AMONGST the many insightful articles in the latest Sunday National, those concerning the Euro election aftermath are particularly thought-provoking. In essence they question the Labour and Conservative parties’ relevance to today’s Scotland and whether these parties could somehow adapt to circumstances which have changed radically in the last few years.

The Scottish Labour and Conservative parties (as well as the Liberal Democrats) are mere branches of London-based organisations and, as such, have next to no ability to formulate independent policies. The very names are misleading. The Scottish Labour party is not the Labour Party of Scotland, as its name would suggest, but the Labour Party in Scotland; likewise the Scottish Conservative Party. Despite the “Scottish” in their names they are not Scottish parties. Let us highlight this at every opportunity.

The Unionist parties in Scotland are subordinate to their Westminster head offices. In the 2016 referendum every constituency in Scotland voted to remain in the European Union. Do these so-called Scottish parties respect their constituents’ vote? Not at all – they do their London masters’ bidding and follow policies which are counter to the wishes of the people they are supposed to represent in the Scottish Parliament. Can these parties adapt? Until they find some form of independence, the answer must be a resounding “No”.

In contrast, the SNP stands out as a Scottish and European party. The election of Christian Allard to the European Parliament is greatly heartening. That a Frenchman can represent Scotland in Europe is a huge and ironic message to xenophobic Brexit supporters. His election has not gone unnoticed in France and many favourable comments have been made. Bravo, Christian! The Auld Alliance lives on.

James McDougal
Menton, France

EVERY year at this time the anniversary of D-Day sparks memories of World War Two. Only for me and my generation the memories are real time, not only something that we as a nation have to be told to honour.

As I approached my 12th birthday we heard of the build-up of allied forces that would some day very soon launch the “beginning of the end” of Hitler’s Nazi empire. And they did and we followed day by day the newsreels and newspaper reports of the invasion and the battles. And these are graphic memories of the horror, from the Normandy beaches, the airborne attack by thousands of paratroops at the battle of Arnhem (A Bridge Too Far) to the horrific discovery of the atrocities of Belsen – the newsreels showed the piles of dead bodies and skeletons like living human beings.

But our memories are of the whole experience of living during the war. I remember as a nine-year-old in 1941 watching from a safe distance the bombs exploding over Clydebank in 1941 and hearing the drone of the bombers overhead.

And recently I watched that very good film The Battle of Britain. It is well made and the aerial photography is spectacular. As was the way at that time, although it was the battle to stop the German invasion of Britain, it talks a lot about the English forces. After enjoying it thoroughly, however, the most poignant part which struck me was when at the end they rolled the list of the thousands of foreign personnel who took part. The Polish, French, Canadian, Czech etc etc. And the thought immediately struck me that here was a time in our history when we could not have done it alone, and we were grateful for the help we were given.

And that list contains many of the people we don’t want in the UK today. Well, on D-Day, and on Armistice day when we remember, let us make sure we remember THEM ALL. And think on!

No man is an island.


YOUR report on the discovery of another Lewis chess piece falls into the Anglo-centric trap of assuming that the pieces were abandoned on Lewis by a trader, presumably on his way from Scandinavia to somewhere “civilised” like Dublin (Piece of history with a price tag of £1m, June 4). The implication of this is that the Hebrides were too wee, too poor and too stupid for such masterpieces to be owned, appreciated or used there.

But a 13th-century praise poem to Aonghas Mór of Islay, son of Domhnall mac Raghnaill (and therefore the first “son of Donald” and the first of the MacDonald line), refers to Aonghas inheriting “brown ivory pieces for chess” from his father. The poet refers to Aonghas as “king of Lewis” and “king of the isles”. If Aonghas was a significant Hebridean warlord, with hosts of warriors and longships at his command, could he also not have been a keen chess player with a taste for exquisitely carved pieces?

Les Wilson
Co-editor, Islay Voices

WHILE disposing of last week’s papers I perused the photo of the Dakota again at Prestwick airport and marvelled at the history of this aircraft. The military version (C.47) first flew in 1941, a staggering 78 years ago. My favourite aircraft (I was lucky enough to fly in a DC.3, albeit only to Isle of Man, sometime in early 60s), it has provided service in all continents even to this day. Thanks for the memories!!

Iain Lyall