I AM not in the least surprised to learn that protests have broken out about the arrangements for the Christmas Market now dominating the east end of Princes Street, from the Balmoral Hotel to the National Galleries.

As a boy, I spent a year in Hong Kong shortly after the communists had swept to power in mainland China. Tens of thousands, if not millions, of refugees had fled across the border into the former British colony, and I well remember the enormous shanty towns which grew up to house them. Huge areas of land to the north of the city of Kowloon and elsewhere were covered by closely packed squatters’ huts, rooftop to rooftop.

Sadly, I was reminded of this only last week, when I travelled along Princes Street on the top deck of a number 29 bus. Apart from the fun fair which has grown up around the beautiful and historic Scott Monument, I was faced with a vista of closely packed rooftops in an ersatz “Bavarian” style which was supposed to evoke the atmosphere of Germany. Instead, for me it evoked the atmosphere of those Hong Kong shanty towns.

So sad that Edinburgh has come to this in the name of corporate profit and the need to cater for tourists during “Edinburgh’s Christmas”. How grotesque. How absurd.

Keith Halley

NICK Dekker (Long Letter, November 15) makes the crucial point that Scotland’s present-day oil output is £350 million per week. He is, correctly, astonished that SNP literature fails to publicise this fact.

Nick played a central part in the SNP’s “It’s Scotland’s Oil” campaign which propelled the party from one MP in 1970 to an amazing seven, then 11 MPs in 1974.

The first stage in the emergence of the SNP from fringe-party status came during 1962-68. Its very successful campaign message was that Scotland subsidised south-east England to the tune of a (then massive) £150m a year. I attended the debates between the SNP moderniser Billy Wolfe and MP Tam Dalyell on this issue.

READ MORE: Norway shows how oil-rich independent nations can prosper

Today’s SNP is a very sophisticated party of government. Many members are considered to be “pragmatic nationalists”, having simply worked out that a Tory-voting, London-centric England can never deliver social progress for Scotland. Our social policies now tend to take precedence over more direct pro- independence arguments.

Some return to arguments about Scottish taxpayers subsidising government and military jobs and contracts in the south of England, plus reminders of the £350m-a-week Scottish oil output, would provide a harder edge and more straightforward arguments for independence.

Councillor Tom Johnston
North Lanarkshire Council

WHILE we might complain about our politicians or even how relevant the election is to our country, we should remember the situation in Nicaragua, where 13 human rights defenders and activists have been deprived of their liberty for the last two days. Their crime was taking humanitarian aid to family relatives of political prisoners on hunger strike.

Relatives of political prisoners are encircled by police (who have shot down hundreds of protesters during the last 14 months) trapping them in the San Miguel church in the mainly indigenous town of Masaya.

They’re being threatened with forced removal and have been denied access to drinking water, electricity, medicine or medical attention.

Norman Lockhart

WHENEVER there is a coup in any country with a left-leaning government, be it Iran, Indonesia, Egypt, Chile or now Bolivia, I always point at America and the CIA. Any government which introduces progressive policies which benefit ordinary people is absolute anathema to USA administrations, and that is why the Kurds have been abandoned to face the genocidal Turks alone.

I agree entirely with Barry Stewart (Letters, November 16), so won’t be placing any bets. Viva Cuba!

Richard Walthew

WITH the Scottish Government having powers over disability and cold weather payments next spring , this is our chance to offer our people a more humane future unlike the cruel manner in which the DWP behave to those less fortunate and need our support in our communities.

Scotland can be a beacon of hope to those in the UK who want to be part of a more caring, welcoming country, not putting up walls or walking by those less fortunate.

Stevie, Motherwell
via text

JENNIFER Arcuri must have been trained by the same person Andrew had advising him (Jennifer Arcuri asks Boris Johnson for apology over ‘humiliation’, thenational.scot, November 18). Why can these people not admit the truth and be done with it, or has truth completely gone out of the current vocabularies?

Catherine Laing
via Facebook