MANY thanks to David Pratt for his excellent piece on comparing French and British responses to crises. He is 100% correct in his analysis – not surprising, really, in view of his reflective and well-researched submissions to your newspaper.

I agree totally that there is a very democratic “feel” about France, which somehow does not seem to have overly diminished with the rise of the Front National and the shrill Marine Le Pen. True, some towns have elected municipal councils with extreme right-wing mayors, but this is recognised and, recently, artists, musicians, indeed, entire festivals have declined to perform in them.

This sense of decency probably has roots in the 1789 Revolution, but we should not forget that it took the French until 1871, with the revolt of 1830, the Europe-wide Revolution of 1848, and finally the brutal repression of the “communards” of 1871 to finally shake off the last traces of empire and monarchy which had dogged the 19th century to that point, and to establish the Third Republic.

More recently, it should not be forgotten that, unlike us, France was occupied during the last war and, importantly, had to mount a resistance movement, thus galvanising people in a fight more acute than ours. It has even been suggested that we won too many wars for our own good.

It has long been said that French governments are afraid of the people, while we are afraid of our governments. I cannot recall much angry resistance to anything here since the Poll Tax riots, but the recent fury in France over raising pensionable age shows that, as David Pratt rightly points out, that spirit of resistance is alive and well in France, the French government knows it, and would do well to heed the message that people do not accept the low taxation mantra which would have them work longer for their own pensions. They insist that taxation ought to be raised on those who can well afford to pay.

Maybe we need to find a bit more voice, and stand up and be counted a  bit more.

Brian York Dumfries

EXCELLENT letters from Brian Lawson and Jim Taylor (Feb 2) make a lot of sense for the Independence cause, and together with that of L McGregor, they must be music to the ears of the Unionists. They need only sit back and leave it to those seeking independence as they tear themselves apart!

Whilst I have no particular stance on the GRR legislation, I can perfectly understand Brian Lawson’s argument that there are presently many things denied to 16-year-olds, but I am willing to leave it to our elected MSPs who have considered it for many years. However, I squirm when watching the response to it by the Scottish Prison Service. Need I say any more. But to see Alyn Smith calling for Joanna Cherry MP to be removed from the SNP, well, I’m at a loss. Perhaps he missed the proroguing case, or was asleep when it was won!

Apart from the numerous homeless children statistics, mentioned by Brian Lawson, which the Scottish Government has witnessed increasing by 2155 since 2019, the Scottish Government hasn’t yet tackled the iniquity of Scottish land ownership, which it has the right to tackle. (I wonder if ministers have ever read Andy Wainright’s book The Poor Had No Lawyers?). And what happened to the much-vaunted attack on the council tax? Of course, that would penalise the rich, who (or very few) will ever vote for independence. So, come on SNP, get off your a*** and do something that shows you’re worth our vote, or Alba will take over!

Paul Gillon Leven

I HAD just finished the book The Real Odessa – How Nazi War Criminals Escaped Europe by Uki Goni when I got round to reading Kevin McKenna’s latest National offering about “speaking truth to power”  (Jan 31). Kevin’s article was timely. Goni’s book examines in excruciating detail the crucial role played by the Vatican, from the very top downwards, in assisting hundreds of Nazi war criminals, collaborators and traitors elude justice and flee to the safe haven of Peron’s fascist Argentina in the aftermath of the Second World War. (Adolf Eichmann’s Red Cross passport application was signed by Father Edoardo Domoter of San Antonio parish in Genoa. )  I am left wondering how many newspapers and other media outlets had the courage to speak truth to power following this hugely shameful episode!?

Alan Woodcock Dundee

GOOD to see a few letters in Tuesday’s National holing below the waterline Angus Robertson’s arrogant,  anti -democratic proposal to steal people’s “Yes to indy” votes and turn them into “let’s rejoin the EU” votes. (‘When was it agreed that next indyref would also be an EU referendum?’)

Surely any reasonable democrat with more than a few brain cells to put together realises that independence for Scotland and whether or not an independent Scotland joins the EU are two separate questions, and cannot be conflated in any fair referendum or de facto plebiscite referendum vote.

READ MORE: Does the FM have the courage to fall on her political sword?

The SNP need to stop this damaging and divisive kite flying now and make it very clear that rejoining the EU after independence will, of course, be put to the sovereign Scottish people in a referendum, with choices including staying out completely and joining EFTA but not the EU.

Anything else risks losing an indy vote.

It would also inevitably lead to a legal challenge and a complaint to the Electoral Commission. Yes voters who do not want an independent Scotland to rejoin the EU will not allow their Yes vote to be misused in any way to mean anything other than independent statehood for Scotland, regardless of the cynical manipulation of folk like Robertson, or anyone else who wants to promote any particular agenda above the immediate and necessary goal of independence.

