Readers' letters: Gorbachev was greeted by cheering crowds in Edinburgh

Nearly 30 years ago, former President Gorbachev delivered one in the series of Lothian European Lectures, sponsored by the then Lothian Regional Council, addressing a packed and appreciative McEwan Hall.

Mikhail Gorbachev charmed the crowd at the McEwan Hall
Mikhail Gorbachev charmed the crowd at the McEwan Hall

People unable to get a seat clustered round the entrances, and glimpsing people smiling and waving outside, Mr Gorbachev briefly paused in the ceremonial procession leading him to the hall and gestured to those outside to come on in. Although that wasn’t possible, those who witnessed his generosity and charm will remember that as vividly as those inside remember the great occasion itself.

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Mikhail Gorbachev: Former Soviet leader's bond with Scotland
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The event was chaired, also with charm and humour, by Sir Edward Heath. No friend of Mrs Thatcher, the former Prime Minister had never in fact met the Russia President with whom Mrs Thatcher had famously said one “could do business”. That slight was no doubt in Sir Edward’s mind as he fielded questions from the audience, one of which was put by a young schoolgirl. Congratulating her on her question, and wishing her well for her future, and perhaps a political career, Sir Edward nonetheless ruefully commiserated with her over the sad fact that there was absolutely no chance whatsoever she would achieve the highest office as another female Prime Minister. The MacEwan Hall got the joke and roared its approval with thunderous applause.

Thirty years is a very long generation in Tory politics. The latest spin of the revolving door of deposed Tory leaders and leadership elections is proving not to be so “strong and stable” after all, and not “better together” even without an opposition. Sir Edward’s preferred epithet, as a determined European, might have been “hubris”.

Dr Geraldine Prince, North Berwick

Slavery apology

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I think that anyone who thinks about slavery, as Sir Geoff Palmer has in his report to Edinburgh Council (News, 1 September) will rightly condemn it. The idea that one person can claim to own another is utterly abhorrent. Luckily, we have had over two centuries of that being illegal in the UK.

When apportioning guilt, a balanced approach is essential and we are seeing the pendulum swinging wildly in the UK in relation to racial problems which originate in the USA and not here. The response might be more relevant to America, but it is disproportionate in Britain.

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Whilst it points the finger at Scotland, a sense of proportion, as always, is essential when such important matters are considered in a historical context. Not to do so would be completely unbalanced and apologies being made by Edinburgh Council would carry much more weight if the Nigerian High Commissioner and those from neighbouring countries which benefitted directly from the sale of human beings they had enslaved were to join the council to make a joint declaration.

Andrew HN Gray, Edinburgh

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Remembering Bill

It is with some regret that I put pen to paper because I was a great admirer of Bill Turnbull as a broadcaster and what he has done for prostate cancer.

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Yesterday morning, however, the BBC went way beyond the acceptable in their tribute to Bill Turnbull. There could well be a special programme in his memory but the Breakfast Show is meant to be a topical news magazine, not a self-indulgence of the presenter’s ‘interests’. There are key issues like the cost of living, and the election of a new Prime Minister which are the focus of most of the viewers’ attention. This coverage exceeded even that given to the death of Prince Philip!

James Watson, Dunbar

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