Readers' Letters: Alistair Darling will be remembered as a great servant of British nation

It was with great sadness that I learned of the death of Lord Alistair Darling at such a young age. In the context of modern politics he was a rare individual in that he commanded respect from fellow politicians across the political spectrum for his honesty and integrity.
Alistair Darling hugs wife Maggie outside number 11 Downing Street on 24 March 2010 before presenting his last Budget as Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer (Picture: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)Alistair Darling hugs wife Maggie outside number 11 Downing Street on 24 March 2010 before presenting his last Budget as Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer (Picture: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
Alistair Darling hugs wife Maggie outside number 11 Downing Street on 24 March 2010 before presenting his last Budget as Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer (Picture: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

How many politicians can that be said about today? As Chancellor he steered the country through the devastating 2008 banking crisis with calmness and consistency and restored a much-needed confidence. He was a strong advocate for the Union, which was underlined by him spearheading the successful campaign to keep Scotland within the Union. Alistair Darling made an indelible impression on British politics. His family and friends can be justly proud of his public service.

Bob MacDougall, Kippen, Stirlingshire

Golden generation

I just heard that Alistair Darling has died. He is rightly credited with steering the UK away from the 2008 financial crash and leading the cross-party Better together campaign, but he was also one of a golden generation of Scottish politicians that included John Smith, George Robertson, Michael Forsyth, Malcolm Rifkind, Robin Cook, David Steel and Gordon Brown, real heavyweights who occupied the most senior positions of UK Government.

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Perhaps if they'd all been in favour of independence it would have been a different story. As the song goes, “when will we see their likes again”?

Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

A great man

I was greatly shocked at the death, aged only 81, of James Douglas-Hamilton. Although we were of different parties he remained a great friend in all three legislatures to which we both belonged, partly because his wife Susie was of the Borders Buchan family. We enjoyed each other’s company and he will be sorely missed by many.

David Steel (Lord Steel of Aikwood), Selkirk, Scottish Borders

It’s demographics

The sheer absurdity of Patrick Harvie's proposal to enforce heat pump usage in Scotland may be due to the fact that he and so many others in the higher echelons of the SNP and Greens have lived all of their lives in cities and have no idea whatever of the issues affecting rural dwellers.

So what happens when a small village or isolated small farm has a power cut in the depths of winter or general bad weather, something which is not an infrequent occurrence?

Answer: The heat-pump doesn’t work.

So not only is there the cost of electricity consumption 24/7 for a heat pump, but also the issue of unreliability.

One only has to look at the huge differential in all utility-company tariffs between the cost of electricity and gas and it quickly becomes clear that the cheapest way to provide heat and hot water is via a gas boiler!

In my opinion, people who dwell in rural Scotland are not represented by SNP MPs and MSPs, even though in terms of land area, urban areas account for 2.2 per cent of Scotland and rural areas account for 97.8 per cent; in terms of population, urban areas account for 83 per cent and rural areas account for 17 per cent.

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So, the conclusion must be that if you are part of the 17 per cent and want a life that does not involve being crammed into already crowded cities, the SNP/Green alliance will be penalising you in furtherance of their totally daft and ill-thought-through policies and intentions.

May heaven save us all from conceptualists who are either unable or unwilling to understand Scotland's demographics.

Derek Farmer, Anstruther, Fife

COPs and robbers

On the very day the monstrously polluting COP28 kicks off, the much-vaunted “renewable solutions” have once again failed to generate enough power to heat UK homes.

Freezing temperatures for the week ahead and no wind mean energy demands are soaring, but low winds mean output at all wind farms has plummeted. Data from the National Grid confirms that the UK is reliant on gas for an astonishing two-thirds of its electricity this weekend.

This criminal neglect of energy security can’t go on. It also means the UK has had to buy record amounts of electricity from Europe, at the extortionate cost of £2 billion, government figures have revealed.

When will the ever-so-green billionaires, in their private jets, allow poor, cold, ordinary folk, with common sense, to address their conference?

