IN November 2018 audience figures rocketed for the Channel 5 documentary Warship Life At Sea as the Type 45 Daring Class Destroyer HMS Duncan was buzzed by Russian SU24 fighters. It did not harm RN recruitment either. Displaying our global reach, the Commodore checked with London whether the warship could open fire and threaten World War Three. The suspension of disbelief mirrored any James Bond film.

The destroyer is the most sophisticated air platform at sea. Her 48 Sea Viper missiles would have easily destroyed the Russian jets. A greater risk was that the jets flew close to the destroyer's high-powered radar system, which could scramble the planes electronics, forcing them to crash.The Russians regard the Black Sea as their lake, they maintain a huge fleet there, and have also buzzed US, Dutch and Belgian warships. Since then, sister ships HMS Dragon and now HMS Defender have had similar encounters.

Similarly, in May, the UK sent River Class patrol ships HMS Severn and HMS Trent to Jersey during the post-Brexit fishermen's dispute. In the mid 19th century Lord Palmerston would send a gunboat to settle disputes but the UK Government is well aware that there is an English demographic this still appeals to. Some members of the BBC Audience on Question Time approved of this and were all for "warning shots being fired". It was no coincidence this scenario was played out during the Hartlepool by election and those interviewed in the street, clearly, approved.

There is a growing fear that the HMS Defender incident ("How do we deal with challenges posed by Putin?", June 27)was effectively a dress rehearsal for the HMS Queen Elizabeth carrier group, of which she is an integral part, arriving in disputed Chinese waters at the very time when China is talking of taking Taiwan back. (This has been their avowed foreign policy since the days of Deng in the 1980s). Since Xi came to power, Taiwan has endured daily incursions into their airspace by the Chinese air force, while the Hong Kong experience suggests "The One Country Two Systems Policy" can no longer be trusted.

Many in defence circles are, frankly, holding their breath as there is no saying how China may react. (It is the first time that the UK is sending a battle fleet to Asia since the Korean War in the 1950s). The Royal Navy says these are simply joint military exercises with Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand; though does not deny the exercises with the US, India and Japan which would follow.They have significant Asian interests.We do not.We must not be dragged into President Biden's policy of containing China; not even for publicity photos in the English press.

John V Lloyd, Inverkeithing.


IAIN Macwhirter's article ("Nicola Sturgeon needs Ulster’s Unionists to win EU sausage war", June 27) was both shallow and disappointing; he appears to think international trade patterns are somehow immutable.

I would point Mr Macwhirter to The Law and Economics of Scottish Independence, a publication by Drs Richard Scott and Geoffrey Chapman. It is an excellent and encouraging read all the way through, while Part 3 is a case study of the Czech and Slovak economies post secession. After the split, both went from the sluggish and declining Czechoslovak economy, to increased GDP per capita, increased trade and increased trade partners. Both countries hugely increased trade with the EU, even when trade costs appeared higher.

If you think this is fanciful, look at Northern Ireland and the present “sausage war”. Local Northern Irish meat producers are keen to replace UK imports of “sausages” (and other restricted produce). Trade from Northern Ireland to the Irish Republic is up by 62% (while UK exports to Ireland declined by 20%), and thus verifies to some extent, the research mentioned above. Scotland will be somewhat different, but given the nature of our economy, the authors are very positive about Scotland’s potential as an independent country.

Trade tends to follow the path of least resistance, and while England enjoys a substantial trade surplus with Scotland at present, they would jeopardise this by the imposition of a “hard border”. Cutting off your nose…

GR Weir, Ochiltree.

* IAIN Macwhirter forgets that Theresa May opposed a border in the Irish Sea but Boris Johnson wanted this and negotiated the Northern Ireland Protocol himself. The border in the Irish Sea is not a hard border anyway. Nor is any evidence provided for his view that somehow messing with the Northern Ireland Protocol is crucial to the SNP or to any other party supporting Scottish independence. It is Mr Johnson who has difficulty adhering to international laws like the Good Friday Agreement and even ones he agreed and signed.

