Readers Letters: If only Scotland had a leader like Volodymyr Zelensky

It's hard not to feel a lump in your throat whenever an interview with a Ukrainian in the war zone is broadcast.

Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelensky at a press conference this week (Picture: RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP via Getty Images)
Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelensky at a press conference this week (Picture: RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP via Getty Images)

Their courage and determination to fight the Russian warmongers is inspiring and, perhaps more so, is the example of their president Volodymyr Zelensky, who has been an absolute revelation. He has remained in their midst, he has given energetic support to his troops and civilians alike and has garnered backing from practically every nation in the western world.

It set me thinking as to how we Scots would react in a similar predicament when we have an SNP First Minister who has split our nation in two and is determined, no matter the consequences, to drag 50 per cent of our people down a path they do not want to go for a messianic, unrealistic idea of splitting us away from Great Britain.

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We'd be in a “life or death” quagmire, being outside Nato (the SNP's stated ambition) and nuclear free (same), similar to Ukraine, just not patriotic thanks to divisions caused by SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, whose word would lack sincerity judged on her past evasiveness.

Stan Hogarth, Strathaven, South Lanarkshire

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Leading role

Having watched many of President Zelensky’s speeches and interviews, it’s hard not to conclude that playing a president in a TV programme is by far a better training ground for the role than the usual political route taken by other national leaders. Any plans for a UK TV series?

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Richard Perry, Burntisland, Fife

Land of hope

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Here are some facts that undermine the assertions in Les Reid’s letter of 11 April. There is a Scotland/England border, which was established in the 1237 Treaty of York, and has remained broadly unchanged. It demarcates two legal jurisdictions, and the separate Law Societies of Scotland and of England (and Wales) exist because of this border.

The Office for National Statistics gives the land masses of England and Scotland as 50,301 and 30,090 square miles respectively, so Scotland’s “independent stage” would hardly be small. Scotland has a population similar to that of Norway, Finland and Denmark, and, like these medium-size countries, would join “a united response” to climate change. Whitelee Wind Farm will still produce renewable energy in an independent Scotland.

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Les Reid does not define Scotland’s deficit – or source his claim that Scotland spends far more than it raises in tax. In contrast, Professor David Simpson, Founding Director of the Fraser of Allander Institute, stated on 22 January 2022 the following. “Everywhere else in the world, including the UK, the term ­’fiscal ­­deficit’ means a shortfall in the ­revenue of a Government compared to its expenditure. If Scotland’s ­fiscal balance was compiled according to recognised standards of ­national ­accounting, then the ­expenditure side of the balance would show ­expenditure by the Scottish ­Government. Since the ­Scottish ­Government is obliged by the devolution settlement always to balance its budget, Scotland’s fiscal deficit in the proper sense of that term is zero every year.”

E Campbell, Newton Mearns, East Renfrewshire

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Read More
Ukraine conflict: Volodymyr Zelensky says next few days of war are crucial

Facts unmasked?

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Neil Anderson claims mask wearing is “a proven protection against Covid” (Letters, 11 April). I am wondering where he is getting his information from. A Belgian 2021 study examined the accumulation of bacteria on masks, determined the best cleaning routine and surveyed wearers on their mask habits. Here are some of their results.

After four hours of use 43 per cent of bacterial colonies on the masks were resistant to widely-used antibiotics.

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The best mask cleaning methods were boiling, ironing with a steam iron or washing at 60 degrees C with detergent. Cleaning should be done daily as a minimum.

In a survey of 25,000 participants only 21 per cent of respondents reported cleaning their cotton face masks daily, 27 per cent washed them weekly and 6 per cent never washed them at all. Only 8 per cent of surgical mask users threw them away after each use, and 15 per cent only threw them away if they were visibly damaged or dirty. Some 36 per cent had a health complaint when wearing a mask.

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Geoff Moore, Alness, Highland

Rishi rich

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Someone should tell Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak there's more to ethical behaviour and integrity than following the rules : obviously, following the rules is the least we can expect of someone in his government position, but I think we should be able to expect quite a bit more.

