JAMES Mills points out (The National, September 9) that Willie Rennie thinks Alistair Carmichael is a “good guy” and rightly poses the question, “Who is paying for Alistair’s defence anyway?”

I have been advised by my MP that the taxpayer will be footing the bill for the inquiry which was set up to investigate Carmichael.

I have also been assured by a friend with relatives and friends in Shetland that he would not have been returned had his lie been exposed prior to the election.

To put all of this into its surreal context, the detached buffoonery which seems to have found its natural home in the LibDem party on Rennie’s watch has apparently seen fit to deselect Alison McInnes from the Scottish Parliament next year. This lady is rightly regarded as one of the most respected MSPs in Holyrood and her integrity is above reproach. The party simply cannot afford to lose her.

On the other hand, Rennie transformed the Lib Dems into an end-of-the-pier show. Yet Willie says he is a “good guy.” And Willie is an honourable man.

Joe Cowan

HAVING admitted his lie in the so-called Frenchgate affair it would be a travesty if the case against Alistair Carmichael failed on the basis of what appears to be a technicality.

Even although Nicola Sturgeon was not a candidate for election, there seems no doubt that this attack on her integrity was intended to undermine the SNP candidate in the Orkney and Shetland election.

If the action fails, it could suggest that the legislation is inadequate and that the outcome would be a blight on the judicial system in the eyes of the public.

On a connected matter. They say that self-praise is no honour, but that does not appear to be something that STV believes in, having boasted several times about its decision to televise the court proceedings. Don’t they realise that praise from an independent source is worth more than all their self-posturing?

Jim Williamson
East Kilbride

IN arguing that a political lie should not carry the same consequences as a personal untruth, Alistair Carmichael appears to be employing the excuse used by the Mafia when eliminating a rival: “It’s not personal; it’s just business.”

“It’s not personal, it’s political” has the same lack of credibility that universally greets Cosa Nostra’s rationalisation for self-interest.

David White

PM now joins ‘war crime hall of fame’

CRAIG Murray, the former British ambassador, has pointed out in his blog that the drone killings of British citizens in Syria is almost certainly illegal under international law. Twenty years ago, Britain was found guilty of illegally killing three IRA members in Gibraltar by the European Court of Human Rights. Despite the fact that the three belonged to a terrorist organisation, the court did not accept that there were not other ways of dealing with them other than execution.

So David Cameron joins Tony Blair in being guilty of war crimes but Blair at least had the backing of the House of Commons for the Iraq war, even if it was given on the lies about weapons of mass destruction.

I do hope our SNP MPs expose this illegal war crime in the House of Commons and continue to oppose air strikes in Syria. It is clear that after years of air strikes in Iraq and Syria the situation has got no better and indeed the flood of refugees has been caused by our military interventions in the area.

Finally, I hope that we all exercise a little modesty when we lecture the world about the virtues of British democracy. We now have a Government elected by little more than 20 per cent of the electorate actively flouting the decisions of its own Parliament and almost certainly the judgement of the international courts in engaging in these war crimes.

Hugh Kerr

THE timing and the location of Prime Minister Cameron’s revelation of a drone strike during a statement in the House of Commons about the refugee crisis neatly exposes the threadbare nature of what is meant to pass as Parliamentary democracy in the UK.

Revelations of an RAF operation of a type and in the area of the world that Parliament specifically voted against two years ago is a clear usurpation of so-called Parliamentary sovereignty — and made worse by being given a rubber stamp by some of the legal institutions that are meant to keep the executive in check.

There is, of course, the fact that there is not a shred of evidence that drone warfare, in the long term, subjugates anyone, though it is a factor, like the Stuka attacks in France and Poland in 1939 and 1940 in contributing to mass movements of refugees from war torn spaces.

Cameron may claim a short-lived operational “win” but at the long term and at the strategic level the use of weaponised drones contributes to the losing of wars rather than winning them.

It will be interesting to see if the Opposition benches cotton on to the fact that Cameron may have turned an appalling refugee crisis into a constitutional crisis as well.

