WHAT’S in a name (Gove’s Brexit plan to slap Union Jack on Scottish food labels, February 10)? For Shakespeare, “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” In other contexts, he utilises the proper name’s metaphoric possibilities: “Roses have thorns and silver fountains mud, and loathsome canker lives in sweetest bud;” or, chauvinistically: “For women are as roses, whose fair flower being once displayed, doth fall that very hour;” or, more generously: “O rose of May, dear maid, kind sister, sweet Ophelia;” a characterisation of female appearance that has its present-day counterpart in the “English rose,” a conceit as much cultural as it is aesthetic.

In his essay Improper Nouns, the late Craig Evans interrogates Lothar Baumgarten’s attempt to rescue Amerindian place names from colonial oblivion. Evans notes that, in 1499, Amerigo Vespucci, sighting houses on stilts over water on a northern coast of South America, was reminded of his homeland and named it Venezuela – Little Venice – concretising the act of colonisation in alien terminology through the discounting of indigenous nomenclature, history and geography.

READ MORE: Revealed: Gove's Brexit plan to slap Union Jack on Scottish food labels

Evans goes on to say “the function of the proper name is to inscribe the person (or the place) it designates into a system of differences, thereby obliterating uniqueness by making identity a function of position within a system.”

In late 2018, pre-Christmas, many supermarkets displayed a range of brand new products such as British Shortbread (made in Scotland) and British Whisky (distilled and bottled in Scotland). Significantly, the two German-based discounters had little to do with this, possibly displaying a rather better understanding of a Europe comprised of discrete, cultural entities not determined by mutable national boundaries and post-imperial insecurity.

In January of this year, the Prime Minister hosted a Burns Supper, which she described as a British cultural institution. She claimed: “The work of Robert Burns, one of our finest poets, continues to be enjoyed by millions of people and tonight is not only a celebration of him but the proud culture of the whole of Scotland. Scotland is a hugely valued part of the United Kingdom and I am delighted to have this opportunity to celebrate the great poet, this great nation and our precious Union.”

She had perhaps not read or understood Burns’s views on the Union. However, what she said, and the order in which she said it, was couched precisely as Evans had adduced, to “obliterate uniqueness by making identity a function of position within a system.”

Is this “battle of proper names” – to adopt Derrida’s term – now to be government policy? We eagerly anticipate the arrival in a grocery store near you of “British Puddings” (made in Yorkshire), “British Pasties” (made in Cornwall), “British Sausage” (made in Cumbria), “British Pie” (made in Melton Mowbray), “British Cheese” (made in Cheshire) and “British Rarebit” (made in Wales) among many others.

Roger Emmerson

NORTHWOOD is a leafy suburb in London. In an unremarkable building here, a man can sit drinking coffee at a desk while directing a drone onto a house in Afghanistan, and kill everyone in it. This is Britain’s PJHQ (Permanent Joint Headquarters), a three-storey office that opened in 2010.

All UK military operations around the world are run from here, and a bank of clocks inside the building indicates the breadth of their interests – Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Falklands, the Middle East, Cyprus and Tampa, Florida (home to Lockheed Martin, the manufacturers of Trident missiles). It was from here that British intervention in Libya was controlled.

Last Sunday, along with my friends from the Scottish Republican Socialist Movement, I marched through the village of Glencoe to the monument commemorating the Massacre of February 13 1692. This is commonly presented as a barbarous instance of clan warfare, proof that such people were (and are) not mature enough to contemplate independence. The fact that King William himself personally authorised the slaughter is conveniently ignored, as is the fact that they were massacred under the Union Jack as part of the anti-Jacobite campaign. While marching, I couldn’t help contemplating the fantastic advances we have made in the killing game. Truly, scientific progress is wonderful.

In the old days, soldiers had to march wearily over land for weeks before they reached their target and could settle down to hacking with swords and disembowelling people or shooting them. Nowadays it can be done in comfort from thousands of miles away in an armchair.

Truly, as Martin Luther King lamented: “Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men”.

The best tribute we can make to the people cruelly murdered at Glencoe is to leave the British state that perpetrated this atrocity, and reaffirm our identity as a free and independent state.

Brian Quail

OPEN letter to the six Green MSPs elected with only 13,126 votes.

Your intervention in the Scottish Budget in the belief that Scotland can “save the planet” with a Scottish car parking levy is misplaced.

Some facts. China has 30 per cent of global emissions and has said they will not be reduced until after 2030. China’s methane emissions are rising at an alarming rate, especially so since methane traps 28 times more heat than carbon dioxide. Methane is released from coal mining yet China is opening more mines and more coal-fired power plants. China is also financing mines and building coal-fired plants in other countries.

READ MORE: Greens: Work place car park levy in Scotland will save lives

The emission reduction promises made after the Paris accord are only one third of what climate scientists says are essential.

Suggest that you all go on a slow boat to China – no, make that a fast one – and convince them to reduce their emissions, since this would be a more worthwhile task for you than reducing Scotland’s piddling 0.13%.

Clark Cross