DAVID J Crawford (Letters, January 17) poses an interesting problem: when is defence attack? He has ignored the fact that the current war in the Middle East was started by Hamas, a recognised terrorist organisation, with the intended purpose to create mayhem in Gaza.

No analyst has said Hamas can win this battle militarily so it seeks to use subterfuge instead. The Israeli government could not possibly minimise the effects of the horror of October 7. Hamas knew this. Similarly the Houthis, who are not the legitimate government of Yemen, have fired missiles at any passing ship to create the same effect as Hamas's constant missile barrages against Israel. When organisations like these, who really want genocide to mean the complete destruction of Israel, create a problem for the world then attack is indeed the only form of defence.

Is Mr Crawford really suggesting everyone should just sit back and do nothing even when mightily provoked? That was tried prior to the Second World War.

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow.

This is not proportionate

I WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree with the views expressed in the excellent letters (January 17) from Fraser Kelly, David J Crawford and Duncan McFarlane. However, while it is laudable that Mr Kelly should urge the public "to agitate for peace", I fear that our cries will go unheard and unheeded behind the thick walls of Downing Street.

The public made their opinions very clear nearly 21 years ago when millions of us marched imploring the then Prime Minister not to attack Iraq, but he did it anyway, and hundreds of thousands of innocent people died as a consequence. The last thing the Middle East needs is more tension, more retaliation, more war.

There always seems to be a magic money tree, indeed a forest full of them, when it comes to financing conflict and wars. Rishi Sunak and his Foreign Secretary, Lord David Cameron (voted for by nobody) insist their response to the Houthis was "proportionate". I've never heard of such a thing as a proportionate bomb; there are certainly no proportionate bombs raining down on Gaza.

Ruth Marr, Stirling.

Read more: SNP house of cards will soon be a sad footnote in our history

A tale of two cities

GROZNY was destroyed by Russia over “terrorism” (actually instigated by the Putin-led FSB); war crimes and atrocities by Russian forces were downgraded by Western leaders as “abuses”. After the disgusting terrorist Hamas terrorist attacks, we see the destruction of most human structures in Gaza and the death of some 24,000 people (10,000 children). I do not believe Israel is involved in genocide, but the International Court of Justice will have to weigh up the atrocious comments of present Israeli ministers and military commanders about Gaza, and look to the coalition agreement of the present Israeli government to gain an insight as to its motivations.

The coalition guidelines forming the Israeli regime states: “the Jewish people have an exclusive and inalienable right to all parts of the Land of Israel”. What then is the status of Palestine and its people? The West must start using its leverage to prevent the continued subjugation and oppression of Palestinians: either they become self-governing or gain full Israeli citizenship. There can be no other outcome if the West is not to be complicit in the most anti-Semitic (Palestinians are the exact same ethnicity as Israelis) action since the Second World War, which would be for them to be entirely “ethnically cleansed” from their own land.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.

Compare Sturgeon and Johnson

TO say my breath was taken away on reading the letter from William Loneskie (January 17), where he argues that the UK Government alone should have had decision-making powers for the Covid response, is to put it mildly.

When the pandemic came upon us it exposed how unprepared the UK Government was. Mr Loneskie may want to consider the scurrying around by the UK Government in an effort to find companies willing and ready to provide essential materials like PPE, which has since told its own story: a story of mismanagement of public funds.

With all the evidence already presented to the Covid Inquiry and all the media coverage during the pandemic, it is now clear that the Prime Minister of the day was certainly not in any way in control of the situation; that was delegated to others.

Yes, lessons must be learned, but I believe the majority in Scotland would express in positive tones their view of the handling of the pandemic in Scotland and the constant updates from the then First Minister Nicola Sturgeon - which was in stark contrast to Boris Johnson’s performance.

Catriona C Clark, Falkirk.

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Where has our wealth gone?

ACCORDING to recent census statistics, Scotland has a population of 5.5 million, very similar to that of our near neighbours, Denmark (5.8m) and Ireland (5.2m). The Scottish Government website reports the Scottish Budget for 2023-2024 as £59.7 billion, which it states is funded from the Scottish block grant and devolved tax revenues. This is much less than the national budgets for government spending reported by our neighbours in the same period: Denmark £160bn and Ireland £89bn.

Even allowing for UK Government spending on reserved matters (for example, UK annual military budget of £55bn, of which Scotland’s pro-rate share is around £5bn), that is a large gap. Anyone who has been to Denmark or Ireland recently will know that Scotland looks visibly poorer than our prosperous neighbours, and now we know why. Despite having a natural and population resource base that is at least equivalent to these two countries, our national budget is only 37% of Denmark’s and 67% of Ireland’s. So I have a simple question for supporters of the union with England: where has Scotland’s wealth gone? It is absurd to argue that Scotland is poor and reliant on the UK, when one looks either east or west. The answer is obvious; Scotland is the cash cow that just keeps on giving, in order to prop up the UK’s chronically ailing post-Brexit economy. More UK anyone?

Mr D Jamieson, Dunbar.

Read more: We would have fared better during Covid if UK had been in full control

We must act on PO scandal

LAST week the minister with responsibility for the Post Office told the UK Parliament: “We intend to bring forward legislation as soon as we can to overturn the convictions of all those convicted in England or Wales on the basis of Post Office evidence given during the Horizon scandal”.

On Tuesday (January 16), the Lord Advocate failed to make a similar statement to the Scottish Parliament ("Fujitsu boss says firm has obligation to compensate IT victims", The Herald, January 17), but she indicated that, in Scotland, each individual case would first of all have to be referred to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission. As I have previously pointed out, that can be a very time-consuming and expensive process.

The Lord Advocate and the Scottish Parliament should take immediate action to overturn the convictions of all those convicted in Scotland on the basis of Post Office evidence given to the Crown and Procurator Fiscal Service during the Horizon scandal. That could be done either by introducing similar legislation in the Scottish Parliament or by using a legislative consent motion to introduce a bill at Westminster to include Scotland in the overturning of the convictions.

The postmasters and postmistresses in Scotland deserve speedy action to be taken to overturn their convictions and to ensure adequate compensation. Some have been waiting for 20 years or more and sadly some are no longer with us.

It would be deplorable for the Scottish Parliament to be lagging behind Westminster on this important matter. Justice must be done and done swiftly.

Dennis Canavan, Bannockburn.

The Herald: Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain speaking on the Post Office Horizon IT scandal at the Scottish Parliament on TuesdayLord Advocate Dorothy Bain speaking on the Post Office Horizon IT scandal at the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday (Image: PA)

• WE are in unprecedented legal territory, but surely the Inner House of the Court of Session could swiftly review the findings and verdicts of the 100 or so Scottish cases deemed unsafe. Those where the "evidence" was based entirely on the flawed Horizon system could then immediately be ruled unsafe.

Those where other factors were also introduced could be determined according to whether the verdicts were safe "beyond a shadow of doubt", not merely "beyond reasonable doubt", and by ignoring every reference to Horizon in the previous proceedings and basing their determination solely on these other factors.

The judiciary has not exactly covered itself in glory in these cases over the past 20 years, but now has a chance to redeem itself, with a clear obligation to resolve them expeditiously - and before more victims have died or are unable to enjoy the compensation they undoubtedly deserve.

Finally, "exoneration" is the correct word - a "pardon" implies guilt but subsequent forgiveness.

John Birkett, St Andrews.