JUST before the General Election, during the leaders’ debate which Theresa May notoriously did not attend, Caroline Lucas broadly said leadership meant being there for people. I am a republican but I have the greatest respect for our Queen and admire her for her courage in visiting the victims and relatives of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. That is leadership.

How different from the wretched and contemptible creature sharing 10 Downing Street’s powers with the Orangemen and the Woman Who Destroyed Stormont. Having nipped down to North Kensington for a photo opp, she dashed back to No 10 and was not heard of again until a controlled media group rolled her out for bedside pictures with patients who were too ill to tell her what they thought of her and the entire rotting system she purports to lead.

I can see her point of view.

She was Home Secretary when the Grenfell cladding was installed and the penny-pinching reductions in safety requirements happened on her watch. She says she created the chaos that is now the state of the UK and thus it is her job to sort it out. Horse manure. God help us all if we allow her leadership to continue.
KM Campbell


Sheppard has played right into the Tories’ hands

I VOTED for, and have great respect for, Tommy Sheppard but I think his breaking ranks with his party is, to say the very least, unhelpful. Any public comment on the timing of an independence referendum should come from the party leadership, based on a wide-ranging root-and-branch discussion that includes the broader Yes movement.

The intervention appears to be the exact response Mundell and Davidson would want, playing directly into their hands at a time when chaos is coalescing around the May camp (or should we say bunker?). The timing of Sheppard’s comments is in poor taste and we can only imagine what ammunition it gives Davidson for the next FMQs.

Michael Fry’s recent article holds that the party shouldn’t alienate centre-right Scots (SNP took right-wing constituencies for granted and paid the highest price, The National, June 13). The Corbyn effect (which cannot disguise Scottish Labour’s risible decline) chastens the SNP for not being “radical” enough. Can that word be seriously attached to Corbyn”s message?

A red sky delighting Sheppard? His premise seems to rest upon the assumption that the single market is now “on the table”, as are “maximal” transfers of powers from Brussels to Holywood? Really? Watch this space. “An forward tho a canna see, a guess an fear ... ”
Alex MacMillan

I DO agree with the Wee Ginger Dug’s article (Opinion polls and second spot do not a mandate make, The National, June 17). Last week’s YouGov poll can hardly have come at a more inappropriate time.

When this latest YouGov poll was taken, the mainstream media had spent almost two months bombarding the electorate with the Scottish Tory, Labour and Liberal Democrat “no second referendum” mantra while largely ignoring the SNP and Greens policies that would make life better for Scots. It’s therefore inevitable that 60 per cent said enough is enough – for now.

However, let’s not forget that immediately after the General Election was called, YouGov gave the Tories a 24 per cent lead over Labour and predicted a Tory landslide.

Abandoning the Holyrood call for a second referendum would be ignoring the democratic mandate that led to that vote. The plan to call a second referendum when the outcome of the Brexit negotiations is known is the only safe way forward for Scotland. Principally, voters in England are dictating the terms of the UK’s stance with regards to the EU, and England’s perceived needs are very different to Scotland’s priorities.

The only opinion poll that matters will be the NewRef result based on the realities facing us in 2019 and beyond. No voters now know how they were duped in 2014 and with the prospect of a hard Brexit still very much a possibility, we need to keep our options open. So please, Holyrood, honour the mandate you were given in 2016 and put your faith in Scots to do what is best for our country.
Geoff Tompson

ONE phrase out of the mouths of surviving Grenfell Tower residents has been haunting me: “They don’t listen to us”. “They” being their council and their landlord. This resonates with me as the most common comment from tenants I came across working with the Scottish tenants’ movement for more than 20 years as co-ordinator of the Tenants Information Service.

Listening is, of course, a two-way street. But too often tenants met senior housing and technical officials and councillors who thought they knew best, who thought they possessed all the expertise relevant to any issue they faced, and who thought tenants had nothing much of relevance to say.

The fact that tenants had the direct experience of being on the receiving end of the housing and housing service others deemed appropriate for them was not rated. The officials and the councillors had the power, the tenants did not.

Tenant participation in Scotland has been promoted for around 40 years. There are now many examples of good practice with practical results in improved housing conditions and services, where tenant participation is “in with the bricks”. Good practice starts with listening intently, probing the issues tenants are raising and not immediately going on the defensive. Alas good practice is not universal across Scotland.

The broader lesson for me is that the inequalities which persist in Scotland today are as much about power imbalances as wealth imbalances. This is something we should all strive to change, and we don’t need to wait for independence to make headway.
Greg Brown

THANK you for publishing Archie Hamilton’s letter about the fate of the 51st Highland Division at Saint-Valery-en-Caux during the Second World War (Let’s hear the other side of the myth of Dunkirk, The National, June 17).

My acquaintance with the 51st Division had, until I read the letter, come only through Scottish country dance. As I learnt the steps and formations of the Reel of the 51st Division, I was told that this dance had been devised by soldiers of the division who had been taken prisoner and held in captivity during the Second World War. The dance with its “balancing in line” traces out the cross of St Andrew. It figures in many Scottish dance programmes (it is the final dance on RSCDS Dundee Branch’s programme today), and is a favourite of and much enjoyed by all those who dance it. In some small way, the fate of the 51st Division is not forgotten.
Angela Howkins