TASMINA Ahmed-Sheikh’s exposure of Jacob Rees-Mogg thoroughly demolishes the carefully crafted myth of a paternalist upper-class eccentric (Rees-Mogg’s shady Tory group wants the hardest Brexit – No!, The National, January 31). Rees-Mogg is a freakish throwback with views from the 14th century.

He said he is “absolutely fine” with eating chlorinated chicken, that the product should be “clearly labelled and people should be allowed to decide.”. He also argued that Britain should slash environmental and safety regulations on imported products after it leaves the EU, saying regulations that were “good enough for India” could be good enough for the UK. He is against abortion even for pregnancies resulting from rape. However, he admitted that his investment firm profits from pills used in abortions.

He voted for the bedroom tax and Tory cuts to disability benefits. However, he received a £7.6 million grant from the Chancellor to do up Wentworth Woodhouse, his wife’s 300-room ancestral home. A millionaire landlord, he voted against an amendment to make it a legal requirement for rental homes in England to be fit for human habitation. He said £250k spent on portraits of MPs is “chicken feed”.

Jacob Rees-Moggs’s father William described the wholesale slaughter of the indigenous population of Tasmania by the British empire as part of the process which brought “civilisation” to the world.

Alan Hinnrichs

TWO columnists this week dealt with identical subject matter, The National’s Kevin McKenna (Sir James’s vision of lickspittles and poison-tip shoes is pure imagination, The National, January 31) and The Herald’s David Torrance (January 29). Any resemblance ends there.

Both dealt with comments from composer Sir James McMillan, who like David Torrance is no fan of Scottish independence if their comments are taken as read (and not surprisingly most folks’ are).

Messrs Torrance and McMillan have no great opinion neither of the generality of the artistic community in Scotland, who they think are Yes supporters. Sir James called them “artsy stormtroopers” and Mr Torrance apparently relished quoting his knighted ally in his column.

Mr Torrance bemoans a lack of dissent among our artsy folk but misses the point in that the same artsy folk are actually engaging in dissent by backing Scottish and not British nationalism. Maybe he doesn’t comprehend this. His quoting of comments by the composer is in contrast to Mr McKenna’s, where there is no failure in comprehension and no indication of shock at knowing that artsy people tend to be believers in the capabilities of their own fellow countrymen and women.

Such has been the general rule and countless examples there are, from Norway’s Henrik Ibsen to our own national bard. Not to mention believers in the rights of others to be self-governing, such as Lord Byron, who died fighting for the cause of Greek independence. Likewise, as recently commemorated, those (including hundreds of Scots) who fought in the International Brigades against fascism in the Spanish Civil War.

Ian Johnstone

REGARDING Paul Kavanagh’s column (The photo didn’t fit – but the UK did send in tanks, The National, January 31), it is interesting to view the comments of AN Wilson at the close of his masterly work The Victorians. Referring to the huge military presence at Queen Victoria’s funeral, he wrote: “The war in South Africa still in progress as the Queen’s military funeral took place reinforced the point that the genial power of the Victorian aristocracy, transforming itself slowly into parliamentary democracy, was underpinned by force. Ask – given the sickness and poverty of hundreds of thousands of Londoners on that cold February day, as the gun carriage bore the coffin through the silent streets – ask why they did not rebel, why they did not riot, why they did not behave like the Paris Commune of 1870 or the Bolsheviks of 1917.

“They had as much provocation, but part of the answer to the mystery of their submissiveness is supplied in those troops and those guns following the procession. No-one could doubt for a single second that at the first sign of trouble from the populace, pious old Salisbury and dear “Old Bobs” (Lord Roberts) – now an Earl and KG – would turn the guns on the crowd, with all the confidence shown by the Chinese authorities 88 years later in Tiananmen Square.”

Peter MacKenzie

I AGREE that the present situation with the leaked confirmation from Westminster of a bleak future with Brexit has made the prospect of indyref2 that much closer now (‘Watershed moment’ as UK’s leader Brexit papers reveal extent of damage, The National, January 31).

Nicola Sturgeon’s comments about an emergent watershed speaks, yet again, of her shrewdness in politics and that of her supporters to have played their cards immaculately. Scotland’s first dignified approach to the EU in the hope of being granted continuing access to the single market, and the way it contrasted with the UK’s ramshackle unpreparedness, will not have passed unnoticed, I’m sure, so it behoves us well to maintain the canny wisdom.

And, too, because of the very serious chaos of government there might even be a forced coalition which, again, would change the political landscape. It’s time for the Tories to admit failure to govern and try to save the day – but we cannot afford to wait for too much longer!

Janet Cunningham