Readers' Letters: Polwarth is thriving

I am writing in response to John McLellan’s column in The Scotsman of 13 March and to correct some factual inaccuracies which may have given a wrong impression of Polwarth Parish Church in Edinburgh.
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack during his visit to the Port of Leith, part of Forth Green Freeports. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA WireScottish Secretary Alister Jack during his visit to the Port of Leith, part of Forth Green Freeports. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack during his visit to the Port of Leith, part of Forth Green Freeports. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

The minister, Rev Jack Holt, only retired in August 2023 not several years ago as the article states.

Yes, we do not have bells but this is not uncommon nowadays, there are still services on Sunday mornings. On Christmas Eve we held a Christingle service which was attended by 120 people, mainly from the local community.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The All Aboard canal boat that is mentioned is actually a joint venture between Polwarth Parish Church and People Know How and jointly owned. It is extensively used by many different groups and other charities.

Our halls are also widely used by both church and local community groups and youth organisations.

We have a very successful Pop-Up cafe once a week on a Tuesday and are starting to provide Digital support, we have a welcome space on Friday mornings where anyone can come along and have a chat with other people.

There will be a Holiday Club held after Easter for primary aged children in conjunction with other local churches.

Life in our society has changed over the past decades and the church is changing too, but Polwarth Parish Church is very much still part of the local community and providing a warm welcome to anyone who wishes to come along.

Rev Fiona Kennedy, Locum Minister, Polwarth Parish Church, Edinburgh

Fake news

What an article of egregious nonsense from Alister Jack (15 March)!

The Stone of Destiny is a fake. It is a piece of Perthshire sandstone foisted on Edward I (who probably knew it was a forgery but went along with it for his own reasons). The Stone of Destiny came to Scotland from Ireland whence it had come from Egypt. It was black and polished with hieroglyphics, and probably a meteorite. A final proof it is a forgery is that at the 1320 Treaty of Northampton the Scots did not ask for it back.

Colin McAllister, St Andrews

Do the Math

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Quite apart from any questions of morality and standards in public life, it is former health secretary Michael Matheson’s basic stupidity and incompetence which is worrying in any MSP or minister.

How on earth could he have believed that his infrequent use of his mobile phone on parliamentary/government business during a week’s trip to Morocco in late December could genuinely have resulted in a bill of almost £11,000?Any normal person would have queried it immediately with the provider, before claiming it as expenses “wholly, necessarily and exclusively in relation to my employment” (or words to that effect)!

Likewise, it is surely disgraceful that a civil servant presumably authorised his expenses claim without furtherinvestigation.

John Birkett, St Andrews

Hong Kong garden

I read with dismay Martyn McLaughlin’s excellent report on the sale of the vast Auch Estate to a Chinese Property Development Company.

Apparently the aim is to produce an "agri- tourism operation” incorporating world class accommodation on an estate that includes a salmon river and two red deer stalking beats.

Further there are apparently to be opportunities for guests to connect with the landscape through yoga and meditation.

For me, however, it is hard not to conclude that the accommodation and amenities will become the preserve of the ultra rich and the hunting, shooting and fishing brigade (at least those not partaking in meditation and yoga) with restricted access to mere mortals.

As a veteran of the Climbers Bar (not much meditation going on there as I recall ) at the ‘old’ Kingshouse (before the main hotel went upmarket ), I do indeed wonder if this is just the latest example of the nation’s prime estates coming under foreign ownership to the detriment of those who wish to access these areas for their natural beauty and traditional outdoor pursuits

David Edgar, Symington, Biggar

Flynn’s fantasy

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Stephen Flynn MP claims that the SNP will be ‘Scotland’s voice’ after the general election (Scotsman, 15 March). Presumably that means that, with its 43 MPs, it is not yet ‘Scotland’s voice’?

This kind of language, and that of ‘Scotland’s values’, also used by Mr Flynn, is simply perplexing.

