I MAY well get slated for this but I fail to see what all the fuss is about this Monarch of the Glen painting (Last chance to save famous ‘Monarch of the Glen’, The National, February 17).

It was, after all painted by Landseer, an English painter, after being commissioned by the House of Lords to hang in their Refreshment Room. Various reasons have been given for it not being put there, one being that the Commons refused to pay for it. Anyway, for whatever reason its only connection with Scotland is that it’s of a Highland Stag and was apparently painted in Scotland by Landseer.

Over 100 years ago the painting was acquired/purchased by John Dewar & Sons and used in advertising their world-famous whisky. Its image was later used on Glenfiddich Malt Whisky.

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When Diageo bought over the bulk of Scotland’s Whisky industry (just an even bigger Distillers Company Ltd) they acquired the painting along with the Dewars Whisky brand. They (Diageo) sold Dewars brand to Bacardi but kept the painting.

This famous painting became as common a print as that oriental woman, the Green Lady, and adorned walls above fireplaces for years. The Monarch is, and has been, used in countless commercial advertising from shortbread tins, to soup tins, to soap.

Diageo, ever wanting to be seen as a “good guy”, have loaned the painting to The National Galleries of Scotland and are now doing us all a “favour” by offering it at half price to Scotland. This is a company that closed its Johnny Walker plant in Kilmarnock after 190 odd years in the name of efficiency, aka corporate greed, at the expense of many local jobs. This is the company that uses agency workers on zero-hours contracts in Leven and has made £2.1 billion (yes billion) profit in the six months to December 31 2016.

This painting has little connection with Scotland as it was never intended for Scotland and even its style reeks of Balmoralism, as one person put it. I think Scotland should tell Diageo we aint interested!

Maybe The Donald could hang it above the fireplace in the Whitehouse!
Ian Heggie

WELL done to Mhairi Black for raising the issue of the shift to “digital by default” in her latest column. Renfrewshire Council – like many others – are charging headlong into this approach without providing sufficient support for those left behind. It doesn’t matter how much training or free Wi-Fi is available, significant numbers of community don’t have the skills, confidence or even the interest to make the move to accessing public services online. That is why there still needs to be support to help those who will still rely on telephone calls or face-to-face meetings with council staff. Reducing the hours of the council’s contact centre makes it more difficult for Renfrewshire residents to access the information they require, as does the poor response rate for answering phone calls. It is often those in most need who find themselves being ignored in the rush to digital by default.
Councillor Kenny MacLaren

ONE issue voters can send a message to the increasingly arrogant Tories in the coming local elections is saying they no longer want the Scottish Police to pay VAT like every other police force in the UK (Fresh bid to secure VAT refunds for police and fire service, The National, February 14).

The only reason this is happening is because the Tory Treasury imposes it. It is another example of how the Tories think they can do what they like to Scotland and get away with it.

In 2011 the Tories stood on a policy to “merge Scotland’s eight police forces into one”, so cannot claim it was because a single force was created. They cannot claim it is because only agencies run by local government are exempt from VAT since the police in Northern Ireland are not run by local government and VAT is refunded back to them.

If the UK is an equal partnership as Theresa May and Ruth Davidson claim then that equality must also extend to Scotland’s police.

So when the Tories come to your door send them the message that you’re voting for a party that will stand up for Scotland’s police and not discriminate against them as some form of cash cow the Tory Treasury thinks will just lie down and take it.
Graham C B Roberts