A GREAT deal of time this week, in the press, media and social media has been devoted to the subject of racism. I absolutely agree that racism and any kind of “othering” of people – be it sexism, bigotry, demeaning of social status, homophobia or disability – in an inclusive society is quite abhorrent. It should not be excused, flippantly regarded or accepted.

Therefore, it perplexes me that we are in this election preparing for the possibility of electing a party led by someone who had personally shown such a lack of leadership in this area.

A poem written while Boris Johnston was editor of the Spectator magazine in 2004 called for the “extermination of Scottish people”. The poem also suggested that “Scotland should be turned into a ghetto followed by genocide of the tartan dwarves within it”. Reacting to the poem at the time, Maureen Fraser, director of the Commission for Racial Equality in Scotland described it as “very offensive and the language is deeply inflammatory”.

No doubt there will be people out there who try to laugh this off as a Boris Johnston joke. However, there will be many like me who feel that by allowing such a publication, Boris Johnston is showing contempt for Scotland and its people. Only this morning, Stanley Johnston, the prime minister’s father, reacting to suggestions that his son should be called “Pinocchio” because of his record of untruths, tried to divert from the topic by insulting the literacy skills of the British public. When pulled up by the interviewer he changed tack dismissing his comments as humorous.

It is possible that the remarks made by the prime minister about children raised by single mothers – “Ill-raised, ignorant, aggressive and illegitimate” – and of men “the modern British male is useless”, adding “if he is blue collar, he is likely to be drunk, criminal, aimless, feckless and hopeless”, will be passed off as an attempt at humour. But they are not humorous and show a disrespect for a large number of people in Britain.

Recently a number of candidates for election from various parties were deselected when disrespectful posts from social media and other publications came to light. I cannot get over a feeling of injustice when a powerful public figure like the Prime Minister seems to be excused from such a fate. As he intervenes in the run up to the election by calling out anti-Semitism, I wonder if the Chief Rabbi, who regards Boris Johnston as a friend and champion of the Jewish community, is aware of the double standards being applied.

As an elderly Scottish woman I look forward to the day when Scotland is independent and freed from any possibility of being governed by someone with the attitudes, morality and reputation displayed by Boris Johnston.
Isobel Gibson

THANK you for Elliot Bulmer’s excellent update on the continuing Myanmar political situation (Constitutional education is needed to ensure we cannot be hoodwinked by our democratic leaders, The Sunday National, November 24).

It may be of interest and perhaps informative to Elliot and your readers to learn of an experience I had almost three years ago (Jan 15, 2017 to be exact) in Yangon.

Invited to visit new developments in the country, I was having a delightful alfresco supper with a couple, old friends from Indonesia – she was temporarily consulting in Yangon – he had just come from Indonesia to visit. Having arrived just that very day, he told me about the incredible moment after he had disembarked and passed immigration at the Yangon airport. A Burmese man was shot and killed 10 feet away from him as both waited at the airport exit for their wives. The man was hugging his young daughter who had just that moment run up to greet her father. The assassin ran off but was quickly caught, he said; but he had shot another person whilst resisting arrest.

It turned out that the murdered person was U Ko Ni, a Muslim lawyer, expert in constitution matters and, importantly, the “informal leader of the government”. Aung San Suu Kyi’s personal legal adviser, he had been on the same plane as my friend, coming from Indonesia, having been sent there, we may surmise, by Aung San Suu Kyi personally to discuss with the Indonesian President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) the possibility of becoming a neutral umpire in the various struggles she and the military had been having with its border states. At that time, they were looking for a peaceful and humane solution to the recent “forcible displacement” (ethnic cleansing) of the Rohingya people from their centuries-long history in the Rakhine Province.

To add credibility to this story, there was at the time an understandable concern that China might be brought in by the Tatmadaw (the Nation’s Armed Forces) to arbitrate – a real worry given the latter’s merciless and despotic handling of the peoples of Tibet and the Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

It took two years to bring the assassin and his mentor to justice. Both, interestingly but hardly surprisingly, had a history in the military intelligence. Though given death sentences, with no implementation of this sentence for nearly 40 years, (and an uncertainty about its legality) there is little chance of these sentences being implemented.

