Readers' Letters: Nations must pick a side as Ukraine suffers

I can't help feeling that the news from Ukraine has gone far beyond war crimes. Shootings in front of families, booby trapping bodies, stealing humanitarian aid and deliberately targeting civilians and using them as human shields are crimes against humanity itself. Keeping a “dignified” distance to avoid a Third World War or todamage our economy and the like are no longer options.

A new mural in Leith, Edinburgh, features a nightingale, the official national bird of Ukraine, against the country's flag.
A new mural in Leith, Edinburgh, features a nightingale, the official national bird of Ukraine, against the country's flag.

Every nation must choose whether they are for or against, not the war itself, but the actions of the Kremlin. If we haven't the courage, as Kennedy did with Cuba, to issue an ultimatum for war, then surely any country including France, Hungry or India must be tossed out of the “humanity club” and immediately sanctioned.

In my day, there was much discussion of how the German population could just stay quiet in the face of atrocities. The answer was that they ignored it at the beginning until it was too late.

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The UK government has done a great deal but now is the time for punitive sanctions against pro-Russia friendly governments, even if it means increased taxes for the better-off to “pay the price”. What price is Ukraine paying now in human lives and in rebuilding costs for tomorrow?

If it means delaying dealing with environmental matters, then what about the cost now in the pollution of the atmosphere from bombs and dust – and potentially from radiation? This is indeed a critical point of no-return. We are either in support of “freedom” 100 per cent, or we back silence and putting our own interests first.

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James Watson, Dunbar, East Lothian

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Russia is not above the law and must be held accountable for its barbarity - Ang...
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Not to be trusted

It is difficult to see how a ceasefire or a peace treaty between Ukraine and Russia could work, given the fact that Russia has shown itself to be without scruple, has consistently lied, and has an army out of control committing atrocities against innocent civilians.

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Putin and Lavrov said days before the invasion that Russia would not invade Ukraine. They invaded. They then said they did not want regime change but headed directly to Kiev and attempted to conquer the city. They said it was not a war; it is a war. When the massacres at Bucha were discovered Lavrov said that film of the evil events there were "staged by Western media”.

When Putin's agents poisoned Alexander Litvinenko with polonium the Kremlin denied all knowledge. When Dawn Sturgess was killed by novichok and Sergei and Yulia Skripal were poisoned with novichok the Russian agents involved claimed they only went to Salisbury to view its cathedral.

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It is hard to avoid thinking that any agreement signed by Putin or Lavrov would be no agreement at all.

William Loneskie, Lauder, Scottish Borders

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Laughing matter

Lord Steel (Letters, 4 April) wants to have it both ways as part of his amusement (which I share) at your excellent April Fool joke about Gaelic (Scotsman, 1 April).

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He does not want the language promoted in his Borders retreat, but it's OK in the “areas where it is spoken”. I would argue that there are no such areas, in the sense of areas where Gaelic predominates or is useful.

We will leave aside the pious “cultural imperatives”. If there were areas where Gaelic was useful then they would be demanding independence, since language is always weaponised by nationalists – for example in Wales and Ireland, in Germany when Hitler annexed Austria and invaded Poland and Yugoslavia, and in Ukraine, where Putin uses the language narrative as a pretext for invasion.

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Closer to home it is also a useful ploy. Lord Steel will be aware of the 2005 Act by which every Scottish region is supposed to have a "Gaelic Plan”, and there is also the hugely expensive and probably unstaffable proposed Gaelic High School in central Edinburgh – virtually a private facility for one section of the public, to be paid for by the state. We also pay for the Gaelic Board, part of the framework of government, and then there is BBC Alba, which runs away with a sizable chunk of BBC Scotland's budget.

As Tam Dalyell used to say: "Give nationalists an inch, and they will inevitably demand more.”

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Crawford Mackie, Edinburgh

Governing class

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Much legitimate criticism has been directed at the ruling SNP administration in recent weeks for various failures including the debacle of the two new ferries being built on the Clyde.

I can't help but wonder if Scotland wouldn't be better served if we had politicians of the calibre of Sir Gavin Williamson, the compassion of Priti Patel, the common touch of Jacob Rees-Mogg, the honour of Owen Paterson, the humanity of Therese Coffey, the moral integrity of Boris Johnson and led in a new upper chamber by a patriotic Brit such as Lord Lebedev.

