IN an otherwise interesting and informative article (Why did the Scots not act on a key part of the Declaration?, April 8), Kenneth MacInnes makes the surprising claim that the Scots never used the right, contained in the Declaration of Arbroath, to depose a ruling monarch.

He does mention some examples of monarchs being murdered, arrested and forced to abdicate, but he does not think that these events expressed “the collective will of the Scottish people”. Evidence from the 17th and 18th centuries, however, suggests that this verdict might be qualified.

READ MORE: Why did Scots not act on a key part of Declaration of Arbroath?

In 1638 Scots from all ranks of society expressed their opposition to the attempt to impose the liturgy of the church of England on Scotland by signing the National Covenant. This defence of the Scottish church led ultimately, through the bishops’ wars, to civil war and the execution of King Charles I in 1649.

Likewise, many of the Scots Presbyterians who took refuge in the Netherlands in the 1670s and 1680s played a significant part in the overthrow of King James VII in 1688. Following their example, the parliament of Scotland declared that James had forfeited his right to rule Scotland, and offered the crown to the Prince and Princess of Orange.

Ironically, many of the most radical Scots Presbyterians soon became dissatisfied with their new rulers. They turned to Jacobitism and their unsuccessful attempts to restore James, and then his son, to the throne only ended after the defeat at Culloden in 1746.

Graham Townend

GEORGE M Mitchell’s recollections of life during the Second World War made pleasant reading, and I’m sure that in many ways for a child living in the country, wartime came with sudden changes, many of which were exciting.

The article brought to mind a recent conversation with my mother, who was born before Fleming identified penicillin. In the 1930s she contracted scarlet fever. She was sent to an isolation hospital, well away from the town, and she remembers lying there one night as a little boy, who was being kept in a separate room, came out, crying: “I want my Mummy.”

He died in hospital.

When my mother told me that story, she involuntarily performed the part of the little boy, capturing the pathos of that moment so long ago – it had left such a deep impression on her, and seemed such a cruel thing to do: to let a child die on his own. It’s not a pleasant story, and I’m sure that the doctors and nurses at the hospital worked as hard as they could with the tools which they had available.

But it’s suddenly where we are, facing an infection for which we have few tools, other than isolating ourselves whenever we might have been exposed to infection.

Robbie Mochrie
via email

ALL of Alyn Smith’s points are well made and I look forward to these internal conversations (This is how the Yes movement and SNP can best use this time, April 8). However, the discourse should have wider engagement.

In late 2019 the Irish Government decide to embark upon a public consultation on Ireland’s security requirements. There is nothing to stop the current devolved Scottish Government doing the same, as human security is not a reserved issue.

The discourse around the foreign policy of a re-emerging Scottish state in the run-up to indyref1 was in truth thin gruel. I remember attending a seminar at Glasgow University in early 2014 (the were no SNP representatives present) where I said, half jokingly: “Is the principal feature of the geopolitics of an independent Scotland that it has none?”

The undergraduate and postgraduate students that made up the bulk of the audience got my point and burst out laughing. Not so the representatives of the UK security establishment who made up a significant number of the panellists.

Recent baggage (the Scottish end of the post-imperial legacy, for instance) needs to be considered of course, but not obsessed over. We also sorely require a scoping of an independent Scotland’s basic geopolitical determinants (lessons from New Zealand and Ireland in particular).

Above all we need to give primacy to the human security paradigm, within which issues of national security are properly placed, not the other way around. For example, no serious commentator sees the Russian threat – and it does exist – as existential.

The advent of Covid-19 makes it even more obvious that the human security approach (which has less to do with pacifism than many think) will allow us to tackle the even bigger long-term threat of climate change.

William Ramsay

I LISTENED to Malcolm Rifkind giving us the benefit of his great wisdom. He says we are fighting a war against the virus in one breath, and in the next defends the so-called constitution. There is no need to have a deputy prime minister in his opinion – we can get round to replacing him if he gets worse. As an ex-serviceman I am glad he was not my CO!

Colin Harvey
via email

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