Letters: Flag waving sends out the wrong message

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I have every sympathy with the appalling plight of innocent residents of Gaza who have lost their lives in recent weeks, but the flying of the Palestinian flag over the city of Edinburgh will send out completely the wrong signal.

It is simply a knee-jerk reaction and represents gesture politics at its worst.

Although there has recently been a rapprochement of sorts between Fatah, the dominant faction headed by Mahmoud Abbas, on the West Bank, and Hamas, which rules in Gaza, relations between the two factions remain very poor.

The reticence of Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority, in the current conflict has been striking and Hamas have few friends or supporters in the Arab world. In these circumstances, the support of Edinburgh City Council seems bizarre and pathetic.

While it is true that citizens of Gaza have lost their lives as a direct result of Israeli bombing, it is important not to forget that their deaths were triggered by the sending of rockets by Hamas into Israel.

Although, thanks to the Iron Dome, the extremely effective air defence system used by the Israelis, relatively few Israelis have been killed, it was and is the intention of Hamas that their rockets should be lethal and that they should cause havoc and destruction within Israel.

When Hamas resumed its rocket attacks earlier in the week, they knew full well what the Israeli response would be and that more innocent residents of Gaza would be killed.

In a recent interview, Amos Oz, the renowned Israeli novelist and peace advocate, said that he used to describe the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians as one of “right against right’, our rights versus their rights.

But he now thinks the conflict between Israel and Hamas is one of “wrong against wrong”.

I agree with him and would have thought that sane, rational, intelligent people everywhere could see that.

Michael Adler, Warriston Crescent, Edinburgh

Health care system under threat in the UK

How can No supporters deny the privatisation agenda of successive Westminster governments? Eye care, dental care, hospital cleaning and blood banks have all been opened up to the private sector.

The Tories first introduced the market into our NHS when they privatised long-term care and sold off state-owned care homes at rock bottom prices. Under the guise of 
modernisation, land associated with long-stay hospitals was sold to speculators to build golf courses, luxury houses and supermarkets.

When Labour came to power in 1997 it stuck to Tory spending plans before expanding on the privatisation started by the Tories. This agenda was part of an American-led big business plan of worldwide marketisation of public services.

Despite costing more per head than any other health system in the world, surveys show that US health care ranks last among developed nations.

If Scotland votes No on September 18 and the Scottish Parliament’s block grant continues to be squeezed, we will head all too quickly towards a similar model of health care.

Jack Fraser, Clayknowes Drive, Musselburgh

Cost of a Yes vote cannot be predicted

The No campaign keeps calling for the Scottish Government to produce a figure of the cost of independence, knowing full well that such a figure can never be produced without detailed discussions with the UK Government.

The No campaign keeps doing this, of course, so as to try to create as much uncertainty as possible in the mind of the Scottish voters. There are many imponderables, for example –

1 How much will an independent Scotland inherit of the UK’s £120 billion assets?

2 What will Scotland’s share be of the national debt?

3 How much will Scotland save in no longer having to pay for the House of Lords, the expensive Whitehall Departments and for the refurbishment of the House of Commons?

4 How much will Scotland save in no longer having to pay its share of UK armaments, including Trident, which are four times that of any modern Western democracy?

5 What will be the cost of Scotland setting up the necessary government departments for running an independent country?

Regarding the latter, Professor Dunleavy of the London School of Economics says, “A main reason why costs’ numbers are currently hard to estimate is that Whitehall has been completely forbidden by ministers from calculating any detailed transition costs for Scotland, in case some numbers get written down that could be copied and then used to undermine the Better Together campaign.

“Equally, civil servants have been banned from even discussing any of the transition details with Scottish Government staff.

“Why should the far more important issues around independence be left for Scotland voters to conjecture about, when detailed answers could easily be made available either by Whitehall or by academics commissioned to inform the debate?”

John S Jappy, Urray, Muir of Ord

Swap independence for a northern alliance

Scottish independence is a selfish idea. Any separation of the UK should be at the level of Stoke on Trent, which would give the North East and North West of England a partnership with Scotland, with which to make a real job of getting a better deal for the less affluent parts of the UK.

This new area could be called the Northern Alliance, and achieve much more for a greater number of people.

Malcolm Parkin, Kinnesswood, Kinross