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And if all of this can all be funded via money from Russian oligarchs, so much the better.

George Shanks, Edinburgh

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Light relief

In these dark days of gloom and doom, one can always turn to The Scotsman’s letters page for a spot of light relief.

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This was generously provided by C Lowson (Letters, 5 April) who sees "resentment and vitriol” in pro-independence letters. Assuming this is not a spoof, then the misreading is breathtaking.

Firstly, the gap between resentment and vitriol is enormous. Scots might well feel ignored, patronised and frequently insulted by such as Boris, Rees-Mogg et al. It seems to me that resentment is a fairly minimal response. As for vitriol, perhaps C Lowson might cast his eye over such terms as "weasely” and “gross inadequacy”.

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As a non-aligned if admittedly cynical observer, I find the recurring charge of anti-Englishness to be verging on the sinister. Surely C Lowson knows that many of us have friends and relatives in England (we could also add Wales and Northern Ireland but for the fact that we are not dependent on them for independence or vice versa). It is politically expedient to portray pro-independence people, including folk from England, as being anti English and with the weight of a predominantly right-wing press behind them it is a fairly simple task to attack “Sturgeon and to use this term as a metonymy for Scotland and Scots and hence to demonise those who can see nothing wrong or immoral in Scotland being independent and forging a much healthier relationship with England.

Finally, I agree with Alan Hinnrichs (Letters, same day) that Nicola Sturgeon has now become one of the biggest stumbling blocks to independence, having allowed Westminster to keep trotting out the weasely and grossly inadequate: “Now is not the time.” Hands up all those who trust Boris?

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Bill Simpson, Carnoustie, Angus

Cracking up

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On Sunday evening my husband, cousin and myself enjoyed a wonderful production of Handel’s Messiah by the Edinburgh Choral Society at the Usher Hall.

We left to make our way to our car in Melville Street. Sadly, en route, I tripped and fell very heavily on one of Edinburgh’s poorly lit and downright dangerous pavements.

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Shandwick Place, on the side of the Charlotte Chapel especially, has paving so broken up one would think a lorry or buses had driven down the pavement. The pavements are becoming as much of a disgrace as the roads.

I hate to think what impression of our beautiful capital city this will give our foreign visitors this year.

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Fiona Moore, Dunfermline, Fife

Marine power

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Archibald A Lawrie was absolutely right (Letters, 4 April) to propose that Scotland and the wider UK has neglected tidal power as our prime reliable renewable energy resource.

The late Professor Ian Bryden estimated the Pentland Firth had the potential to produce 60 Gigawatts – encompassing much of the UK’s electricity demand. Yet Meygen as a Pentland Firth pioneer in producing electricity has enjoyed considerable support from Japan in deploying its technology, but apparently not enough from the UK.

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The sea is also a major resource for meeting the 50 per cent of our energy demand that is heat energy. Yet only Clydebank has developed the technology to take heat from its estuary by engineering a facility which will provide 20 per cent of Glasgow’s heat. Why have the other seaside cities in Scotland and the wider UK not done likewise?

Utilising marine heat and power has the capacity to transform our economy and provide a long-term and economic energy resource, realisable within five to seven years of intensive development. Why then is our magnificent sustainable marine energy resource not being prioritised?

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Elizabeth Marshall, Edinburgh

Leap of faith

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Deprivation has a devastating effect on life expectancy. A child born in Scotland today is greeted with a baby box from the Scottish Government, 600 hours of free childcare to enable parents to work, free education through tertiary level, free prescriptions, free eye and dental care and free travel, along with the Scottish Child Payment, an extra £25 per week from next year for all children under 16. With such a start in life, there is some chance of change on the horizon.

I hope that the limited financial help that the Scottish Government can offer, constrained as it is by the UK government, will bear fruit and level up both the poverty gap and life expectancy. Westminster refuses to acknowledge the cost of living crisis.

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A quick-fix solution will not work, £150 off council tax bills will scarcely touch the sides of the energy price increase. Independence is the only way to free Scotland and counter deprivation. It takes a leap of faith to seize it, because the results won’t be seen for a generation.

Frances Scott, Edinburgh

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