I AGREE with my old friend, Brian Wilson, about the need for  radical land reform (‘Scotland needs urgent land reform’, March 14).

However, it is worth recalling that, before the present Scottish Parliament came into existence, the Westminster Parliament delivered next to nothing in terms of radical land reform for Scotland. The House of Commons had neither the time nor the inclination and the landed gentry in the House of Lords, with their obvious vested interests, were absolutely opposed to it.

It was not until the Scottish Parliament was established that we saw measures such as  abolishing the feudal system, introducing a statutory right of access to land and enhancing the rights of communities to buy land. 


Read more: Scotland needs land reform, says Brian Wilson

Land Reform Bill to diversify ownership introduced at Holyrood

'Deep concerns' on limits of Scotland's Land Reform Bill


I agree entirely with Brian that much more action is required, particularly to achieve a fairer system of land ownership, but the fact remains that the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003  is one of the most radical pieces of legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament. 

Such legislation would never have seen the light of day if it had been left to the Westminster Parliament. Similarly, the Scottish Parliament would never have seen the light of day if it had been left to Brian and his Unionist collaborators who fought tooth and nail to stop even a modicum of home rule for Scotland.
Dennis Canavan, former MP and MSP, Bannockburn.


The blight of wind turbines
THE SNP/Green administration in their wisdom has decided to start intervening in land sales.
They say they will look at land sales above 1,000 hectares to assess the impact on local communities and, if they deem it necessary, prohibit the sale.

It’s a pity they don’t assess the impact on communities when wind turbines are built against the wishes of locals. But then that’s our ‘government’ all over – they’ll do what they want where they want and if we don’t like it, that’s just too bad.
Ian Balloch, Grangemouth.


SNP should call an election
THE political scene at Holyrood can only be described as being in the doldrums. A  period of listlessness and despondency has descended on this northerly region of the UK.

Surely the only answer to the current political malaise in Scotland is for an election to be called at Holyrood earlier than the one scheduled for 2026?

This year it is forecast that the SNP will, without doubt, lose a large number of the seats which they currently hold at Westminster

Therefore it is surely farcical for them to carry on with the present SNP/Green charade at Holyrood.
Scotland, and its people, are surely much more important than the ambitions and careers of a few politicians, whatever their political persuasions. Perhaps at this juncture  the truth will out.
Robert I G Scott, Ceres, Fife.

Public wants only to hear the truth
IF the now-disgraced former Health Secretary, Michael Matheson, had not deliberately tried on two occasions to cover up his errors of judgement, he might have escaped the wrath of both his fellow politicians and the general public (‘Pressure on Matheson to stand down over ‘breach’’, March 15).

While we await the final episode of this debacle there is a real expectation that if he is to regain any degree of self-morality and his reputation, his resignation as a member of the Scottish Parliament should be immediate and without a tax-free payment of some £13,000, or 25% of his final salary, to which he may be entitled.

It is a pity that his electorate do not have the ability to judge for themselves, by way of a vote, to express their wishes.
In the meantime our First Minister should yet again consider how his support of the unsupportable, in being covert in assisting him by speaking of his veracity and sincerity, plays out to a public who only wish to see the truth exposed, rather than pure political theatre.
Robert Johnston, Newton Mearns.


Matheson ‘will quit SNP’
PREDICTION: Michael Matheson will not stand down by resigning as MSP, but he will stand aside by resigning from the SNP and retaining his seat as an independent.

The First Minister will avoid an embarrassing by-election and Matheson will retain salary, perks and pension rights.Matheson has Margaret Ferrier as template. He will claim duty and right to represent his constituents, but his real reasons are given above.
William Durward, Bearsden, Glasgow.

Incompetence and stupidity
QUITE apart from any questions of morality and standards in public life, it is Michael Matheson’s basic stupidity and incompetence which is worrying in any MSP or minister.

How on earth could he have believed that his infrequent use of his iPad on parliamentary/government business during a week’s trip to Morocco in late December could genuinely have resulted in a bill of almost £11,000?

Any normal person would have queried it immediately with the provider before claiming it as expenses “wholly, necessarily and exclusively in relation to my employment” (or words to that effect). 

Likewise, it is surely disgraceful that a civil servant presumably authorised the minister’s expenses claim without further investigation.
John Birkett, St Andrews.


A new hate crime to be investigated?
THE SNP very often refer to the Tories as “toxic”. Nicola Sturgeon, the former First Minister, said she “detests” the Tories too. 

SNP literature attacks Westminster every day as well as appearing to be anti-English even by default. 

Given that Humza Yousaf’s brand new “hate crime” law is going to be acted upon, apparently with the full force of Police Scotland, are SNP and Green separatist policies not also a “hate crime” as Scotland voted by a reasonable margin to stay as part of the United Kingdom? Given this scenario, will Scottish politics now be more “gentle” and will independence be a trigger word for a police investigation?
Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow.


The time to sanction Israel has arrived
AFTER Russia invaded Ukraine it was subject to hundreds of sanctions by NATO including the freezing of £300bn of Russian assets and the blowing up of its Russia-Germany gas pipelines.  

Yet when Israel invaded Gaza, killed 30,000 people, mostly women and children, by bombing and shelling; destroyed much of the built environment; destroyed Gaza’s medical system; blockaded food and supplies resulting in starvation; fired randomly at will into crowds of Palestinians; used torture and degrading treatment among the thousands of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails – NATO simply said “Israel has the right to defend itself”. 

CNN quotes American intelligence as stating that more than 29,000 bombs have been dropped on Gaza. Save the Children say that “nearly all children in Gaza are at imminent risk of famine”. The EU’s foreign affairs leader states that starvation is being used as a weapon of war. BBC Verify reports that Gazan doctors and medics were beaten and degraded by the Israeli military.

Far from sanctioning Netanyahu and his gang, NATO countries have supported their actions. But all over the world people are calling for a ceasefire, even though those who do so are branded Hamas supporters. 

When thousands march for peace extreme right-wing politicians refer to them as “hate marches”. Well, I suppose they are. For the more crimes Israel commits against Palestinians the more Israel will be hated.

Israel should be placed under economic and military sanctions with immediate effect until they withdraw from Gaza and allow food, clean water, and medicines into this crowded enclave and agree that Palestinians have their own state.
William Loneskie, Lauder, Berwickshire.


Student life, then and now
SO much is said these days of student poverty. When I was an undergraduate, we were warned before we started each year that if we didn’t have enough money to support ourselves for the year or have accommodation we shouldn’t come.

Our immediate spending priorities were rent, food, bus travel to the campus, books and stationery.  
Nowadays many students feel hard done by if they don’t have a car, alcohol, cigarettes, fashion, make-up and a phone.
Leslie Mutch, Dingwall, Ross and Cromarty.