RECENT investigation by Jamie Mann on behalf of Ferret journalists (Landowner accused of breaching access code, Sunday National, May 30) has exposed some strange events on the Ardnamurchan peninsula. These have implications for the rest of Scotland.

As reported, the owner of Ardnamurchan Estate, Donald Houston, appears to have unusual attitudes towards public access over the 30,000 acres or so that he controls. Mr Houston seems to have been a major funder of the “Better Together” campaign and that may have influenced his views on the relationship between UK and Scottish legislation when it comes to public access rights. Is this why he is using the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 to try and stop public access to parts of his land, claiming that local residents are committing “Aggravated Trespass”? As far as I know he is the only landowner in Scotland who thinks that such a crime is relevant to ordinary members of the public taking access peacefully across land or water.

Even stranger is the decision of local police officers and the procurator fiscal in Fort William to have taken these claims seriously. They have been investigating these so called offences on Ardnamurchan since November 2019. Scotland’s justice system is in dire trouble if such public officials believe that UK legislation, brought in to deal with foxhunting saboteurs in England in 1994, overrides public access rights established by the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, our right to roam legislation.

Other public officials, notably in Scottish Forestry, also appear very muddled in their dealings with Mr Houston. Their claim that that public access is continuing on main access routes across Ardnamurchan is wrong. SF may have supplied public funds for gates in deer fences associated with new forestry schemes but, as I found recently while trying to cycle along part of the Acharacle – Glenborrodale route, such access is prevented if the landowner then locks those gates. Scottish ministers need to examine whether SF require new powers to remove unauthorised locks as soon as they appear.

Ardnamurchan reminds me of a remote outpost of the British Empire, still under colonial rule, with a Governor General who controls the operation of public services like justice, forestry and planning. The politicians responsible for those services in Scotland today need to take back control and restore public confidence in legal and democratic process.

Dave Morris
Kinnesswood, Kinross

EVER since the cohering of political philosophies into recognisable political parties, on the post enlightenment model, there have been political figures who have changed horses in mid-stream, on whatever pretext. Back in 1981, when I had a hairline and not so much of a waistline, there was mass Labour outrage at the defection of Jenkins, Williams, Owen, and Rodgers, to create the SDP, as they had been all elected under the Labour banner in 1979. Mr James Cassidy (Letters, May 28, accurately comments on similar SNP outrage now at Kenny MacAskill MP and Neale Hanvey MP, who have defected to Alba.

Where I would part company with Mr Cassidy is in his recommendation that statutory legislation by Holyrood is the only way to deal with this issue. Whilst I would not be adverse to the Power of Recall being introduced for Holyrood the most effective court for listening to the claims of MPs or MSPs who have left their original party, to then adhere to another for whatever reason, is the court of public opinion. The admixture of reasons that leads to political defection are frequently bloody, painful, and deeply personal, not least for those who decide to leave. Public representatives are ultimately responsible to their electors and it is best that Mr MacAskill and Mr Hanvey put their case for leaving the SNP and joining Alba to their voters at the next Westminster election, and allow them to be the final arbiter.

Mr Cassidy is also undoubtedly correct that a sense of clemency is usually the right approach to take. In 1981 the former SNP MP for Argyll, Iain MacCormack, publicly left the SNP as he felt it too left wing, and in 1983 Ian Blackford publicly left the SNP as he felt it too right wing. Both were re-admitted to the SNP in the 1990’s. In Scottish political life these days we must avoid the danger of parties becoming like 17th Century Presbyterian sects where the Elect who run them overlook the role of conscience and the right for representatives to change their minds on various issues.

Political reform of the Holyrood system is definitely overdue and STV is by far the most effective system for various reasons. In my experience over the last decade as a Councillor I can testify that it works well in Scottish council elections and has been an established system for decades in Irish national elections, it promotes competition between representatives which therefore leads to more effective representation for the public, and it maintains the crucial link between the representative and the constituency.

It is also extremely democratic in giving maximum power to voters to vote strongly for what they want as their first choice, with the additional benefit of allowing them to use subsequent votes to vote against what they do not want if their first choice has been eliminated. Scotia Future made clear in our recent Holyrood manifesto that this is the system which we feel would serve Scotland best.