Scotland, like any other country, is not a homogeneous slab that has a common set of aspirations and assumptions. It is a variegated polity and society, however uniform the SNP has tried to make it. Which ‘Scottish values’ does the SNP represent? Being deluded? Telling lies about how Scotland has fared within the UK? Turning out to be utterly incompetent at every responsibility it has had to embrace? I hope that many Scots embrace values other than these.

MPs are not sent to Westminster to represent ‘Scotland’, any more than they are sent to represent England, Wales or Northern Ireland.

MPs each represent a constituency which elects them to promote that entity’s interests at Westminster. Mr Flynn’s duty at Westminster is to represent the good citizens of Aberdeen South. He has a remit from his party to lead its parliamentary group. But he is not the leader of some ‘Scotland’ party at Westminster, because there isn’t one.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh

Defence muddle

In politics as in romance timing is everything. So when Defence Secretary Grant Shapps talks about raising defence spending from two to three percent of GDP shortly after the budget, it is rather like a man ignoring his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day and giving her red roses a week later.

Since the start of Russia’s ‘special military operation’ in February 2022, it has been obvious that defence spending was woefully inadequate. All the more so, since Hamas’s atrocities on 7th October and the Houthis attacks on merchant shipping including sinking a British ship.

If Mr Shapps was sincere, he would have made the arguments publicly before the budget, and, indeed, if he appreciated the seriousness of the situation, he might well have made it a resigning issue. As it is, he is just playing political games.

Otto Inglis, Crossgates

Non negotiable

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The current level of expenditure on UK defence is held at 2.2 per cent of GDP, but many MP’s want it to rise to 3 per cent in the short term and then to 5 per cent for each year into the future. If this level is achieved, then acquiring the money will present some very challenging choices.

At present the Middle East is in turmoil which could easily spread throughout Europe then to the rest of the world.

Russia wants to overcome Ukraine, then possibly Poland, Israel wants to obliterate Hamas and Hezbollah, Syria is now filled with rubble, and Saudi Arabia is at war with Yemen. China is eyeing up Taiwan for a possible invasion.

The problem is that the western countries must be wary of escalating a parochial conflict into a world war.

Each country in the west will therefore need to increase its expenditure on defence and be ready for any escalation of these conflicts.

We must start now.

James Macintyre, Linlithgow

Letter bomb

May I refer to E Campbell’s letter in the Scotsman (15 March) where he questions the legitimacy of the House of Lords.

If he then cares to obtain a copy of the Scotsman for Thursday 7 March , and turns to page 41 and the column Now and Then, he will see an entry for 2007 stating that the House will be fully elected in future.I wonder what happened to that legislation.

C Lowson, Fareham, Hants

Horror show

The photograph of a young wounded Palestinian girl accompanying Kenny MacAskill’s straight-to-the-point column about the war in Gaza tells us everything about the horrors of war (Opinion, 14 March).

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

We’ve known this for centuries, but it hasn’t stopped the bloodshed, and the terror, which that little girl will never forget. If she survives, she will never feel safe again.

No-one looking at that photograph could be unmoved, not fail to feel anger as well as pity for this child and for all children who are victims of this war. Mr MacAskill is right to say that “the USA must get tough with Israel”, instead of sending arms and aid, while children are dying, and those whose survive are suffering dreadfully from their wounds, and from the trauma of living through a hideous war.

It’s difficult to look at photographs and footage of terrified, injured children, but we need to see what they’re having to endure, rather than turn away to avoid being upset by their suffering.

We should be angry, as well as sorrowful, for their plight, and ask ourselves how we would feel if our children were helpless victims ofwar.

Carolyn Taylor, Broughty Ferry

Write to The Scotsman

We welcome your thoughts – no letters submitted elsewhere, please. Write to [email protected] including name, address and phone number – we won't print full details. Keep letters under 300 words, with no attachments, and avoid 'Letters to the Editor/Readers’ Letters' or similar in your subject line – be specific. If referring to an article, include date, page number and heading.



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.