Can nationalism ever be benevolent?

© PA
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon with Heather McDaid, left, and Elif Shafak at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

Sir, – Last Friday I attended the Edinburgh Book Festival event with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Turkish writer Elif Shafak and publisher Heather McDaid where Ms Shafak carefully summarised her concerns about the divisive nature of nationalism.

In her response, Ms Sturgeon tried to distance herself and the independence movement from the negative connotations often associated with the word nationalism and said that, if feasible, she would give the Scottish National Party a different name.

But is re-branding of the SNP really necessary?

After all, the clue is in the name. The SNP is committed to achieving national sovereignty for Scotland, its policies are designed to encourage a distinct Scottish national identity and it aspires to act like the government of an independent nation state.

If it looks like nationalism and if it sounds like nationalism, it most definitely is nationalism.

Why try to hide that fact?

Maybe Ms Sturgeon’s problem is not the word nationalism as such but the fact that inevitably Scottish nationalism is on the same spectrum as any other nationalism because they are all defined by nationhood.

It matters whether you feel Scottish or British or both and this has resulted in obvious divisions.

How else can it be explained that, for example, derogatory terms like yessers, yoons, Scotnats or Britnats have entered our language only after the independence campaign?

Which leads back to the initial question: can nationalism ever be benevolent?

Regina Erich.
1 Willow Row,


Evidence for God’s existence

Sir, – Mr McBay (August 19) seems to refer to Christianity as a “non-evidenced supernatural belief”. I wonder what evidence would convince him of a supernatural being?

Perhaps if they left a record of their thoughts and actions? There is a book called the Bible which does just that. It was written over hundreds of years by around 40 authors and yet forms a coherent whole.

Perhaps if they left evidence of their power, creativity and design in something they had made? Do we not see that in nature, in the universe and the amazing genetic code?

Perhaps if they fashioned creatures who could appreciate beauty, respond to their maker in worship and have a sense of right and wrong?

Perhaps if they made a personal appearance, prophesied the future, and demonstrated their love for their creation? Did not Christ do this and more culminating in his death on the cross?

Perhaps if they performed miracles, healings or even rose from the dead?

In reference to evidence for God in creation, the Bible says: “The invisible things of Him are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead.” Romans 1.

We have evidence in abundance but I guess we each interpret it according to our own world view.

Mr McBay states that millions of unbelievers find true and lasting satisfaction. Does it last beyond the grave? The Christian’s confidence goes beyond death and gives assurance of eternal life in Christ.

Paul Read.
Wester Lumbennie,


Abortion behind NHS staff crisis

Sir, – Rev Dr John Cameron (August 14) highlights the reasons why the Abortion Act became law in 1967.

However, various amendments since have changed the law from the protection of women to the rights of women to abortion for social reasons.

Since 1967 more than nine million abortions have taken place and secular groups are now pushing for the “right” to abort up to actual birth.

The national crisis in staffing the NHS with midwives and nurses has resulted from secular law coercing midwives to be involved in abortions, taking away their right to have a moral/religious objection to this work.

Midwives had always seen their vocation as bringing life into the world rather than being involved in the ending of a potential life.

Almost 3.6 billion people in this world follow a religion which abhors abortion, therefore, midwives and nurses from certain countries outwith the UK will not be willing to help us solve this problem.

The present crisis cannot be solved from our own Scottish population as the SNP admit that we are not producing enough babies to help the nation to cope with the vast increase in the needs of the elderly.

The secularists who have eroded the original aims of the Abortion Act 1967 have been very successful in persuading us that women’s rights are paramount, without foreseeing the present crisis as one of the effects of abortion-on-demand policy.

All voters have to be careful what they wish for in this area. Future laws might exacerbate this situation.

Philip Kearns.
47 Grove Road,


An intrusion on women’s rights

Sir, – Comparison of the flexible, compassionate Scandinavian approach to abortion with the de facto situation in the US must include the various Hyde Amendments withholding federal Medicaid funding from abortion nationwide, including cases of rape.

It is a brutal, intrusive and unfair restriction on the insurance coverage for millions of low-income women and a clear example of religious extremists forcing their political placemen to interfere with a woman’s ability to make her own health care decisions.

The Muslim Council, Catholic Church and various Pentecostalists may place restrictions on their own adherents but they should not seek to prevent access to assisted death, contraception and abortion for those who do not share their beliefs.

Rev Dr John Cameron.
10 Howard Place,
St Andrews.


Be wary of organic claims

Sir, – Now that the grouse season is under way, much has been made of their addition to restaurant menus.

And why not. But a word of caution.

I am concerned that grouse are routinely fed grit which contains chemicals that rid them of parasitic worms. This powerful substance is given in unregulated and often high doses.

The Veterinary Medicines Directorate and the Food Standards Agency are now looking into this and until there are scientific assurances from their findings I would be cautious in calling this product organic until verified by one of the nine authorising bodies in the UK.

David Mitchell.
6 Henry Street,


SNP’s links with Stagecoach boss

Sir, – So Nicola Sturgeon on Saturday addressed Scotland’s largest LGBTl festival, Glasgow Pride.

The First Minister told us it was a privilege and in this she is indeed correct.

Ms Sturgeon has previously told us she is fully committed to securing full equality for LGBTI people. Really? Surely this is the same Ms Sturgeon whose party and independence cause have taken a number of significant donations from Brian Souter of Stagecoach?

Sir Brian is well-known for funding a campaign to keep the anti-gay Section 2a and is outspoken in his opposition to gay marriage stating society would implode if “traditional” marriage were to be challenged.

With Labour gaining ground on the SNP in the west central belt, we can understand why Ms Sturgeon chose not to dwell on the fact her party has in the past been bankrolled by Sir Brian.

Martin Redfern.
Woodcroft Road,