Readers' letters: We should be thankful that it’s a MAD world

Brian Quail’s claims (Letters, 2 December) that the Supreme Court denied the “democratic will of the people”; the very people who emphatically expressed their democratic will on independence a bare eight years ago. This was a “once in a generation” referendum as the SNP’s White Paper stated quite clearly! So be it.

However, Mr Quail goes on to describe our country as a “rogue state”, which is “manifestly criminal” for owning our nuclear deterrent! Well, whoopee for that, I say.

Let me remind him that the Ukraine was a major nuclear power which gave up its nuclear arsenal when given security guarantees by Russia, the USA and the UK under the Budapest Memorandum of 1994. Now, the army of Russia, its nuclear-armed neighbour, occupies a substantial proportion of its territory and have killed many thousands of their people and destroyed billions of pounds’ worth of infrastructure. This demonstrates what happens to nations that give up their nuclear deterrent.

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Has Mr Quail been blissfully unaware of Russia's attempts to blackmail us with their nuclear weapons? The only thing preventing them using theirs are ours. This is called “MAD” (Mutually Assured Destruction), meaning that if we get fried by their bombs, they get fried by ours. We know that they know that we know that they don't want that.

Vanguard-class submarine HMS Vigilant, one of the four UK subs armed with Trident nuclear missiles, at HM Naval Base Clyde

Mr Quail is clearly the sort of man who would have given that nice Mr Hitler everything he wanted in 1938. Perhaps he should consider where that would have left us.

Andrew HN Gray, Edinburgh

Faith and religion

Doug Clark's claim (Letters, 3 December) that “the idea that morality flows from religion has received a major set-back in the public perception in recent years with the well-documented incidence of paedophilia among the clergy” conflates the notions of faith and religion and draws a questionable conclusion about religious institutions on the basis of the criminal activities of some of their members.

It is faith through the operations of our moral sense that provides the basis of the moral judgement of religious people. The operation of our moral sense provides the principle on which David Hume built his theory of morality. Hume went on to analyse the role of religion as a social cohesive force which was reinforced by the operations of our moral sense. Hume was notoriously ambiguous about his own approach to religion; with some commentators claiming he was an atheist. What he was not ambiguous about was the role religion played in society.

It is this role that has been recognised in religious educational establishments. We can all agree that, as that role diminishes, the status of such establishments should be reviewed. The review should, however, take into account the difference between faith and religion and separate the criminal behaviour of those claiming to be religious from the institutions which these criminals have joined.

Dr Francis Roberts, Edinburgh

Old Testament

Steuart Campbell asserts that the Old Testament has no relevance “to modern secular society” (Letters, 3 December).

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I would point out that Jesus’ priority on his resurrection day was to draw attention to these same texts. And throughout his brief Earthly ministry he constantly quoted from the Old Testament. Clearly Jesus did not share Steuart’s view. I prefer Jesus’ teaching to Steuart’s!

As to whether Jesus really exists, there are plenty books by learned writers setting out current thinking. I read what Steuart regards as superstitious every day and marvel at the Bible’s relevance to modern life .

Iain Gill, Edinburgh

Far from boring

Normally, letters from Scottish Independence apologists can be easily be ignored. However, the latest contribution from Fraser Grant (3 December) is so anti-English that a response is needed.

For centuries, generations of Scots have been proud to share the UK’s national anthem God Save the King without denigrating it as “boring” and it is only in recent years that some Scots, before sporting events, have preferred to sing another song which is either a dirge such as Flowers of Scotland or bloodthirsty like Scots Wha Hae, but it seems arrogant for Fraser Grant to demand that England must follow suit and find a replacement anthem.

To describe the current English football team as “boring” would seem to be just a case of sour grapes. If Scotland had managed to qualify for the last 16 of the World Cup, scoring nine goals, we would never have heard the end of it!

When one remembers the thousands of Scots who lined the streets to pay respect to the late Queen, it seems doubtful whether “the British monarchy is only supported by a minority in Scotland” as Mr Grant and his ilk would like us to believe. Even if the monarchy could benefit from some modernisation, it seems to me considerably less odious than a banana republic presided over by a retired politician such as Nicola Sturgeon.

