Readers' Letters: Prince Charles should focus on Britain's great achievements

Nobody can achieve anything if they are demoralised and lack self-respect. This is as true for a nation as it for an individual.

Bearing this in mind, I was dismayed to hear Prince Charles adding his voice to the chorus of negativity obsessing about Britain’s role in the slave trade (at the Commonweath Heads of Government meeting) and completely ignoring all our nation’s great achievements.

It is to Britain that the world owes thanks for the Industrial Revolution which has lifted billions of people out of poverty over the last 200 years.

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Also, our nation made a greater contribution to the scientific revolution than any other country. Isaac Newton, Adam Smith, James Hutton, James Clerk Maxwell and Charles Darwin are just a few of the British giants who have benefitted humanity.

Prince Charles at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Rwanda (Picture: Simon Maina/ AFP/Getty Images

Nor should we forget that our country made a moral choice and overcame powerful entrenched interests first to suppress the Atlantic slave trade from 1807 and then to abolish slavery in most of the empire from 1834; all of this was achieved without a civil war.

And Britain saved Europe from Napoleon Bonaparte and Kaiser Wilhelm II, before we saved it from Hitler.

Even allowing for our country’s role in the slave trade, Britain has more to be proud of than any other nation.

Otto Inglis, Crossgates, Fife

Bodies of evidence

Brian Ferguson’s fascinating, detail-filled article on the Scottish National Museum’s new exhibition on the history of dissection in Edinburgh (Scotsman, 27 June) reminded me that in the 1920s my father used to keep his motorbike in the cellar where body-snatchers had previously secreted what they’d dug up the night before until doctors from the Infirmary could inspect and pay for them.

Access to Greyfriars Churchyard used to be gained through a window in a bordering tenement stair and the freshly buried bodies were smuggled across the road and through “The Hole in the Wa’” in Lindsay Place that led along Brown Square to the Friendly Society’s Meeting Hall and the room-and-kitchen houses whose rent helped to maintain it.

I have often wondered if the museum rescued the plaque on the wall inside the cellar of the adjacent Society Buildings before they demolished it to make way for their major extension some years ago.

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Jack Kellet, Innerleithen, Scottish Borders

Bully’s response

Am I the only one who read with incredulity Russia’s defence ministry’s response to Sunday's missile strike in Kyiv? According to them, it could be due to a failure of Ukraine’s air defence system. In other words, it’s the Ukrainians’ fault that a residential building was hit. That’s akin to a bully saying to the child he’s just thumped, “You should have thumped me first, and run away”.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has declared that Russia is no longer under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights. Is that something to be proud of? The UN suspended Russia from its seat on the Human Rights Council on April 7 this year, due to the alleged civilian murders committed by Russian troops in Ukraine.

We’re now living in the 21st century. Technology is bringing changes to our lives every day, including faster and easier communication. What it can’t do is change the human propensity for aggression against our own species, as well as our capacity for destroying our planet as we blunder along. I’m ashamed to be human.

Carolyn Taylor, Broughty Ferry, Dundee

Legitimate protest

When people decide to access public or private health facilities they should expect a number of basic standards. They include timeous and polite reception, the highest quality professional advice and care, and a guarantee, so far as is possible, of confidentiality and privacy.

These principles should be applied in the distasteful controversy over buffer zones outside NHS reproductive facilities (Scotsman, 28 June).

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It needs to be stated clearly that the case against abortion or units which provide advice and terminations should be made at health board headquarters, the Scottish Parliament or even council chambers throughout the land. There is something invasive, nasty and oppressive about protests, even from 150 metres away, at places where women are trying to get the individual treatment for which they and their families have paid through taxes.

As the legislation to prevent the worst abuse of the right to protest against abortion makes its way through Holyrood, I hope our MSPs will honour a simple point. Protests should not encourage indignity and embarrassment to users of health facilities at whatever location.

Although the parallel is not always appropriate, the law on picketing in industrial relations has provided a guide for over more than a century. It is that peaceful persuasion not to go to work should always take place at a workplace and not where someone resides. Peaceful persuasion on the question of abortion rights should never focus on the individual at or near a health facility. It needs to be conducted at the places where legislators make decisions. If we wish to avoid the hatred and tension that has developed in the United States over this matter, we need to be clear on that principle now.

Bob Taylor, Glenrothers, Fife

Religious right

After the horrendous Roe v Wade ruling in America, we welcome the Scottish Government’s plan to impose buffer zones around medical clinics to protect already stressed women trying to access legal health care.

All views on abortion are legitimate but there is no ignoring the strong religious motivation of the majority of those who would deny women’s rights in this way.

If you don’t believe in abortion then don’t have one. If you don’t believe in marriage equality then don’t marry a same sex partner. If you don’t believe in assisted dying you don’t need to choose it.

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Once again the religious compulsion to impose views on others raises its ugly head.

Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society

Buffer zones

Nicola Sturgeon has announced trial buffer zones around abortion clinics in Glasgow and Edinburgh to protect patients from anti-abortion protesters.

Will she consider similar buffer zones around chemical plants, power stations and strategic roads to protect them from eco-protesters?

Geoff Moore, Alness, Highland

Assisted dying

Liam McArthur MSP is reported to be calling for those with personal experience to share their stories in support of his Private Members Bill on assisted dying.

The assisted dying campaign was launched a year ago and Liam McArthur has reported a record response to the public consultation, to which I responded along with many others who do not support the Bill.

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This appeal for “horror stories” is most insensitive and unhelpful in the debate. For each of these individual stories, I and many others with years of experience in nursing and palliative care could relate hundreds of stories that demonstrate the value of effective palliative care to allow dignity in death without resorting to killing.

I believe this Bill is unnecessary on ethical, moral, spiritual, professional, and personal grounds and will lead us on the slippery slope to euthanasia in the way of Canada, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

If more resources, training, and financial help were made available to support palliative care there would be no need for assisted suicide – just assisted dying with compassionate care for all those facing death.

Maybe I could urge all those who are grateful for the peaceful death of a loved one to add their stories to the desperately sad ones which Liam McArthur only wants to hear.

Pamala McDougall, Inverkeilor, Angus

Voting rights

I am sure Rod Giddins (Letters, 28 June) will be made most welcome in a progressive economically successful independent Scotland but as he is not on the voters roll in Scotland there is no reason why he should have a vote on independence.

EU citizens living in the UK were not allowed a vote on the EU referendum, which was merely advisory, but was supported by Labour and the Lib Dems as the UK government of the day had a mandate to implement their election manifesto. Now these parties are in bed with the Tories as democracy deniers so far as Scotland is concerned.

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As well as limiting the referendum vote to those on the electoral roll in Scotland, the same criteria should apply to the funding of the respective Yes/No campaigns as Brexit showed that dark money can be funnelled through third-party organisations and so-called think tanks funded from outside Scotland, or the UK in the case of Brexit.

As in 2014, the pro-self government campaign already faces an overwhelmingly hostile media controlled from London so the least we can do is to restrict campaign funding to identifiable individuals living in Scotland.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh

Holmes truth

I am delighted that Kelly Holmes, a fantastic athlete and medal winner and by all reports a fine person, has found peace of mind by coming out and revealing her sexuality.

There are very few these days who would have any problem with her declaration, in military or civilian life, in fact I would venture that the vast majority would find it all less than overwhelming news. Does anyone really care?

However, surely true equality will be here when people in Dame Kelly’s situation do not find it necessary to tell anyone what their sexuality is.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

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