THE excellent and unique National occasionally runs ads and articles concerning alcohol production, sale and popularity.

I don’t think I’m exaggerating if I say that much of this publicity amounts to a glorification of our so-called national drink.

Interesting that both Scotland and Ireland have alcohol consumption almost built in to their cultures, and that frequent claims by the drinks industry would have us believe this commodity helps keep these two countries afloat.

That may or may not be true – I’m not an economist, but in the case of Scotch whisky, the revenue accruing to Westminster from sales must be very welcome to the Unionist cliques who run the UK.

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What the consumption of whisky does for the population of Scotland as a whole is open to question, although I’m struggling to see any genuine benefits from drinking what is a massively overpriced, mind-altering product.

You can date the industrialisation of whisky manufacture to a period when unrest against the Union had almost died out ... almost as if the sleekit political masters were saying, “You’ve lost your country, but look at this marvellous product we will allow you to drink ... and forget about taxation...”

Both Scotland and Ireland were massively and brutally repressed in the past – was a strong connection to alcohol some kind of consolation? Or a way of keeping recalcitrant Celts quiet? I wouldn’t put it past Westminster. Where is England’s “national drink”?

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If my opinions seem a bit too far-fetched, check out the Scotch Whisky Association’s frequent anti-independence statements. As for whisky being a cultural aspect of life in Scotland, isn’t it funny how Gaelic and Scots languages were hammered by Unionist decree over generations, yet widespread access to a mind-numbing drug has been encouraged.

Burns was completely wrong when he said that freedom and whisky “gang thegither”.

Jim Butchart
via email

I AM afraid I must take issue with Susan Egelstaff’s description of Lance Armstrong as being the most successful rider in the history of his sport (Armstrong’s sorry tale fails to bring huge shift in doping, Oct 30). This is simply hyperbole as Armstrong was nowhere near being the most successful cyclist ever.

Winning seven Tours de France was indeed a magnificent achievement but it pales into insignificance besides people like Eddy Merckx, Jacques Anquetil, Bernard Hinault, and even Chris Froome, who all won multiple honours in different tours and classic races. Indeed there are many cyclists who could claim to be more successful and better cyclists than Armstrong. Merckx, Hinault and Froome held the winner’s titles of all three grand tours at the same time, whilst Anquetil, Gimondi, Contador and Nibali all won the three major Tours of France, Italy and Spain – something Armstrong, who only won the Tour De France, never achieved.

Merckx, for example, won 530 professional races including seven wins of Milan San-Remo, a one-day race of 300 kilometers. He was also world champion twice and broke the one-hour world record twice. I also must mention Marco Pantani, who won the Tours of France and Italy in the same year and who defeated Armstrong on a memorable climb up Mont Ventoux in the Tour De France in 2000, only for Armstrong to claim he had gifted Pantani the win. That remains for me the real mark of the man Lance Armstrong, as Pantani was surely the greatest climber ever and most certainly didn’t need Armstrong’s help.

Peter Kerr

I REFER to Jim Taylor’s excellent letter (Oct 29) but have one point of contention to make.

Jim states that there is no country called Britain. Unfortunately, he is wrong in his assertions as Britain (Britannia) predates the present name of England and has been in use for well over 2,000 years. In fact, Julius Caesar was censured for invading Britannia in 55BC. The present name of Britain derives from the Latin name of Gross Britannia, meaning the two Britannias.

Gross Britannia included Britannia Superior, which was the southern part of what is now England, south of the Severn Estuary to The Wash in East Anglia. Britannia Inferior was the rest of what is now England up to Hadrian’s Wall. The land north of that was called Caledonia, and needless to say we still refer to that name at times. England is a corruption of the term Angles land, being the land ruled by the Angles, present-day Denmark, and the Saxons, present day-north Germany.

As such, Britain and England are one and the same country and the names are interchangeable – as many Scots have noticed – and have never included Scotland. In fact, Queen Elizabeth of England (1558-1603) used the name Britain for England before the Crowns were united.

When William the Conqueror came over in 1066 from Normandy to claim his inheritance, England was just the land south of the river Thames. We have been taught corrupt English history for too long now, so if we are going to be independent, let’s start learning some true facts about the country and our neighbours in the south.

Alexander Potts