What's in a name?

When I was a child those essential public health employees, the men who pushed big tin barrows carrying a variety of brushes and shovels, were known to all as '˜scaffies'. Most councils, in order to dignify them, classed them as '˜street orderlies'. After a few years workers in one of the English cities said they were fed up with this being used as a term of abuse and went on strike demanding to be renamed '˜cleansing operatives'.

If our MSPs think that changing welfare terminology will begin a new culture of respect, they need to realise what a huge task they are undertaking. The term ‘benefits’ was carefully and cleverly chosen because people who are in employment can have benefits such as housing benefit and sickness benefit. They are thus treated equally as far as language is concerned with those on unemployment benefit and incapacity benefit, which were a quantum leap improvement on ‘the dole’ and ‘the sick’.

New kids in charge are always keen to advertise their fresh approach and it is true that ‘benefits’ is acquiring poor connotation. Replacing it for all payments by a single word, preferably one with almost no emotional loading such as perhaps ‘increment’, would keep the same equality of treatment. It would be well to remember the proverb “A rose by any other name...”

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William Aitken

Easter Warriston, Edinburgh

Radical request

A legal battle has been triggered over an Ofsted report on a school with an Islamic religious ethos whose leaders are accused of failing to keep pupils safe from extreme views (Your report, 2 August).

It would be interesting to know if Ofsted has ever had occasion to submit a similar report on any school with a Christian or Jewish religious ethos. It would be even more interesting to know if Ofsted has ever had occasion to submit a similar report on a school with no religious ethos – and if so, what were the extreme views?

Doug Clark

Muir Wood Grove, Currie, Edinburgh

Note acceptable

High-profile SNP MSP John Mason tweets he is avoiding a well-known Scottish travel agent for currency exchange because the owner is a No voter, naming the business. With over 6,000 Twitter followers, his remark is far from casual – it’s designed to influence behaviour.

Nicola Sturgeon maintains her party does not just represent those who back her separatist cause but all Scotland. Yet it would seem at least one senior member of the SNP establishment is actively seeking to damage a Scottish business not sharing SNP objectives.

Martin Redfern

Royal Circus, Edinburgh

Presumably, because SNP representatives are now no longer permitted to stray an inch away from the party line, courtesy of their diktat, are we to assume that Ms Sturgeon and the party hierarchy fully endorse Mr Mason’s condemnation of freedom of speech and his distaste for anyone’s democratic right to vote whichever way they choose without consequence or hindrance?

If not, one has to ask how long it will take her to demand that he make a public apology for attempting to damage a Scottish business. Did Ms Sturgeon not publicly say that she wished to govern for all of Scotland, regardless of which way they voted? Stronger for Scotland? I think not.

Mark Ward

Dalmellington Road, Crookston, Glasgow


I find it strange that the news that MPs support a call for a Scottish Six gets front page headlines (August 2) yet a media story of much greater concern has not even merited a mention in your pages.

Following a recent warning from the head of Nato that the Kremlin was ramping up its efforts to disseminate misinformation as a weapon of war, it was reported at the weekend that one of their news agencies – which has been accused of spreading conspiracy stories – had opened an office in Edinburgh.

An example of the sort of devious machinations the Russians get up to was seen following the referendum. Russian “observers” alleged irregularities in the way votes had been counted – a ruse which gave rise to an online petition signed up to by 100,000 people. The allegations were proved to be totally false.

All this is sinister stuff and surely worth bringing to the attention of your readers.

Colin Hamilton

Braid Hills Avenue, Edinburgh

You know it’s bad

I share EF Hamilton’s (2 August), and other earlier correspondents’, abhorrence of the misuse of words in our language.

For me, all of these misuses pale into insignificance beside the infuriating constant babbling of “you know” (in Tony Blair’s case, “ya know” uttered 66 times in a recent 45-minute speech). “You knows” are usually uttered roughly every third word, sometimes two on the trot. Listen to anyone speaking on television these days, and you will understand what I mean. “You know” is the new “er” or “um”.

DJ Hollingdale

Easter Park Drive, Edinburgh

Frisk and reward

In his attempt to have the anti-sectarian football law repealed (Your report, 2 August), MSP James Kelly states that he has spoken to fans who object to being “frisked” and even “filmed” going into grounds.

Whatever merits Mr Kelly’s proposals may have, let me assure him if he had ever seen the panic and close to stampede a misfired flare can cause in a tightly packed crowd, you would not object to frisking.

Maybe only a fatality would prove the point. Or if you had to suffer mindless abuse from ‘’fans’’ who think is perfectly OK to sing and chant religious, sexual, racist and other obscenities you would not dare chant outside a stadium, you would not be so quick to object to being filmed.

Only those guilty need be concerned; the average fan I am pretty sure takes it all in his or her stride.

Alexander McKay

New Cut Rigg, Edinburgh

Culture change

Working with volunteers from Rape Crisis Glasgow in the development of the Fringe production of Lynda Radley’s new play The Interference brought home some grim realities. These included the extent to which victims face accusations about their conduct and the reluctance of juries to “ruin” a perpetrator’s life.

Scotland’s rape conviction rates suggest that the system is twisted – justice is being denied. In 2014-15 the number of convictions for all crimes was 106,507 (with 14,000 custodial sentences), but despite 1,901 reports to the police just 125 were for rape.

The cast of The Interference are undergraduates aged 19-23. As the production has developed it has been striking to discover how prevalent sexual aggression has been in their lives already. California, where the students hail from, is confronting this by putting consent on the school curriculum, ensuring that young people are taught that only yes means yes.

In Scotland, there are initiatives to teach young people the importance of respect in all relationships, no matter how brief. But they are piecemeal, their reach is limited, and they often begin too late in life.

Consent education doesn’t necessarily have to be about sex and can begin at a very early age in the form of a discussion about body sovereignty and respecting others on the playground and elsewhere. Perhaps it is time to consider early and compulsory national measures so nothing is left to chance and no-one is left out.

Alex Fthenakis

Producer, Pepperdine Scotland

Relative waste

I would suggest to your correspondent Mary Thomas (2 August) that the majority of people who oppose the Named Person bill are ordinary parents and grandparents who are opposed to this flawed bill.

Most children have loving, caring parents who are very capable of bringing up their children without interference and are intelligent enough to ask for help if required.

Unfortunately and sadly there are families who do need help and surely common sense would suggest that the money available in this cash-strapped time should be concentrated on them and not wasted trying to extend it to families who do not require it.

Valerie Thomson

Address supplied

Give us a break

May I add my support to the letter (2 August) regarding the woeful service provided by CalMac Ferries to Islay. We travelled last Monday.

On arrival at Kennacraig we were advised that our return sailing had been cancelled due to technical difficulties, but there were alternative sailings at 9.45am and 3.30pm which we could use and to collect our tickets at Port Askaig on Islay.

On arrival, we were informed that these sailings were fully booked but we could try standby on Friday, although sailings that day were very busy. We opted to lose a day of our holiday and travel back on the 8.15pm on Wednesday.

The excellent B&B where we were staying had several cancellations and lost substantial revenue, and we met tourists from several countries who had had their plans disrupted.

An important point to emphasise is the staff of CalMac were courteous, but were in an impossible situation.

Robert Robertson

Old Farm Avenue, Edinburgh