Scotsman Letters: Conflict over age of maturity and responsibility

In Scotland we live in a strange polity where age is a movable feast. The SNP demanded that voting in the 2014 referendum be extended to 16-18 year olds, for the first time.
Different young people mature at different stages in  their livesDifferent young people mature at different stages in  their lives
Different young people mature at different stages in their lives

Soon after that, it tried to introduce its Named Person scheme, which was based on the principle that 16-18 year olds, like younger children, required for their guidance and safety the assigning to them of a named adult who would supervise their welfare – or, as we now call it, ‘wellbeing’.

So 16-17 year olds were mature enough to take a major political decision affecting other people, but not to conduct their own lives without adult supervision.

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The logic of these two conflicting decisions was never explained.

Now, more recently, we have had a law passed – but not given royal assent – that is based on the premise that 16-18 year olds are sufficiently mature to make the momentous and life-changing decision to change their legal gender (they cannot, of course, change their sex: that is not possible).

That has been followed by the imposing in a Scottish court of a non-custodial sentence on a youth who repeatedly raped a 13-year-old girl when he was 17, because under 25s are deemed not to be sufficiently mature to be criminally responsible in the way that over 25s are.

Yes, different youngsters mature at different stages in life. But that is not what these measures are based on. They, apparently randomly, choose 16 as the gateway in some cases but 18 in others.

It is high time that we had an authoritative and reasoned decision on the age of maturity and responsibility that is valid for all aspects of life and conduct.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh

Gollywog ‘outrage’

I find the proposal to destroy the 1930s mural in the hall of Wardie Primary School in Edinburgh featuring a Gollywog disturbing.

The late great Rabbie Burns once said “I have always despised the whining yelp of complaint and cowardly resolve.” This is very apt, considering the current “outrage” being perpetrated by the tiny but noisy minority who promote the current passing fad of “Black Lives Matter”.

To destroy this work of art, by, I believe, a local artist, would not only destroy an irreplaceable historical artefact of the city, but would also destroy forever Edinburgh’s claim to be the “City of Culture”.

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I cannot see why anyone, no matter what their race, could possibly find this image offensive, because, although the golliwog on a shelf may in itself be offensive to some people, it is quite obvious that Alice is pictured staring at it in some discomfiture, which means that this image has already been placed in its context by the original artist.

It is therefore not even necessary for the education authority to place a “context plaque” adjacent to the mural, as the artwork already shows the context, at least to anyone with a functioning brain.

As for destroying this mural, the education authority does so at its peril. Offence fads come and go, but art, once destroyed, is lost for ever. What next? Destroying Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s buildings because of the phallic symbolism of his towers and chimneys?

Ian McNicholas, Ebbw Vale

Political funding​

​With the apparently dramatic revelation to some in politics and the media of the importance of integrity and transparency in the funding of our political parties can we now expect full disclosure of membership numbers of all of the political parties represented in Scotland and their funding arrangements?

Will we now see a thorough police investigation of the alarming matters identified in the “Russia Report” on the influence of Russian money in UK politics?

When will quasi-political organisations such as Scotland in Union and Scottish Business UK reveal (or if necessary be compelled to reveal) significant funding sources so the public can see who is actually providing the funds for questionably “apolitical” organisations (presuming openness around any offshore accounts can be achieved)?

Will the BBC, which has prominently, and seemingly disproportionately, covered internal financing issues of the SNP at every turn, fulfil its stated function as a politically impartial public broadcaster in applying the same level of intense scrutiny to the funding arrangements of the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties?

When will investigative journalist Mark Daly be requested to conduct a “Disclosure” programme for the BBC that objectively investigates the truly “murky” funding around politics across the UK?

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry

Twilight of SNP?

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I think that "Götterdämmerung" is the best way of describing the desperate straits the SNP find themselves in. When the shine comes off, it sure comes off big-time, doesn't it?

I am reminded of the film Little Big Man, in which Custer, in the midst of the massacre of his men at the Battle of Little Big Horn, starts addressing the president of the United States while Native American tribesmen closed in for the kill.

Oblivious to the approaching calamity, Humza Yousaf makes comments and acts as if he was in control of events whilst all around him members of the SNP are burying the family silver, or, like Lot's wife, are turned into pillars of salt.

As if she had read the comments of many in the real world, Kate Forbes' lobby are demanding a second shot at the leadership, because the police investigation skewed the result of the leadership contest. Well, you can't accuse the lady of inconsistency! Lose a referendum? Demand a second go. Lose a leadership contest? Demand a second go.

To add spice, the SNP's auditors have resigned. Now, I don't know a lot about these things, but surely, a firm of auditors would not do that unless they felt that things weren't exactly the way they should be.

If Johnston-Carmichael have stepped back and the police are investigating, I think that Mr Yousaf is duty-bound to ask the King to dissolve the Scottish Parliament and call for a Scottish election. ​

Peter Hopkins, Edinburgh

Renewal of hope

​Elizabeth Scott’s Easter message (Letters, April 8) is one of despair at a time widely recognised for giving hope.

The Church of Scotland may be neutral on independence or “self-governance”, as Ms Scott puts it, but surely that is how it should be as to take sides would alienate it from around half the population when it has already lost relevance to the majority.

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That’s not as important, however, as separating the Church’s role of spiritual renewal to bring meaning to life, from the tribal polarisation of party politics at a time when parties fail to work together to solve the cost of living and health crises.

Scotland is now a secular country, with many putting the love of money and themselves before love for others and some would say the cause of independence should be pursued with the same determination as the religious zeal of our forefathers.

I would beg to differ, as religions across nations further faith through love and reconciliation as a path to a more fulfilling life now and beyond. Now is a time to think outwards, not inwards.

It feels that right now that we have lost trust in our political leaders as one after another falls from grace. When it comes to the Church, it’s not its leaders that need to save it, as Elizabeth Scott argues, it is people like herself by reaching out beyond their own membership and realise there are more important priorities than a self-governing Scotland. Never give up.

Neil Anderson, Edinburgh

Birth rate crisis

The Child Poverty in Action Group (CPAG) conducted a survey that showed that more than 80 per cent of families on child benefits struggled to pay utility bills last year (The Scotsman, April 6).

Now they want the government to reverse the two-child limit on social security benefits. This limit was implemented six years ago since people were having more children and the cost to the taxpayer was unsustainable. Why should taxpayers, many with no children, fund these people where large families are the norm?

In 1960 the world population was three billion, today it is 7.8 billion and by 2050 it will be 9.7 billion. In 1960 the UK had a population of 52.5 million, today 68.8 million and will be 77 million by 2050. Why do we never hear the climate apostles say that climate change is caused by too many people and that by curbing world birth rates there might be a chance of curbing climate change?

Clark Cross, Linlithgow

Deadly silence

Every day there is advice that motorists should change to electric cars, but whoever invented them have given no thought to blind people trying to cross the road.

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I have a sister who has macular degeneration and who is registered almost totally blind. She is also deaf and wears hearing aids, so she depends on hearing cars etc coming towards her with what hearing she has left.

With the electric cars being so quiet she cannot hear them at all and takes her life in her hands when out and about crossing roads.

I am a driver living in a rural area with cars being a necessity, not a luxury, who will never have one of those cars, not just because of the reasons given but being a pensioner living on my own I will never be able to afford to buy one.

I hope the inventors see this letter and think about “the silent motors”.

Rose Cameron, St Boswells

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