Readers' letters: Winston Churchill’s ‘love’ of Scotland is overstated

Alastair Stewart tries hard to convince of Churchill's great empathy with and love for Scotland (Scotsman, 1st October).

He neglects to mention, however, that Churchill in command of a Scottish battalion on the Western Front lasted barely four months. In that time Churchill was a brave, if also extrovert CO, but it was a mere interlude in his political career.

Mr Stewart mentions his Adjutant, the lawyer and notable nationalist Andrew Dewar Gibb. He was also the author in 1930 of a book, Scotland in Eclipse, which contained passages of vile racism about Scotland’s Irish community.

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As to Churchill's Dundee seat in Parliament, it became his only in 1908 after he had lost his English seat in a by-election which back then was required when a sitting member accepted ministerial office. Churchill had little love for his constituents and spent as little time with them as possible.

Winston Churchill's attitude to Scotland remains a subject for debate

Before 1914 he flirted with "Home Rule All Round”, which would have included Scotland had it ever come to pass. In his History of theEnglish Speaking Peoples Scotland barely figures, though in its third volume the 1707 Treaty of Union is accorded one trite and simplistic paragraph.

Yes, it’s true that Churchill never sent tanks and troops into Glasgow’s George Square in January 1919 but does it matter that he liked cruising off the Western Isles in an Admiralty yacht or nearly bought an estate in Scotland?

I have an interest to declare here. Twenty years ago a study by me of Churchill was published. If anybody still wants to read it they will find that while it was critical of Churchill in some respects it was in no way a demolition job and recognised his huge role as a national leader in World War II.

Ian S Wood, Edinburgh

Kicking the can

I couldn’t agree more with George Rennie (Letters, 3 October) regarding the convoluted system which the Scottish Government wishes to introduce with regard to bottle and can recycling.

I would have thought that their advisors would have looked no further than the German and Norwegian methods – after all there seems to be a desire to rejoin the EU. In Germany, recyclable containers are barcoded and (like the old-fashioned glass bottles in Scotland) attract a refundable charge. Empty containers can simply be handed over to retailers and the amounts deducted from purchases, excluding alcohol, so as not to encourage excess drinking habits – another desire of the Scottish Government. In Norway, containers are deposited in a receptacle at the entry to supermarkets and a voucher is obtained to go against purchases.

Turning to EP Carruthers’ letter on the same day regarding putting a week’s shopping through self-service tills, I finds that Sainsbury’s provide a facility on my smartphone whereby I can scan purchases as I go along, then have my phone’s barcode scanned at the checkout, where a receipt is issued upon payment, thus saving precious time. If an octogenarian can manage this, it can’t be too difficult.

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J Lindsay Walls, Edinburgh

Take a bow

I am not quite sure why the First Minister felt it necessary to be in Dunfermline for the royal visit on Monday (Scotsman, October 4). It is not as if she does not have plenty she could be doing instead of even more grandstanding. Surely the Provost was representing the people of the new city and of Scotland.

Perhaps the pull to parade in front of several TV cameras is a temptation and compulsion just impossible for her to resist. However, her deep bow to the new King would have infuriated many on the pro-break up the UK side of politics in Scotland. Those of us on the other side, the pro-UK majority, will be delighted at the bonus of seeing further signs of deep fissure in the nationalist ranks.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

Letting us down

So there are anti-Nicola Sturgeon speeches at an (admittedly small) All Under One Banner pro-independence march in Edinburgh at the weekend. And then she's loudly booed by a pro-monarchy crowd in Dunfermline on Monday.

It’s looking like diverse sections of Scottish society feel obliged to express their anger at how badly Sturgeon and the SNP are letting down Scotland.

Martin Redfern, Melrose, Scottish Borders

Break the impasse

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Day after day, your correspondents and columnists of a unionist bent pour forth vitriol and negativity towards the Scottish Government, trashing both its members and its work. As the UK Government implodes, through a mixture of arrogance and stupidity, warring with itself over fundamental issues for which it seems to have no solutions, we are constantly being told to support it blindly, simply because it is there and has been for centuries. Monumental errors and blatant lies are ignored for the simple reason that we are better together. The colossal disaster of Brexit has cost the UK millions of pounds, and political credibility, and yet we are asked to see it through to an even worse end.

