Readers' Letters: A Parades Commission would be an admission of failure

Does Scotland need a Parades Commission in the light of recent complaints about the behaviour of a minority at an Orange Order march in Glasgow (Scotsman, 24 September)?

For as long as I can remember there has always been controversy about whether these marches should go ahead at all. Sometimes the reservations relate to whether peaceful protests of this kind have a place in a modern democracy. Sometimes they relate to how a minority of marchers have abused the privilege of being able to march through the streets by use of sectarian chanting and physical intimidation of observers, backed by downright unpleasantness.

Sometimes the marches are portrayed as a frontal attack on the right of the Catholic population to have a place in civic life. Sometimes the complaints relate simply to the frustration of traffic diversion, and the resources involved in policing the processions.

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None of these warrant the setting up of a Commission. Indeed, the creation of one might not just be an admission of failure. It might act as a source of provocation. The existing laws ought to be sufficient to cope with the planning and conduct of marches. It is not possible to have a meaningful protest on any matter without offending someone.

Those, like Lord McConnell, who feel that Scotland has moved backward on tackling sectarianism need to maintain a sense of proportion. For nearly the whole of any year people of various religious persuasions do manage to peacefully co-exist. Where there is unacceptable behaviour on marches the solution has to be to persuade the organisers to exercise more discipline.

A Parades Commission is likely to attract too much controversy and set back the fine work that has been done behind the scenes to encourage more tolerance.

Bob Taylor, Glenrothes, Fife

Justified protest

I wish to put the case for the M25 protesters in no uncertain terms and drown out the ignorant howls from the multitude that "agrees with their aims but not their chosen method”.

The whole point of the protest is that if you are driving a fossil-fuelled car you shouldn’t even be on the M25. A climate emergency is exactly what it says, and requires action now.

The reason the law is being "broken” is because people are fed-up with politicians who talk the talk today and do nothing tomorrow. Climate change resulting from pumping fossil fuel carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is nothing other than theft of water and hence food from people living in arid areas, theft of property due to flooding, and theft of life due to catastrophic wildfires.

But all of this means nothing to the good people who use the M25 to belch toxic filth and stench into everyone's air so they can rake in the profit for their businesses.

Henryk Belda, Penicuik, Midlothian

Thatcher's legacy

Once again your hallowed pages are subjected to the jumping needle on vinyl weekly diatribe by Joyce McMillan about the Conservative and Unionist Party’s failures (Scotsman, 24 September).

Margaret Thatcher was elected after the SNP voted against a confidence motion of the Callaghan government and she had to pick up the pieces of a UK riven by strikes and uncompetitive practices.

The demise of shipbuilding was due in the main to nascent foreign competitors attracting ship owners to new ships built and delivered on time and at the agreed price. Does the Ferguson's debacle remind you of that? Similarly the coal miners were holding the country to ransom so again this had to be sorted.

The heavy industrial decline was inevitable and fortunately for the UK, the oil industry provided the safety net for the economy, allowing workers to be retrained and families supported through the transition.

The current lorry driver shortage is purely pandemic-driven. A large number of the laid-off drivers moved to other jobs and some who returned to other European countries discovered their lucrative pay in the UK was now being matched in their homeland.

I do still watch the news and read dissapointing columns from time to time but thankfully most avenues tell it like it is.

Archie Burleigh, Skelmorlie, North Ayrshire

Union barons

Joyce McMillan’s latest article omits the culpability of trades union barons in the 1960s and 1970s who conspired to overthrow the democratically elected government of the UK and inflicted countless miseries on our population from organising a long succession of member strikes and accompanying violence in both public and privately owned services that had the effect of ringing the death-knell for the UK’s world-leading motor industry and the coal industry, and led to the privatisation of the rail network.

No responsible government can allow the nation to be held to ransom by a minority of revolutionaries hell-bent on creating mayhem as a means to achieve their misplaced ideologies.

She also exhibits a tendency to always focus on the blame-side of a Tory government in office and never seeks to balance her view of government performance by also considering the beneficial results of such governments.

I have yet to see any element of criticism from Ms McMillan, on the culpability of the SNP, in power in Scotland for 14 years, for the state of our society today.

Derek Farmer, Anstruther, Fife


Shocked and angry was my reaction when it came to my attention that the House of Commons is currently in recess not for a week, but for over three weeks (until 18 October) – an absolute outrage considering the crisis the country is in.

So why are MPs absent? There must be a justified reason? Well it is party time, party conference time! Be those conferences in person or virtually, it is an outrage of gigantic proportions, while the county is literally sinking before our eyes.

Westminster is taking voters for granted, treating the country with contempt. We are in a gobal pandemic, vaccine roll-out, travel restrictions, crisis in the food chain, crisis in the supply chain with a shortage of HGV drivers, crisis in our fuel supplies with suppliers going bust, a climate crisis with COP26 nearing, savage welfare cuts in a weeks’ time, the list could go on. The country needs reassurance andleadership, so what is Westminster’s response? Let’s down tools and have a recess!

Catriona C Clark, Falkirk

Taxi trouble

Several weeks ago I returned to Ednburgh Airport late at night to find no taxis available.

Earlier this week I returned at 1am and had taken the trouble to pre-book a taxi but, as I was waiting, I could see several individuals and families completely lost trying to find transport. No taxis, no one to ask – is this the way to treat visitors arriving at our capital city?

I felt ashamed and unable to assist them in any way. Something needs to be done if we want visitors to return.

Sandy Corstorphine, Edinburgh

Zealots alert

There's an interesting phenomenon in the letters pages which sees uncritical defenders of the Union describe themselves as proud Scots and Brits, while people who support independence and the SNP are apologists and, according to Alexander McKay (Letters, 24 September), "zealots".

There's more of a hint of pot and kettle there as the whole of the UK suffers labour shortages, food shortages and an energy crisis, all presided over by the most incompetent UK administration for many decades and a Prime Minister who returned from America with his tail between his legs, without the trade deal which was to be the flagship of Brexit.

The UK Government has moved from the stage of denial, saying there's no problem, into the distraction phase of saying it's nothing to do with Brexit and all to do with Covid, thus flatly contradicting Mr McKay's ridiculous assertion that the issues facing Scotland have absolutely nothing to do with the pandemic.

Gill Turner, Edinburgh

Brexit blunder

Grant Shapps insists that the pandemic is the “principal cause” of the UK’s driver shortage. This, like claims that energy prices will rocket due to global supply issues, is nonsense. These problems are specific to the UK. Recently while in Barcelona I noted that the supermarket shelves were full, and there were no problems over fuel supply. It is forecast that there will soon be an increase in energy prices in Spain, but the extent of this will be only a small fraction of the increases expected in the UK.

It is clear that Brexit, a monumentally stupid choice, which was then grossly mismanaged by the likes of Mr Shapps, lies behind the UK’s supply problems.

Bill McKinlay, Edinburgh

Benefit cut

It has been striking to note the government’s continued insistence on cutting £20 a week from Universal Credit next month.

Such a cut is morally repugnant and pursued without regard to those who will be impacted. It is one of the most callous and vindictive acts pursued by any government in modern times.

There has been no justification for this, no study undertaken on the impact of the cuts, and because of the coronavirus crisis and rising fuel and food costs, this will inevitably push hundreds of thousands of families into poverty.

Many people’s lives and livelihoods still hang in the balance and a choice will have to be made for a number between heating and eating.

The welfare state was founded on the principles of abolishing squalor, want, disease, ignorance and idleness. We are currently very far removed from these well-intentioned principles

Alex Orr, Edinburgh

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