LAST week as I watched Labour politicians engaging in a semantic dance over Gaza I could not help but wonder how thick the surface of the bubble they operate within must be. For instance, they continue to advocate a two-state solution as if this is still achievable when even my "Peace Now" friends in Israel say that’s a dead duck after October 7.

Last week in the Knesset 82% of MKs voted down this option. Meanwhile a poll conducted by Arab World revealed that only 17.2% of Palestinians favoured a two-state solution. In effect both communities now favour a one-state solution "from the river to the sea" but with each wanting to be in sole charge. We are therefore right back to where we were in the days of Mandate Palestine.

And when I hear Labour politicians getting agitated about the phrase "from the river to the sea" being anti-Semitic, it is worth pointing out that in 1943 the Irgun leader Menachem Begin published a pamphlet which stated that “The Land of Israel means the territory not only within the historic frontiers, but also within the natural and strategic frontiers of this region”. The accompanying map showed this to include not only Palestine but also all of Transjordan. In other words his idea of a viable Jewish state involved conquest going way beyond Israel's historic borders.

Moreover he issued another pamphlet in August of that year explaining that “the Arabs must be forced to be conquered. They must be removed as a political force”. It is the resurrection of this philosophy which permeates the current Israeli government, albeit its "compromise" is stopping at the river Jordan.

Politicians in this country seem unable to face up to these facts. Instead their brains seem to be addled by the arcane belief that the UK still has a global influence on Middle East events. Get real. (The parliamentary fiasco last week received minor coverage in the Israeli press.) Until they start dealing with the reality on the ground - including the humanitarian disaster in Gaza - then political posturing such as we witnessed last week will be seen as just that. MPs should therefore not be surprised if they are on the end of a voter backlash, whether it be at the polls or in their constituency offices. As ye sow, so shall ye reap.

Robert Menzies, Falkirk.

• ON the day George Galloway won his by-election we have seen elections take place in Iran ("George Galloway wins chaotic Rochdale by-election", heraldscotland, March 1). Mr Galloway says his victory was for Gaza. Why is he not motivated to press for a regime change in Tehran too? Surely these people are also oppressed and has he insisted on Israel's right to exist also?

Mr Galloway is only using one element of the woes in the Middle East and ignoring all the others. Is he really a fit and proper person to represent all of his constituents?

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow.

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FM apology is misplaced

HUMZA Yousaf has shared on X an excerpt from an interview with Middle East Eye in which his message to the people of Gaza was that he "is deeply sorry that they have been let down by governments". Thoughtful though that may have been, he really cannot apologise for what has been done by others. He cannot apologise on behalf of "those in power" or "multinational institutions that were meant to protect [Gaza]".

Many Scots have done what we can, either through our elected representatives (noting especially the SNP ceasefire motion calling out Israel's action as collective punishment that was blocked at Westminster) or by protesting on the streets or in other ways in the face of opposition from the British state, while others have been bravely active in trying to bring aid to Gaza.

The First Minister is not in a position to exert any substantial influence on the Middle East. If he is truly sorry he must get Scotland out of the corrupted toxic Union that calls Israel's attempted genocide "self-defence". Only then can Scots make a more meaningful stand against the criminal actions of the state of Israel.

Ni Holmes, St Andrews.

It's not all rosy for Labour

ANDY Maciver ("Why I want the Tory Party to lose the General Election", The Herald, March 1) sees the sunny uplands of a Labour future, until the Tories sort themselves out. But the Tories are a total shambles, split into warring factions which, like the old Liberal Party, will never regain their strength.

Labour (under Starmer) is a centre-right party these days whose future opposition may come more from the left. As we see in Rochdale, there are plenty of “rotten boroughs” still on the electoral map, where people are simply desperate for change - as much from Labour as for them. How this will play out in an economically declining UK is not easy to forecast, and an (English) NHS under Wes Streeting moving to “hold the door open” for the private sector may be a long-term expensive disaster (like PFI) rather than the structural reform that the health system needs.

Mr Maciver seems to have bought into Labour's rhetoric without much scrutiny, but will he still be cheerleading for it a few years (and policy shifts) down the line? I forecast a short honeymoon for whoever comes next, as economic reality bites.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.

Government must help business

IN his piece "Challenge for Yousaf is to convince business that government is on its side" (The Herald, February 29), Scott Wright opens with a line which, sadly, is very accurate when he states that "With each passing week, it seems that First Minister Humza Yousaf's commitment to forge a New Deal for Business is increasingly moving from an achievable reality to a forlorn hope".

