Readers’ Letters: ‘Nazis’ don’t have a monopoly on atrocities

One problem, out of many, is that the popular view of history is not as objective as it should be. All too often the Nazi-Soviet Pact (August 1939) is omitted, for instance. Germany and the USSR were allies until June 1941. The invasion of Poland in September 1939 by Nazi Germany was followed a week later by invasion from the East by the Red Army. The Baltic States were “annexed” and Finland attacked.

The Finns resisted a greatly superior Red Army, effectively won the Winter War, though they lost part of Karelia, and had to continue the war on the German side.

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The Baltics suffered occupations both by Soviets and Germans and then Soviets again. There were deportations and killings aplenty. Poland suffered both German and Russian atrocities, and lost its eastern half to the USSR, with the agreement of Churchill. What is now Lviv in Ukraine was originally Lemberg in Austria, then Lwov in Poland. Russia’s NKVD were as adept with their lists as the Gestapo. But the correlation of “atrocity” with “Nazi” is much higher than with “Soviet”. How many are aware of the Holodomor (a famine engineered by Stalin’s collectivisation in Ukraine)? For how many is Hitler, not Stalin, a bogeyman?

German troops enter Poland in September 1939. Russian forces were soon to follow

Listening to Ukrainecast or Putin (both excellent programs available on BBC Sounds) one can hear knowledgeable experts’ analysis of the current situation. For historical background reading on the area can I recommend Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands?

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The SNP’s existential opposition to nuclear power has always been a puzzle to me. It seems to go back to the time when Jack McConnell, as First Minister, declared Labor against nuclear power on the basis that no-one knew what to do with the radioactive waste. In fact this was mistaken. The nuclear industry handles its waste better and more safely than any other industry and the route to storage and disposal is well established. Not one has ever been harmed by radioactive waste but many have been harmed by the waste from traditional power generation.

I conclude that opposition to nuclear power stems from ignorance and prejudice. Uranium, created in exploding stars, has the highest energy density of any fuel and few uses except for power generation (pace nuclear weapons). Luckily, humans found a way to exploit its potential for providing continuous electricity without harmful emissions. Just the fuel we need to power our way through global warming.

There is no shortage of uranium (it can even be extracted from seawater); rather than being mined, it and some plutonium can be reclaimed from the “used fuel” burned in reactors. Better use of it and the plutonium could be made through the use of fast reactors like the prototypes developed at Dounreay. . I hear nothing from the UK government about fast reactors, which operate in several other developed countries.

The Scottish Government appears to have no valid reason for its opposition. Nevertheless, Scotland will eventually have to import nuclear-powered electricity as its obsession with renewables leads to blackouts.

Steuart Campbell, Edinburgh

How exactly does the SNP plan on procuring energy in the future? From my limited technical knowledge, nuclear seems like the only viable option left. If the “climate emergency” is as urgent as the SNP has been telling me, surely a form of constant energy, not reliant on the weather, with no CO2 emissions is paramount.

It’s getting to the point that I feel like the Scottish Government is using my generation as test subjects for political and social ideas with no basis in the reality of lived life, geopolitics and meteorology, and is now making knowingly oblivious decisions so as not upset Twitter and to contrast with the rest of the UK, rather than attempt to provide basic amenities, like heat and light, at a reasonable price into the next few decades.

David Bone, Girvan, South Ayrshire

I have just seen my April direct debit to ScottishPower, electricity only, for £119, up from £67 last month, and £55 last December. I shudder to think what my gas bill, from Scottish Gas, will be.

This is mainly due to an increase in the unit price to nearly 24p a kWh, yet at the same time the wind farm gate price for electricity has fallen to less than 4p per kWh.

This is a rip-off, it is immoral, and a strategic error. People are freezing and starving so it is immoral to charge them seven times more for electricity than was paid for it.

It is a strategic error because the two big problems facing the world today are global warming and Vladimir Putin. Both are solved by a switch to electricity for all our needs.

