hy | The Scotsman

Labor Party leader Sir Keir Starmer, pictured last week, was abused on Monday by anti-vaxx protesters shouting about Jimmy Savile (Picture: Leon Neal/Getty Images)

So his defenders are just minimizing the gravity of his misdemeanors. He was a willing participant.

Some sections of the press are joining the Johnston-excusing bandwagon for not publishing too much on the subject. In this way the colossal breach of democratic protocol is not fully acknowledged.

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And it is a massive breach. Boris Johnson mislead Parliament. The investigations will show that this was almost certainly intentional. Now he has promoted lies about Keir Starmer which came from far right groups such as the Proud Boys. We see what has happened in the USA when the right has radicalized national debates with a total abandonment of truth telling and decency.

Those of us who say that the present Tory leadership is unprincipled are trying to be heard as we point out that democracy is in peril. And if lies become the propaganda method of choice then the lifeblood of the country and its adaptability to real challenges will deteriorate. This is why the decent people who have been Tory leaders here in Scotland are to be admired for their principled stance. I can only hope that Conservative headquarters here does not become just a branch office as a result of their heroic efforts.

I keep reading letters saying Scotland will seek reparations from the UK after independence.

There won’t be a UK after independence. Some of the comments give rise to the question: if it is going to be that pedantic over matters, should we go back to the Union of Parliaments? For instance, deduct all that England and Scotland had before the Union, but also ask why the Union occurred in the first place.

Yes my address is in England but my heart will always be in Scotland.

Charles Lowson, Fareham, Hants

The BBC show Farmers Country Showdown features the lives of hardworking farming families and their attempts to win prizes for their livestock and produce.

I’ve seen some magnificently fat pigs win awards but they can’t compete with the enormous porkers on pensions that the SNP have been producing recently!

Andrew Kemp, Rosyth, Fife

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I was pleasantly surprised to find in Gill Turner’s letter of 7 February an echo of thoughts occurring to me as regards UK State Pension rights should Scotland ever be conned into opting for “independence”.

The White Paper Scotland’s Future in 2014 maintained that the above rights would carry over unchanged after so voting. Current arguments against this center on the dismissal of any fiscal or legal obligation upon UK government to pay the same to Scottish citizens after independence, with the expat comparison dismissed out of hand. This bald and hard line ignores what is surely a moral obligation upon the UK government to honor the implicit promise and expectations of all who paid National Insurance over their working lives.

The White Paper, flaunted and waved in Westminster by Angus Robertson as an exemplar in Brexit debates, concedes (Part5, items 375/6) that one can have both Scottish and British citizenship, subject to Westminster ongoing recognition of such dual citizenship.

It would be a most egregious and dishonorable posture for either Government to stand in the way of such an outcome which would surely carry forward the ongoing entitlement to UK pension implicitly pledged and paid for out of past taxed earnings.

It may be foolhardy to put reliance on this proposition, however, and the only sure way to secure ongoing entitlement is to eschew the separatist blandishments of the SNP and their ilk!

Ronald Johnston, St Wave, Orkney

It appears that Donald Lewis and Lewis Finnie (Letters 8 February) have not grasped the point I was making about claiming UK pensions.

Mr Lewis says that all expats continuing to receive UK pensions remain UK nationals. That is not actually accurate, but putting that to one side, Mr Finnie says that persons claiming their UK pensions in France or Spain live there. Please note, France and Spain are foreign countries. If Scotland becomes independent, it becomes another foreign country like Spain or France.

If I retain my British Nationality (which I can) in this foreign country of Scotland, I become just another expat living in a foreign country. If I have qualified for a state pension, what is to stop me, like expats living in foreign countries such as France or Spain, from claiming that pension?

It seems to be Donald Lewis who is making false comparisons in his letter of 8 February, as he muddles up UK citizenship with the entitlement to receive a UK state pension.

Of course, most recipients of the UK state pension are UK citizens, but not all. Whether an individual is a UK citizen or not, or holds dual nationality, is irrelevant to the payment of their pension.

Also, the International Pension Center page at www.gov.uk states: “Your State Pension can be paid into a bank in the country you’re living in”.

The same website also states that an individual’s eligibility to receive the (old system) UK basic State Pension is based on “qualifying years of National Insurance contributions or credits”, and to receive the (succeeding system) UK new State Pension, on “qualifying years on your National Insurance Record.”

“Expats” from the UK may or may not be “British nationals”, and the UK government pays State Pensions to those with qualifying National Insurance histories. Does Donald Lewis really think that a future “remainder of the UK” government would renege on its liabilities to residents of an independent Scotland – but not to residents of other countries – who had paid National Insurance for decades? Would this not open up such a government to claims by masses of individuals, or to class actions?

E Campbell, Newton Mearns, East Renfrewshire

I’d like to appeal to all Conservative voters in the Scottish Borders: It has been clear for some time now that due to the intake of UKIP, Brexit and Reform UK party members your Conservative Party is no longer “conservative”.

Your party’s leader, as the latest comments confirm, is now officially using conspiracy and extreme right-wing fake news stories to get himself out of a tight spot. A tight spot the Prime Minister got himself into, by his own doing and should therefore be solely responsible for. A party is a party, after all!

But by repeating untruths in the House of Commons others have been put in harm’s way, a situation that can only be called despicable and dangerous, as the deaths of two MPs have unfortunately come.

Before this country spirals further out of control, please take stock and ask yourself the following: is this morally defensible? Is calling an innocent person guilty and inciting possible violence something you can support?

If your answer is no, then do the right thing, for all of our sakes: please stop voting for the Conservatives and get rid of your leader now!

Nicol’s, Coldingham, Berwickshire

On the Jimmy Carr Gypsy joke controversy, the issue cannot and must not be whether or not one can tell jokes about the Holocaust.

As the Oscar-winning comedy Life Is Beautiful proved conclusively, it is our remarkable ability to see the funny side even in the most macabre moments that makes us human.

What is important, however, is that such comedy must be irrefutably funny, not cruelty masquerading as humor. Which is where the real problem lies. People mistake Jimmy Carr for a comedian because he’s about as funny as a heating bill – an occasion for many to cry out “you must be joking!”

Mark Boyle, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

The BBC’s Reporting Scotland news bulletin on 7 February described the firing of a 21-gun salute in Edinburgh to mark 70 years since “Queen Elizabeth II became Queen”.

This has to stop. The current Queen may be Elizabeth II of England, but she is Queen Elizabeth I of Scots and, in fact, of the UK.

I thought the issue of “the numeral” had been settled back in the 1950s when, for example, all post collection boxes in Scotland were stripped of the “II” in response to widespread public objection.

Also, since July 1954 all Scottish advocates have sworn their oath of allegiance to Queen Elizabeth, without the “numeral”. This stuff matters.

The nomenclature adopted after the Union of Crowns in 1603 gave us “King James the sixth and first” (ie sixth of Scotland, first of England), so clearly today we have “Queen Elizabeth the first and second.” BBC Scotland should be aware of this.

Rob Pearson, Dalgety Bay, Fife

How tone deaf must the SNP and Green politicians be, after the great rise in energy bills coming through the letterboxes soon, they now land householders with the costs of improving insulation, costing thousands, by 2025.

Ronald Forsyth, Edinburgh

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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