THERE was a story in the news this week that I couldn’t get out of my mind. For me it is a parable about the amoral climate engendered by what feels like zillions of years of perpetual, harsh, English right-wing Tory rule.

Apparently in London a McDonald’s security guard vindictively soaked the ground with water from a mop bucket where a homeless man was sitting with his sleeping bag. The word crass doesn’t even begin to describe such behaviour! This incident is just so apt only weeks after the sensitive, compassionate, caring (aye right!) home secretary at the time, “Cruella” Braverman, announced that rough sleeping was a “lifestyle choice”!

So lying at the side of a street in a soaking sleeping bag in freezing temperatures is clearly now all the rage for those that just fancy a bit of derring-do to impress their pals on Facebook! Naw, Suella, the reality of life for the homeless is brutal, and to attack vulnerable folk like them for what you think is political gain is as low as it gets.

However, Braverman clearly and unashamedly enjoys playing the pantomime villain, calculating it will attract support from Farage-supporting-type bar-room boors. This tactic of encouraging some working-class folk to blame those less fortunate than themselves for their ills is standard, archetypal Tory fare going back since time immemorial. It’s what Tories do and have always done!

Why do they get away with this abominable behaviour? Simple – their pals in the “free” press quite happily indoctrinate the populous until the message is ingrained intae their psyche! It’s divide and rule. Divide those earning buttons against their counterparts earning bugger all and you’ve hit the jackpot! Yet another wheeze that distracts the plebs from confronting the real problem – that the rich and powerful have been taking the total piss out of them for eons and will do so for even more eons. This manipulation game is a real breeze, man!

It was such a refreshing contrast, therefore, this week, albeit regarding a separate topic, as I watched Alison Thewliss’s speech live at Westminster on the new Rwanda plan. It was excellent, full of compassion and empathy towards immigrants and should have embarrassed those xenophobes on the opposing benches, but of course it wouldn’t have.

Their brains are a compassion-free zone for those less fortunate than them. Not even Channel 4 News showed a clip of it, which disgusted me. Well done Alison! You are a total credit not only to the SNP and the cause of independence but to our whole nation. Keep up the guid work!

Ivor Telfer

Dalgety Bay, Fife

I REFER to a letter from Leah Gunn Barrett (Dec 10) in which she referred to reports in The Guardian which have revealed a catalogue of safety concerns related to the Sellafield nuclear site in Cumbria, which has been described as “Europe’s most hazardous nuclear site”.

She wonders whether the Tory Under Secretary of State for Nuclear and Networks, Andrew Bowie (MP for West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine), is concerned about the leaks from a silo of radioactive waste on the Sellafield site and concerns about cyber security vulnerabilities on the site.

Judging by recent statements from the CEO of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), The Guardian report has been dismissed as it’s not new information.

However, another UK Government minister, Claire Coutinho, has raised concerns about the issues reported at Sellafield, demanding the NDA pays urgent attention to them.

The campaigning group I represent, Highlands Against Nuclear Power (HANP), has been raising concerns since 2017 about the transport of nuclear waste from Dounreay to Sellafield, as moving nuclear waste 400-plus miles by rail and sea creates unacceptable risks and several near-miss incidents have occurred.

Also worried about safety at Sellafield are Norway, the US and Ireland, and HANP has for several years had contact with Bellona – one of Norway’s main environmental campaigning groups, which has raised concerns about radiation from Sellafield reaching southern Norway within a few hours in the event of a radiation leak that would contaminate food production and harm wildlife.

HANP has consistently raised concerns about any proposals for new nuclear power as there is no safe way to store the 140 tonnes of plutonium stored at Sellafield – the largest hoard in the world – or any of the many other categories stored at Sellafield.

Attempts to find anywhere in England willing to host a geological disposal facility have so far failed. The estimated cost is £53 billion and it has to last for 100,000 years – no manmade structure has ever been built to last this long.

The cost of cleaning up Sellafield is £280bn and so cheaper, cleaner renewable energy is the only feasible way forward for our future energy needs and the economy.

HANP will continue to campaign for this option and trusts that the Scottish Government will continue its opposition to any form of new nuclear in Scotland including the proposed small modular reactors, which also produce nuclear waste.

Tor Justad

Chairperson, HANP (Highlands Against Nuclear Power)

WHILE most Scots are fully aware of the rates of taxation in “successful small countries”, what John Ray of Tayport (Letters, Dec 13) fails to recognise is that many Scots (myself included) would be happy to pay higher taxes to have a similar standard of living, and of services, as many of these so-called “small countries” of Europe.

While increasing taxes would lead to improved services, such a move in the present-day UK would not meet with approval in its present (and future) move to the right.

Paul Gillon


REGARDING John Ray’s letter pointing out the high rate of tax in Norway, he should perhaps consider also the high rate of pay.

What is important is one’s “take-home” pay; one’s spending power.

Shop prices are also high – a cup of coffee is an eye-watering price – but it’s all relative. As a visitor from the UK everything seems very expensive, on Norwegian wages it’s all perfectly reasonable!

At the end of the day the average Norwegian is better off, better housed and better cared for by the state than the average UK citizen and that is the comparison that Lesley et al are making.

Tony Williams