The government should subsidize electricity to the same price per kWh, say 8p, as gas. The government sets the price for 15 years when it makes the wind farm contract. It can set the consumer price and give a contract to the retail energy companies for the difference.

George Shering, Newport-on-Tay, Fife

The cost-of-living crisis caused by price rises in food, fuel and energy is extremely worrying, but especially for groups that will be the most disproportionately hard hit: the poor, vulnerable and disabled.

In April 2011 the Warm Home Discount was set up to help vulnerable people with energy bills by paying £140 a year into their electricity accounts, which was most welcome despite having been partially eroded by inflation over the 11-year period.

So why has the UK government decided now to stop the new modestly increased WHD payment of £150 per year to disabled people, just when they desperately need it most?

In just a year, the average energy bill has risen from £1,055 in September 2021, to £1,277 in October and now it’s £1,971 and predicted to rise again by around another 50 per cent in October, which would bring it to £2,950.

How can disabled people manage to find an extra £1,895 a year in addition to losing the £150 WHD payment? Most disabled people don’t have the option to reduce bills by traveling on buses or visiting shops or libraries to keep warm and many also need essential medical equipment powered by electricity.

Does this sound like a caring, sharing government, who boast of their wish to level up, or a heartless one targeting the defenceless? I call on Rishi Sunak to restore this much-needed financial help.

Taking his cue from the other Brian Wilson, your columnist, who presumably still holds some vaguely socialist views, your correspondent Brian Wilson (Letters, 8 April) seems to share, for entirely different reasons, his namesake’s gloomy view of Scotland today. Our country is a basket case, according to these gentlemen, either because the SNP government is too left wing or too right wing.

Scotland is not a disaster area, and we are actually doing quite well, thanks very much. Compared to the glaring misjudgments and mendacity at the heart of the UK government, the occasional mis-steps of our government are very trivial, and the daily wailing of your Unionist correspondents attempting to equate the two ferry problem with the multi-million pound PPE crony scandal or the disastrous Ukraine visa administration, to say nothing of the totally horrific nonsense that is Brexit, serves to remind us that our government is coping, on the whole, reasonably well, and has the support of most Scots.

This is, no doubt, the reason so many of your correspondents flail uselessly at Nicola Sturgeon as if she were some sort of mini dictator. She is First Minister because she won elections, and she is popular.

Brian Bannatyne Scott, Edinburgh

Surprise, surprise! Nicola Sturgeon launches the SNP’s council election campaign by talking about – yes, Boris Johnson. Most would agree with her description of him as sleaze-ridden, though I’m not sure how we can get rid of him in the council elections. And though many would also agree with her charge of her that he is incompetent does it not seem a bit rich coming from our own head of government?

I wonder why Ms Sturgeon did not kick off with a list of all her own achievements during her tenure as First Minister. In education for example – her de ella “priority” – de ella or the health service or the police or drug issues or the economy or transport? I could go on. Presenting yourself as arguably a notch above Boris Johnson would seem to be a pretty low bar to set oneself. Clutching at straws, however, seems to be all the SNPs can offer.

The Scottish electorate need to wake up to the fact that the SNP is a government in power and not a party in opposition to the Tories – and that its record is one of miserable failure. Only then is there a possibility of ousting catastrophically incompetent governments from both Westminster and Holyrood.

Colin Hamilton, Edinburgh

Nicola Sturgeon says she is tired of an incompetent government in Westminster. Does she mean the one which is guiding the economy so poorly that it has the fastest growth of all G7 member states?

I suppose she knows what incompetence feels and looks like – the Ferguson ferries fiasco immediately springs to mind. Sturgeon’s list of failures is legion so when one of her MSPs from Ella, John Mason, stated to me “The SNP and Nicola Sturgeon are doing a lot right”, I asked if he’d kindly list a few successes. He was immediately struck dumb: not one single event could he recall.

Stan Hogarth, Strathaven, South Lanarkshire

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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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