Keep terror quiet

Whilst Theresa May is anxious to enhance intelligence gathering activities to counter the terrorist threat(Your report, 28 July), there remains the sensitive issue of limiting the publicity given to the perpetrators.

It now seems that some sections of the French press are prepared to restrict, on a voluntary basis, the amount of detail about the background of those involved. This is a sensible move; those with expertise in the workings of terrorists often stress that it is their desire not just to publicise their perverse cause, but also themselves, that is a key motivator.

Indeed, the French public are beginning to react negatively to the almost ritualistic link between the atrocities, the expressions of compassion from senior government sources, the now almost stale commitment to “tighten security” and the days, sometimes weeks, of highlighting the backgrounds of the individuals responsible for the carnage. It will rightly be a factor in next year’s French elections.

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Restraint by the media has to be voluntary. But there needs to be a recognition that in a war of the kind Islamic State is pursuing, publicity is a vital weapon. The media can take the view, understandably, that their first responsibility is to report the news accurately. There needs to be an understanding of the views of victims, too.

A signal to the terrorists that their campaign will get limited headlines might be a way of showing that.

Bob Taylor

Shiel Court, Glenrothes

Dicey deficit

It is interesting to note that Spain and Portugal have narrowly missed being ‘fined’ by the EU for exceeding its budgetary deficit targets.

The EU target for nations is not to allow their deficit as a percentage of GDP to exceed 3 per cent. The figure for Spain is currently 5 per cent and along with Portugal they have been ordered to bring their deficits quickly in line.

Scotland, even with the generous Barnett formula, is presently running a deficit of 10 per cent of GDP. One can only surmise that as an independent country within the EU with no access to Barnett and the collapse in oil tax revenues, what a parlous state our finances would be in.

It seems unlikely, therefore, that the EU would be welcoming us with open arms and be in such an accommodating mood as it is with Spain and Portugal. Some of us should be careful what we wish for.

David F. Donaldson

Lawers Crescent, Polmont, Falkirk

Personal choice

In recent days we have read of ambulance services and cancer detection rates failing to meet targets, and of a crisis in NHS staffing. It is too easy to blame the NHS and Scottish Government. We have to look at ourselves and our fellow 

We can do a lot more to stop ourselves getting sick. We could eat, smoke and drink less and exercise more. We could go earlier to the doctor and participate in screening programmes.

When 42 per cent of weekend ambulance call-outs are for – basically – drunks, it is no wonder that weekday manning levels and response times suffer. When only 1.3 million out of 2.1 million Scots invited for bowel cancer screening take up the offer, only 4,000 of a possible 7,000 cancers are discovered and treated early.

The Scottish Government doesn’t promote its excellent education and prevention programmes enough or risk a few votes and point the finger at people themselves and remind us of our responsibilities.

Allan Sutherland

Willow Row, Stonehaven

Plane silly

I write in support of Mr Raymond Hynds who, on a flight from Paris, reacted to the woman in front of him who reclined her seat, thereby knocking into him and his possessions, by calling her a “stupid cow” and throwing the contents of his glass of wine over her (Your report, 28 July). Bravo!

I, too, have frequently suffered similarly from inconsiderate seat recliners in front of me. I have also tried a polite request to return the seat to the upright position, explaining why, to be met with abuse and bad language.

The sad result was that Mr Hynds was arrested, prosecuted and ordered to pay compensation to the woman whose stupidity had caused him considerable irritation and inconvenience.

On modern short-haul flights the seats are packed in so tightly that there is simply insufficient space to recline a seat without squashing the passenger behind. Thankfully, on the newest short-haul aircraft, the seats are usually permanently locked upright.

David Hollingdale

Easter Park Drive, Edinburgh

Bawbee dazzler?

Post Brexit, the political landscape in Scotland is coming into view ... leave the UK, join the EU, float the bawbee and join the euro.

The reality of this will be commercial misery inflicted by England – our largest customer – austerity from Brussels like never before to eliminate a £15 billion annual deficit and £10bn to set up the bawbee.

Immigration will be a thing of the past and emigration will be the hottest show in town. Shaping up nicely.

Jimmy Armstrong

Abergeldie Road, Ballater, Aberdeenshire

Dram-a, no crisis

Why is there this popular misconception that Scotland’s aspiration to be in the EU would suddenly make all trade with the Brexit market suddenly disappear?

Westminster without single malt? Now there’s a thought.

John Cutland

Montgomery Street, Kirkcaldy, Fife

Truth hurts

In the comedy series Yes Minister, fictional permanent secretary Sir Humphrey Appleby explains to fictional minister Jim Hacker, Britain (he means England) has had the same foreign policy objective for at least the last 500 years – a disunited Europe. To that end we’ve fought with the Dutch against the Spanish, with the Germans and Dutch against the French, with the French and Italians against the Germans, and with the French against the Germans and Italians.

When asked by Hacker: “Aren’t the Foreign Office pro-Europe?”, the reply was: “We had to get inside to make a real pig’s breakfast of it and break the whole thing up. The Foreign Office are terribly pleased. It’s all going so well.”

These words were written by Douglas Jay, a former Labour cabinet minister from the Wilson era. How prophetic.

Now many French and German people want to come out of the EU following our government’s attitude towards our referendum result and our renegotiation.

Nigel Boddy

Fife Road, Darlington, Co Durham