I HATE to say it, but simply the headline on Neil Mackay's article on Scotland's "hate problem" ("Scotland has a hate problem that diminishes the nation", The Herald, April 4) tells you all you need to know about the peculiar paradox that's the defining characteristic of our ailing Schrodinger's Scotland.

Exhibit A: in Mr Mackay's eyes we are a diminished country; a place full of hateful intolerance, nastiness and vindictiveness, requiring legal intervention to cure our benighted population of its ills. Yet simultaneously in nationalist circles, and amongst those for whom our independence or "Yes" holds almost the status of a religious belief, Scotland is also naturally different from our nasty selfish neighbours down south; innately better, more "progressive" in our mores, our attitudes, and our worldview. No matter what evidence to the contrary. And all because of a line on a map and your choice of flags. We can't be both? Which is it?

It leaves many scratching their heads. But in the worst-case scenario, it sees anyone who does not entertain the same sclerotic perspective "othered" - often told to leave the country if we don't like it, breezily dismissed as a "Yoon" for daring to hold the Scottish Government to account for anything, let alone poorly-crafted legislation. I'm largely indifferent to the Union as it stands, truth be told, but many in modern Scotland no longer do nuance. Far easier to deploy a simplistic binary than engage with the real world; even our own First Minister sees it as his mission to eliminate a form of political expression in his desire to make Scotland "Tory-free".

I'm no Tory myself, but such words strike me as the opposite of pluralism, and injurious to the desire to promote freedom of opinion, acceptance and tolerance. In other words, hate can take root, flourish and come to define society in unexpected and unintended ways: the poisonous constitutional division of "Nats and Yoons" being one of the biggest contributors to it in Scotland. That's what truly diminishes us. And it didn't happen in a vacuum.

Until this is acknowledged and the boil lanced on both sides of that debate, Scotland cannot and will not heal.

Colin Montgomery, Edinburgh.

A ridiculous strain on police

HUMZA Yousaf claimed Scotland was on a "rising tide" of hate crime despite there being a fall in hate crime according to his Government's statistics. If he'd applied his own logic when addressing drug deaths he would have said we had turned a point last year.

Sadly and predictably, with the introduction of his Hate Crime Bill he has created a tsunami of reported hate crime all of which Police Scotland is committed to investigate. With thousands of complaints coming in each day this is a ridiculous strain to put on our constrained police resources.

Have we learned nothing from Covid which saw us divert police resources to interview grannies having tea in their back gardens, policing social distancing and other such trivia that we now know was a waste of time and resources? The public deserve better with police priorities directed to serious criminal activities like teachers getting assaulted in classrooms, burglaries, car theft, sexual assaults, drug dealing, shoplifting, assaults and cyber crime, Mr Yousaf has put our constrained police force in an entirely-predictable invidious position to the public's detriment.

Ian McNair, Cellardyke, Fife.

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• JOHN Gilligan is to be congratulated on his letter (April 2) which shows up with a brilliant argument the inconsistency of the legal system which investigates the breaking of one law while ignoring another which has been broken.

Charles Dicken’s character of Mr Bumble states that the law is an ass. Surely Dickens had the gift of prophecy regarding the current state of law enforcement in Scotland.

Irene Munro, Conon Bridge.

Status quo has failed

REBECCA McQuillan ("Indy not so appealing in a dangerous world", The Herald, April 4) seems unaware that her article presents a melodramatic secenario which totally discredits the status quo. The UK is still intact and Nato has greatly expanded in the past 30 years since the break-up of the Soviet Union. It is in that context that she describes the outcome as a "Europe stalked by dictators", "moving to a pre-war world", analagous with "the summer of 1914" and with "marauding threats".

So that's where the policies of the last 30 years have taken us. We have had a constant arms race with rapidly accelerating technological advances. We have had a powerful military-industrial complex which needs to keep the arms race going. We have had a complete failure to drive serious disarmament initiatives and to put real work into what had been promising Europe-wide structures like the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Nato-Russia Council which the US vetoed.

Talking us into war scenarios as happened in the years running up to 1914 (greatly aided by the tabloids of the time) is the last thing we need. What we do need is to reset the processes of negotiation and to wind back the militarism. Yes, it will be messy but incomparably better than the alternative.

Ms McQuillan has a touching faith in the UK military/security establishment; perhaps reading too many MoD press releases. There have been two UK Trident tests in the past 10 years. Both failed - one went in the wrong direction and the recent one "plopped". Our two hugely expensive aircraft carriers have been completely dysfunctional. We have had a serious of disastrous wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya which have left devastation and instability behind them. And our extravagantly-financed security services have hardly stopped terrorism.

It is a small country like Qatar which has been doing the heavy lifting in Gaza peace negotiations and the peace-making role of Ireland, Austria and Switzerland puts the big European states to shame. It is the status quo which has failed, not the aspiration for a peace-making Scotland.

Isobel Lindsay, Biggar.

Rebellion is too late

YOU report more evidence of the Conservatives targeting the vulnerable ("UK ministers facing Tory revolt over plans to criminalise rough sleeping", The Herald, April 2). After 14 years of them mismanaging the economy and trashing our public services it is the homeless who are now in the line of fire.

Under their watch in Government in the last five years alone we have had soaring inflation (11.1% at one point), mortgage rates rising, energy costs rocketing, the cost of living out of control - and the largest cuts to benefits since the 1940s. However, from noises being made by the Labour Party at Westminster, I fear it will be more of the same.

But about this Tory revolt: who are the MPs planning it and where have they been hiding? They should have been rebelling over the Tory policies that have exacerbated homelessness long before now.

Catriona C Clark, Falkirk.

The Herald: The Hate Crime Act has placed an added burden on Police ScotlandThe Hate Crime Act has placed an added burden on Police Scotland (Image: PA)

Courts move is deplorable

THE UK is currently threatening to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights because it doesn’t like some of the judgements passed down by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), known derisively by Conservative commentators as a “foreign court”.

Which foreign court will be next on the list of bogeymen? The International Criminal Court? The International Court of Justice? Both of these could equally be cited as foreign courts set up by international agreement.

Is it just the fact that the ECHR had an “E” in it, or is it because it’s the only one currently ruling that our Government has been behaving illegally?

Whatever the reason, it’s a poor reflection on a political party that prides itself on being the standard bearer of law and order.

Cameron Crawford, Rothesay.

We must continue to back Israel

THE death of seven aid workers in Gaza ("UK demands Israel investigate the death of British aid workers killed in Israeli strike", The Herald, April 3) is a tragedy for their families, friends and colleagues. We must not make it a tragedy for the region.

The gang rapists, torturers, kidnappers and mass murders of Hamas brought this war upon the people of Gaza by their pre-planned atrocities on October 7.

It is impossible to make peace with Hamas as its very purpose is the destruction of Israel and the murder of all its Jewish people. It is generously funded by the fanatical regime in Tehran. And for the leadership of Hamas, the suffering of the people of Gaza is a calculated strategy, not a bug.

The people of Israel have no alternative to fighting this war until Hamas is destroyed as a military force and is permanently removed from the governance of Gaza. We should give them our fullest support, including selling arms to them.

Otto Inglis, Crossgates, Fife.