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Readers’ letters: Wrong to link Johnson’s behaviour to yobbos’ criminality

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Sir, – Columnist James Miller in his article links the destruction of the book box that stands outside his house by a bunch of yobbos to the misdemeanours of his nemesis Boris Johnson.

May I suggest a more likely reason for the yobbos’ actions – their lack of respect for others and property that belongs to someone else.

Respect they should have been taught in childhood, long before the “lawbreaker” became resident in No 10. Sadly, many are not taught respect, and the guidance of parents, even when available, is less important than that on social media.

Teachers are abused verbally and physically, police and others in positions of authority are laughed at, damaging property is a source of amusement (“we did it for a laugh”).

If caught and found guilty, the sentence imposed is no deterrent.

It is worn as a badge of honour among peers. Laws are now so diluted they no longer fit the purpose.

Also, there is a major difference between the crimes of the yobbos and those of the PM – the former set out to commit a crime but didn’t care, while Johnson stupidly thought having a “party” with work colleagues was within the law.

There is a world of difference between criminality and stupidity, a constant companion of the PM.

Tempting though it is to many, Boris Johnson can’t be blamed for every antisocial act.

What next?  Probably a link between “partygate” and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Ivan W Reid. Kirkburn, Laurencekirk.

Sensationalised view of land sales

Sir, – P&J columnist David Ross and Peter Peacock, the former MSP, have both recently alluded to a “dark market” in Scottish land, referring to the fact that farmland and estates are often sold off-market.

They see such transactions as “secret” and could disadvantage communities that may have an interest in acquiring land.

This emotive terminology sets aside the fact that property of all types, including flats, houses and commercial buildings, is often sold off-market as a result of owners being approached directly by interested buyers.

More importantly, community bodies which have an interest in acquiring land can register that interest whether or not it is for sale, thereby guaranteeing, under the Land Reform legislation, first option to buy it.

There has been a massive change in land legislation in Scotland in the last 20 years, enabling communities to buy land as well as getting more involved in land management decisions.

There is no doubt we are seeing emerging markets for land and houses in rural Scotland but the article by Mr Ross (Scotland’s “dark land market” needs regulation now) seeks to sensationalise normal transactions.

Sarah-Jane Laing. Chief Executive Scottish Land & Estates.

Virtue signalling over punishment

Sir, – Every week the P&J reports on crimes that seem unbelieveable to me in my comfortable existence in Stonehaven, and the unbelieveably light sentences the perpetrators receive.

The pictures of battered Ms Sutherland, and her smug attacker Josh Cox, whose punishment was 200 days’ and a risible £1,500 compensation order, say it all.

Retired Aberdeen sheriff Douglas Cusine recently wrote in a national newspaper on his experience of the SNP’s cutting of sentencing powers and the public outcry by senior judges.

The Scottish Government virtue signals about being tough on crime, especially on women. A woman gets brutally attacked, she goes to the police, the police do their job, and the culprit gets off. What kind of assurance of support for the victim and fair punishment for the culprits is that?

Allan Sutherland. Willow Row, Stonehaven.

Cut through party politics in election

Sir, – You have to admire Rob Merson’s attempt to rally the party faithful, and the electorate at large, with the standard “it’s us or them in this election” message.

For the last, many years, politics in Scotland has become mired first and foremost in the binary decision of for or against independence.

When it comes to local council elections, it has been broadly the same – pro supporters vote mostly for SNP or Green candidates and the antis go mostly to the pro-Union parties.

There are some notable exceptions to that basic rule and Aberdeenshire Council has a proud history of having had many independent councillors over the years.

Those independent voices are more often than not the voice of reason in the running of the council, cutting through some of the large “P” politics that often gets in the way of getting things done.

So, it’s not as simple as “us or them”.

There is a third way in these council elections – by supporting some independent councillors through the election process – and it is really very simple, you only have to vote for them!

Jim Gifford. Hillhead of Ardo, Whitecairns.

Kirk behind times on social progress

Sir, – The news that the Church of Scotland presbyteries back conducting same-sex marriage ceremonies demonstrates yet again how the Church is behind the curve on social change.

Now that 21st Century society has made progress in spite of its principles, the Church has decided it has another set of principles which it can now bring into play. As ever, progress has come in spite of “Christian values”, not because of them. It’s a tacit admission that its Bible is past its sell-by date.

The Kirk is in danger of doing more sets of principles than the leader of the Scottish Conservatives.

Alistair McBay. Lawmuirview, Methven.

Charities are here for MS sufferers

Sir, – Your piece headed “Caring woman touched lives of many despite MS diagnosis” by Charlotte Thomson is welcome during MS Awareness week to highlight issues created by the incurable condition.

May I suggest the article could have been more rounded by mentioning two local charities who assist people affected by multiple sclerosis.

The Grampian MS Therapy Centre based in Dyce offers oxygen therapy and reflexology to those with the condition, and Aberdeen Independent Multiple Sclerosis provides weekday activities such as chair-based exercise, seated yoga, mindfulness and art and crafts sessions to sufferers, their family members and carers.

Anyone interested can find details of both organisations on their websites and Facebook pages.

Ian Gourlay. Aberdeen Independent Multiple Sclerosis, Gordon Place, Bridge of Don.

SNP policy plays into Putin’s hands

Sir, – Many thanks to John Ferry for pointing out the absurdity of the SNP position on defence and security.

Britain is the Kremlin’s most effective European adversary.

The SNP want to split up Britain, which would weaken us both economically and militarily.

To add icing to the cake, they also want unilateral nuclear disarmament in the face of aggression from a nuclear armed power.

Whether the SNP like it or not, this would play right into Putin’s hands.

Keith Shortreed. Cottown of Gight, Methlick.

Government past its sell-by date

Sir, – Over the past couple of days we have seen the first minister pretty much on the ropes with the ferries, care home deaths (she could try to blame the English for that), the Fort William smelter deal, and we wait to see the result of the publication of the legal opinion regarding Indyref2.

A lot is now emerging with regard to this government’s behaviour and lack of transparency – indeed, there appears to be a conscious effort to obfuscate and deny the truth in so many ways.

This government and its leader is past its sell-by date, change is now urgently required, starting at the top.

To quote: “The buck stops with me!”

Mike Salter. Glassel, Banchory.

Changing attitudes within the Church

Sir, – It seems that the Kirk could be set to approve same-sex weddings in its churches after a majority indicated their support.

The 25% of presbyteries who oppose it include the Rev Mike Goss of Barry Parish Church who says there are “still folk who stand by the Bible”, and The Christian Institute’s Scotland Officer Nigel Kenny who said, “This is a very sad development” and is a victory of “culture rather than Christ”.

Despite the anachronistic views of some, we have to applaud the extent to which churches are improving their attitude – if only for the gay people who choose find themselves involved in religion, and maybe this is a private matter for them.

There is, however, to be a “conscience clause” in the legislation, exempting disapproving ministers.

Could it be argued that if churches are licensed to solemnise marriages recognised by the state, all should respect the law of the land and its associated equality legislation?

Neil Barber. Edinburgh Secular Society, Saughtonhall Drive.

Easter comes late for Royal Mail

Sir, – The Royal Mail is brilliant! I sent an Easter card to my daughter-in-law, posted first-class in good time for delivery.

What puzzles me is how did they know that she belongs to the Orthodox Church and would be celebrating Easter a week later than most of us, so delayed delivering it by a week? Such insight. A real first-class service.

Michael Turner. Beattie Lodge, Laurencekirk.


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