Letters: Time we got priorities right over our statues

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There are more statues of animals in central Edinburgh than of women.

I do not wish to downplay the vital role played by the Free Polish Forces in the Second World War, but the bear Wojtek’s life was not a happy one.

He was taken from his mother in the wild in the Middle East and then exchanged by his captor for a few cans of meat.

Later, he was made to drink and smoke for human amusement, before dragging heavy objects across a war zone. He did not have much choice in where his keepers took him. Does the mistreatment of animals merit a statue in Princes Street Garden?

Down near the Omni Centre we have a sculpture of giraffes dedicated to the South African poet Roy Campbell. Campbell was pro-Fascist before the Second World War and especially sympathetic to Franco’s Spain.

After the war he wrote articles for Oswald Mosley’s The European and later moved to Portugal so he could live under Salazar’s dictatorship. I doubt the Free Poles would have had much time for him.

Are these the kinds of commemorations we want? Muriel Spark is more deserving of a statue than a Fascist poet or captive animal. Why can’t we have one of her instead?

Ray Bell, Gogarloch Haugh, Edinburgh

Fashion for male stubble should end

AM I the only person on the planet to be driven mad this summer by the proliferation of male facial hair? There is no escape - everywhere you go there are middle-aged men with stupid little white stubble. Even worse is the prevalence of shorts, usually worn by the same people. This is Scotland, for heaven’s sake, not the French Riviera.

I do wish for the days when Scotsmen dressed like men, not geriatric boy scouts.

The last straw is the sight of that whiskery idiot Jeremy Corbyn. Just take the trouble to shave in the morning.

David Wilson, Watson Crescent, Edinburgh

Council planning ruling lacks consistency

THE city council’s development management sub-committee threw out plans for a Co-op on Colinton’s Bridge Road, for reasons which include ‘traffic problems and the effect it would have on other traders’. Funny no such consideration was given to Aldi’s bid to build at Oxgangs Road North - bang up against Oxgangs Broadway shopping precinct, where independent shops include two convenience stores in an area with three nearby major supermarkets and on a site supposedly earmarked for affordable housing.

The entrance to the 87-bay car park (‘budget’ shoppers oddly can afford cars) is to be located on an arterial road which feeds the bypass, just past a busy bus pull-in which serves five routes and immediately before the traffic lights.

But it seems there are no traffic problems here, according the council.

While the ‘setting and massing’ of the Colinton Co-op proposal troubled the sub-committee councillors, the imposing of a mountain of soil to level the Oxgangs site for Aldi parking was clearly considered of no aesthetic importance.

D Colientsis, Oxgangs Brae, Edinburgh

One in, one out is the solution for refugees

David Cameron’s announcement that Britain will take in 20,000 refugees over five years, will put even more pressure on schools, hospitals, housing and welfare benefits.

What do we tell the people who have been waiting to get social housing or hospital treatment?

Sorry, refugee families have priority.

It is surprising that our politicians have not suggested a ‘one in one out’ solution.

Hate preacher Anjem Choudary should be deported with his family thus freeing up a house and giving substantial savings on welfare benefits and legal aid.

A suspected British jihadist mother-of-four was arrested in Turkey and returned to the UK. A one-way ticket out of Britain and her council house in East London would provide refuge for a deserving Syrian family.

There are 13,000 foreign criminals in our prisons. Deport them and Britain might then be able to absorb 20,000 refugees. One in one out works for me.

Clark Cross, Springfield Road, Linlithgow

Secularists are not anti-faith, just fair

In 1696 Thomas Aitkenhead, a 20-year-old student, was hanged for blasphemy following outraged demands from the Church of Scotland.

In 1921 John Gott was sentenced to four months in a London jail for publishing attacks on Christianity and as recently as 1944 Scottish-born Helen Duncan was imprisoned for witchcraft.

The blasphemy law in Britain was itself only abolished in 2008.

Is this the ‘roots in faith’ to which Gus Logan refers when he defends religious privilege? (Letters, September 8)

I was sneeringly accused of being ‘an atheist campaigner.’ How would that work? I couldn’t care less what anyone’s private view of the universe is, far less want to ‘campaign’ to change it.

But the freedom to hold religious beliefs does not extend to the freedom to impose them on others in schools and government nor does it grant exemption from employment and equality legislation.

Opposing religious privilege doesn’t make me an ‘atheist campaigner’. It makes me a secularist.

Neil Barber, Saughtonhall Drive, Edinburgh