How many more COPs and robbers will we have to endure?

George Herraghty, Lothlorien, Lhanbryde, Elgin, Moray

Scotland needs PR

Henry McLeish claims that the UK's first-past-the-post election system can lead to authoritarianism (Perspective, 29 November). Insofar as it leads to a disproportional result, he has a point. Of course, the answer is to adopt proportional representation (PR), preferably the single-transferable-vote system (STV) already used for the Northern Ireland Assembly and all local elections in that province and in Scottish local elections. A PR system is used for the Scottish Parliament but it's not STV.

A truly proportional system usually requires parties to work together, perhaps in a coalition. It prevents domination by any one party and so prevents the emergence of authoritarianism. In the Northern Ireland Assembly, deadlock has arisen because one party refuses to cooperate with others.

Steuart Campbell, Edinburgh

Women failed

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I just read an article which said a man who subjected his partner to horrific domestic abuse for over a year has avoided jail. There have also been cases in which men who have committed rape and sexual assaults have avoided prison because they are deemed too young as they were under 18 when it happened. So they get counselling instead.

These are only a few examples of how women are being failed left right and centre, continually, by the legal system that is meant to help them. Not enough women report serious crimes and I’d guess not many men (yes, there are men who get abused too) because they don’t think they will be treated seriously, believed, and more and more actually know they probably won’t get a decent result

This is because sentences handed down even by female judges these days are pathetic and almost worthless. A few years or more, or much less if they get reduction for good behaviour

Seriously traumatised people need to see serious jail sentences given to those who have caused this trauma. It is very, very hard to recover from any kind of trauma, but sexual trauma is even harder and a very long process that never really ends. You just learn how to live with it.

It is time to solve overcrowding problems in prisons and prevent people being further traumatised by the fear garnered from knowing their abuser or attacker is free, or very soon will be free, to quite possibly hurt them again.

Bronwyn Matthew, Prestonpans, East Lothian

Snare concerns

It was disappointing that Onekind, which was quoted in the article “Ban on ‘humane’ snares sparks warning on bird conservation” (19 November) was described as a “conservation” organisation. In fact, it is an animal rights pressure group and while of course it is entirely entitled to voice its opinion, it is just that and has no basis in science or practical experience of conservation.

However, we welcome the fact that the piece raised stakeholders’ concerns regarding the Scottish Government’s decision not to license the use of humane cable restraints (HCRs). There is agreement that traditional snares should be banned, but to rule out an exemption for HCRs ignores peer-reviewed research proving both that they have passed international welfare standards and that they are a vital tool in the fight to save many of Scotland’s most threatened and iconic species.

Rory Kennedy, Director Scotland, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust Hopetoun, South Queensferry

A busy man

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A campaign appears to have started to relieve pressure on the beleaguered Health Minister, Michael Matheson. Stage one was the “busy-busy” shot with a visiting Norwegian. Stage two was the continual use of the phrase a “safe pair of hands”. Sadly, his hands are anything but safe.

This says all that needs to be said about the SNP and their minister's battle to keep his job. It is one that should not ever be won; defending the indefensible is beyond wrong.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

Sculpture trail

Alexander McKay and Andrew HN Grey (Letters, 30 November) have missed the essential point in the debate about the Parthenon sculptures.We insist that works of art acquired in dubious circumstances in Nazi-controlled territory before and during the Second World War are returned to their rightful owners. At the time Lord Elgin received permission to remove the sculptures Greece did not exist. It was part of the Turkish Ottoman Empire, a regime every bit as tyrannical as the Nazis. The Greeks had no say in the decision to allow him to take the sculptures, and the permit he obtained was issued by the the rulers of the empire which was oppressing Greeks at the time.

I believe Rishi Sunak's motives are purely political and I hope the public will see through his stunt and support the unanswerable case for the return of the sculptures.

Robert Cairns, Harrietfield, Perth

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