I BELIEVE the First Minister reads The National and consequently would like to ask if she might consider replying to the following proposal.

I suggest that there be a debate at Holyrood to consider suspending the imperial honours system and replace it with a Scottish honours system.

One based on merit and not patronage.

Other Commonwealth countries have already done this.

In 1990 there were no nominations from Australia to the UK for British honours.

As a result, the Queen’s private secretary, Sir William Heseltine, wrote to the Australian governor-general, William George Hayden suggesting: “This seems a good moment to consider whether the time has not arrived for Australia, like Canada, to honour its citizens exclusively within its own system”.

On 5 October 1992, the Australian Government announced that it would make no further recommendations for British honours.

The Australian Order of Wear states that “All imperial British awards made to Australian citizens after 5 October 1992 are foreign awards and should be worn accordingly”.

In Scotland, we are halfway there.

It is a fact that since 2007, the First Minister and all other Scottish Government ministers have chosen to have no role in any part of the UK imperial honours process.

I recently nominated a firefighter for a medal only to be told by the UK authorities that they had run out of medals because of cost restrictions.

It appears that near obscene penny pinching to save £15.55 per medal rather than recognise brave emergency personnel who risk their lives is all right. Whereas failed UK politicians such as Danny Alexander can be awarded an expensive knighthood seemingly as a consolation prize at being sacked from public office.

Danny Alexander’s badge for this imperial honour cost taxpayers in excess of £350.

Surely it is time for Scotland to get a grip of the honours system in our country?

There is a role in society for recognising decent people and especially those who risk their lives. The Scottish Government have a principled stance rejecting Imperial patronage. Perhaps it is time to recognise those who place themselves in harm’s way and others who genuinely help fellow Scots in society to be recognised in a fair and proper manner? Time for a Scottish honours system? To the First Minister, there is precedent here.

If the Queen’s very own private secretary is authorised to defer public service awards to a nation’s government in the case of Australia and Canada, then why not Scotland?

In a few day’s time the New Year Honours will be announced, gifting Imperial rank, title and patronage to tired worn out political rejects and old pals of David Cameron.

Is it not about time Scotland rescued the honours system that applies north of the Border and create our own system?

Russ McLean

LYNTON Crosby, the Australian strategist credited with helping the Tories win their first outright election in 20 years (mostly by putting the frighteners on English voters by distracting them with the question of whether Labour would work with the SNP), is reportedly to be awarded a knighthood.

Even the UK Government’s own guidance says the honours system recognises people who have “committed themselves to serving and helping Britain”. Doubtless there will be many Tories who say this is true of the tobacco-pushing Wizard of Oz, but in my view, this just shows how corrupt and redundant the awards are.

The Third Man

Did Alex talk about human rights on his visit to Iran?

I READ with profound dismay the report of the visit to Iran by three SNP MSPs (Bid to boost links with Iran on trip, The National, December 23).

While I have tremendous respect for what the SNP has achieved for Scotland, I am none the less concerned about its naivete with regard to the human rights record of nations such as Iran.

According to respected organisation, Human Rights Watch, Iran holds the record for the highest number of executions of juveniles and is second only to China in its overall execution rate. Prominent opposition figures have been held in prison without charge since 2011 and Iran remains one of the world’s main persecutors of journalists, bloggers and social media figures.

LGBT folk are subjected to torture and execution. I therefore ask Mr Salmond: did you raise the issue of human rights with the Iranian leadership or were you more concerned about getting your hands on Iranian money?

Revd John Nugent

OF Alex Salmond’s intelligent and important visit to Iran to bolster Scottish trade, Alistair Carmichael is reported to have said, ‘It has been the strategy of the SNP since 2007 to hollow out the role of the UK Government in Scottish public life’. Hollow words indeed from a man who was taken to court by his own constituents for hollowing out the concept of honesty in Scottish public life. It seems these days all the opposition parties in Scotland can do is to ‘carp from the sidelines’ and ‘not think before they speak’.

Dennis White

AS he bombs women and children in Syria and forces terminally ill people on benefits into ‘fit for work tests’, in his Christmas message to the nation David Cameron urges us all to “reflect on Christian values”. What a hypocrite and what an insult to God.

Chas Mc Ardle

MY daughter’s friend is one of the people striking to stop the cut in pay for low-paid staff at the National Museums (Museums closed again by festive walkout, The National, December 24). Her pay is not cut but she is losing wages supporting colleagues in a dispute that has lasted three years. The management claim savings of £400,000 by removing weekend allowances from new staff yet this is money being taken from low paid workers. Their statement that “the country can’t afford it” sounds very much like a UK Government position.

In Scotland we want people adequately paid and for those that can not spend time with their families at the weekends to receive that financial recognition. John Lewis pay their staff a weekend allowance so the statement that they are following others is selective at best. Edinburgh will be full of tourists over the festive season but for the third year in a row they may find the countries top museum closed. Surely it is time for a third party to come in and broker a deal that allows each side to save face.

Andy Wallace

YOUR correspondent Mr Keith Howell (Letters, December 23) need not have any fears that the Scottish Government is being held to account. BBC Scotland are doing a fine job, though their agenda is more to denigrate all and everything the SNP do and say, and spin the Labour party into a positive light.

Mr Howell is incorrect on another point also.

SNP supporters do not want ‘separation’ from anything, we want independence.

Richard Walthew
Whitsome Crofts, Duns

HAS anyone else noticed the striking resemblance between the late great Scottish actor Alistair Sim as Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, and the infamous Tory benefits butcher and Scrooge of the disabled and vulnerable, Ian Duncan Smith?

Louise McArdle

Dancing in The Streets of Raith?

O what a nonsense that we dinnae dance

Ideas leap and whirl in this wee country

In reels of swirling thoughts and dreams

And in the progress of the steps it seems

That in our dance we laugh, for in that glance

We choreograph a future.

Freedom, dignity and hope: for this we dance.

Thom Cross
Carluke & Kirkcaldy

Letters To The National, December 28, Part 1: Let’s not shed crocodile tears for big hauliers