GIVEN how the horrendous events in Israel and Gaza have personally affected the family of Humza’s wife, Nadia El-Nakla, the part of Humza’s speech at the SNP conference related to the conflict was so measured, thoughtful and empathetic to those suffering on both sides. It was a real credit to him. Also, it was very brave, in the circumstances, for Nadia to attend the conference to support him.

Not unrelated, Newsnight spoke to an Israeli mother who had also been on the programme last week, speaking about the kidnapping of her 20-year-old son by Hamas from the music festival. This week she received the devastating news that he had been killed. She had an unexpected message for politicians and leaders everywhere.

She said: “My child was murdered by these monsters and still I don’t want any vengeance. I want no vengeance in my name. I am begging the world don’t go into war. Go and help those people. I feel like their children, the women, the young people and the elders – the children that are growing up now and are educated to be haters.

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“Everything I ask for is they be taught to love and how to heal their wounds and stop this anger and stop this hate. Stop killing. Killing is not the answer. War is not the answer. War is not the answer. This is not a solution. We have to find a way to teach these children to love. To teach the young people of the haters to be lovers. We have to bring in more mothers and more healers instead of more missiles and more soldiers.

“This can’t be the answer to the horror, it will be for more horror. I want the children to be saved. I want the women to be saved. I want the innocent to be saved. I want our kidnapped people, our babies and young people to be saved.

“I am begging, something huge needs to change in the world. I’m not speaking as a politician. I’m not speaking as a person with any knowledge. I’m speaking as a mother. The dearest thing in my life, my only son, has been taken away from me. I have no more tears left in me. I have nothing left in this world but the only time I can breathe again is knowing that I have to share my voice and tell people to stop this. Don’t fight back. Bring mothers, bring grandmothers, bring healers, bring people to come and teach these people how to love and how to heal – that’s all I’m asking.”

This was one of the most compelling, moving and selfless responses I’ve ever heard in my life from someone who had so recently experienced such a horrendous personal loss. Some folk, without criticising her of course, would say this view is very naïve.

Maybe we need naïve – even childlike innocence – throughout the world right now, not just in the Middle East! We seem to have plenty destroyers of folk, animals and the environment in general, and, as the distraught Israeli mother intimated, we need healers, healers and more healers! Never more has the term “hate begets hate” been so true! Politicians and leaders throughout the world take note!

Ivor Telfer

Dalgety Bay, Fife

I ASSUME that the intelligence services of the “Western” nations, including the much-praised “Five Eyes”, are focused on providing information to Israel regarding Hamas and Hezbollah. I’m also assuming that Mossad, Shin Bet and Aman are looking at very little else just now.

With the billions of pounds behind these organisations, the best strategy Israel seems to be formulating is to pound the Gaza Strip from the air prior to sending in thousands of troops with tanks so as to be able to shoot and pound it from the ground as well in the near future. These, of course, are the organisations that spectacularly failed to see the attack being planned.

Aye, money well spent indeed.

John McArthur


IN the first six days of this war, Israel dropped 6000 bombs on Gaza – a land strip 25 miles long and five miles wide packed with 2.3 million people – which was nearly as many as the US dropped on Afghanistan in a year. But the bombing will intensify. Israel is abandoning its “precision” bombing that has killed thousands of civilians in favour of total destruction which means more slaughter of innocents.

Let’s call this what it is – genocide, perpetrated by Israel on another people who also have a right to exist and have been treated abominably for 75 years. And shamefully, a geriatric President Biden in his speech on Thursday night to the American people backed Israel’s plans to destroy Gaza and the Palestinian people.

It was a grotesque speech where he compared Hamas to Russia, saying: “They both want to annihilate a neighbouring democracy.” Israel wants to clear the Palestinians from Gaza and exile them to Sinai and move those in the West Bank to Jordan. That’s the definition of annihilation of a people.

Biden (below) topped off his address by requesting another $74 billion to continue the genocide of Palestinians and the senseless slaughter of Ukrainians.

The National: President Joe Biden has visited Israel (Evan Vucci/AP)

The US-led order is collapsing under the moral turpitude and blatant hypocrisy of the United States and its allies where it’s okay to burn the Qur’an – that’s “free speech” – but illegal to carry a Palestinian flag.

The rest of the world has had enough. But can it come together in time to stop a diseased, craven and amoral empire before it ignites another world war?

