On this first day of March our correspondents discuss oil and the Middle East, housing at St Mary’s monastery, the legacy of the last Conservative government, the legacy of the present coalition government and the need for officials to declare their interests.
Catch 22 of Middle East oil supply problem Sir, The phrase we are only in it for the oil has been used in recent discussions about our relations with Arab dictator oil suppliers.
The realpolitik says we must have oil to survive. A no-oil situation would be ultimately more devastating than a nuclear attack.
Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction may have been imaginary but the Middle East’s weapon is very real oil.
It is the most sublime of the weapons of mass destruction, economical, requiring no technology to deploy it.
Without oil we die. With oil from suppliers we don’t like, we survive.
Our choice? Either to accept the realpolitik, or go to war to put in place oil suppliers we do like.
What price oil? What price principle? Do we have a Catch 22 here?
Andrew Lawson.9 MacLaren Gardens,Dundee.
Monastery needs housing
Sir, I read with great interest and a fair degree of concern your report (February 25) of the opposition to the development of housing adjacent to St Mary’s monastery in Perth.
The objectors, the Kinnoull Hill Woodland Park Group, are quoted as using wholly inappropriate terms such as, “a competitive business” and “the retreat market” in relation to the religious activities of the monastic order based at St Mary’s.
The reality is that to undertake essential upgrades to the interior of this beautiful old building, including meeting health and safety requirements, the funding provided by the housing development will allow these upgrades to take place.
It seems there is a very real risk that the monastery cannot continue in existence without raising extra money.
The Redemptorist Order based at St Mary’s provides a beautiful and tranquil location where substantial numbers of people can be accommodated and find mental and spiritual escape from the rigours of daily life.
I have been given a tour of the monastery by members of the order and it is a memorable experience indeed. The lovely adjacent gardens owe their existence to the hard labours of a very elderly member of the religious community.
If a carefully-designed housing development in sympathy with its surroundings can avert the loss of this monastic facility in Perth, then it should certainly be supported.
Malcolm Payne.West View,East End, Pitcairngreen.
Punishing poor, rewarding rich
Sir, Donald MacLeod (February 25) must have a short memory himself if he cannot remember the ruinous state that the previous Conservative administration left the country in 1997.
As to the state of the public finances, it is a matter of record that public spending was 42.5% of GDP in 1997, but had fallen to 36.5% by May 2007, before the global recession hit the country.
Any increases since then have been a result of falling tax revenues and measures designed to support jobs.
If he thinks that was one of the most ruinous administrations in our history, what will he think of a government which seems determined to punish the poor and reward the rich bankers who got us into this mess?
John Ruddy.25 Langley Avenue,Montrose.
Coalition has diminished UK
Sir, Politics was always a good career choice for men of a certain class who would probably not achieve much in the real world.
Occasionally, it yields some strange results, such as our present Prime Minister and his deputy, for example, who both look and sound like a couple of used Rolls Royce salesmen, plus a foreign secretary who cannot organise a charter flight into North Africa without a week’s notice.
Then we have a defence secretary who, if he continues to destroy our armed forces and their equipment, will soon be facing our enemies on his own, standing at the sharp end of some converted paddle steamer with a shotgun in his hand.
Malcolm Parkin.15 Gamekeepers Road,Kinnesswood,Kinross.
Declaration of interests
Sir, Your article (February 26) about the sheriff at Cupar standing down from the trial of a man who was a member of the same Dunfermline country club as him despite the fact that he had no recollection of ever meeting the accused raises some interesting questions.
There are two legal tests for bias the subjective and the objective. In this case, there is nothing to suggest that common membership of a country club with open membership would affect the interests of justice.
However, the sheriff rightly felt that this fact if made known to an impartial observer and the fact that his wife had socialised with the accused might raise doubts about his impartiality.
Well done that sheriff for recognising that justice must not only be done but be seen to be done. But how does this square with the absurd situation whereby judges and sheriffs can belong to secret societies that demand preferment among members?
Not only can our judiciary belong to these societies, but they are allowed to keep their membership secret, membership, which, in the case of Freemasons, demands that they help a brother in trouble and must prefer their brethren over non-brethren.
Masonic obligations are given under oath with dire, blood-curdling penalties for brethren who transgress and must be considered more onerous than the rules of an open-to-all Dunfermline country club, or the judicial oath.
I would suggest that it is high time we joined countries such as Norway and made our decision-makers register their membership of secret societies.
Tom Minogue.94 Victoria Terrace,Dunfermline.
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