Letters: Fox hunting ban is sick joke in Scotland

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I HOPE every MSP reads your excellent editorial “Moral duty to enforce hunt ban” (12 July).

It has been an open secret for more than a decade that the hunting ban in Scotland was little more than a joke. When saboteurs campaigned against hunting the countryside was full of police officers who, more often than not, saw their duty as making it easy for the hunt to proceed and turning a blind eye when hunters struck protesters with their whips.

Not long after fox hunting was made illegal, hunters realised there were no longer any hunt sabs to disrupt their activity and, with no hunt sabs to arrest, the police couldn’t even be bothered sending PC Murdoch on his bike to keep an eye on the hunters.

I first raised this with then Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson MSP in 2005 and I’ve raised it with other ministers since. I’ve asked for police to monitor hunts and even suggested the mounted branch use policing hunts as training and exercise for their horses. The stock answer has always been that if I have hard evidence that the Protection of Wild ­Animals (Scotland) Act 2002 is being broken I should give that evidence to the police.

The law needs to be totally revamped (perhaps making it compulsory to have all hounds muzzled?) and then it has to be policed by the people we pay to police the law.

John F Robins, Animal Concern

Stop persecution of Armstrong

“I DON’T mean to say that Hinault­ wasn’t a great champion, but only that Armstrong was one too” – Jean-Pierre de Mondenard in Les Grandes ­Premieres du Tour de France (2013). De Mondenard is a former Tour doctor and leading authority in France on cycling and doping (and other forms of cheating) over many years 
with many publications on the issues to his credit.

I’ve been prompted to make this reference by Richard Moore’s silly article, with confusing photo captions, headed “On yer bike, Armstrong”, an ignorant heading in itself (Sport, 12 July).

One of the photos is captioned: “Geoff Thomas will be in Armstrong’s peloton”. In fact it’s the other way round – Thomas invited Armstrong to join his peloton. The other refers to “Triomphe of the pill: Lance Armstrong in Paris on the way to winning his sixth tour”. His sixth Tour “win”, in 2004, was with US Postal, but like the previous five and the seventh, with Discovery Channel in 2005, was removed from the record books. Did he win? I think so. So does de Mondenard.

Isn’t it about time this persecution of Armstrong stopped? Why are riders such as Bjarne Riis and Jan Ullrich and Marco Pantani still officially recognised as Tour winners when Armstrong is not? Armstrong has done far more good for the cancer community than harm to the cycling world, given what preceded him, on any scale of reckoning.

There is so much hypocrisy in the cycling and drug control world generally that Thomas’s invitation to Armstrong came, to me, as a breath of fresh air.

I am sad that your cycling correspondent, who has written some excellent books in the field, should join in defining the man as simply a “drugs cheat”. He was and is much more than that – witness his 
response to the death of Fabio Casartelli.

Bill MacDonald, Bonnyrigg

Economic crisis is close to home

LIKE Greece, here in the UK we have our own Troika – the Treasury, the Bank of England and the British Bankers Association – and all our political parties defer to its power. Six years ago, when RBS collapsed, the government had the opportunity to put this genie back in the bottle. Instead the poor taxpayer was obliged to bail it out – the direct cost of which is austerity, and the indirect – and immeasurable – cost of which is allowing public debt to dominate our lives.

In Scotland the debacle over the currency during the referendum further demonstrated that politicians of all stripes have no understanding of banking or currency management. Just leave it to the bankers and their tame economists and in return they will let you get on with being a politician.

There are other ways to skin the financial cat but until you stop digging and climb up to look over the edge of the hole you can’t see them.

R F Morrison, Helensburgh

MacCormick in his own words

IAN O Bayne (Letters, 12 July) says that I attempted to associate that great figure of the SNP, Professor (Sir) Neil MacCormick, with the quisling accusations made in the 1960s. All I pointed out was that the quote about it appeared in the book The Scottish Debate: Essays on Scottish Nationalism, of which MacCormick was the sole editor, a book not only notable for the large SNP thistle logo on the front and back of its paper jacket, but for his own statement in its introduction: “In practical terms, as I state in my essay, it seems perfectly obvious that devolution would have to precede independence, so that if devolution worked well we could abandon the notion of proceeding to independence. Therefore, I see nothing foolish or irrational in supporting the National Party while remaining unconvinced of the value of its long-term objectives.”

Hugh Pennington, Aberdeen

West to blame for Middle East woe

ROBIN Hassall (Letters, 12 July) is spot on. British governments under the leadership of Tony Blair and David Cameron/Nick Clegg have – along with the US – been responsible for the present chaos in the Middle East. The ousting (and deaths) of Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi and the collapse of their regimes have led directly to much of the Middle East becoming a political basket case. While I accept that the former regimes were oppressive and ruthless, does anybody think that the situation we are confronted with represents an improvement? At least now an exit strategy of sorts has been established: that of the desperate refugees exiting their homelands in their droves.

George Wilson, Edinburgh

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