Sir, Is it not time we stopped these reckless sanctions against not Russia, but President Vladimir Putin, which I see as nothing but Russian roulette, in that we are pulling the trigger on a gun that is causing probably as much injury to our own people as to those we are supposedly affecting.
It is fine for President Barack Obama to dictate to Europe what sanctions we should inflict upon Russia but the economy of America is not affected in the same way as ours and we see our exports of fish, dairy products, fruit and vegetables and many others decimated.
We are all aware President Putin has been a thorn in the side of many but, then, has not Britain, America and their allies committed equally abhorrent crimes to humanity in an endeavour to compel countries to become democratic when, in fact, it is the last thing they have needed.
Is it not time to stop squabbling among and sort out these problems with diplomacy instead of threats and sanctions?
Ron Blanchard. 177 Kinghorn Road, Burntisland.
Court video link idea flawed
Sir, I am writing tocomment on the suggestion by Mr McQueen, head of the Scottish Court Service, that witnesses should submit a video statement that will be their evidence, thus avoiding the need for them to attend court and speeding up trials and freeing court time.
The first thought that occurs is that those courts which survived the closure programme were bound to come under more pressure, as they arehaving to deal with cases they would not have seen before court numbers were reduced.
The next point is that it is no function of Mr McQueen’s department to decide on how criminal cases are progressed. That is a matter for theCrown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.
The use of video statements cannot ever be a substitute for the personal attendance of the witness at a trial. That is because the evidence of the witness can be tested by cross-examination and the JP, sheriff or members of the jury can form a view on the credibility and reliability of the witness. That could not be done if the video statement were to be accepted as the evidence of the witness and allowed to go completely unchallenged.
There is a case for using video links to avoid a witness having to be physically present in court but that would still leave the possibility of cross examination, as under thecurrent arrangements.
George Thomson. 44 Viewforth Place, Pittenweem.
The numbers don’t add up
Sir, Garry Otton, secretary of the Scottish SecularSociety, objects to being called anti-Catholic and says SSSis just about “challengingreligious privilege”. (Letters, December 20).
Mr Otton wants to get rid of Catholic schools and Catholic educational representatives and to have all children in Scotland schooled in his secularist, atheistic philosophy.
He complains about the Catholic Church with its 800,000 members having a place in education yet wants the secular society with its handful of members to have the say for all of Scotland’s children.
As a Free Church minister, I would like to speak up for the rights of my Catholic brothers and sisters and I wish them well as they have to endurethis attack.
David Robertson. St Peter’s Free Church, 4 St Peter Street, Dundee.
Of contributions and Santa Claus
Sir, William Beveridge was absolutely clear: “Benefit in return for contributions, rather than free allowances from a Santa Claus state, is what the people of Britain desire.” Of course he was a Whig economist, building on Neville Chamberlain’s inter-war centrist-Tory health and welfare reforms, while the welfare state was implemented by Labour.
Thus the idea of contribution was binned and replaced by the Marxist “to each according to his need” so that today the benefits based on contributions are only five per cent of the total.
However, in nations such as the UK and New Zealand where “need” is what matters, welfare has much less popular support than in “contributory” countries like Norway andHolland.
And we have a biggerimmigration problem than Germany because Bismarck left a welfare state predicated on paying insurance to beeligible whereas here one only has to be in need.
It would therefore appear that the answer to problems such as mass immigration and our dependency culture might be to resurrect the original principle of contribution in welfare.
Rev Dr John Cameron. 10 Howard Place, St Andrews.
The right move at wrong time
Sir, I was glad to read that one of the founders of the Labour for Independence movement, Alan Grogan, has at last jumped ship from the Labour Party and joined a party that has socialism as the sole reason for being.
However, it is a rather belated realisation that the Labour Party has never, in his or my lifetime, been a socialist party and his failure to bring the Labour Party back to its roots through Labour forIndependence was an exercise in futility.
If Mr Grogan and the others of the Labour Party who have left it in droves since the referendum had jumped shipearlier, the result would have perhaps been different. It certainly would have been closer.
Robert Alexander. Carnoustie.