PETER A Russell (Letters, October 10) complains about the behaviour of Yes supporters in the run-up to the 2014 independence referendum; perhaps he will also be aghast at the gentleman with the Better Together badge who yelled at me at a street stall and expressed the hope that I'd burn in hell.

Mr Russell may also be shocked to know that a lady wearing a Better Together badge screamed abuse at my daughter and followed her the length of Falkirk High Street as she pushed her pram, her toddler at her side, simply because she had politely told the lady that she was going to vote Yes.

I witnessed no threatening behaviour from anyone at any polling station I visited, but I was astonished when one Better Together polling agent confided in me that as a Labour Party member he'd felt obliged to toe the party line, but in the privacy of the polling booth, he'd voted Yes. At another polling station, another person representing Better Together was also clearly unhappy about the position in which he found himself; I'm told he resigned from the Labour Party a few weeks later.

Without doubt the upcoming independence referendum will be fought hard, and with passion and conviction; it must also be fought with tolerance and respect from both sides of the constitutional question.

Ruth Marr, Stirling.


PETER A Russell claims to be among “those who saved Scotland from ruin and who remain determined to stand up for rationality and common sense”. Should we take from this that anyone who supports independence is “irrational” and lacking in “common sense”?

Does Mr Russell claim the intellectual superiority to assume that he and his side simply have to be right? That around 50% of the electorate are “irrational”, lacking in “common sense” and need protecting from themselves?

This is no basis for debate, indeed with their claimed, assumed rationality and monopoly of common sense, what need is there for debate?

Such unwillingness to even hold a debate is becoming the unionist motif. Mr Russell miscalls the 2014 referendum as “mass hysteria and [a] national emotional spasm”, when the Electoral Commission described it as having engaged the electorate to such a degree that at 7am polling staff found voters “keen to express their preference on the referendum question”. The day itself they described as “good-natured throughout the day”.

Perhaps this gives some perspective to the description “feartie” (Letters, October 3 & 10), which hardly looms high in any list of insults. I can remember my own mother calling me a “big feartie” when, after dark, I was asked to go upstairs to collect something, but was unwilling to do so, afraid of the bogeyman who assuredly hid behind one of the doors. So, the use of “feartie”, the mildest of slights, is another opportunity to find fault with the Yes movement, confirming, as if confirmation were necessary, what the typical Yes supporter is like. Yet if we look at the evidence, after the referendum a Panelbase poll found that 11 per cent of those who had voted No had experienced online abuse, compared to 20% of those who had voted Yes.

But when you start from the presumption not only that you are right, but must be right, evidence must be carefully selected, or avoided altogether.

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.


MARTIN Williams’s figures for the surge in fossil fuel use are UK-wide and there are no Scottish figures provided ("Fossil fuel use soars across Scotland as weak winds stall ‘green revolution’", October 10). Scotland produces more gas than it uses and renewables met 97% of Scotland’s electricity demand in 2020. Missing also is the fact that the Tories privatised the energy market, decided that the market would cope without gas storage and drove through a hard Brexit. We lost 70% of UK gas storage capacity in 2017. The Tories withdrew from the EU energy market which helped control prices so after Brexit, we pay more.

But as well as making a mess of gas management the Tories have no interest in addressing climate change, the most pressing issue in the energy field. The UK recently appointed someone who has repeatedly denied the reality of climate change as the international trade secretary. But any country which does not address climate change will face far worse economic consequences. Just one example given by Green co-leader Lorna Slater: without urgent action half of Glasgow could be underwater in a few decades as well as other coastal communities and millions made homeless.

So Scotland needs to get independence to have full levers of power to protect the country from the present and future severe economic harm of Westminster’s governance and address the issues of the day. Scotland can reduce consumption through insulating and building improvements and reduce dependence on fossil fuels while growing the very promising renewable sector including tidal energy which is not weather dependent. Scotland’s oil and gas reserves can be properly managed by Scotland with an Oil Fund.

Pol Yates, Edinburgh


JOHN Milne accuses me of a "relentless stream of negativity" about climate change. If I may enlighten him with facts:

The aim of COP26 is to achieve global net zero by 2050 and restrict temperatures to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. Countries agreed to provide plans setting out how they would reduce their emissions – known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) – but China and the majority of the 197 countries failed to provide NDCs by the COP26 deadline. That COP21 was not an abject failure was the promise of a financial inducement (bribe?). Developed countries promised to provide developing countries with a share of $100 billion every year. China, inexplicably classed as a developing country, has refused to submit plans for further emission cuts.

Political realists have warned Boris Johnson that COP26 will be a flop. Prediction: At the last moment the 1.5C goal will be dropped and the $100 billion climate cake will be dramatically increased. An embarrassing COP26 flop will be avoided but at enormous cost for UK taxpayers.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow.


LORD Jim Wallace, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, tells us that Scottish faith leaders issued “a joint statement in Challenge Poverty Week both highlighting the plight of many of our fellow citizens and urging action at all levels of government" ("Benefits cuts and rising cost of living is tragic, but it needn't be like this”, October 10). This joint initiative is to be very much welcomed, there needing to be a spiritual input into the multitude of challenges currently facing humanity.

Given the approach of COP26 it is particularly appropriate that the signatories call for an understanding that “much of the destructive impact of climate change falls on the world’s poorest and most vulnerable communities”. I would suggest that individual members of the faith communities must hold to account the politicians responsible for a decade of austerity and its continuation under the current Government. In my opinion our faith ought to inform our politics.

The Prime Minister will point to his strategy of levelling up, but what happens to those at the margins of society least able to cope meantime?

John Milne, Uddingston.


WITHIN the context of Rhona Malone's victimisation case citing Police Scotland being upheld, the evidence of her former line manager Inspector Keith Warhurst to the tribunal was described as being "contradictory, confusing and ultimately incredible" ("The Week That Was, October 10). Had something been lost in translation within Ms Malone's remarkable triumph against the odds? Was confirmation bias at play here? What is an "absolute boys' club" anyway?

To men? A place where Benny Hill rubs his hands, as if before a radiator, as a young woman in skimpy shorts bends over before him? Jim Dale, when playing a doctor, complains of having a temperature as he examines Barbara Windsor in her bikini?

To women? Oh. Right. The female testimonies I heard during radio phone-ins left me with a sense of bewildered disbelief. Disbelief in their lack of recourse. Disbelief in our courts. And disbelief that the head of Police Scotland could have been so unaware of the toxic masculinity which pervaded his own organisation.

Archie Beaton, Inverness.


NADINE Stott vividly paints a picture of “the world of violence” experienced by women in prostitution in Scotland ("Scots sex workers warn changes to prostitution laws will pose a severe risk to their lives", October 10).

However, decriminalising sex work, as she recommends, would stoke the fire of exploitation by reinforcing the harmful idea that it is acceptable to buy women for sex. Women are not simply objects to be rented.

Tackling this degrading idea requires shifting our focus to the demand for sex – which fuels both prostitution and sex trafficking – and criminalising purchasers. Other countries have done this. It ought not to be controversial.

Prostitution is inherently dangerous. It can never be made "safe". The Government recognises this in its “Equally Safe” strategy, which already describes prostitution as a form of male violence against women.

We call on ministers to listen to the voice of victims of commercial sexual exploitation, women’s groups and others who are demanding the "Nordic Model Now".

Lauren Agnew, Human Trafficking Officer, CARE for Scotland, Glasgow.