HAVING no real interest in whom Scottish nationalists choose as their next leader, I am finding the process tedious beyond belief. It has opened fissures and unpleasantness that any observer knew was there and merely confirmed that the famed Orwellian iron discipline of the SNP was cardboard at best.

But what has impressed me more than anything, a word I did not think I would ever use about a nationalist, has been the honesty and integrity of Kate Forbes. It is so refreshing after many years of spun and "cannot recall" and obfuscation and party-line-only SNP answers, to see a fearless young woman answer questions with an honesty and freshness that is most admirable.

It is a pity she has chosen nationalism to pursue a life in politics.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.


ALAN Fitzpatrick (Letters, March 10) implies that I am under a misapprehension that the Scottish nation wants independence at this point in time. If he reads my letter again he will find no words to support his assertion.

I have clearly disarmed him by taking his Aunt Sally of the SNP out of the independence equation and replacing it with the Scottish nation. Unionists prefer to aim their missiles at politicians rather than at the electorate. They rarely offer any arguments to dispute the undeniable fact that the status quo leaves the destiny of the Scottish nation in the hands of our southern neighbours. If he considers the Scottish nation to be incompetent he should be bold enough to say so.

The record of the present SNP administration at Holyrood is no guide to how Scotland would be governed after independence and the emergence of disunity within the SNP, which has always been predicted as an inevitable consequence of independence, appears to be under way ahead of schedule.

Willie Maclean, Milngavie.


THE people coming to the UK in small boats aren’t all Albanians. They include Afghans fleeing the Taliban and famine; Eritreans escaping the most oppressive dictatorship in Africa; Iranians escaping a theocratic dictatorship and US sanctions that hurt ordinary people as much as the regime. there are also economic migrants from some of the poorest countries in the world. Poverty, hunger and lack of healthcare can kill.

Some coming from Africa and the Middle East have survived Libyan detention centres where prisoners can be tortured, raped, murdered and enslaved. People surviving that, and travelling thousands of miles, through jungles and deserts and across seas, won’t be put off by a change in UK law.

If we want to have fewer refugees and economic migrants, we should avoid generalised sanctions (such as on all Iran’s oil exports) which hurt ordinary people in those countries; and increase foreign aid to the poorest countries, especially going directly to local communities and charities to minimise corruption. That way more might see a future where they are. Even foreign aid to Albania, if targeted properly, could be very cost-effective in reducing immigration.

We should also avoid starting new wars where possible. Overthrowing dictatorships can make things even worse if they’re replaced by warring militias and terrorist groups, as in Iraq and Libya.

Claiming that no one from Albania could be a genuine refugee or victim of modern slavery is also false given organised crime there. The KLA are notorious for drug trafficking and kidnapping girls as forced prostitutes. These girls and some Albanian youths are held against their will on arrival in the UK and forced to work for free. So not every Albanian arriving here will be just an economic migrant.

The 1951 Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights allow people to apply for asylum (refugee status) even if they cross borders illegally, because during the Holocaust countries including the UK made it difficult for many refugees to apply by legal means, and saw them as not genuine. Today Afghans and others face the same barriers.

Duncan McFarlane, Carluke.


A group of people thought to be migrants arrive in an inflatable boat on a beach near Dover after crossing the Channel.

A group of people thought to be migrants arrive in an inflatable boat on a beach near Dover after crossing the Channel.



ALTHOUGH I found the views of David White on the comparable validity of the laws of a state compared with international law very interesting (Letters, March 10) he does not solve the problem of inflatables crossing the Channel

When the United Nations was formed at the end of the Second World War the debate on the issues of what Germany thought legal, as Mr White illustrates, was naturally central to the legality of putting the remaining Nazis on trial at Nuremberg. We see the issue happening today in Ukraine.

However, I feel that the current issue of illegal immigration is too often looked at as a big policy issue. The people wanting into this country illegally are doubtless often genuine, but I suspect also often include criminals looking for a soft target. The notion of helping people being persecuted and seeking asylum has to be acknowledged as a civilised part of international law. However, unlike Gary Lineker, I consider that having found safety that does not mean that they are automatically granted a licence to become a refugee tourist looking for somewhere which suits them better.

For example, the UK had around 12,000 Albanians entering the UK last year. Albania has half the population of Scotland, it faces the heel of Italy and has four neighbouring states. The reason why they want to risk their lives to come so far to get into the UK has to be challenged very robustly.

Bill Brown, Milngavie.