If anyone has any doubt that the New Deal for Business has as much hope of arriving as a CalMac ferry they should perhaps ask Scottish entrepreneur Becky Lumsden, founder of the Pure Spa group, who said: "The anti-business attitude of the Scottish Government and their refusal to push forward much-needed reform of business rates is disappointing" as she revealed she may close some venues due to crippling business rates.

Someone else who doesn't seem to be buying into Mr Yousaf's New Deal is Donald Macleod, doyen of the Glasgow night-time economy, whose Garage night club is celebrating 30 years in business. He says he has "a deep loathing for the damage he believes the SNP has done to the hospitality and entertainment industry in Scotland".

Lest anyone thinks that these are a few lone voices of dissent, a recent survey by the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, which represents pubs, bars, hotels and restaurants all over the country, showed that 96% of respondents believed that the Scottish Government "was out of touch with business". Surely it is not beyond the wit of our First Minister to comprehend that to fund public services, and perhaps avoid some of the draconian budget cuts imposed on Scotland by his Government, business must be supported and encouraged to create jobs, raise revenues and help make Scotland the country it deserves to be?

William Gold, Glasgow.

The Herald: Pure Spa founder Becky Lumsden has said the Scottish Government is anti-business Pure Spa founder Becky Lumsden has said the Scottish Government is anti-business (Image: Contributed)

Learn from the professor

I SEE online that Ruth Gottesman, a former professor at the New York Bronx Medical School, is donating $1 billion to the school. This in essence means students there can train to be doctors without paying fees.

According to the latest Sunday Times Rich List there are more than 100 billionaires in the UK whose personal or family wealth substantially exceeds £1 billion. They could all remain fabulously wealthy and still lead a life beyond the wildest dreams of 99.9% of the rest of us if they each retained £1bn but were philanthropic and donated the remaining approximately £460bn to ameliorate the problems faced by society in general. Imagine the impact that could have on UK society if the wealth was more evenly distributed.

David J Crawford, Glasgow.

TIE survey was unfair

AN opinion poll that involves showing participants a video promoting one side of the controversy before they respond is fundamentally flawed. Therefore, the poll conducted on behalf of Time for Inclusive Education (TIE) about LGBT Inclusive Education in schools has no credibility ("Scots parents show strong support for LGBT+ education in schools", The Herald, February 29).

However, that didn't stop you from reporting on the poll in exactly the way that TIE intended, with no dissenting voice included.

The forceful promotion of transgender ideology and induction into LGB activism that is routine in our schools amounts to indoctrination and harms pupils. There is widespread opposition to it. That's why this opinion poll had to be rigged to give the opposite view.

Richard Lucas, Scottish Family Party, Glasgow.

Protests far from compassionate

I FEEL moved to respond to Jim Kearns' letter (February 29) where he defends the presence of placard-carrying anti-abortionists in the vicinity of abortion clinics. He justifies the protests on the grounds that there is no unruly behaviour on the part of the protesters. He claims that they are "driven solely by compassion for their fellow human beings". I argue that their very presence at such an emotionally traumatic time for women and girls attending clinics must be psychologically devastating, not compassionate.

I have been unlucky enough to suffer two miscarriages in my life. One where I was put in the same ward as a woman who had elected to have an abortion. My heart went out to her. That is compassion.

If anti-abortionists are so compassionate, why don’t they channel their energies into improving the lives of unwanted children already born? The ones languishing in children’s homes and those living below the poverty line. Currently in the UK, there are an estimated 14.4 million people living in poverty, 4.2m of whom are children. There are also over 107,000 children living in care. The hypocrisy of anti-abortionists is palpable.

Being a man, Mr Kearns will never be placed in the position of the heart-rending decision of whether or not to have an abortion. He is not qualified to make a judgment on the issue of abortion in my opinion.

Gail Kirkland, Bowmore, Islay.

Vowel play

KATHLEEN Gorrie (Letters, March 1) is right to commend Neil Nunes’s clarity of diction as a BBC presenter. The glottal stop, though, flourishes already among many of his colleagues who often seem unaware of the “t" in “Scotland". I try not to be upset by the near-universal loss of the epenthetic vowel in “Ardnamurchan”, as I need the energy for other things.

Gilbert MacKay, Newton Mearns.

• KATHLEEN Gorrie need not wait with any trepidation for “the first newsreader with a glottal stop”.

She should tune in ay Radio Scawland, wherr glaw-all stops posi-ively punctuay the err waves.

Gordon Caseley, Crathes.