Scotland did not vote for Brexit at all as it knew the damage it would inflict on the UK and Scottish economy, not only on goods going to Northern Ireland. The damage and chaos we now see was predicted with EU regulations always known. Scotland is better off closer to the EU, like for example Norway with the benefits of trade and an arrangement which would also not necessitate any hard border with England like Norway and Sweden. The economist Yanis Varoufakis has said the EU is likely to facilitate an arrangement with an independent Scotland without delay, as well.

As the Australian trade deal in no way mitigates for the damage being done by Brexit to the UK and Scotland and also undermines and undercuts UK farmers and benefits Australia, I am not sure why it is being promoted.The details are not even fully known even to MPs. Shortages into the future are also not off the cards either with the crucial haulage industry running short of workers because of Brexit.

Pol Yates, Edinburgh.


MATT Hancock's belated resignation has highlighted the moral vacuum at the heart of the Westminster Government.

It may look as though Mr Hancock did the honourable thing by resigning. However, the long delay (24 hours is a long time in politics these days) between his exposure in the media and his departure from office reflects a lack of conscience when it comes to his unwillingness to accept responsibility for his error until he felt pushed to resign by the pressure brought on him by his backbench colleagues.

From all accounts, the PM wanted him to stay on when he should have expelled him from his position for breaking the rules Mr Hancock had devised for the general public. The PM has previous in that respect in his failure to remove ministers who have stretched the ministerial code to breaking point.

The public humiliation for Mr Hancock's hypocrisy is the end result of his venomous attack on Dr Neil Ferguson for his failure to observe Covid rules. There was no way he could cling on to his position because of his own blatant breach of regulations he had brought into law to ensure the general public obeyed them.

Further evidence of the moral vacuum presided over by Boris Johnson came in the PM's acceptance of Mr Hancock's resignation in a letter he wrote warmly praising his departing Health Secretary. That letter made it sound as though the door would be open for Mr Hancock's return in some ministerial capacity once all the media fuss had died down.

Sadly this episode has pointed up that the PM represents an amoral outlook where the end justifies the means.

Compounding that perspective are his devoted acolytes, Robert Buckland, Grant Shapps and Robert Jenrick, who are trotted out to defend the indefensible and expect the public to swallow their sophistry.

There is yet more to come to expose the shallowness of this administration, led by a man whose conduct, both public and private, shows that he will stoop to any level to get his own way.

Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.


TOM Eden quotes Housing and Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison as saying: “The actions taken by the Scottish Government, local authorities, housing associations and private landlords have been essential to avoiding evictions” ("Evictions ‘last resort’ after ban lifted, say housing groups", June 27).

This is untrue because according to Homeless Action Scotland there are more than7,000 outstanding Notice of Proceedings for the Recovery of Possession of Tenants Homes by councils, housing associations and housing co-ops in 2021 alone which means they will lose their homes since all of Scotland is now in levels 0,1 or 2 and not protected from eviction.

The new terminology to justify this mass exodus of tenants and their families onto the streets of Scotland is "deliberate avoidance of paying rent, a repeated history of not paying rent and not contacting their landlord". Very few tenants engage in the above as these categories have been invented to give a Victorian notion of the deserving and undeserving tenant to justify draconian measures.

To drive poor tenants and their families on to the streets increases their risk of catching the Delta variant of Covid-19, ignores public health policy and is completely inhumane and uncivilised.

Sean Clerkin, Campaign Coordinator, Scottish Tenants Organisation, Barrhead.


I AGREE with Bjorn Lomborg that action on climate change appears to be futile ("Are climate change activists undermining democracy?”, June 27). The UN has told us that CO2 emissions last year were down by just seven per cent due to Covid restrictions. Climate alarmists want emissions to be zero.

Road traffic is significantly down as is tourism, flights are all but grounded, many work places are shut and tens of millions of people have lost their jobs globally.

Can a climate alarmist tell us what other sacrifices we need to make to achieve the other 93% emissions reduction?

Geoff Moore, Alness.