THE furore surrounding plans to promptly repatriate the passengers of the Channel’s "small boats" (“Small boats plan unveiled”, The Herald, March 8) seems a trifle muddled, if not totally misplaced.

While one’s sympathies may be with such people the fact is if they are really refugees from some terrible regime or other, then, under the Dublin Convention, they are entitled to seek sanctuary in the nearest safe country. Remote Britain is never that and they all have journeyed from an already-safe France.

On the other hand, if they are economic migrants then the arrivals are jumping the legal queue formed by those applying through the correct channels. The British loathe queue-jumping.

Of course, Britain is not alone amongst developed nations having to deal with the curse of people-trafficking. "Trump’s Wall" on the USA’s southern border wasn’t an isolated thought. That paragon of tolerance and decency, Denmark, was the first to come up with the plan to remove its "illegals" to Rwanda.

France is making it far harder for Moroccans and Algerians to enter; the Dutch are planning to create refugee centres abroad; Germany already bribes those willing to be repatriated; and Italy facilitates its "boat people" on their journeys further north.

Of course as history shows, migrants are symptoms, not causes. People don’t leave their homeland in droves just for fun. For that reason we all seem to be avoiding the pachyderm in the parlour, which is the simple truth that the very best place to help such migrants is back in the countries of their birth.
Tim Flinn, Garvald, East Lothian

Remember our obligations

YOUR report on the Government's latest anti-immigration move referred to the statement issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in response to the Home Secretary’s announcement of her Government’s intention to detain and deport nearly all those who arrive “irregularly”, such as via small boats.

I suggest that the UNHCR response justifies further coverage in order to explain more fully the negative responses to the Government’s inhumane attitude towards those seeking refuge from, for instance, oppression and starvation.

It says: “Most people fleeing war and persecution are simply unable to access the required passports and visas. There are no safe and 'legal' routes available to them. Denying them access to asylum on this basis undermines the very purpose for which the Refugee Convention was established. The convention explicitly recognises that refugees may be compelled to enter a country of asylum irregularly.”
John Milne, Uddingston

Transition requires cool heads

I NOTE two interesting articles this week on the transition away from the use of fossil fuels ("Local voices must be heard in oil transition", Doug Marr, The Herald, March 6 and "When are we going to finally move on from Scotland’s oil?", Vicky Allan, The Herald, March 7) which reached a similar conclusion, albeit from opposite ends of the spectrum.

The transition must be a carefully-managed process, not a series of “cliff-edge” events if we are to achieve our desired outcomes on time whilst avoiding the unintended consequences of undue haste.

Talk of “accelerated transition” should give cause for concern. It suggests that both the UK and Scottish governments are being driven by the somewhat-hysterical outpourings of protestors glued to motorways and a schoolgirl.

This is the time for cool heads to prevail and allow creativity, innovation and leaps of imagination to emerge and evolve as part of the process. It is also a time to allow and indeed encourage respectful challenge to the prevailing narrative of a crisis that is now embedded in our thinking despite differing scientific views.

When Henry Ford appeared on the horizon with the first Model T they didn’t immediately shoot all the horses and put the blacksmiths on the dole.
Keith Swinley, Ayr

Terrorising the public

MORE and more disturbing official WhatsApp messages are coming to light in relation to the Covid pandemic ("Johnson ‘a nationally distrusted figure’ amid pandemic, says top civil servant", The Herald, March 6).

In December 2020 the then UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock messaged an aide saying “we frighten the pants off everyone with the new strain”. The aide replied: “Yep that's what will get proper behaviour change”. Mr Hancock replied: “When do we deploy the new variant?”

We used to call people who terrorised the public terrorists. Now we call them government.
Geoff Moore, Alness

Stand up to the RMT

AGAIN Roy Pedersen (Letters, March 6) makes us aware of the crew provisions in Calmac ferries. I first became aware of this when reading his excellent book Who Pays the Ferryman?'. In it he describes and explains this requirement set by the RMT. This is I believe one of the reasons that the Pentalina catamaran was dismissed and withdrawn from charter negotiations by her owners in 2021.

When will we ever see joined-up thinking and acceptance that Calmac exists to service the islanders of Scotland and not the RMT and its members? Are CMAL and Holyrood afraid of this organisation?
Ian Gray, Croftamie

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Declining standards

WHAT is all this talk about declining Latin verbs (Letters, March 4 & 7)? Verbs are conjugated; nouns and adjectives are declined.

The reduction of teaching Latin has clearly wrought a decline and fall.
Jane Ann Liston (O-Grade Latin 1973), St Andrews

It's that joke again

DAVID K Gemmell's letter (March 8) reminds me that abbreviations are not new. In the 1940s and in days of food rationing, the late Tommy Handley signed off his ITMA (It's That Man Again) radio programme with TTFN (ta ta for now).

In one edition, he closed with TTFNQ. "What's the q for?" asked a cast member, possibly Mona Lott, Handley's cleaning lady. "Fish," replied the fast-talking Handley.
David Miller, Milngavie

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Letters should not exceed 500 words. We reserve the right to edit submissions.