CONGRATULATIONS to Angus Robertson on his new book about the role still played by Vienna in international diplomacy (Scotland should take inspiration from Vienna, Dec 15). Now I wish he’d write another book on how, compared to the cultural scene of other European nations, that of Scotland is something of a wasteland.

As a Germanist, Mr Robertson will know that every sizeable town in Germany and Austria has its own opera house, and that when he visits Berlin he is able to attend classical and modernist theatre every night of the week. For example, this year’s December programme at the Deutsches Theater Berlin, which runs over Christmas and New Year, includes plays by Schiller, von Kleist and August Strindberg.

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In Scotland, however, gone are the days when the likes of Glasgow Citizens’ could mount an ambitious production of Ernst Toller’s The Machine Breakers, to say nothing of great Elizabethan and Jacobean drama. What is worse, in recent years there seems an urge to Scotify much classical drama for what appears to be no sound artistic reason. I could give a list of these, but a 2009 Glaswegian version of Frederico Garcia Lorca’s The House of Bernarda Alba at Edinburgh’s King’s Theatre was as parochially inward-looking as they come.

The culture of American film, pop music and stand-up comedy seems to have swept all before it. The Edinburgh International Festival has been a casualty of its dumbing down. As recently as 1983 and 1984 the world’s top orchestras, musicians and opera singers came in numbers to the International Festival. Opera had a flagship role. In theatre, the Berlin Ensemble performed Brecht’s Galileo. A year earlier, in 1983, Glasgow Citizens’ had staged Karl Kraus’s The Last Days of Mankind and von Hoffmannsthal’s Rosenkavalier.

Sadly, these glory days and Scotland’s contribution to them seem well and truly over. So come on Angus Robertson, please try to convince your colleagues in the Scottish Government to put proportionately the same funding into real culture as do Germany, France or Austria. If we are to rejoin the EU at some point in the future then, culturally speaking, we have a lot of catching up to do.

Alastair Mcleish

READING Andrew Tickell’s column is always one of the highlights of the Sunday National. He is invariably well-researched, succinct and illuminating and his cavalier style of writing rarely misses the mark.

His recent exhortation that all Tories must share responsibility for their amoral party and leader is penned at a time when they appear to be on the point of implosion and may well hang their mendacious and shameless Prime Minister out to dry. (Ignore their pleas – all Tories share responsibility for UK’s shame, Dec 19). Mr Tickell is correct to pinpoint peripheral sycophants like Andrew Bowie as typical of those Tory representatives who possess a very flexible moral compass and value self-preservation above their constituents’ needs or, indeed, the general welfare of the people of the UK and abroad.

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As witnessed in David Cameron’s decision to hold a referendum to leave the EU, the unity and preservation of the party always comes first with Conservatives, regardless of the cost to the social, economic or political welfare of the UK. As most commentators predicted, Brexit has witnessed the opening of a Pandora’s Box that has enabled populist, ultra-right-wing forces within the Tory party to commandeer the mainstream, elect a slothful opportunist as leader and adopt Trumpian, crypto-fascist policies that are largely supported by a sympathetic, soundbiting media.

Tory politics in Westminster and Holyrood is mired in corruption, xenophobia and deceitfulness. High-profile Conservatives such as Gove, Rees-Mogg and Patel have become caricatures of themselves, one-dimensional and limited human beings who have lost all respect and trust and simply represent the worst aspects of politics.

Similarly, lackeys like Ross, Fraser and Kerr in Scotland are people of limited ability and integrity who will back their party’s line without question, regardless of its ethics or fairness. They all, as Andrew Tickell observes, must share responsibility for the UK’s shame but are merely the latest in a long line of maladroit and malicious Tory members that stretches back hundreds of years.

Though I would be loathe to describe the Tory party, as Nye Bevan once did, as “lower than vermin”, it would be suffice to say that I will welcome the day when Scottish independence casts them adrift from this country and hopefully from our future political life.

Owen Kelly

REGARDING efforts by Chris Packham and others towards rewilding of our Highlands (Calls for royals to ‘step up’ an rewild their land, Dec 17), are proposals included to offer re-population to the descendants of those families originally from areas cleared for sheep grazing and grouse moors? Asking for a friend, several in fact.

Tom Gray