Scotland should be promoting a message of peace for Ukraine and Russia

Scotland should be promoting a message of peace for Ukraine and Russia

Updated: 27 days, 21 hours, 28 minutes, 52 seconds ago

IN a recent letter to my local newspaper (East Lothian Courier) on the subject of the war in Ukraine, the Reverend David Mumford wrote: “The Westminster Government show little interest in ending the conflict. Is there room for the Scottish Government to take an initiative?”

Scotland has a unique position as a country with a long and ancient history, but a country that currently only holds “devolved powers” from a remote government dominated by representatives of a much more populous country, while probably the majority of the Scottish population agree that the country should be able to determine its own constitutional destiny. Scotland has independently enjoyed cultural and trading relationships with the peoples of both Russia and Ukraine dating back centuries and while perhaps our common history is not appreciated by many in the UK, it is no doubt recognised by the leaders of Ukraine and Russia. Scotland at the moment is not currently a member of the European Union and if it joined Nato as an independent country, it would seek to do so without nuclear weapons in line with intentions to promote long-term world peace.

One possible route to ending hostilities that the Scottish Government could pursue would be to propose a ceasefire on the basis that a “devolution-style settlement” be negotiated that would allow the disputed “states” in the east of Ukraine to elect semi-autonomous government with a referendum to be held at an agreed future date (and perhaps the option of repeat referenda along the lines of what was agreed for Northern Ireland).

That settlement would not only recognise that the Kyiv Government would have ultimate governmental authority over these states in the meantime, but Russia would be required to make full reparations (perhaps in part via “free” gas supplies while Ukraine’s energy infrastructure is restored) for all the damage wreaked by Russia across Ukraine before any UN-recognised plebiscite could take place. Alleged war crimes would be a matter for the International Criminal Court to investigate and prosecute.

Widely respected SNP politicians such as Angus Robertson MSP, Alyn Smith MP or Stephen Gethins would seem well-equipped to undertake the role of Scotland’s “European Peace Ambassador” given their internationalist degree studies, European career/political roles and evident communication skillsets, especially as none of them is directly associated with a Westminster Government that Russia considers to be in “lock-step” with the United States.

Hopefully the leaders of the other UK political parties would astutely rise above differences on UK governance and endorse such an “appointment” by the First Minister as a tentative but positive step in the direction of restoring peace to the continent of Europe.

Stan Grodynski

Longniddry, East Lothian

At least Richard Walthew and I can agree (Letters, October 30) that the solution to many of Scotland’s problems is “independence and fast”.

The adjacent letter from Peter Thomson actually contains the basic reason for the current problems of the NHS, both north and south of the Border, when he states “the UK has never trained enough homegrown doctors, nurses, dentists, and medical technicians”. Perhaps this should have been more of a priority for the Scottish Parliament which has had responsibility for the Scottish NHS since 1999, including 15 years in SNP control. Surely it is now time to urgently address this situation.

The ferry fiasco, as it has come to be called, is not a red herring. It has and will continue to be a large, heavy stick with which to beat the current Scottish Government until the matter is resolved and probably well beyond that time. Now it seems that one of the ferries, when actually in service, will initially only operate on diesel despite being designed to also run with liquefied natural gas (LNG). Builder Ferguson Marine has just told MSPs yet another technical issue had delayed the LNG system by at least nine months.

On the adjacent letters page, Winifred McCartney sadly tries to justify the ferry situation, as others have done, by pointing to the vast cost overruns in the London underground and now the engineering failures of the two recently constructed aircraft carriers (not battleships, as she states). Perhaps she should have picked a better example as they were actually built in Scotland!

The overspend on the ferry contract does not “pale into insignificance”. The hundreds of millions of pounds which have disappeared into some very deep financial black hole could have been invested in – wait for it – the Scottish Health Service. I am sure the local Inverclyde hospital, situated not far from the troubled shipyard, could have made good use of some of the money.

We cannot go into a second referendum campaign on the basis that an independent Scotland will be just a wee bit less rubbish than the current situation. If, for example, we do not come up with a coherent, credible answer to the currency question, we may have a rerun of the 2014 referendum with a sadly similar result. If we are to ask the people of Scotland to take a leap of financial faith with us, then we need to inform and reassure them that their pensions, savings, earnings and the like will be safe – and in what currency they will be held.

