NICOLA Sturgeon has said that the scenes in George Square over the weekend were "shameful" ("Police take action as hundreds bid to ‘protect’ George Square statues", The Herald, June 16). However, her predecessor and party opened the Pandora's Box of divisive identity politics in Scotland in the early years of the last decade and have never attempted to remedy the situation with demands for another independence referendum every year since 2014, with only a global pandemic stopping them temporarily.

Like all identity-based organisations, the SNP asked us all to make a messy binary choice. I’m sure most of us were relatively content and secure before this. Telling the majority of the population what to think and say while denigrating their history and achievements has not worked out as planned and stifled any potential conciliation.

The SNP has tried to erase parts of British identity and history in Scotland with a slow-burning and semi-planned vehemence. It continues to jump on any popular, virtue signalling, social-justice bandwagon where convenient and politically prudent while ignoring endemic human rights issues in genuine authoritarian regimes.

Such anger wasn't a feature on the Scottish political and cultural landscape a decade ago. What changed? Who’s in charge?

David Bone, Girvan.

JIM Sillars's absurd suggestion that the British state should pay reparations for the slave trade to ethnic minorities (Letters, June 15) displays ignorance of both historical facts and praxis.

Contrary to the myth, British slavery was not a uniquely "black" experience. Romanichal Gypsies along with other itinerants and "undesirables" were shipped from Henry VIII's time as slaves to the colonies, some sold to freed blacks in the West Indies. On slavery few historically have clean hands.

For two centuries, the Colliers and Salters (Scotland) Act 1775 made all miners de facto slaves of mine owners until released or death. More than 100,000 Britons from coastal areas were enslaved by the Barbary Corsairs over three centuries until the mid-19th – to say nothing of the three centuries of Scandinavian and Irish Viking slave raids.

In counterbalance, Britain remains the only world nation to establish a military force to destroy international slavery, the Royal Navy's West Africa Squadron, which over 67years freed over 150 000 black slaves.

The notion of black slavery reparations seems to me to be white middle-class virtue signalling at its worst.

Mark Boyle, Johnstone.

LIKE many people, I am sure, I have felt somewhat ambivalent at the sight of statues being toppled or public monuments being defaced as part of the anti-racist movement sweeping the world. While sharing the sentiments of those directly involved, I can’t help feeling that there has to be a better, less crude way of highlighting the vile past behaviour of some of our most prominent fellow countrymen. They should indeed be named and shamed but does removing a statue erected in their "honour" really achieve anything other than erasing them from the historical record in the most visible way?

As a retired teacher, I firmly believe that the educational process offers a much more fruitful and positive way ahead. Many schools recognise and honour the sacrifices of our young men – whilst highlighting the folly of war – by organising regular trips to the First World War battlefields and cemeteries. Similarly, the funded programme of annual visits to Auschwitz involving groups of secondary pupils has been an extremely powerful way of ensuring that one of the most horrific episodes in human history is never forgotten.

With respect to slavery, in the absence of a suitable "location" to visit, a different approach could be adopted. All of our major cities – particularly those that benefited the most from the slave trade – should have a permanent exhibition charting in full detail the history of the slave trade (I am aware that some, for example, Liverpool, already have). This would, ideally, be housed within an existing museum already benefiting from an established footfall. Pupils from all primary and secondary schools would be invited to visit on a structured, educational visit as part of a unit of work which would be a compulsory inclusion in the curriculum. In this way, all of our young people would benefit from a true and accurate account of this most nefarious period in our history. The phrase "lest we forget" applies equally well in this context.

Rob Kelly, Bearsden.

WITH the current national protests associated with the injustice of slavery and transportation of black slaves from West Africa to British colonies to harvest sugar in the plantations, it has been interesting to reflect on the Scottish connections.

What is little known, however, is the inclusion of Scots, as slaves, in this period of history.

In 1679 more than 300 Scots were being sent to the West Indies as slaves from Edinburgh. The small ship sank in a storm off Orkney. The men had no chance as they were allowed to drown, battened below in the hold.

Their crime was that they were Covenanters, unwilling to accept bishops in their Scottish Presbyterian faith, imposed by the established Episcopalian Church. Hunted down, they resorted to having church services in fields, particularly in the south of Scotland. Some were tied to stakes and allowed to drown slowly in the rising tide of the Solway Firth.

My interest is that my ancestors, John and James Kirk, were two of the slaves drowned

Perhaps we should accept that we cannot change history, just learn from it.

John Kirk Ewing, Ayr.

THE vandalising of Robert the Bruce's statue at Bannockburn on the bogus grounds that he was a racist is instructive as well as disgraceful.

The attack on Bruce's statue when he lived 700 years ago and almost certainly never even saw an African person shows that this has nothing to do with racism.

Instead, we have to look at the wider pattern. Statues of Churchill and Lincoln have been vandalised in London, and of Robert Dundas in Edinburgh. A bronze of Lord Baden-Powell is under guard in Poole. When even Queen Victoria's statue in Leeds has been attacked, it is clear that it is sufficient to be famous, dead and white.

The real objective of these attacks is to erase our cultural identity. If these acts were done by foreigners, they would be recognised as genocidal in intent.

We should concede nothing to the extremists using the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis as cover for attempted Maoist cultural revolution.

Otto Inglis, Crossgates, Fife.

OH that people would learn some history before pegging trivial debating points on wild mis-statements. Robert Bruce did not gain the Scottish crown by cold-blooded murder. His slaying of John Comyn, which is what I assume Duncan Sooman (Letters, June 45) has in mind, was recognised at the time as a killing committed in the heat of passion: a crime and a sin, of course, but a much lesser one than premeditated murder. Both church and secular laws in mediaeval times were perfectly clear about the moral and legal distinction. All recent historians concur in this interpretation of Bruce’s act.

Furthermore, far from gaining him the Scottish crown, the killing made his eventual success in this even more astonishing, since it plunged him into a full-scale civil war in Scotland on top of the ongoing war with England. The fact that this was an entirely predictable consequence of Comyn’s death is pretty conclusive proof that the killing was not premeditated.

Derrick McClure, Aberdeen AB24.

Read more: Letters: British state should pay reparations