The Labour Party, slowly beginning to return to its senses, is cursed by its visceral hatred of the SNP. If only the party could see that so many of its policies and ideals coincide with those of the SNP, and that collaboration would be in both sides interests.

Those of us who are for more devolution, and for a better deal for Scotland, would dearly love to work with Labour for a better future, a future of decency and justice for everyone.

The huge appeal of independence is to get away from the sordid policies of the present government. The advance of the SNP was largely due to the squabbling of the UK Labour Party and the terrible policies of the Conservative UK Government. Its rise was mostly in opposition to a status quo which was seen to be detrimental to Scotland’s future. Independence is seen as the only way out of the impasse.

That is not the only solution. If Labour and the Lib Dems really want a better future together, screaming no and trashing the Scottish Government is not going to help.

When a government and a leader are elected by a few thousand Conservative members, when policies are implemented which are fundamentally different from those for which they were originally elected by the people, no serious voter in Scotland is going to support such a government in the vain hope that we are better together.

Start the dialogue now.

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Brian Bannatyne-Scott, Edinburgh

U-turns pledged

Nicola Sturgeon is right to label government U-turns as a sign of ineptitude.

However, I suspect she does not read her own party’s manifesto as, skimming through it, there are no end of promises that will never see the light of day.

I suppose, though, that these are technically not U-turns but merely the typical SNP pledge that quietly gets swept under the carpet.

If you doubt this then have a look at their manifesto, ticking off the promises that turned into reality. Yep, not that many. That’s what I call ineptitude.

Ken Currie, Edinburgh

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Electric alert

Christine Jardine claims in her column that the Tory, Labour, SNP and Lib Dem parties all face challenges to get the country back on an even keel (Scotsman, 3 October).

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Well the first task for all politicians at Holyrood is to point out to every Scottish householder that, for decades, electricity has always been over three times more expensive than gas.

In the pre-Covid era electricity cost 16p per unit whilst gas was 4p per unit and today the relevant figures are 35p per unit for electricity and 10.3p per unit for gas. Hence the current cap of £2,500 for a typical houshold using 15,000 units a year (currently split 20:80 between electricity and gas) increases to over £5,500 for the same number of units when the SNP proposal to phase out gas means every unit is priced at 35p.

That results in a continuation of the cost-of-living crisis where the impact of the Ukraine conflict impinging on gas prices is replaced by the impact of the high cost of renewable energy.

The first task of politicians at Holyrood is to persuade the 50 per cent of Scots who think otherwise that independence is irrelevant until we fix the climate, that the climate emergency really is real and that COP26 must take precedence over Indyref2 to ensure we save the planet from the wild fires and low river water levels experienced over the whole of Europe during the summer heatwave.

Ian Moir, Castle Douglas, Dumfries & Galloway

Hostel memories

The interview with Margo Paterson, chief Executive of Hostelling Scotland (Scotsman, 1 October), was of great interest, giving an insight into the modern concept of hostelling.

It is indeed a far cry from the Youth Hostels of my younger days, then run by the Scottish Youth Hostels Assocation, where for a small sum you could get a bed for the night, admittedly in a multi-bedded dormitory, and a share of the communal stove in the kitchen.

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My principal memories are staying the splendour of Carbisdale Castle for half a crown (twelve and a half pence) and a week in Lerwick without seeing the non-resident warden.

A good warden would organise musical evenings, or even dancing which would delight an international audience.

Before leaving in the morning it was essential to perform a task for the warden, for example sweeping floors, or helping to weed the garden. When these tasks had been performed to the warden’s satisfaction, you could collect your card, duly stamped by the warden, and leave.

How things have moved on!

Sandy Macpherson, Edinburgh

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