WHY does the UK and much of the world continue to pander to and pay heed to the United States?

As a humanitarian catastrophe unfolds in Gaza with millions of Palestinians facing starvation and death the Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres rightly calls for a ceasefire. But the US won't back him. Why? Because of America's allegiance to Israel, no matter the atrocities the Israel Defence Force is now inflicting on innocent civilians in Gaza.

Yes, the attack by Hamas on Israel three weeks ago was absolutely appalling. And yes, Israel has a right to defend itself, but what it's doing now is far from that, rather a multi-fold extension of the misery its occupation of Gaza and the West Bank has been causing for decades.

Anywhere else in the world Israel's siege of Gaza would be considered a war crime and the perpetrators held to account. Some Israelis recognise this, but their voices are mostly silenced.

It's sad too that the UK agrees with the United States. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is so obviously out of his depth he trots out the same lines the US and Israel want to hear.

Mr Sunak's pathetic attempt at anything approaching world leadership comes on the day America is reporting another mass shooting, this time at a bar and bowling alley in Maine, with at least 16 dead ("Maine: At least 16 dead and dozens injured in shootings", heraldscotland, October 26). That's about 400 mass shootings this year in "The Land of the Free" with more than 25,000 killed.

Do we honestly think the US is a country we should look up to, follow its lead, and thank it for making the world a safer place?

Andy Stenton, Glasgow.

China not to be trusted

LEAH Gunn Barrett (Letters, October 25) continues denigrating the USA and the UK, her birth and adopted countries, and goes even further with her admiration of the BRICS nations than her recent "ray of hope" description (Letters, August 8).

Does she not realise that its leaders, those paragons of democratic and civilised virtue, Russia and China (now joined by Iran and others), intend exactly what she accuses the democracies of: "to control nations and regions through military power to effect desired political outcomes"?

That is precisely the intention of China's Belt and Road Initiative, a clever form of economic colonial imperialism tying its members ever more closely to the communist dictatorship in Beijing.

Yes, we share Eurasia with China, but also with Belarus, Russia and Iran plus other similar regimes, with whom she says we should be "partners, not combatants". Tibet, Taiwan, Hong Kong and other southeast Asian countries, and of course Ukraine, could tell her how these paragons define "partnership".

As for Scotland, since she did not live here in 2014, she may not have learned that we voted, freely and democratically, to remain in the UK by a clear majority, so hardly as "an effective prisoner".

John Birkett, St Andrews.

• I AM regularly, in equal measure, both astounded and amused by Leah Gunn Barrett's geopolitical insights. Yesterday she exceeded her own high standards by claiming that the US and EU are warmongering imperialists, whilst China is a peace-loving nation dedicated to reducing world conflict and sustainable energy. This is the same China that accounts for 30% of global CO2 emissions, has emitted more CO2 in the past eight years than the UK has since the Industrial Revolution, and ignores human rights on an industrial scale.

She also suggests we look towards the BRICS nations as partners. I'm sure Russia and Iran are peace-loving, democratic havens of joy, however I think we're best with the EU and the US.

John McSweeney, Edinburgh.

Read more: Gaza: Bombing Palestinians won't solve this conflict

We must show some balance

RECENT reports of councillors throughout Britain who have resigned or protested in writing about the UK's handling of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict ("Resigning Oxford City councillors say party leadership ‘complicit in war crimes’", heraldscotland, October 21) should be a wake-up call to politicians at Westminster.

If Prime Minister Sunak and the Leader of the Opposition are not prepared to use balanced rhetoric to deal with the situation, there is a very real possibility that the Muslim community will form its own parliamentary party, and once that has happened there is no going back.

No-one should be afraid to speak out about the atrocities in Gaza, and both sides are culpable; we must take account of all opinions. There are many innocents in the Gaza strip and we should not look away to appease the Israelis. When Russia bombed civilian areas in Ukraine, the UK and the US were quick to condemn Putin. Why is that not the case with Netanyahu?

As is always the case with the Middle East, no side is 100% right. Yes, the Israelis were right to retaliate for the Hamas atrocities, but surely within that policy, there should have been the words "proportional response". The revenge that is currently under way is in danger of taking on an element of attempted genocide.

The United Kingdom and the United States have been sitting on their hands for decades over the Palestinian issue. That procrastination might be about to manifest itself in all-out war in the region, a war that will surely impact western economies for decades.

Francis Deigman, Erskine.

Banks must show sound judgment

I READ with some apprehension that the cap on bankers' bonuses is about to be removed ("Bankers’ bonus caps to be scrapped to make UK ‘appealing finance hub’", The Herald, October 25). While the existing cap has certainly been welcome to most observers the reality is that it was not a significant control in that bonuses of 100% of salary could still be paid.

The financial crisis of 2008 shook us all. Whatever reasons or excuses may be given the monetary impact on the British taxpayer was enormous. In Scotland we were far from immune, with our largest banks being very badly affected. To put matters into context these banks, two of which had been in existence for some 400 years, had in their long history been able to withstand all that had been thrown at them including two world wars. The year 2008, however, produced a situation which they found unable to handle without outside help.

At this particular time the reputation of our banks is being adversely affected by what many perceive to be a lack of satisfactory service. Three of the qualities that were constant at the top of our banks in previous centuries were good judgment, common sense and integrity. We must all hope that these will be very much to the fore in the coming years and that bonuses will only be awarded for genuinely good work which has stood the test of time and moreover that they will be awarded taking account of the economic situation facing the public at large.

Graham Mathewson, Stirling.

Read more: Have we learned nothing from the bombings of World War 2?

That's rich from the Tories

THE Conservative benches at Holyrood never fail to surprise at First Minister’s Questions. This week Conservative MSP Megan Gallacher had the audacity to challenge the record of the Scottish Government on childcare and associated costs, suggesting that families cannot afford to get into work because of childcare costs.

Rightly the First Minister took no lessons from an MSP whose party at Westminster crashed the economy and is in charge of the huge energy and associated costs we are all enduring. Humza Yousaf pointed out that the Scottish Government has the most generous childcare regime in the UK, with 1,140 free hours a year for three and four-year-olds and around a quarter of all two-year-olds.

Ms Gallacher said that families are having to cut back on essentials. Perhaps she would like to take her concerns to the root of the problem: to the Conservatives at Westminster. They are culpable regarding the cost of living crisis, cutting welfare with the two-child cap on benefits, something the Scottish Government continues to mitigating against.

Ms Gallacher cutting back on essentials might just have something to do with increased mortgages as a result of the compete mismanagement of the economy at Westminster.

Catriona C Clark, Falkirk.

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Advice on the budget

READING about the £1bn budget deficit ("Public sector salary hikes leave £1bn budget deficit", The Herald, October 26) suggests to me that the Scottish Government needs to rapidly implement its policy of, to quote Ivan McKee, “breaking down suboptimising silos” ("Progressive taxation needs to be much more than just a sound bite", The Herald, October 25).

Mike Flinn, West Kilbride.