IT will be difficult to reach a consensus between Catalonia and Spain over the actions of the disputed independence referendum last Sunday.

While the Catalan government was elected on the promise of providing such a referendum – with the voters well aware of the legality issue – Spain is sticking rigidly to their line that no referendum should have taken place.

On Sunday, we saw a Spanish state use paramilitary police against its own people, attacking them purely for wanting to vote. Irrespective of arguments over the legality of the actual referendum it does not look good when any government decides to attack its people for wanting to exercise their democratic right.

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However, the latest news reports suggest things could get even worse. Apparently, Tony Blair is being touted himself as some form of mediator between the two sides.

Only Blair himself would think this is a good idea, everyone else would run a mile. The former prime minister would only increase the divide between Catalonia and Spain.
Councillor Kenny MacLaren

EARLIER this week, for the 96th time (out of 108), the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine was awarded to scientists for work directly involving animals. So it is surprising to see Sandra Busell (Letters, The National, October 5) write in with her opinion that animal research tells us nothing about science, physiology or medicine. A brief look at the history of medicine will confirm that animal studies have played an indispensable role in the development of almost all human and veterinary medicines, from insulin to cancer drugs. However, it may surprise readers to know that the value of animals is not so much in the “testing” of new medicines, but in the discovery of biological processes, or understanding how, say, humanised mouse antibodies can be used to shrink tumours. To this end, around half of UK experiments are breeding mice to examine things like gene function.

To be clear, we are not speaking of developing or testing cosmetics or their ingredients, this is illegal in the UK, but important biomedical research – and only when there is no alternative method available.
Chris Magee
Understanding Animal Research

I BELIEVE in the European project, while it does need serious reforming, and I also believe strongly in de-centralising government to more local level. The most successful economies today are small adaptable countries that operate in a larger trading bloc. Europe has brought us both prosperity and peace – why should we want to throw this away?

In today’s world of fast travel and internet, it feels a different Europe. Back in the 1970s and 80s, I was sceptical of the European Union but the world now is not the world we had then as we are now far more interconnected, with students studying across the world and, economically, Scotland has gained greatly from the free movement of skilled workers in scientific research, medicine, business, industry, finance and more.

The UK has been viewed as the English-speaking foothold in Europe so leaving the EU means we in Scotland lose this status and business is already relocating. Closing our doors and isolating ourselves economically is not going to mean a prosperous future and Scotland will suffer most.

Scotland can do better! What a shambles at Westminster with the Tories being propped up by the DUP and many feel disenfranchised as the rich get richer – but these negatives can be best addressed by independence in Europe and by following the Nordic model for a more co-operative, fairer, more collaborative culture and economy.

Scotland needs access to flows of people, skilled workers and trade. The alternative is a low-regulation, low-wage branch economy rife with even greater inequalities.
P Keightley

I READ Rab Wilson’s article, Tom Johnston – a Forgotten Hero (The National , October 5, with great interest. However, I was surprised that no mention was made of his book, Our Noble Families.

I have a battered and dog-eared copy somewhere, but cannot recall when it was published. To my knowledge this was the first publication of how property and wealth was acquired by the “nobility”. This theme was later taken up by Andy Wightman with The Poor had no Lawyers.
Jim Lynch

IT probably would prove impractical for parliament to legislate for the universal employment benefits many employees daydream about having if they had Boris Johnson’s ability not to get sacked. It would be much easier to change the business culture.

Under a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn, the culture would undoubtedly change when people begin to see they are increasingly working for their own benefit.

However, Boris Johnson, as the frontrunner to replace Theresa May, needs to be dealt with first. This is not so difficult: just remind the electorate that Johnson is, in contrast to Corbyn, as far from a conviction politician as you can get.

He is a nothing less than a careerist, as exemplified by his writing of two speeches, one in favour of Brexit and the other against, while he was making up his mind which colours were best to nail his mast to.
Geoff Naylor