Steve Hayes, Leven, Fife

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Bunny old world

We know that Easter derives its name from Spring goddess Eostre and involves many different images of rebirth, including an egg-laying bunny! Christian religious believers engage with the spirit of the season by celebrating the Jesus resurrection story.

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In October Greg Knight MP pressed the UK government to implement the Easter Act 1928 and fix the date of the Easter public holidays. Despite the fact this would allow better planning for children, families and businesses, the government did not think it would be “suitable” to fix the dates “without input and agreement from the Church (of England) or other Christian Bodies”.

The religious minority interpretation of the festival is quite legitimate but the ancient dispute about its liturgical date should not be privileged at the expense of working families.

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Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society

Deluded vision

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They’re at it again. Edinburgh Council has a grand plan for getting us all to abandon our cars and “walk, wheel and cycle” around the city. They aim to create on George IV Bridge the kind of massive snarl-up that has been perpetrated in Forrest Road. I’m not sure how many cyclists used the dedicated cycle lanes when they were in force on George IV Bridge, but cyclists will now have a segregated track all to themselves.

The artist’s impression I have seen of the plan shows pavement, two-way cycle track and then a track with the occasional bench to support the weary traveller who is trying to cross the road. Only after that is there actual road, and then another pavement. The area of road is totally unrealistic: it has a smooth and uniform surface without the many patches and potholes to which the long-suffering public is now accustomed. It also shows people waiting at a bus stop that the council took out of use many months ago.

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I wouldn’t dream of taking my car into town now, but I do travel into town by bus. It is the bus service that will pay the price for this harebrained scheme – and that means drivers as well as passengers. Edinburgh is a city of narrow streets and many buses. The council’s plans to anathematise cars, privilege cyclists and reduce road capacity is also a direct attack on those who use public transport. Bus journey times are lengthening because the infrastructure works against public transport.

This may or may not be the council’s objective; after all, they favour “walking, wheeling and cycling”, with no mention of public transport. The message is: you had better be young and fit if you want to get around central Edinburgh.

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Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh

Help Nicaragua

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Politicians and media are currently correctly occupied by the invasion of Ukraine by the Czar Putin's regime.

However, this April marks the fourth year since more than 300 Nicaraguan civilian people were shot and killed by the Ortega/Murillo government police and their paramilitary supporters. This is more obviously relevant when you realise that the Ortega regime is one of the few that supports the Putin regime.

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There are currently 181 political prisoners in Nicaragua a country with a population size similar to Scotland. In February this year, one prisoner, 73-year-old Hugo Torres, died in captivity when denied medical treatment for chronic ailments.

We should tell our Westminster MPs to put pressure on the Foreign and Commonwealth office to increase sanctions against Ortega's repressive regime so it stops killing Nicaraguan peasants and workers.

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Norman Lockhart, Scottish Borders

Power preserved

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Steuart Campbell wonders what happens when the tides turn and there is no electricity being generated (Letters, 8 April).

Well, the batteries having been charged up, the electricity continues to flow to the grid. The same applies to solar and wind generated power, also; for that matter, motor cars go for some distance after a charge.

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Sandy Philip, Edinburgh

Power to people

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When will the Greens and the engineering and technically challenged critics realise that you just cannot close all fossil-fuelled power stations, without a viable replacement.

A phased strategy is required to keep bills down and for everyone to continue to enjoy a reliable and secure power supply. In recognising this fact we should all be supporting the efficient combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) gas-fired power stations which are 60 per cent less polluting than their coal cousins, and this interim strategy should include tidal and hydro generation schemes.

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If fracking is introduced then there is absolutely no reason why your energy bill should not tumble – let your voice be heard, dear reader, and lobby your political representative.

Finally, it is utter folly to continue with wind, solar and nuclear fission, but why is government keeping very quiet about the potential of electricity from space and that of nuclear fusion, the Holy Grail of power production?

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Dave Haskell, Cardigan, Ceredigion

Write to The Scotsman

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