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That Sophia Coyle could be the SNP’s top regional list candidate in Central Scotland in next May’s Scottish Parliament election is worrying.

She pits herself against stem cell research, abortion, same-sex marriage, same-sex adoption, religion being given exemption from the equality act, against dying in dignity – and all because of her religious belief.

Putting this before the rights others is unacceptable for any politician. Ms Coyle has already made her mind up how she intends to represent her constituents: it is through her church.

Spencer Fildes

Board member and former Chair, The Scottish Secular Society

Hydro questions

In response to Steuart Campbell (Letters 28 November), I thought I was indicating the difficulty more than the ease of doubling our hydro-power. In doing so, I actually managed to quadruple that of our local lowland scheme! A slap on the wrist for that, but I think the point was still made that even our rainy and hilly country can nowhere near satisfy our gargantuan appetite for energy.

Mr Campbell mentions environmental factors. In this respect I was thinking more of visual pollution.

It may surprise readers that our modest hydro-power comes from an extraordinarily large number of power stations (about 100). This was done partly for aesthetic reasons – it is easier to hide many small ones than a few large constructions, The Ben Cruachan power station is inside the mountain, at great additional expense and loss of life, just to hide it from view in this scenic area.

There are also, of course,ecological issues. A hydro dam has little effect on the catchment area, particularly if it is a modification of an existing loch, as most of our installations are. The impact below the dam is much greater as the single outlet via a pipe to a sometimes distant power station alters the water supply over a much greater area.

I visited such a site some 20 years after I was employed in its construction and was amazed at the alteration in the appearance of the land below the dam – different vegetation, once large burns had disappeared, etc., and no doubt there has also been a considerable impact on wild-life.

However, although I consider micro “ run-of- the-stream” systems a waste of effort, the larger stored energy systems do make a useful contribution to our electricity needs, and high capacity pumped storage ones (stores, not primary generators) are important for grid stability so some environmental effects are perhaps tolerable.

Never-the-less,as Steuart Campbell points out, the best hydro locations are already in use so any further extension would have a hugely greater cost and environmental impact with respect to the power generated or stored so are far less justifiable.

Dr A McCormick

Kirkland Road, Dumfries

Free Syria vote

Now that Jeremy Corbyn has decided on a free vote for Labour MPs, it is likely that we will be bombing Syria before Christmas. As almost every military expert agrees that it won’t stop Isis but it will kill civilians, I do hope those desktop warriors in the media and in the House of Commons are prepared for the one certain effect in Syria, that is more Syrian refugees. As for Jeremy Corbyn, I think he made the wrong choice,it’s clear that a big majority of Labour members are not in favour of bombing.

I do hope their constituency parties take note when it’s red election time!

Finally, I note that Isil have not been “ deterred “ by our Trident missiles which makes me wonder whether the £167 billion the Tories are prepared to spend renewing it, is value for money!

Hugh Kerr

Wharton Square, Edinburgh

CalMac U-turn

Privatisation is one of the favourite instruments of those determined to dismantle the state and the services it provides.

Hence the significance of Brian Wilson’s article (Time to steer a course for a U-turn, 28 November) in which he describes the refusal of the SNP government to reverse its decision to give its favoured privateers, Serco, an opportunity to take over the Western Isles ferry services from Caledonian MacBrayne.

As Scottish Labour points out in its current petition to keep CalMac in public hands, the SNP, when in opposition, promised that they would not put the contract out to tender.

This is more than a revelation of the SNP’s preparedness to abandon its promises. It is further exposure of the right-wing philosophy which determines so much of its strategy.

John Milne

Ardgowan Drive, Uddingston

Climate of doubt

Scotland’s Climate March which was organised by Stop Climate Chaos Scotland took place last Sunday in Edinburgh.

What will be achieved other than the “feel-good” factor and additional CO2 emissions?

Al Gore, in his scaremongering film An Inconvenient Truth, warned that cuddly polar bears would become extinct and sea levels would rise “20 feet in the near future”.

Well the polar bear population is thriving and at record numbers.

Scientists from the University of Bristol and Grenoble Alpes University have published a study in the journal Nature saying that previous global warming prophesies of the risk of rising sea levels around the world had been exaggerated.

The team of British and French scientists said that the collapse of an ice sheet in the Antarctic is likely to raise sea levels by only 10 cm by 2100 describing previous apocalyptic predictions as “implausible”.

They said that earlier reports were wrong because they were based on simpler computer models which contained many uncertainties.

The whole global warming theory was based on dodgy computer predictions.

The Paris conference will present a face-saving agreement which is sufficiently vague and noncommittal for all countries to claim victory.

Clark Cross

Springfield Road, Linlithgow

Thatcher’s view

Margaret Thatcher’s role in flagging up concerns about human caused climate change is noted by Brian Monteith (The climate of greed, November 30). But her later views in the 2002 book Statecraft show significant concern about the way the issue was being addressed.

It is worth quoting from the very measured and sensible treatment of the subject she gives in that book:

“ it was said of Hamlet that there was method in his madness, so one feels that in the case of some of the gloomier alarmists there is a large amount of madness in their method. Indeed the lack of any sense of proportion is what characterises many pronouncements on the matter by otherwise sensible people.”

There we have two of the problems which infuse the current public debate.

Otherwise sensible people lose a sense of proportion in the face of predictions of impending catastrophe.

Too often those claims are presented as certainties but are based on methods which don’t pass muster as science or evidence.

Councillor Cameron Rose

City Chambers, Edinburgh

Andy’s cup for it

Neither Scotland nor England would win the Davis Cup as separate nations. The tumultuous win was a very Scottish affair but James Ward’s win against the United States proved vital in the first round. The gift of a domestic, multinational team.

To see the raw emotion of a historic victory, in the Davis Cup, the Holy Grail of world team tennis, was the public demonstration of unbridled joy for the players, the coaches, the support team, the wonderful fans and the legions of not just tennis followers, all glued to their TV’s, I players, radios and every other medium.

This victory, wonderfully underpinned and led by a proud, committed and cerebral Scottish tennis player and animal warrior that is Andy Murray, is for Great Britain and all who live within her shores. Smiles, laughter, tears, pride, happiness, feel good and hopefully kids motivated to get out on tennis courts. Arise Sir Andy. A true British Bulldog.

Jimmy Armstrong

Abergeldie Road, Ballater

Name calling

Although not an admirer of George Osborne or having an opinion on the merits of BBC Alba funding, I am beginning to become a little tired of the nationalist habit of name calling as demonstrated by Dr Chalmers (letters 28 November). This dubious practice does the doctor’s argument no favours and in my opinion does him or Glasgow Caledonian University no credit.

This frankly immature tactic started during the referendum campaign with the branding of Better Together as Project Fear, although following the revelations of Alex Bell, Project Reality seems to be a more appropriate title. The current name calling fashion surrounds George Osborne’s birth name of Gideon. Nationalist have for whatever reason (hopefully not anti-semitic ones) decided that to refer to George Osborne by his birth name is some sort of derogatory insult. For the record George Osborne decided at age 13 that he, like many teenage children, did not like his birth name (Gideon Oliver), so in a teenage act of rebellious independence changed it to his grandfather’s name of George. To use this now as an insult against him is both immature and demeaning.

In Scotland we have a political and social tendency towards a “holier than thou” philosophy and have been more than a little self congratulatory about the country’s reborn involvement in politics. However, this aspect of politics is not something to be congratulated on. By all means have a robust and informative debate, but let us leave the playground name calling behind.

Paul Lewis

Guardwell Crescent, Edinburgh