Leah Gunn Barrett


HUMZA Yousaf’s announcement at the SNP national conference that council tax will be frozen in the forthcoming financial year has caused quite a reaction.

Not only are representatives of Cosla miffed that there was no prior discussion with them in the spirit of the Verity House Agreement, which was only struck in June of this year, but it came on the day the Poverty and Inequality Commission published a report entitled “How better tax policy can reduce poverty and inequality”.

As someone who is not an academic nor experienced in the labyrinthine development of public service, the urgency to eradicate poverty and encourage ambition simultaneously just gets lost in the many words in both these pieces of works. Why can’t we just put something in place quickly which is simple and delivers?

While your regular readers will be well acquainted with my proposed model of annual ground rent – (AGFRR) – to replace all existing taxes both at a national and local level, the immediate requirement to boost local government funding significantly and eradicate poverty could be addressed by the model even as a replacement for council tax and non-domestic rates.

If we take Glasgow as an example, the city council proposes a budget for 2023/24 of around £3bn. That is clearly insufficient to make a start on improving the tatty state of the place. If 20% was added to that budget and every resident was given a Universal Citizens Income (UCI) of £10,000 per annum, the city’s budget would increase to £9.8bn.

The effect of this is that Glasgow City Council would be able to pay for all its services without any financial support or grant from the Scottish Government and substantially avoid the bureaucratic trade-offs, pleadings and disputes which are an inevitable and expensive consequence of annual budget discussions between both arms of government.

The proposed cost of the enhanced budget works out at around £28 per square metre on all land, floors and roofs in the city, whoever owns them. As an example, an average small house and garden would attract AGFRR of £8000.

Residents would be substantially better off as there would be no council tax, and each household member would receive £10,000 as a UCI. Furthermore, the Scottish Government could substantially reduce the rate of income tax on earned income given that it would not need to support local government finances through the block grant. Businesses would also benefit as non-domestic rates would be replaced with AGFRR.

Most of the infrastructure to switch to this model already exists and, given the urgent need to help both people and the councils providing services, legislation could be expedited before the start of the next financial year in April 2024.

The obligation to pay AGFRR would see considerable improvements in the city as owners would be forced to bring dilapidated property and vacant land into use to meet the annual cost.

Graeme McCormick


WHY oh why do we seem to get things together at party conferences, then shoot ourselves in the foot again? If there was an agreement with Cosla to consult them regarding council tax then why on earth did we go ahead without consultation?

We need to hear the reasons why we have picked a fight with the unions and councils at a time when unity seems the best way forward.

If the Government is going to subsidise the loss from a council tax rise then OK. If not, then the potholed roads, the refuse collection, the museums, the libraries, the swimming pools will all suffer.

Not ALL households pay council tax. Bad decision.

Ken McCartney


IT’S great to see people who are not known to have done anything towards Scottish independence slag off our best-ever First Minister, Alex Salmond (below). How dare Sheila Le Mottee (Letters, October 20) claim that Salmond should retire? He’s done more for Scottish independence than almost anyone in the history of the SNP – with the exception of maybe Winnie Ewing.

The National:

Yes, he did get us a referendum, while we had a handful of MPs, whereas the next First Minister with multiple mandates and numerous MPs couldn’t even get close to it. In fact, it’s hard to find anything positive for independence that was done under Ms Sturgeon’s reign – there was no analysis of the 2014 indyref result and no new policies to strengthen indy support. In fact, all the work on currency, pensions, etc was done by groups like Common Weal, SIC, etc.

Mr Salmond was the best FM Scotland has had – the vast majority of the successful progressive policies came under his watch. Maybe it’s time for the author of those bitter comments to learn more about Scottish politics or simply grab their own pipe and slippers and retire from a scene where they have made no noticeable impact.

Alex Beckett


WHAT Scotland needs is a vital spark. In the National Conversation in The National of October 20, there was plenty of tinder. There is the UK’s

weak support of the US in the Middle East; the naming of the SNP as “communists” for helping the poor; the media’s fuss about an MP leaving for the Tories; the constant falsehoods from Whitehall; the fact that Ulster is still in the EU, and the unjustified criticism of the Scottish Health Service.

Historically, there is plenty of dry fuel stored up – the Clearances, the Treaty of Union itself, the Thatcher years and the Labour/Tory governments of the past few decades. Why do we never come to a flash point?

Perhaps our politicians are damp squibs.

Iain WD Forde