SO there we have it. What a lot of us have known for years is now out in the open. Get back in your box you rabble of unruly northern savages (Sturgeon told May now too important to meet with her, The National, July 22). We shouldn’t really be surprised – remember that Two Ronnies sketch of all those years ago, performed with aid of John Cleese? The late, great Ronnie Barker in the middle, saying, “I look up to him, I look down on him”, with the equally great Ronnie Corbett on his other side.

That television sketch was based on the serious English belief that they were “better” than others. It had built up over several hundred years of browbeating “Johnny Foreigner” into doing what he was told.

READ MORE: First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon told that Theresa May is too important to meet with her

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Over many years, I had lively discussions with a very good friend of English origin and living in darkest Englandshire to try to enlighten him on the question of ordinary human beings and the perception of “class”. All my life, the residents of the land south of Hadrian’s edifice who considered themselves better educated or more affluent than their more northerly compatriots have, by and large, subscribed to this viewpoint,which is ingrained in the English psyche.

I explained that which none of us should forget – that the English view was that the population should be divided into strata horizontally, basically depending on how much one earned, or on the view society took of the alleged importance of your job or wealth.

The Scottish way was to divide society vertically, if at all. In other words, if you were a member of a specific clan you would all sit at the same table, regardless of whether you were the Clan Chief or the guy who cleaned out his toilet, and woe betide any outsider who tried to take any action against any one of you.     

Personally, I have always subscribed to the view that any dividing up of people, if one must do so, should only be done along the lines of possibly using the presence of proof of criminal activity as the basis for making a judgment. Apart from that: “We are a’ Jock Tamson’s bairns”. So what now? I would suggest that Nicola Sturgeon should certainly not take part in any meetings with Fluffy Mundell. There probably would be little point anyway. One last thought – would the Westminster Government or any of its representatives have dared to make a statement like that which has just been made if the prime minister had been male? Ah well! 

We should also not forget that huge swathes of Scotland’s countryside are owned by people and organisations who are firm believers in the English system. That, however, is a topic for another day.
George M Mitchell
Sheriffmuir, Dunblane

IN case your readers have forgotten Afghanistan, it has just been revealed that the Taliban has taken control of 60 per cent of that country, suggesting Nato is well on the way to losing its long-running war there. It can now join the ranks of powers such as Russia and Britain who have repeatedly failed in their invasions of that impoverished country. Will the West ever learn that bombing people into submission is not a good way to do business with them?

They are about to see another approach to Afghanistan, by a new and growing power bloc, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation or SCO. This consists of Russia, China, India and Pakistan, as well as four of the largest of the central Asian states. They’re actually going to discuss Afghanistan’s future development with the Taliban. Imagine that!

What this underlines, of course, is the growing economic and diplomatic power of the east. Though curiously we hear very little of this in the British media.
Peter Craigie


BBC figures also serve to highlight a Scottish talent drain

APART from the revelations about significant gender, ethnicity and class inequalities at the BBC, it was also revealing that of the 96 “personalities” with annual salaries reported to be in excess of £150,000 – some with hourly rates for actual time committed that truly are obscene for a public broadcaster – the 14 hailing from Scotland are now based around London.

While some may justifiably question whether these individuals (and others such as David Dimbleby who are paid through by a production company) have the exceptional abilities that deserve such public funding, the fact remains that much talent continues to be drained from Scotland while those who remain, like their predecessors over decades before them, are often starved of genuine opportunities to progress their careers.

The new Scottish BBC channel would appear to be a step in the right direction of redressing this long-regrettable situation, but if the London-centric subjectivity (read anti-Scottish Government bias) that seems to pervade Reporting Scotland and current affairs programmes is anything to go by, the ultimate ambitions of many currently employed by the BBC here are to secure more lucrative roles down south.

How else does one explain the constant fixation with seeking to denigrate the Scottish NHS, which on the whole functions remarkably well given the financial constraints imposed by Westminster, while the NHS in England seems to be almost on its knees and headed towards full privatisation.

If genuine objectivity was to be found in the editorial staff of the BBC the recent Nuffield Trust report Learning from Scotland’s NHS, identifying leading practices in the Scottish NHS, would have been headline news and the incessant drip of stories featuring supposed failures in Scottish health provision would have declined or at least been appropriately framed in a UK context. Hopefully, the new BBC Scotland channel will open doors to those who are more interested in working to create a fairer and more egalitarian society in Scotland than those who are seduced into seeking the paved gold streets of London promised by the self-serving British establishment.
Stan Grodynski
Longniddry, East Lothian

DONALD Trump has just been taught a valuable lesson in American politics. He has decried the Democratic Party from day one as obstructionists, meddlers and spoilers, but now he is going to have to eat a large slice of humble pie. They have voted overwhelmingly in favour of supporting the bill going through the Senate regarding new sanctions against Russia, and at the same time, both they and his own Republican Party have added a caveat restricting his ability to meddle in these sanctions and to prevent him from lifting them with one of the executive orders he so favours.

This is a masterclass in how Capitol Hill can work, and he had better sit up and take notice, because with a bit of luck, this will be the way forward from now on. Trump had failed to realise, amid his euphoria of becoming POTUS, that he could be reined in, and boy did they do it in style. I honestly believe Trump thought he could just breeze through his term in office signing these orders and heading off for a round of golf, but the chickens have come home to roost for sure.

I hope it emboldens all senators to continue to thwart his idiotic presidency at every turn, and frustrate him enough to get him to do something totally outrageous that will finish him off for good.  They have painted him into a corner on this, because if he refuses to sign the legislation, he leaves himself wide open to charges of being in the Kremlin’s pocket. This would only further intensify calls for the investigation into his dealings to reach further and deeper until they eventually come to his door.
Ade Hegney

AS someone who has purchased a print copy of The National regularly since the start, can I encourage others to recycle theirs by leaving them on public transport as I do, or pass them on to fellow commuters who take an interest in articles as you read them on your way to work.

I am of the opinion a lot of people would enjoy reading The National but haven’t purchased a copy yet.
Billy Black
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