Bill Ramsay

JUST a thought.

“Ahh, Commander Bond, in line with new Government policy, we are downsizing our workforce, just like the Army, Air Force and Navy, e.g. giving mobile phones to our anti submarine trawlers. Now 007, please meet your replacement, 00 Drone.”

“But schurely you will need someone to control the drone?”

“Oh, we outsourced that to an online wargaming company months ago, they pay us.”

Donald MacKay

WHEN Ian Duncan Smith in 2002 as Tory leader walked among the people of Easterhouse, his eyes filled with “crocodile tears” as he witnessed the poverty in the area and (to use an idiom definition) he had a “Road to Damascus moment”, meaning he had a sudden change of heart from “enemy to advocate”, giving the local people hope that if he ever got power he would help them to a better future.

Well, when he revisits them, if he has the guts to show his face, will he be hiding behind a police cordon?

Why on earth would the good people of Easterhouse want a Judas back on their doorstep?

This visit will achieve nothing. If Duncan Smith can inflict more suffering and squeeze more from them he will.

Duncan Smith has been recently challenged in Parliament by Labour’s Frank Field on accusations that DWP staff under his orders have been asking terminally ill benefit claimants “when do you expect to die” in order to assess what benefit “if any” might be awarded?

The best way to acknowledge Duncan Smith is to treat him with the same respect he shows to others — none.

Louise McArdle

I HAVE tried only two copies of The National, but if these were typical then I see why the paper attracts so little advertising. I write as someone who (using George Orwell’s definition based on his Spanish Civil War experiences) is a patriot rather than a nationalist and who voted No not on principle or from fear of the unknown, but only because I think we should first have asked for and tried a Federal GB to see if that satisfied most of us.

That said, I do now see that perhaps I should have been fearful, as the general tone of editorial matter and readers’ letters is worryingly suggestive of earlier and sadder episodes in history. One doesn’t have to be an expert historian to see an alarming similarity between the way some fellow Scots regard the UK, and especially the English “Establishment”, and the way nationalist Germans regarded the Jewish “Establishment” a century ago. Westminster (shorthand for English-dominated Establishment) is, to judge from The National’s tone (whether conscious or unconscious), regarded as the enemy; the source of most, if not all, our problems.

No sensible person denies that this Union has many faults, but show me one that doesn’t. Many, even most, successful nations have chosen to live in some sort of union or another, varying from tiny Switzerland through Germany, India Canada and Australia to the US and Russia. All have internal stresses and strains (which family and marriage doesn’t?), but all appear to reckon that on balance they are better off; that situation being true of the present EU countries also. Accordingly it is difficult to see why Scotland is a special case: a case that the Yes campaign significantly failed to make.

Personally, I reckon as regards neighbours that building bridges is better than building fences.


THE royalist PR machine is in overdrive this week as it seeks to cement the position of the most blatant symbol of inequality in the UK .

We are expected to celebrate the longevity on the throne of an immensely rich and privileged old lady who has, unsurprisingly, managed to beat the record set by another immensely rich and privileged old lady. Given the pampered life she has lived it would have been surprising if she had not achieved this “remarkable’’ feat .

The toe-curling sycophancy surrounding this non-event is not unexpected, living, as we do, in a society dominated by privilege, exemplified by the monarchy.

I realise that by penning this criticism I am jeopardising my bauble in the next Honours List, but it needs to be said. However, if a knighthood or a place in the House of Horrors could be arranged then I will naturally retract anything which could be construed as suggesting that we live in a Ruritanian theme park where criticism of the regime can be bought off with a title.

James Mills

I WAS disappointed to see The National (September 8) refer to supporters of Catalan independence as “separatists”. Given how the Unionist media have used this word in the past to create a comparison with armed groups in unstable countries I’d have thought the National would have been more sensitive to its negative connotations. Could we perhaps see pro-independence movements in other countries referred to in a more positive light in future?

James Cassidy