THE arrest of President Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, on charges of fraud may well prove to be a significant political development both in the USA and in many European countries (Former Trump aide charged with fraud, August 21).

Mr Bannon was widely attributed with masterminding Trump’s presidential victory in 2016 and clearly regarded himself as the President’s Thomas Cromwell until his dismissal in August 2017 following the Charlottesville protests. Mr Bannon’s advice in this case, for the president to turn a Nelsonian eye to the excesses of the white nationalist movement, proved too much even for right-wing Republicans, who engineered his dismissal.

READ MORE: Steve Bannon charged with fraud over campaign for wall on US-Mexico border

Steve Bannon has not only been a pernicious moral influence in his own land since the days when he chaired the alt-right Breitbart News – he has also aspired to create a network of right-wing populist-nationalist groups across Europe over the last four years. His extreme right-wing opinions and open contempt for democracy saw him lend his support to the English Defence League, Ukip and the Brexit Party as well as their leaders, principally Tommy Robinson and Nigel Farage.

More pertinently perhaps, Mr Bannon has met leading members of the Westminster government and his advice has reportedly been sought on Brexit negotiations and immigration policy amongst other matters. If there was ever any doubt about the leanings or moral vacuum of the present Conservative administration, look no further than the friends it gravitates to in dealing with some of the most significant issues of our generation.

Steve Bannon is a ruthless, amoral and unscrupulous political operator. His involvement with the government at Westminster not only calls its integrity into question, but just how far into the moral abyss the Conservative government is willing to go in the interests of self-preservation. Scottish independence has never looked so tempting.

Owen Kelly

DAVID Pratt is absolutely right to highlight the appalling injustice that has been inflicted on Palestinians, and The National should be commended for making it front-page news (Gaza’s new normal is the same old hell of bombardment). With the proposed annexation still on the table, the situation is desperate.

There are concrete steps the UK Government can take that would send a loud and clear message.

READ MORE: David Pratt: In Gaza there is no new normal ... just the same old hell haunted by death

The first would be to stop arms sales to Israel. In the last five years the UK has licensed almost £400 million worth of military equipment to Israeli forces, including drone components, small arms and ammunition.

We know that there is a significant risk of them being used. A review by the government at the time found 12 licences for arms which are likely to have been used in the 2014 bombardment of Gaza.

Likewise, in 2010 the then Foreign Secretary David Miliband said that UK-made arms had “almost certainly” been used in the 2009 bombing campaign.

By continuing to arm and support Israeli forces, the UK Government is making itself complicit in the atrocities that it is inflicting. UK-made arms have been used by the Israeli military before, and it is likely that they will be again. These arms sales do not just provide military support, they also give a very clear sign of political support for the daily abuse that is being inflicted by the occupation.

Time and again, successive UK Governments have put arms sales ahead of the rights and lives of Palestinians. The stakes could not be higher. There must be an end to the arms sales and the message of support that they send.

Andrew Smith
Campaign Against Arms Trade

WHO was Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard speaking to on Friday in his keynote speech? A speech which included plans to transform the Scottish economy with a “green new deal” to tackle the economic crisis and climate change jointly.

Some of the proposals included: £100 million investment in electric buses, roll-out of electric vehicle charging points, extending free bus travel to under-25s. Those proposals read like plagiarism! Because all Mr Leonard’s proposals were taken forward in the Scottish Government’s 2020 Budget, when the SNP set aside £1.8bn of capital investment in projects to reduce emissions, investment in electric vehicles and extended free bus travel to under-18s.

This vast spend included £461.8m on the environment, climate change and land reform, something Mr Leonard calls for in his new “green new deal”, yet Mr Leonard and his Scottish Labour colleagues voted against the Scottish Government’s 2020 Budget.

So, what was this keynote speech all about, who was it speaking to, who was it convincing?

Mr Leonard and Scottish Labour may want to bring themselves up to date and consider the fact that the Scottish Government are already getting on with the job of tackling climate change and moving to a greener sustainable environment for the country.

Catriona C Clark