Those that criticise her ineffectiveness may take on board that military regimes are notoriously difficult to shift and will resort to extreme measures to retain control. In Myanmar, despite a huge majority, her party cannot govern without the approval of the military which hold the critical Ministries of Defence, border affairs (smuggling of timber, precious stones over the border to China continues to be an intractable problem) and home affairs … and a veto. And you think we in Scotland have problems!
Gordon Benton
Newburgh, Aberdeenshire

IN The Sunday National o November 17 wes a braw lang pistill frae Dr Michael Dempster, the Scots Skreivar at is resident ben the National Library of Scotland. It wuid be a grand ploy ti hae a wie bittie Scots in yer blaud ilka ouk. Thon cuid tak the furm o ane schort airtikil bi Dr Dempster newsin anent nyow buikies, ir trysts lik the Perlament’s Corss-Pairtie Gruip fur Scots whaur the fuither o the tung is ti be simmert an wintirt owre. At the Naitionall Librar he maun hae aw the faks anent sicna ettils.

Anither idaia wuid be ti hae a Scots wird gemm lik mibbies a corss-wird fikkil – thon micht be the erest o sicna bastes in the warl. Gif ye consither the’r owre monie spells o wirds in Scots, mith A mynd ye at English cross-word puzzles aften uise auld farrant spells ti confaise ye, an at ‘The Concise Scots Dictionary’ hes a fouth o daialek wirds an auld tairms ben hits skeiilie peges juist wytin ti be uised. Fur a swatch, Dr Dempster semes ti be settified wi ‘leg’ whan the dictionars hae lim an shank, lyoman an stumpart ir gammon.

Monie eir syne the wes a competeitioun in a blaud ti upmak nyow Scotch wirds. Thon at A mynd wes ti deskreive the buddie at didna tak a guid wullie waucht, kiz he wes dryvin hiz freins hame. A proponed “the caw cannieman” eftir the howff o thon nemm in Embro. This wuid owreset as ‘the drive carefully guy. A didna cum spede, but hits anither baur at fowk mith injoy.

The wird “helicopter” is mentiounit. Thon cums frae the Auncient Grew fur “helix wing” an mibbies cuid be in Scots be pheizieweing. Gif ye think thon a mouthfae, the CSD inhauds wirds lik “smaragdane – emerald”. Bot pheizieweing is the verra soun at ane ether-bell ir dragonfly, naitur’s chapper, maks.
Iain WD Forde

YOUR front page banner headline “Unionists in desperate bid to halt SNP” together with the report (Tactical voting site the latest trick from desperate Unionists, The National, November 29) is excellent news for the SNP.

The fact that a former Labour MP is encouraging labour voters to vote Conservative is an indication of the success Nicola Sturgeon has had in her TV appearances where she was head and shoulders above Messers Corbyn and Johnson and Ms Swinson.

I am not surprised that Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn, both standing in English constituencies, are preaching policies which will damage Scotland. Perhaps it is in the hope of increasing their vote. Why Jo Swinson, standing in a Scottish constituency, is willing to support either of them beggars belief. I cannot believe that her constituents are unaware of the damage that a Tory government could inflict on the Scottish people.

If, as pedalled by the Unionist parties, Scotland is a huge financial burden that has carried by Westminster, obviously when Scotland becomes an independent nation and that burden is shed Westminster would have a massive surplus. Or have I missed something?
Thomas L Inglis

VOTERS in the forthcoming General Election who sincerely wish Scotland to both remain in the UK and remain in the EU face a dilemma.

Should Unionists decide to vote Conservative then they will contribute to the possibility of bringing about a hard Brexit, or worse, a disastrous No Deal, with no guarantee that a second independence referendum will not be called within the next two years.

Should they decide to vote Labour, they will still contribute to the possibility of bringing about Brexit, but possibly a softer Brexit and may also only defer the possibility of an independence referendum for another year.

Should they decide to vote SNP, they may positively contribute to preventing Brexit, but if Brexit were still to eventuate then they would likely contribute to bringing about a referendum on whether Scotland

should be an independent country within the next year. This, in turn, could also contribute to the possibility that an independent Scotland could effectively remain in the EU through a Brexit transition or through any interim period retain access to the European Union via membership of EFTA or the EEA.

Certainly for those Unionists who do genuinely wish to remain in the EU and who accept that it is right that the people of Scotland should be allowed to determine their own constitutional destiny, this latter option should be a no-brainer.

However, for Unionists who are confident in the speculative and rather patronizing rhetoric that “the people of Scotland do not want a second independence referendum”, possibly the most honourable alternative is to abstain in this peculiar General Election, which is perhaps less about the implementation of manifesto proposals by the next government at Westminster and more about the constitutional future of an increasingly disunited kingdom.
Stan Grodynski
Longniddry, East Lothian