I DIDN’T feel like celebrating International Women’s Day this year.

As the first black woman elected to Newcastle City Council in 1988, I was hugely hopeful of change. Now I wonder if there has been a time this side of the Cold War when the brutish, incompetent, entitled, arrogant, delusional, misogynistic and/or racist male has been more in the ascendancy.

From Trump (semi-literate misogynistic narcissist) to Boris Johnson (jingoistic buffoon) from Putin (never mind the polonium – look at me on a horse?) to Kim Jong-un (clap louder or I’ll have you killed), I’m hard pushed to think of an era when smug men with huge hard inadequacies have caused so much social and political harm.

And that is way before you get to the seedy grossness of powerful men in Hollywood, Parliament, the charity sector etc abusing their positions to force unwanted sex on female underlings and vulnerable youngsters. It’s a global shame.

Even if we focus on the UK and US it’s grim. From Blair (2003 – illegal invasion of Iraq /Middle East Armageddon) to Blair (2018 – forget Iraq, I want to play with Brexit now) to Farage (xenophobia XXL), the UK and our pals across the pond seem to have elevated the dull and/or disastrous and/or privileged white male like never before. From Cameron (let’s have a referendum without any idea what we’ll do afterwards) to “cojones” Clegg (suffocate an entire generation with student debt) to Corbyn and Richard Leonard (opposition vacuum and thin grey yawn).

But then – regardless of whether I am aligned with their politics – I remind myself of the impressive steely Aunty Merkel and that sassy Welsh leader of Plaid Cymru Leanne Wood and woman-with-a-backbone-and-calm-demeanour Nicola Sturgeon. Across the pond I think of the inroads into female Congressional representation being supported by Emily’s List and the fabulous and inspirational Michelle Obama and I give myself a good talking to.

There are positive role models for my three daughters and my grandson. Never forget we don’t want our boys growing up with brutalising misogynistic nonsense either.

There is hope.

Amanda Baker

I WAS grateful to read Cat Boyd’s article (For independence to stay radical we need to retrace our original vision, The National, March 6), because she confirmed that I am not the only indy supporter who cannot bring herself to press for membership of the EU.

The EU’s inflexibility and domineering attitude to its member states has come under attack in the past few days. First the Italian election returned two anti-EU parties, then Angela Merkel finally achieved a coalition deal but it has greatly weakened her standing as the most powerful politician in Europe. The EU leaders must rethink their method of government or the Union will collapse and they know it.

The Brexit negotiations were given a fillip on Tuesday when Guy Verhofstadt conceded that Amendment 882 would allow a special deal with the UK because, of course, he smarmed, Britain is special. No mockery, no sneering, no hissy fit and demanding that the UK accepts their offer or nothing. I wonder how much this change of attitude had to do with the Italian election results and/or the formidable Arlene Foster objecting to Michel Barnier’s version of the Brexit transition talks in December?

I welcome a softening of the EU’s previously intransigent attitude to the Brexit negotiations so far. Dare I hope that this new pragmatism will extend to recognising the Catalan election results and generally being open to the idea that people in EU countries have the right to expect that those whom they elect into power will actually be able to use it, even if it means disagreeing with the EU establishment? If so, I believe that the EU has a future. If not, I don’t believe that it does.

Lovina Roe

CAT Boyd in her article in Tuesday’s National has made a good case for reawakening the vision we had for Scottish independence. Four years on and I don’t think the ideals have ever altered, except that now more sceptics have had the chance to see that they missed a great opportunity to use the talents that Scotland has always had in its people to lead the way to a more caring society, exhibiting radical, progressive thinking and putting it into practise.

Vision has to be attainable and it is to be hoped this “parallel universe” that exists in the UK countries is to be clearly seen – and of those who still need convincing, surely they must realise that we couldn’t do any worse than the chaotic mess Westminster is dragging us into! I hope that it won’t be too long before Scotland is galvanised once more into moving forward into a constructive future. We have what it takes so let the practicalities be discussed among mature minds.

Janet Cunningham

I AM writing in response to the website comment from Hugh Johnston (Letters, March 6). I was shocked and saddened to read that he doesn’t see the benefits of alliances with England or anyone to do with that country. It is people like him the independence movement can do without. Does he realise how many people from Scotland have links to England? I consider his comments to be racist and ignorant of the the positive and international argument for self-determination.

Winnie Ewing famously said: “stop the world, we want to get on”. I don’t care where someone is born, live or work but that they want to help make Scotland a fair, compassionate and independent nation. We need to be inclusive and utilise the diverse knowledge, skills and contacts of all those who share our aims for a better Scotland. Anti-Englishness plays no part in this.

Rona MacDonald