WHILE we are all much concerned about the impact of coronavirus here, we should try to imagine the effect it will have when it hits the Middle East and Africa. The people living in war zones or in refuge camps there, lacking a medical infrastructure, face a future that can only be described as apocalyptic.

It is for this reason that Antonio Guterres, the Secretary General of the UN, has called for a global ceasefire. He says: “Refugees and others displaced by violent conflict are doubly vulnerable. The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war.

READ MORE: Kirsty Hughes: Coronavirus: Why the EU can't afford to get its strategy wrong

“That is why today I am calling for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world. It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives.”

This appeal must resonate in the hearts of all people of good will – in spite of the deafening silence from the media. It can be signed individually online, but we must also demand that the UK Government formally gives its support too. It can demonstrate this by stopping CASD (continuous at sea deployment); Trident should be tied up, pending its demolition.

The UK can display real moral leadership by being the first of the nine rogue nuclear states to break ranks and support the TPNW (Treaty Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons) agreed by 122 countries in July 2019.

Tragically, I have little hope that the British government will take this brave step and let go of its nuclear comfort blanket. Its emotional attachment to this ultimate symbol of political status is obdurate. And all Unionist parties are as one in their loyalty to British nuclear idolatry.

Having the freedom and the power to make these liberating advances can only come with political independence, and is an irrefutable reason for demanding this.

Brian Quail

I HAVE always given Michael Fry more intellectual room in his columns as he is in a free-market minority of one against a myriad of liberal/left rivals, which is a credit to the breadth of The National. However, as someone who is neither a doctrinaire socialist nor a laissez-faire free marketeer, I have to comment on the unsavoury dish of economic prejudices served up in his latest column (Change is coming after this crisis ... will lumbering Scotland be ready to adapt?, March 31).

For one thing it is blatantly unhistoric to claim that since 1945 shocks to capitalism have only ever been sharp but temporary. Perhaps this was the case for the south-east of England but I would challenge Mr Fry to try and sell that particular line in central Scotland, northern England, or south Wales, where Thatcherism devastated whole communities – yes, over only a five-year period, but the damaging effects of these economic politics still ravages the people of these communities to this day. For example, the spread of the malign influence of drug addiction took grip in these communities during the 1980s. These are the social consequences of the unregulated capitalism which Mr Fry worships.

READ MORE: Change is coming after this crisis ... will Scotland adapt?

Mr Fry also purveys a revisionist version of history when he states that the six years of World War Two were the seedbed in which the welfare state was born. Certainly its blueprint was honed during the war, but it was the long working-class experience of the 1930s Great Depression, compounded by the misery of the post-World War One slump in the 1920s which preceded it, which led the great mass of people to see that things had to change. And I would indeed say that the last decade of Tory-led austerity has been a decade of sacrifice, because the dreams of many young gifted people who do not come from the top drawers of Oxbridge society have been increasingly sacrificed on the dubious altar of neo-liberal economics – a creed which, far from promoting social and economic equality, did the opposite.

Mr Fry believes that “official policies need to be backed up by evidence, and the past is the only place the evidence can come from”. Indeed, so if free-market solutions always deliver the best social outcomes for the vast majority of people then why was the market increasingly regulated by first Liberal and then Labour governments from the 1900s onwards?

Cllr Andy Doig (Independent)
Renfrewshire Council

FURTHER to Hamish MacPherson’s excellent article (Celebrating Arbroath, even under lockdown, March 31), the 700th anniversary of the 1320 Declaration of Arbroath on April 6 is an important defining moment in shaping who we are. As well as asking the Pope to recognise Scotland’s independence from England, it established the principle of sovereignty of the people over the monarch and hugely influenced the American Declaration of Independence.

READ MORE: Celebrating Arbroath anniversary, even under coronavirus lockdown

It is therefore astonishing that there isn’t one TV programme scheduled from any of our broadcasters commemorating this notable anniversary. Perhaps not surprising when the vast bulk of the output on our screens is determined in another country, but at least we can listen to Billy Kay’s Declaration programmes on BBC Radio Scotland at 1.30pm on Monday to Wednesday next week.

Fraser Grant

Scotland is in lockdown. Shops are closing and newspaper sales are falling fast. It’s no exaggeration to say that the future of The National is at stake. Please consider supporting us through this with a digital subscription from just £2 for 2 months by following this link: www.thenational.scot/subscribe. Thanks – and stay safe.