Sir, – The cut in the overseas aid budget to 0.5% of national income as announced in the spending review is shameful and a move the UK will go on to bitterly regret.
This is devastating news for the poorest people in the world and breaks the Conservative election manifesto pledge of 0.7%, which it should be remembered is also enshrined in law.
It will not only hurt them but will have a real impact on people in the UK as well.
Such a cut is simply bad economics and will end up costing more than it saves and is bad foreign policy that reduces Britain’s influence and makes us poorer in the eyes of the world. Meanwhile, Boris Johnson has committed to an increase in defence spending he claims as being worth £16.5 billion in new money over four years.
Such a move clearly shows the right wing in the Tory party is well and truly in the ascendancy, putting military hardware ahead of helping the world’s poorest people.
While Chancellor Sunak may claim that this overseas aid cut is temporary, one should remember that income tax was only intended to be a temporary measure, and that was in 1799.
Land isn’t produced, it is a gift of nature
Sir, – The forecast pandemic-related shrinkage of the UK economy by over 10% this year is indeed dire news.
There is, however, a crumb of comfort: to the extent that GDP statistics include land transactions and are skewed.
Land is a free gift of nature; unlike wealth it isn’t produced, so including such transactions is false accounting.
In fact, we should welcome the potential boost to the productive economy offered by commercial rents falling towards realistic, non-speculative levels.
Nonetheless, Johnson and Sturgeon’s blockheaded lockdown obsessions have caused us irreparable self-harm compared to most countries.
For example, lockdown-light Sweden’s GDP is predicted to contract by only around 3.5%.
Hudson Road, Rosyth.
Dishonesty should be exposed if it exists
Sir, – When Alex Bell demands the “truth” from the Scottish Government over the so-called Alex Salmond affair, he tickles a minority.
Who wouldn’t agree that our Scottish Parliament must be sovereign and be able to command respect and trust?
So I agree with Alex that Scotland must do so much better than what he describes as the “ British thing, to obscure and evade when in power.”
So if Alex Bell knows our Scottish Government is being dishonest, then it is his civic responsibility to reveal, to let the people know.
Anything else is worthless side-line gossiping.
Lockerbie trial didn’t give justice
Sir, – In 1994, Nelson Mandela offered South Africa as a neutral venue for the Pan Am atrocity trial but this was turned down by John Major.
His offer was also rejected by Tony Blair, at the 1997 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Edinburgh.
In words that still haunt our judiciary, Mandela warned: “no one nation should be complainant, prosecutor and judge” in the Lockerbie case.
A life-long friend, the late Graham Cox, was Sheriff Principal of South Strathclyde, Dumfries and Galloway when Fhimah and Megrahi were arrested.
They appeared before him on April 6 1999 at a makeshift Scottish court at Kamp Van Zeist in Holland.
This court appearance started off the subsequent legal proceedings.
Later, when Mandela asked the Kirk to intervene in a “serious miscarriage of justice”, I was pointed to the unsafe forensics, the unlikely use of a long-range timer and evidence that the bomb entered the system at Heathrow.
My report for the Kirk was used by Al Jazeera in a documentary which left no doubt of Megrahi’s innocence.
Rev Dr John Cameron.