Sir, – In the interest of balance, a number of points should be made about the newly ennobled Menzies Campbell’s comments on Tony Blair and the Iraq War (November 6).
The first is that a number of the points he made were debated at length in the run-up to the decision to go to war in Iraq.
Mr Blair still managed to get a majority in the Westminster Parliament for military action.
They were debated at even greater length in the run-up to the 2005 General Election and still he managed to get the sort of majority all the main parties pray for in today’s political climate.
Mr Blair ought to have shown more foresight about the aftermath of the invasion; that still does not excuse the terrorist activity so prevalent in Iraq over the last decade.
It is important to stress that Mr Blair was reacting, in the run-up to 2003, to repeated threats to democracy by people who had little respect for democracy.
He plainly did not get everything right, but he exercised his judgment in a way that gave voters and parliamentarians the final say.
Those who thirst for the publication of the Chilcot Inquiry seek not more information about how to prevent conflict.
They seek the chance to get more material that might lead to Mr Blair ending up in an international court of law. They will be disappointed. There is no evidence that he acted in anything other than in good faith and within the bounds of international diplomacy. In the final analysis, nobody can accurately predict the circumstances in which the nation might go to war, or the constraints placed on those who make the decision to get involved in one.
Bob Taylor. 24 Shiel Court, Glenrothes.
In illustrious footsteps
Sir, – Congratulations to Jackie McNamara for winning the job of managing York City.
I have just had a call from a young York City supporter who was not around at the time and had not realised that if Jackie succeeds in his new post he will be following in the footsteps of perhaps the best manager York have ever had up to now.
The name was Tom Johnston and he was also a Scot, who moved from Huddersfield Town to York and back again during the 1970s.
He got them re-elected to the football league, then promoted to the third division, then the second division.
It will hopefully give Jackie a target figure to emulate after the disappointment of Dundee United, where players who might have kept his and the club’s reputation high were consistently sold on, making it, in my view, the reason behind the decline in results.
Ian Wheeler. Springfield, Cupar.
No evidence of wildlife crime
Sir, – I refer to wildlife expert Alan Stewart and his baseless accusations relating to alleged wildlife crime (November 6).
He of all people should know that the reason there are as few convictions as there are can be summed up in two words – no evidence.
I note he would like to change the law in order that inadequate or nonexistent evidence could be used.
But the legislation is clear and the fact that there is no evidence could not possibly be because there isn’t any, could it?
Mr Stewart says investigators can only proceed with a case if there seems a reasonable chance of conviction. Is that a bad thing?
Surely that is the same criteria that applies to any potential prosecution for any offence?
Why should Mr Stewart expect a different regime for wildlife crime? Why should the burden of proof be any different for his pet offences?
None of us would want to condone, encourage or protect wildlife criminals but Mr Stewart really needs to get a sense of perspective and revert to the time-honoured advice that I followed when I was a police wildlife officer, that is, prove the case.
Gerard Watts. Persie House, Bridge of Cally.
Tackle nation’s real problems
Sir, – Another report from experts sets outthe shortcomings of the Scottish Government, this time in relation to the approach to closing the attainment gap in education.
The report from the Commission for School Reform makes clear that they are not convinced the SNP have got this right.
The commission says the rhetoric reflects ambitious targets without appropriate strategies, resources and detailed plans to make it happen.
The proposed timings are likely to prove to be unrealistic.
The story is similar in health, policing and energy policy, where in turn, the concerns of doctors, nurses, police and engineers about lack of resources and ill-judged policy decisions are falling on deaf ears.
In each of these fields, experts have criticised the gap between what the Scottish Government says and what it actually delivers.
The problem is not that the SNP do not care about these matters. Rather it is that they simply do not care enough.
The SNP’s commitment to tackling the real problems of Scotland always comes second best to their overriding ambition to maximise votes and, in turn, further their separatist ambitions.
This is why they continue to favour vote-winning universal benefits and the freezing of the council tax, both of which benefit middle-class voters. This is at the expense of the potential programmes that could otherwise be afforded to improve essential public services and really help the poor and disadvantaged.
Keith Howell. White Moss, West Linton.
Futility of future planning
Sir, – It is unnecessary and expensive to invent and develop alternative methods of creating energy, most of which turn out to be useless, when the tried and tested use of fossil fuels and the ability to generate nuclear power are with us.
The resources of our planet are still plentiful and further economies will ensure that they last longer.
For example, cars already achieve previously undreamt of mileages on a gallon of petrol, and the prospecting and extraction of oil and coal is now highly productive.
Indeed, there is a world glut of oil as demand falls.
Long before our resources are depleted, we will most probably have destroyed ourselves anyway.
Energy and the environment are, therefore, logically the problem of the next generation and our failure to grasp that humankind will not last forever is our weakness.
Regard for future generations, however trendy and comforting it may be, is, therefore, totally misplaced, as they may never need the resources that we deny ourselves today.
It is like planning for a life after death. Pure nonsense.
Malcolm Parkin. Gamekeepers Road, Kinnesswood, Kinross.
Cut taxes for cyclists
Sir, – Your correspondent Clark Cross thinks cyclists should pay road tax and also feels that motorists should be getting something in return from cyclists.
The cyclists I know are also motorists and also work, apart from the ones who are retired and anyone on a reasonable pension also pays tax.
It has long been a myth that road tax is used only to repair roads.
It goes into the pot with all the other taxes we pay and is distributed accordingly.
We all pay enough tax in this country and do not need to pay any more.
Even in a country that taxes people who own a television, I do not think there is one politician who would dare try to tax cyclists.
In fact, politicians want more people cycling. Apparently we cyclists are such a healthy lot we save the National Health Service millions of pounds. Perhaps we should pay less National Insurance.
I find it hard to believe that anyone thinks bicycles damage tarmac but anyway, we now have cars that are zero rated for tax.
As for money spent on infrastructure, a lot of that comes from Europe and it is all inward investment that creates work.
All this puts Clark Cross in a win-win situation.
He may buy a car that is zero rated for tax and take up cycling and get the use of all this lovely new cycling infrastructure being created.
As for rogue cyclists, I turn my eyes to heaven but at least they are not a dangerous as rogue motorists.
Jerry Fuchter. 10 Kilberry Street, Dundee.
Cut subsidies for cyclists
Sir, – George White takes issue with me over my letter in which I had asked Trevor White whether he would support an annual licence fee for cyclists.
George White goes way off tangent when he says that I had asked for cyclists to pay Vehicle Excise Duty, which was abolished in 1937.
I did not mention Vehicle Excise Duty in my letter so can only assume he chooses to deliberately muddy the waters. He also chooses to ignore the main thrust of my letter which pointed out that in Scotland, expenditure on cycle lanes and cycle-related expenditure was in excess
of £70 million and growing and that an annual cycling licence fee would at least go a little way towards this huge sum.
He also ignores my suggestion of an identification number which could be used to identify those cycling on the pavement, a practice that George White appears to support.
I repeat; why should the non-cycling public, who are in the majority, pay the major part of the £70 million for cycle facilities?
Clark Cross. 138 Springfield Road, Linlithgow.