Cllr Andy Doig
Nominating Officer, Scotia Future

JUST as all empires that have ever existed have all ended, no move towards independence by a subjected country has ever happened by an easy path.

Every emperor that has ever had the title “last emperor” has been the last one of that empire be that the Akkadian Empire or the British one. It is what we are experiencing on this archipelago what with the unelected head of state presiding over an ever more crumbling state. A state with its foundations weakened by a series of horrendous mistakes, cataclysmic errors and complete misjudgement of public opinion.

The head of state along with her PM (succession of) and every loyal opposition party (again succession of) have ether ignored the desire for self-determination here in Scotland or trivialised it to fit in with their own preconceived egotistical beliefs on the popularity of the union.

When the government of the day heralded the coming of a “new Elizabethan age” back in the 1950s, they paid not one concern to countries that had not had an Elizabeth has head of state and by that Churchill’s unilateral decision that the head of state would be known as QE2 again paid no consideration to those countries that have never had a Queen Elizabeth before. The decision did prompt a backlash in Scotland as can be seen by the postboxes north of the Rio Tweed.

The move by Churchill as with all similar moves was one of imposing one history over the top of another, only one history mattered to the imperial elite and that history would be controlled from London.

We of a certain age must forget the fairy tale that we were taught in primary school one reinforced by children’s programmes highlighting the greatness of empire for example the BBC programme Blue Peter. It was all carefully crafted state sanctioned propaganda, a propaganda with but one purpose, and that was to plant into the minds of those of a young and susceptible age just how great the union of 1707 was and through that union how fantastic the UK is.

That scheme, that subterfuge was working and working well until the modern era, the era of the second great Scottish enlightenment. This was when people of all ages began to do research for themselves, began to question the state narrative and perhaps more importantly became aware that the state had lied to them.

Not only had the state lied to them but it had also lied to their parents, then on through the preceding generations, the lie stretching back to the very moment that the union of 1707 was voted on by the corrupt and oh so easily bribed so called lords of Scotland!

It is that level of installed bias, that degree of ingrained propaganda that we have been fighting these last few years, and I do appreciate that some have been battling it for considerably longer than that and rightly deserve applause for doing so.

Thanks to their groundwork and others joining in we all have arrived at this point, and to borrow a phrase from Dr Who, this fixed point in time, a pivotal moment in our Nations history.

We have many undecided voters out there that are willing to listen to a convincing argument, an honest argument, and that is what we must precent too them if we are to win them over, talk to them and be honest with them never patronising nor condescending. We have a wealth of information to pass onto those that require it.

We also have 314 years of state sponsored propaganda to battle through so do not be dejected if it takes more than one or two attempts at persuasion.

Cliff Purvis
Veterans for Scottish Independence 2.0

A ROTTEN crooked lying buffoon is in Downing Street literally robbing Scotland blind with no consequences. Where is the campaign for Scottish independence?

All I see with the Scottish Devolution Party are an out of touch arrogant leadership who think their supporters have nowhere else to go.

The Tories are plundering and selling out Scotland. All the Devolutionists give are excuses as to why we are not having a referendum. We have to wait until the terms of Brexit are clear, Until support is at 60 percent for a few years, until the Covid-19 pandemic is over.

All utter nonsense. Those on the Westminster gravy train have no intention seeing that lost.

Instead the woke cult that has gathered around St Nicola seem to want to criminalise dissent and purge the SNP of the ideologically impure.

Independence is simply a carrot they dangle in order that gullible voters keep them in power.

Alan Hinnrichs

A LOT is being made recently of the desperate need to help primary and secondary pupils catch up with lost work during lockdown. Down south they are paying over £1 Billion , which is seen as totally inadequate.

I think Scotland could do better for NOTHING.

We already have thousands of teachers on relatively generous salaries. They only spend ( on average ) 22 ½ hours per week in front of class, they are also paid to sit at home for 14 weeks on a normal year on full pay.

So, we shorten school holidays for the next year, we utilise the wasted teacher ‘ down time’ and we get all the kids into school to catch up with their work, but also to help assess their emotional and mental requirements due to the last year and a half. Teachers doing what they are paid for, children back learning, and a more accurate assessment of their grades and health.

Who could want for anything more ?

Jim McGregor