AS I happen to be currently enjoying my annual pilgrimage to Orkney I was delighted to read your article about Dr John Rae, the Stromness man who contributed so much to completing the mapping of northern Canada and discovering the fate of Sir John Franklin’s expedition to the Northwest Passage.

However, your image is not Rae’s tomb, as you report. Rae is in fact buried in the churchyard at St Magnus Kirk, his grave marked by a simple marble cross and flowers. What you show is his memorial in St Magnus, paid for by the people of Orkney. They were so greatly irked by the denigration of Rae’s achievements by Victorian England that they decided to honour their own by public subscription in Orkney.

I’m pleased to report that in recent years Rae’s achievements have been largely restored to the position they deserve by historians and writers, and also by a splendid new life-sized bronze statue of him in Arctic clothing, looking across from Stromness towards his childhood home at Hall of Clestrain.

Peter Craigie


Scotland plays its part in historic nuclear treaty 

THE decision on Friday by 122 countries at the United Nations to approve the treaty banning nuclear weapons, after months of negotiation, is a huge step forward in freeing our planet from this curse.

Of course, it is just the first step, as were the treaties banning biological weapons and landmines which went through years of ratification before becoming law. All of the nuclear armed states boycotted the negotiations, including the United Kingdom, hiding behind the ineffectual non-proliferation treaty and making nonsense of their declared “multi-lateral” approach to disarmament.

I take great pride in the participation of Scotland’s civic representation at these negotiations at the UN in New York, where we were recognised as a nation, if not a state, that had a huge and dangerous stake in this sorry tale of weapons of mass destruction. The representatives from Scottish CND played a full and important part in the negotiations and should be commended for their efforts.

These matters are too important to be left to our “professional” politicians, as there is an important role for civic society, particularly in Scotland, as has just been demonstrated. I would urge your readers to make themselves aware of the treaty that has just been agreed, and how they might help its transition into law. I shall celebrate by spending a day at the Coulport Peace camp, which has just over a week left to run as I write.

David Kelly

WITH reference to Carolyn Leckie’s article in yesterday’s National (It’s our duty to stand with Catalonia in its Indy fight) I couldn’t agree more with the lady. If we in Scotland want peoples to support our struggle for self- determination and respect our right to do so, it is only correct that we have the strength of character to back other indy struggles. There is nothing sacrosanct about existing national borders or constitutions (we don’t even have one); they are a relic of history. What is in my view sacrosanct is the right of all people to decide how they will be governed.

S Rogers
Via email

IT was clearly disappointing to note that a homophobe has been elected unopposed to the leadership of the UK Conservative Party’s grouping in the European Parliament.

The Conservative Party’s 20 MEPs sit in the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) grouping in the European Parliament, which was set up by David Cameron.

The party has repeatedly come under scrutiny over its uncomfortable alliance with fringe parties from across Europe, most notably Poland’s right-wing Law and Justice Party.

Last week a Polish MEP who has made shocking homophobic comments was elected as ECR group co-chairman. Ryszard Legutko, a member of Law and Justice, was elected to lead the grouping alongside UK Tory Syed Kamall.

Legutko has described LGBT rights as “a tyranny of the minority which has taken over the main institutions and main ideologies in the western world”. Speaking about same-sex marriage in 2014, he said: “What we have witnessed in Europe is a radical revolution. Over the last 10 years this is, I believe, an unnecessary and extremely destructive experiment which we’ll be regretting very soon. I represent common sense.”

Legutko also insists that the rise in anti-LGBT hate crime is a “totally fictitious problem”, claiming homophobia does not exist.

Following on from its alliance with the DUP, it appears the Tory moral compass is now so skewed that they are willing to get into bed with anyone, whatever they stand for, for the sake of electoral power.

Alex Orr

AMONG the items unmentioned by the BBC is the fact that the Scottish Economy grew four times as fast as the rest of the UK in the first three months of the year.

We have also been kept in the dark that the proportion of Scottish university graduates going on to work or further study is at a record high, and higher than the rest of the UK.

Perhaps worst of all is their well-kept secret that the United Nations has been debating a ban on nuclear weapons, and that an overwhelming majority will vote for a ban, with the UK refusing to participate.

We should not be surprised. Amongst several dozen others, David Attenborough, Melvyn Bragg, Gloria Hunniford, Alan Titmarsh, Olivia Colman, David Suchet, Joan Bakewell and Michael Parkinson, whose only tenuous connection to Scotland comes via the TV screen, were wheeled out by “The No Campaign” as their opinions were thought to carry weight. An unbiased BBC? Don’t make me laugh!

Joseph G Miller

IT seems rather unkind and un-neighbourly to say: “Would that his chateau of Dunrobin was indeed in Aberdeenshire,” (A History of the Highlands Told in Architecture, Patrick Galbraith’s book review, The National, July 10).

Without the effects of Leveson Gower’s (1st Duke of Sutherland and Marquis of Stafford) actions, Sutherland might be a very different place today.

Just imagine. Instead of having the lowest population density in the country, the straths might still be alive with the “natives” he looked down on. And best of all, they would no longer qualify as SNH “wild areas”.

Such is history.

Catriona Grigg