Brian Lawson


The Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) needs urgently to tighten its rules on eligibility for charitable status with associated tax breaks.

That “the advancement of religion” is in itself currently enough to qualify has already led to OSCR giving the go-ahead to dangerous anti-gay and anti-vax conspiracy messages in the past.

Now Moray Coast Baptist Church, which registered as a charity in August, has been reported for publishing a sermon entitled “The Conduct of Christian Women”, which explains that housework is the “primary function” of women, that “Society would be a lot better if women would submit to their husbands and tend to their children” and insisting “I only want my wife to look sensual when she’s around me”.

In return for the support of the taxpayer, charities must provide a “public benefit”, not this masterclass in misogyny.

We are relieved that OSCR has confirmed the charity is “being examined”.

Neil Barber

Edinburgh Secular Society

Like many others, I too have had to give up hope of ever seeing independence in my lifetime. The list of those who have toiled so hard to bring it about stretches back a long way but we have now reached a point where it appears that the majority of our citizens may well agree that the time is nigh.

How then do we go about it when it has been made perfectly clear that those who decide such matters do not have the slightest intention of allowing it? As the “Abused Partner” in this so-called Union, we are hardly in a position to demand anything. It is not like asking for another bowl of gruel. Indeed, our Dickensian masters are too busy trying to reduce what’s in the first bowl.

Even if the Supreme Court agrees that Scotland has the right to hold a referendum, Westminster is under no obligation to accept the result as binding.

We are not going to be given anything. We are going to have to take it for ourselves. It therefore makes sense to consider the suggestion that the Scottish Government should call an election, if it is within their powers, that would act as a referendum.

All candidates would have to declare if they are for or against independence.

One big advantage would be that all aged over 16 would have a vote and all the people living in Scotland would have a say – which would not be the case in a General Election.

It would provide a definitive answer of the wishes of the people who live here that could not be refuted by anyone and, surely, accepted by all.

William Marshall


Presumably, it’s people living in Scotland, whether Scots or otherwise, who are placing their objections to others in Scotland who speak a different language or dialect to themselves.

Perhaps there are similar objections south of the Border to those in England who speak English but with a local dialect according to where they live, whether Yorkshire, Lancashire, east or west Midlands, Norfolk and all counties south of Oxfordshire.

I lived in the Black Country region of the West Midlands for a good many years and recognised lots of variations of speech associated with that region. For example, “yo cor dew that” as opposed to, “ thee cosnt dew that” (work it out).

Such accented dialects are much spoken, whether at work or in the pub, without a thought of being misunderstood by anyone else. It’s the way people were “brungup”.

So let’s not critise how people speak a language, whether Gaelic, Scots, Polish or any other localised language. Let’s learn to use some of the words and phrases of where we bide in this wonderful adopted country of ours.

Alan Magnus-Bennett


READ MORE: Celebration can take place without sectarianism

Xander Elliards’s report in The National on Friday (Labour panned for ‘shameful’ move in Edinburgh Council scrutiny row) threw open the door to public scrutiny of Labour’s so-called open government.

The first reaction of Scott Arthur, the Edinburgh Transport and Environment Committee convener, was to cut the video stream because he “was concerned about the reputation of the council”, presumably by the questions from the Greens.

Are we expected to believe that Scott Arthur being shown up in public as the Labour committee convener who had lost control of his committee never crossed his mind?

He owes Councillor Claire Miller a public apology and an even more abject apology to the public for censoring the video, due to his ignorance of the rules of the committee that he is expected to enforce.

John Jamieson

South Queensferry

I really enjoyed Professor Richard Murphy’s editorial (Scotland can’t risk being captured by right-wing financial elite, November 3).

I seek opinion on the best voting system for independent Scotland.

D’Hondt has driven me to drink. However, might it not be a reasonable choice? I believe that we need a consensual coalition government. Some fear that independence might lead to a far-left government. D’Hondt might reassure them.

John Henderson


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