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Sall y Gordon-Walker, Edinburgh

Risk management

When two passenger aircraft collided on the runway at Tenerife, killing 583 holidaymakers all those years ago, we did not all stop flying as being too dangerous. There have been other fatal aircraft accidents since, and flying clearly has risks, but we accept these and continue to use aeroplanes.

Nuclear power also has risks, but its benefits as an energy provider vastly exceed those of harnessing the variable weather. Common sense says we can accept a remote risk, but it seems that green obsessions have no common sense.

Malcolm Parkin, Kinnesswood, Perth & Kinross

Private practice

I expected that mentioning Enoch Powell's views about the NHS would generate a response. A correct prediction (Mark Boyle, Letters, 3 December)!

But it wasn't drivel to describe Powell’s three years and three months tenure as Health Minister as one of the longest; five of his seven predecessors served on average 15 months. I also had in mind successors like Andrew Lansley (22 months), infamous for his disastrous “reforms”; John Moore (13 months) described by Edwina Currie as “useless”; John Reid (23 months) who said “Oh f*** not health” when appointed to succeed the PFI enthusiast Alan Milburn; Kenneth Clarke (28 months), well remembered for his utterance “Why is it every time that I mention the word reform, GPs reach nervously for their wallets?”; and Theresa Coffey (seven weeks).

It is wrong to say that I disingenuously attempted to paint Powell as an advocate for a two-tier NHS. When he was Minister of Health, healthcare outside the NHS was low volume. He predicted that substantial growth would only follow big increases in NHS charges or big reductions in NHS funding, and that in his view both were politically improbable.

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But since his time ever-increasing healthcare costs due to medical advances and an ageing population are driving NHS deficits, leading to long waiting lists which are encouraging the growth of a two-tier healthcare system. It is not GPs who are reaching for their wallets, but patients who can afford private medicine.

Hugh Pennington, Aberdeen

Union demands

When union leaders and members are interviewed by the media, I am surprised they are never challenged where their “wages” came from during the Covid lockdown. They came, of course, from the UK Government which had to create billions of pounds by printing “easy” money and borrowing. In effect, there is not a lot of spare money lying around.

Consequently, the unions will probably have to moderate their demands by a few percentage points. There are signs that this is now recognised by a few unions. The general public, who are normally the pawns in this type of dispute, will certainly hope so.

Gordon Cochrane, Dunblane, Stirling

Pharaohs’ curse

Out of the blue, Alison Thewliss has thrown her hat into the ring for leadership of the SNP group at Holyrood.

This would appear to be at the behest of Nicola Sturgeon who can definitely see a Stephen Flynn leadership as a challenge to her authority.

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Given last month’s SNP rebellion over the highly controversial proposed gender reforms this adds up to a serious matter, especially as Ms Sturgeon's highly controversial co-operation with the Greens is not very popular either.

Ms Sturgeon's Supreme Court stunt has backfired and it is now only a matter of time until her leadership comes under severe pressure. Independence has been legally neutered under Ms Sturgeon’s watch. Where does the SNP go from here, given that its domestic policies are not working either? Fifteen years in continuing power is never a good thing in British politics. It is like the curse of the Pharaohs. Real or not, it happens.

Gerald Edwards, Glasgow

Animal tragic

The Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home is lobbying both the Scottish and UK governments for assistance for the animal charity sector since their energy bills and food bills are rising (Scotsman, 2 December).

Too many owners bought a pet during the Covid lockdown without investigating the feeding costs, animal insurance and that vet bills would be crippling. The governments must not give any taxpayers’ money to the animal sector since there are far more humans who need help at this time.

Crisis, a leading homeless charity said that a growing number of people in Scotland are being forced to sleep in their cars and an increasing number of families in need of food and clothing for children (Scotsman,1 December).

If there had been yearly licences for every cat and dog there could have been a fund available for owners in distress and fewer animals per household.

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Clark Cross,, Linlithgow, West Lothian

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