ANENT the recent action by residents of Pollokshields, Robin Johnston (Letters, May 20) argues that unjust laws “can be challenged in court and changed by Parliament”. Our world would be a much poorer place if that was the only avenue for change.

Mohandas Gandhi, the Mahatma, was a great breaker of laws. In 1906, the British rulers of South Africa required Indians and Chinese to register, be fingerprinted, and carry a pass at all times. Gandhi developed satyagraha: peaceful resistance. He was arrested, but continued to campaign against the unjust laws, breaking the law again by burning his registration certificate. Then in 1930, in India, Gandhi embarked on his Salt March to protest against the British monopoly and heavy tax on salt. On reaching the coast of Gujarat, Gandhi collected a few tiny grains of salt on the sea-shore, thus breaking the law.

In 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks was tired after a long day at work and sat on a seat near the front of the bus, rather than stand at the back with those others of her skin colour. She was breaking the law, as her seat was for white people only; does Mr Johnston think she was wrong to do so?

And of course there was theft of the British East India Company’s tea in Boston harbour in 1773. That didn’t end well for the British Empire. Sometimes it’s right to protest against the enforcement of laws, as David Gray argued (Letters, May 19).

Mr Johnston suggests the two men seized by UK Border Force were Sikh. I remind him that thousands of Sikhs gave their lives for the British Empire in two world wars. After the first, in Amritsar in 1919, British Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer marched his men into Jallianwala Bagh, near the Sikh Golden Temple, and opened fire on a crowd of men, women and children peacefully celebrating Baisakhi, killing around 400 and injuring another 1,000.

And after the Sikh and Indian sacrifices of the Second World War, Mountbatten and his fellow rulers of the British Raj drew a ragged line on the map splitting Punjab in two, then scurried out of India leaving carnage behind. More than 10million people were displaced; most estimates of the death toll from partition are of over a million, many of them Sikh. Just as we owe a debt to the Windrush generation, so too do we owe a debt to Sikhs.

Doug Maughan, Dunblane.


SOME recent letters regarding mains electrical power provision reveal, in my opinion, partisan attachments for or against certain power generation methods. Why, I do not know, for this a practical matter which depends on established facts, the most important of which is that wind turbines are used in large numbers in many countries.

Wind energy which cannot be used due to lack of demand, can be stored by pumped storage; hydrogen generation by electrolysis; as "heat" stored in the "cold" source of heat pumps, and batteries.

Pumped storage is a proven technology which has been in use in the UK for decades (for example, Cruachan and Dinorwig). Hydrogen generation on a large scale presents no special difficulties. Hydrogen has two main uses – to augment the natural gas system we already have and as fuel for internal combustion engines. Will a large investment in new technology be needed? Yes, but let us recall that a large investment was needed to produce our current system. It is very big and expensive, but essential to the society we have.

Some argue that continuing to burn hydrocarbons is acceptable if the CO2 produced is stored under the seabed. This is possible but a risk of the stored CO2 leaking back into the environment exists. It is difficult to tell at present if this will rule it out.

If governments ban the release of CO2 into the atmosphere, developments in the areas described above will occur. A careful costing and risk assessment for all systems will be needed.

John Fleming, Glasgow.


AUGUST naturalist and national treasure Sir David Attenborough has been named the "people’s advocate" for COP26 in Glasgow. A better title would be the "anti-people advocate" since his documentary narration condemns humanity as "a plague on the Earth". He argues we have despoiled our planet, much as a virus flourishes by destroying its host.

Well, that’s all very “woke” but the fact is industrial progress has lifted billions out of poverty. It has cured diseases, increased food supplies, produced clean water and centralised power plants with anti-pollution technology. Climate-related deaths have declined by 98 per cent in a century because of our ability to build climate-resilient infrastructure.

Green misanthropes see nature as a finite pie. The more some use it, the less there is for others so we must stop producing, stop transforming nature, minimise our impact and leave nature to take care of us. But hanging about “harmonising with nature” will lead to short, unpleasant, disease-ridden lives where we sit in caves getting by on a diet of lentils.

Dr John Cameron, St Andrews.


THOSE better qualified than myself will advance the pros and cons of the not proven verdict (Letters, May 21).

I simply suggest that returning to two verdicts, not guilty and guilty, would remove the suspicion which sometimes gives credence to “Does that mean I can keep the stuff” from the accused, and “You are free to leave the court, but don’t do it again”, from the judge.

R Russell Smith, Largs.