 8, 2015 stated that CMAL had addressed risk by “agreeing contractual terms with FMEL which are broadly comparable with the tender specification”.
The Auditor General, Stephen Boyle, has refuted this “broadly comparable” statement.
In his evidence to the Public Audit Committee on April 28, 2022, he stated: “I apologise, as I am at the risk of repeating myself, but we clearly reached the view that the extent of risk and its management through the 25% builder’s refund guarantee and other arrangements are not broadly comparable with a full 100% builder’s refund guarantee”.
The “missing” ministerial paperwork that the Auditor General comments on, regarding how the decision was arrived at by ministers, and what was considered, should record a ministerial challenge to this fundamentally inaccurate “broadly equivalent” misrepresentation.
The only alternative conclusion, if there was no ministerial challenge, is that there was incompetent decision-making at ministerial level.
Richard Richardson, Glasgow.
ALL IN THE WORST POSSIBLE TASTE
AS we mindlessly blunder into the Jubilee ‘celebrations’, as we seem to mindlessly blunder into a lot of things these days, has anyone stopped to ask if it is appropriate?
There is an horrific war on Europe’s borders. You know, the one the Prime Minister keeps using as a smokescreen for everything he doesn’t want to deal with.
There is a cost-of-living crisis, and a crisis in Ireland. People cannot afford to heat their homes or to eat. The NHS is on its knees. Families are daily sinking into poverty and debt.
The full impact of Brexit is not yet upon us – as the “overgrown prefect” pointed out, we are still in the pre-horror period of full impact.
Is this really the time for the nation to be gloating over unearned wealth and privilege? Because it seems like the worst possible taste to me.
Amanda Baker, Edinburgh.
QUEEN IS DUE OUR HEARTFELT THANKS
I AM old enough to remember the caustic reactions of those who sought to undermine the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977.
They did their level best but I recall the scenes of joyful celebrations that overtook the entire country when the jubilee took place. There is no doubt that the Queen was held, and continues to be held, in the highest esteem by the vast majority of her countrypeople.
She has devoted her life to serving her nation. Millions of people at home and across the Commonwealth have cause to be grateful for her unstinting sense of duty.
She has, furthermore, persevered despite the infirmities of old age, the many challenges posed by members of her own family, and the loss of her husband last year.
We are not likely to get the chance to mark any further jubilees of this monarch. What on earth is wrong with celebrating it and giving the Queen our heartfelt thanks?
D. Mackenzie, Glasgow.
PALESTINIANS IN SCOTLAND
AS Palestinians in Scotland we feel the need to be able to tell our story of being driven from our homeland in a programme of ethnic cleansing that built the state of Israel on the destruction of our villages and towns.
The Scottish Government’s adoption of the problematic IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) definition of anti-Semitism limits that freedom by protecting the state of Israel from democratic critiques of its widely recognised apartheid structures.
Responding in part to the question of the IHRA definition, Lord Bracadale’s 2018 Review of Hate Crime Legislation accepted the case put forward by Palestinians and others that legislation should not protect “political entities” since that could lead to the “curtailment of freedom of expression and freedom of political debate”.
Will the Scottish Government act on this finding of the Bracadale hate crime review which it commissioned?
Amina Abdel-Khaliq, Hamilton; Dr Nur Abdelkhaleq, Edinburgh; Waseem Abu Aghlain, Edinburgh; Dr. Kholoud Ajarma, Edinburgh; and 26 others.