THE letter from Campbell Anderson (Letters, November 8) covers all the points that I myself would make on the Neil Lennon incident but it is his last paragraph I would like to comment on. Mr Anderson wondered if the schooling of children separately in Scotland is a bar to good relations between religions.

I commented on this in a letter to The Herald some 13 years ago and it may be a repeat of my views then might not go amiss today.

As one now two years over my three score and ten entitlements, there are a few things I would dearly love to see before I shuffle off my coil. Top of my list would be an independent Scotland, and next an independent Scotland free of bigotry.

Since I learned to read I must have read thousands of words, seen dozens of “initiatives” and listened to countless “experts” on this subject. It may be that I am speaking nonsense, but these are my experiences and my thoughts. If I am speaking nonsense I will not be the first or the last to do so.

As a child growing up in Knightswood I knew no Catholic children at all. I don’t think I was a particularly bigoted child but for some reason any group contact seemed to result in some kind of mayhem – after all they were different, and children are suspicious of this. They went to a different school which we all knew indulged in all kinds of peculiar practices.

The Luftwaffe changed all this for me when they dropped a very large bomb on Bankhead school and some of us were forced to share a playground with – if memory serves – St Paul’s RC school. The arrangements were that we children shared a playground; what the teachers did I cannot say. The result, of course, was chaos for a few days until the situation righted itself and playground games took over as a calming influence. Of course the separation reappeared as soon as the “qualie” kicked in, but at least some of us (on both sides) had met the enemy and made peace for a while.

I am of the opinion that we will not defeat bigotry until we have strictly secular schools – no exceptions – where children of all religions work and play together. If any religious group wants to have their own schools, they must provide and finance them and take the blame when bigotry rears its ugly head in later years.

Somehow I think I will see my first wish realised before the other.

Jim Gibson

IN reply to “Name and address supplied” (Letters, November 8) who criticised my letter printed in Wednesday’s National, I would ask did he understand me? If some Hibs fans singing about Craig Levein’s recent health scare isn’t nasty and horrible (and it’s not obviously racist or sectarian), what is it? Does it have to have a label before we expose and try to end it? Or maybe they were being racist since a couple of Irish tricolours were being waved by them! I’m joking of course, just imagine – wee country with significant proportion of ginger heids racially abuses same.

This behaviour exists in almost every club, singing and chanting very unpleasant things about opposing players and coaches. TV and radio commentators can frequently be heard apologising. Now I’d bet there are lots of Celtic regulars who cringe at some of the Green Brigade ditties, and I’m sure lots of Rangers fans wish they could drown out the Sash, which of course is sectarian. Tell me what’s in the minds of the perpetrators if you can please, but you can bet on this, it’s not always something-ist, in fact it often isn’t. It’s just horrible, so instead of arguing about what is and isn’t racist or sectarian, why can’t we work to eradicate ALL unpleasant behaviour?

I’m an atheist by the way.


LESLEY Riddoch’s well-presented assessment of the activities and various organisations involved in the land usage of Scotland’s hills and uplands (Animal activists and land reformers need to join forces to deliver results, November 8) misses one vital issue – the impact of Brexit.

The stability of hill farming’s current structure in these socially and economically fragile areas is threatened by removal of EU support, and we have learned to our cost not to trust Westminster. Lacking are practical people, from politicians to bureaucrats, making commonsense decisions which require a hands-on background.

Wednesday at Dingwall Highland Mart served to reinforce my contention that “conservation cattle” allied to forestry will prove one means by which these areas may best serve the vital needs of preserving bio-diversity and helping curb the CO2 problem. Grain produced beef, finding straw and barley going into bio-mass boilers, is losing viability. Cattle which live on natural roughage, use forestry for their winter roof and brash young saplings at the same time have yet to find favour.

Due to maturing slowly, Highland breeding cattle at the moment can be bought for a quarter of the price of other breeds, but their turn may come. Too many talkers in the land use game have never dug a peat or milked a cow. There is no substitute for practical experience.

Iain R Thomson