As a nation, Scotland benefited disproportionately from this cruel trade, which played a major part in financing and powering the Industrial Revolution.
Scots owned more slaves, more plantations and had a higher share of the transatlantic trade in plantation goods such as tobacco and sugar than England or most other European countries. In 1796, Scots owned nearly 30 per cent of the estates in Jamaica and by 1817, a staggering 32 per cent of the slaves.
The rapid rise of Glasgow into an industrial city was produced off the back of slave labour and the commodities it produced such as tobacco, sugar and cotton. Edinburgh’s glorious New Town, seen by many as the physical embodiment of the Scottish Enlightenment, was, sadly, partly funded by the enormous profits derived from the enslavement of Africans.
Links to the vile trade in human flesh are evident all across Scotland with statues, schools and streets named after those who profited through misery and servitude.
One hopes that the National Trust will reflect these links to the slave trade at its sites, but what is also vitally required is greater education on our nation's role in the slave trade.
Alex Orr, Edinburgh
I share totally Martin Dempster’s outrage (Scotsman, December 21) at the awarding of the Sports Personality of The Year team and coach awards to the England men’s football team and Gareth Southgate – my reaction on the night was very similar to his!
Unlike all the other nominees, they have won absolutely nothing to date and how the so-called “expert panel” could possibly have chosen them for the awards is completely baffling.
I must stress that this is in no way an anti-English rant, as I have nothing against their football team and in fact have a lot of time for Gareth Southgate, who comes across as a very professional coach and thoroughly decent person, but in comparison to all the other nominees, they have achieved nothing of note.
Like Mr Dempster, I feel the Solheim Cup-winning team would have been totally deserving of the team award, although I’d have happily accepted any of the other teams as worthy winners. As for the coach of the year, I don’t think anyone could have objected to this trophy going to the Chelsea Women’s FC coach, Emma Hayes, given the team’s winning of the “treble”.
I don’t suppose we’ll ever hear who was on the “expert panel”, but their decisions here were utter nonsense.
David Gardiner, Kiltarlity, Highland
Death ends life
It seems that Murdo Fraser encourages us to believe in "life after death” (a contradiction in terms), if only because some prominent figures in history did so (Scotsman, 22 December). But, as the Chinese say: “If a thousand people believe a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.” Indeed, if billions believe that Jesus will save them from death, that does not make in true.
On what evidence is this belief based? The gospel story where Jesus' body went missing? There is a simple explanation. Jesus was not seen again, not even by the disciples who mistook an elderly shepherd for their master by a lake in Galilee (John 21).
On what other evidence? Do dead bodies come back to life? Has anyone come back from the dead to tell us of their experience?Mr Fraser asks us to reflect on death and what it means. It means the end. How can one live without a body? Common sense and experience tells us that after death there is nothing more. As the Old Testament put it: "For the living know that they shall die, but the dead know not anything, neither have they any reward for the memory of them is forgotten” (Eccles 9:5).
Steuart Campbell, Edinburgh
Boris should go
It is very difficult keeping track of Covid, but seemingly even more difficult to keep track of the money being thrown around. It is almost impossible to know who is paying for what, or if the monumental sums involved are being directed to where they should be.
The Scottish Government has found another £200 million to help businesses (Scotsman, December 22), but what was the source of that, and why has it not become available before now? The important detail is that no-one seems to know, and it is this that is the problem.
It is clear that there is no accountability in this process at all. The person best placed to ensure financial transparency across the UK is Prime Minister Boris Johnston, but if he can’t even see the need to comb his own hair in the morning, how is he going to see the need to do something more fundamental like this?
Boris himself has now become the story, at the very time we should be concentrating on the issues involved. If he can’t hit the ground running in 2022, it is time for him to go. The whole strength of the United Kingdom is being negated by the inability of this one man to oversee the most basic functions of a competent government.
Victor Clements, Aberfeldy, Perth and Kinross
I cannot believe we are going through another lockdown – stealthily of course. I do recall party pooper Niciola Sturgeon telling us as we got the vaccine that this was how we would beat Covid so I have tripped along for my booster too.
But we were conned because we are back facing my self-employed taxi driving husband struggling to find customers in town at what should be his busiest time of the year. And I warn Ms Sturgeon: close the hairdressers and there will be revolution in the capital… well, at least on my street.
Gillian Cornelius, Edinburgh
Well, so much for being a football fan and following every Covid protocol. So much for getting every vaccination available and assiduously following the rules, including the vaccine passport, which I was asked to produce several times while attending games in recent weeks. All that is out the window.
When it comes down to it, fans are the sacrificial lambs, in effect banned from a source of great pleasure. What grinds most of all is the inconsistency and mixed messages coming from those in charge of running Scotland at present.
Alexander McKay, Edinburgh
Write to The Scotsman
We welcome your thoughts. Write to [email protected] including name, address and phone number – we won't print full details. Keep letters under 300 words, with no attachments, and avoid 'Letters to the Editor/Readers’ Letters' or similar in your subject line. If referring to an article, include date, page number and heading.
A message from the Editor
Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers. If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription. Click on this link for more information.