IAIN Stuart (Letters, March 10) says Gary Lineker should "stick to his day job" and not comment on the UK Government's immigration policy.

I would suggest it is up to every single one of us, celebrity or not, to speak up against this outrageous and abhorrent policy and stand up for those fleeing persecution and war.

Otherwise we will become, if we haven't already, no better than the dictatorial, violence-ridden regimes most of these people are trying to leave.

Already our own human rights are being squeezed out in this country.

Mr Stuart points out that the sports presenter is not a political expert. I say he is more erudite, certainly more compassionate, and probably more intelligent than the UK's Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who originally trained as a lawyer. I certainly wouldn't want her defending me.

Andy Stenton, Glasgow.

Read more: Braverman wrong to hide behind the law in defence of xenophobic Bill


CLARE Marsh (Letters, March 7) wants us to "take stock of the religious beliefs" practised by Kate Forbes and Humza Yousaf. I'm not sure what Mr Yousaf's beliefs are, but Ms Forbes has been honest with her personal beliefs and said she would uphold the democratic rights of minorities.

Perhaps the kind of religion Ms Marsh is referring to is the horrific superstition of the medieval church who burned heretics and witches and sent armies to reclaim the Holy Land "for Christ" by mass murder and looting. Jesus said at his mock trial that his "kingdom is not of this world". He confirmed the Old Testament commands to love God and love our neighbour, for instance by helping the man who had been left for dead on the road to Jericho in his famous parable.

To infer that a religious belief causes homelessness or wealth inequality is in my view disingenuous. Jesus told a rich young man that his wealth was his problem, and that he should sell his possessions, give to the poor, and follow him. Many prominent Christians have been involved in social issues, for instance William Wilberforce fought hard to abolish slavery in his day. Christian and other religious charities play a major role in humanitarian aid.

Young people may do well to turn away from "religion" and turn to Jesus Christ himself, who was counter-cultural in his kind and gentle treatment of women and children. A famous Bible verse (John 3:16) tells us that God loves us so much that he sent his only son, that whoever believes in him won't perish, but have eternal life.

William Campbell, Lenzie.


OUR weather in recent days raises the question again of how best to fuel our future to address the sometimes-clashing objectives of addressing net zero whilst ensuring the UK engineers a secure and reliable electricity grid network for us and future generations.

In the calm and cold weather Scotland was at 09.43 today (March 10) importing 1077MW to keep the country running as our wind generation has collapsed. Without Torness, due to close in 2028 or earlier, which is running flat out today, the power shortfall in Scotland would be 2300MW.

Whilst England is experiencing less calm conditions and the UK is concurrently generating 26% of demand from wind, solar in their dull, snowy weather has all but collapsed, providing only 1,270 MW from an installed capacity of circa 11,000MW, representing only 3.13% of UK demand

Gas is having to provide 37% of demand and we are having to also buy 5980MW from Europe to balance demand – some 14.76% of our needs, with much of it from nuclear.

Generation by natural gas produces significant levels of CO2, although this is around half that produced by coal generation without carbon capture, which capability is still under development.

"Burn hydrogen " is the cry in some quarters as the solution to this challenge; however hydrogen also has some dirty secrets if adopted for electricity generation, home heating and the like.

Since hydrogen does not exist to any useful extent in free form on Earth we have to manufacture it. Irrespective of the method used, whether from steam reforming of natural gas or by electrolysis, the energy released by the resulting hydrogen will be around 25-35% less than the energy it took to make it.

Hydrogen is itself a greenhouse gas with a Global Warming Potential (GWP) 5.8 times greater than CO2. Nitrous oxide – a by-product of burning hydrogen in air in, for example, internal combustion engines, has a GWP 273 times that of CO2. Water vapour, a significant by-product of burning hydrogen in cooking appliances creating 60% more than presently burning natural gas is known to amplify the warming caused by other greenhouse gases.

To the about-to-be launched Future System Operator being created to replace the National Grid Electricity System Operator recently sacked by Ofgem, quo vadis?

DB Watson, Cumbernauld.


I SYMPATHISE with Jennifer Semple’s concern (Letters, March 10) over the risk of Spanish “cajones” and “cajines”( drawers and cushions), being mistaken as a reference to the male nether regions with the similar-sounding cojones”.

As a young medical student many years ago I had the same problem with “testimonials”.

R Russell Smith, Largs.

Read more: Scotland's loud voice on justice can never be silenced