THE Scottish Government is so very wrong when it states that the current stramash over the use of Holyrood Park or the disgraceful turn back of the 500 mile marchers at Stirling Castle are solely matters for Historic Environment Scotland (HES).

While it is correct that the body can and should be apolitical, it is clearly acting without appropriate guidance as it makes its own very decidedly political decisions.

The question we need to answer for our quangos is how to define political, and the issue seems to be that in setting up this or perhaps any quango, nobody has yet sought to define it, simply leaving it up the individuals in charge of a specific quango or location. That’s clearly wrong, as the definition and perspective can and will change as fresh blood enters each organisation’s leadership positions.

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Imagine a rally in America, Canada, France or Germany taking place in a public space, a rally purporting to support, advance and celebrate the nation. Imagine, for example, the head of the US Park Service refusing such. It’s fairly safe to say that individual would quickly be required to fall on their sword.

The issue here is that someone at the head of HES sees this as political, rather than a celebration of nationhood. The only way these individuals can see this as political is if they don’t believe Scotland is a nation.

Holyrood needs to set forth guidelines, or preferably statute, to ensure this never happens again. To not do so would be derelict in its duty.

If a registered political organisation (party) requests such use, by all means deny it, however parliament should make clear that spontaneous grassroots organisations, especially those disavowing political allegiance, should not be considered political organisations. Then our lawmakers could state that these are public areas, at least for green spaces or parking areas, permitting gatherings at any time, for any non-political group up to a certain percentage of the property’s capacity.

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If Holyrood ignores its obligation in this, the only guarantee we’ll have are future messes as it is left up to each quango to do its own thing. One of them might decide that the century-old issue of women’s suffrage was “political” and remove all reference from a museum or teaching institution. Ridiculous, possibly, but AUOB is simply the thinnest part of a very nasty wedge, and the question must be: if not stopped now, where might it end?

Holyrood, through its own lack of foresight, really can’t intervene in this one. What it can do is to put itself in a position where it will not be caught out in future. Get it done. After all, who wants to volunteer to catch the next hot potato?

Ashley MacGregor
East Kilbride

WHO on earth is Historic Environment Scotland, or more precisely, who is hiding under the cover of that name, while claiming historic sites in Scotland to be “our sites” and pretending to have the authority to examine the validity of any group of peoples’ philosophic idea before they can decide if they can get access to “their” properties?

This is utter nonsense. The Scottish people are sovereign, all Scottish historical sites are their property, such sites belong to no other body. These properties are currently under the care of the elected Scottish Government, which must deal with this immediately. The people claiming ownership of these sites should be told in no uncertain terms that they have no such claim, and that they have no authority to decide what the philosophic views of visitors to these sites are.

If there is any hesitancy from these people about this at all, they should be dismissed as unsuitable for the job.

Andy Anderson