Steve Arnott Inverness

PRIME Minister’s Questions sees the leader of the opposition entitled to six questions – six questions to hold the Government to account.  

Due to the economic turmoil, the energy crisis, the strikes and unrest in the country, there is no shortage of topics to raise – the list is endless and serious. Hardworking families struggling, having to choose heating or eating or, in England, buying their medication (an outrage, step forward Sir Keir Starmer).  

The National: A 'reality check' is needed for Labour, writes one readerA 'reality check' is needed for Labour, writes one reader (Image: Getty Images)

Amazingly, amid the cost of living crisis, Sir Keir Starmer got to his feet and focused on the internal shenanigans within the Conservative Party. Appalling as they are, and a poor reflection on government, the sacking of the Conservative chairman by the Prime Minister, all be it too late, has done absolutely nothing to address the real issues affecting millions.

With his questions, Sir Keir Starmer played into the Westminster bubble, effectively denying a voice to those struggling daily. Labour hope to form the next Government ... on this performance, a reality check is called for.

Catriona C Clark Falkirk

WE write following the BBC Panorama broadcast on Monday January 30, 2023: Forgotten Heroes of the Covid Frontline. Some of us were interviewed for the programme.

In September 2022, following the ending of Covid Special Leave across much of the UK, three of us came together to start a campaign calling for the implementation of the APPG on Coronavirus’ recommendations about a compensation and pension scheme for key workers with occupational long Covid.

The work of the APPG has highlighted the difficult financial situation many key workers now find themselves in. The Government insists that there is a “generous package of benefits” available, however, the reality is that that’s not necessarily the case at all. We have seen testimony from friends and colleagues about how they don’t qualify for some, and are turned down for others, leaving them with little to no income. 

READ MORE: Is Rishi Sunak delusional or just another lying Tory prime minister?

Our friends and colleagues across key worker sectors are finding themselves losing their homes, on top of, in many cases, their jobs and careers as well. Many of us cannot apply for certain benefits in the first place, as there is denial that our Covid infections were as a result of our work.  This is completely unacceptable.

How can a government and nation that stood on their doorsteps and clapped every Thursday evening now turn their eyes away from thousands of us – a number which continues to rise every day – and ignore this situation?

We feel it is unethical and immoral to do so. That’s why we started this campaign.  We are writing this letter at a time when our campaign has reached and exceeded 100,000 supporters, demonstrating the growing support for a package offering REAL security to those so badly affected by Long Covid. Find it HERE. We are tremendously thankful to all who stand with us.

Cass Macdonald, Rachel Hext, Sarah Sutton, Aimee Jones and other members of the Keyworker Petition UK Team

THE theme of this year’s World Cancer Day yesterday was “Close the Care Gap”, with a focus on ensuring more people seek and receive the care they need and deserve. Many people with cancer are navigating their employment situation while also grappling with health concerns and the broader impact of cancer on their lives. 

Depending on circumstances, continuing or returning to work can often give people with cancer an important sense of self-worth and can play a key role in terms of everyday normality, routine and socialising, but it is crucial that this is done in a way that best supports the needs of the individual.

Occupational health can make a monumental difference to the wellbeing of cancer patients in the workplace, with specialist advice in terms of workplace adjustments or returning to work.

It’s up to individual employers to decide what, if any, occupational health services they offer, so to mark World Cancer Day we are encouraging all organisations to look at their workplace support for people with cancer and to incorporate that into their occupational health strategies.

Nick Pahl CEO, Society of Occupational Medicine

ALL credit to Alba MP Neale Hanvey and the five MPs who supported him for introducing his Self-Determination Bill to place the power to hold an independence referendum where it belongs – with the democratically elected Scots Parliament. 

Neale stated clearly and unequivocally that the Scottish people are sovereign and, as such, the UK Government has  no authority to deny their right to  self-determination. He also pointed out that Scotland is not and has never been in a territorial union with England, but is a sovereign territorial nation.  

In a short period of time, it’s gratifying to see the national conversation centre around the Claim of Right, a clear contract between the Scottish people and their government and the only codified constitution in the UK.

In fact, the Claim of Right was included in the Treaty of Union as a precondition to the Treaty  – an international treaty which the UK has repeatedly breached.  At a minimum, I would have expected the rest of Scotland’s independence-supporting MPs to have backed this bill. Why else are they in Westminster if not to assert the sovereignty and interests of the Scottish people? 

Leah Gunn Barrett Edinburgh