LIKE Shona Craven, I’m annoyed by the prevalence of male correspondents in the letters pages (Scotland in Union’s cabal of letter writers isn’t our real problem, The National, February 2). Particularly annoying is the male writer who shares with us “my good wife’s interesting experience” as if the said wife lacks the fluency or (more likely) confidence to tell us herself.

Perhaps in the past the blame lay with prejudiced editors. I wrote my own first newspaper letter (to the Evening Times – boasting about my collection of old fossils and coins) back in the sixties when I was ten. Even then I thought I’d have more chance if I signed it “M McCabe”. They printed it under the heading “A young man’s museum”.

In the seventies my mother used to write to the old Glasgow News under “J McCabe”. When other readers responded they always assumed she was a man.

However I don’t think we can continue to blame the current male preponderance on misogynistic editors. As Shona Craven discovered, women just don’t write in in such numbers. Yet in Scotland today women are to the forefront in politics and other areas of work.

It’s likely that regular newspaper readers are older than the general population. Younger people look to social media or at least the online editions of newspapers for their information. So maybe a lot of readers’ letters are sent by people of the generation where Mum made the minor decisions such as the family budget, the house, the food and the children’s education while Dad decided what to do about war and peace and climate change.

I still often write letters, mostly about Scottish independence. I write mostly to Unionist papers since I write with a view to conversion. I did once contribute the “Long Letter” to The National but that was about strategy in gaining indy rather than Indy per se.

I read various pro-indy websites for the same reason that I read The National – so as to find out the facts which the Unionist media suppress. I don’t usually post comments as readers of political blogs have already made up their minds.

For these reasons I wish more young people would take up writing to the papers. The readers you reach are of more diverse opinions and therefore more open to argument. They may be of the generation with little access to social media, so all their info about Scotland and the world comes from the Unionist media – readers’ letters can provide counterbalance.

In another century a letters editor of a major newspaper told me that although they tried to print letters in proportion to the topics which came in, they didn’t do this for Scottish independence or devolution. “We get so many letters about that, if we printed them in proportion we’d have room for nothing else.” And I have recently heard people saying they can get their pro-indy letters printed in The National but find it impossible in the Unionist press.

But it’s not impossible. Most of my pro-indy letters to the Unionist press see the light of day.

It has crossed my mind that this might be because I’m a woman. Maybe nowadays that’s an advantage. So come on sisters – get writing! If indy doesn’t float your boat then write about the glass ceiling, pensions, gender stereotypes, the best way to overcome the past thousands of years of prejudice we’ve had to suffer in all the countries of the world. Spread your thoughts way beyond your Facebook friends and Twitter followers.

Mary McCabe


THE Scottish Government’s Planning Bill is a huge opportunity to enable public bodies and private individuals to build affordable high-quality housing (Call to change planning law to fund homes, The National, February 3).

Having recently lived in Germany for almost two decades I can confirm that the system operated there and in The Netherlands does deliver the benefits claimed by Common Weal and more. It is not uncommon to find “council housing”among privately built houses and both of a higher aesthetic and qualitative standard than we in Scotland have built in the past.

We simply must alter the current system, which hands the developers huge profits and causes costly battles between local authorities (trying to wring infrastructure out of the developers) and the same developers trying to maximise profit.

The Planning Bill will be with us for years – let’s get it right!

Jim Addison