Readers' letters: Slavery spotlight turns to John Hope

I have always been struck by the statue of John Hope, the Fourth Earl of Hopetoun, who with his horse stands outside Dundas House, the former headquarters of the Royal Bank of Scotland at St Andrew Square in Edinburgh.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 25th October 2021, 7:00 am

His uncle by marriage was Henry Dundas, who is immortalised across the road on top of the Melville Monument. The role of Dundas as Home Secretary in prolonging the slave trade is now recognised by a plaque at the monument.

However, unbeknown to many is the fact that Dundas House was the original home of Lawrence Dundas, cousin to Henry Dundas, who owned slave plantations in Grenada and Dominica.

John Hope was the vice governor of the bank for a period and MP for Linlithgowshire. While serving with the British forces in the West Indies in the 1790s he helped put an end to a two-year slave revolution in Grenada.

The so-called Fédon rebellion was an attempt by revolutionaries and slaves to create a black republic. It saw 200 rebels enslaved and 50 executed, suffering hanging and then decapitation. It is estimated that around a quarter of the slave population on the island were killed.

Given the plaque at the Melville Monument on the role of Henry Dundas in prolonging the slave trade, as we mark Black History Month a similar approach may want to be taken by the powers that be at the Royal Bank when it comes to Dundas House and the statue of John Hope.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh.

Time Scottish MPs quit Westminster

The Tory government spurning the Aberdeenshire site for a carbon capture plant, despite promising it pre-referendum in 2014, illustrates why the Union is a disaster for Scotland.

Boris Johnson knows he doesn’t need the six Scottish Tories to keep his majority, so has chosen the Humber and the Liverpool area instead to shore up Tories in the former Red Wall.

Sir Evan Wood, chairman of the Energy Transition Zone, said the UK’s choice “makes little economic or environmental sense and is a real blow to Scotland.

“Scotland is the most cost-effective place to begin [carbon capture] in the UK given the capacity for CO2 transport and storage … and to harness the skills of our current workforce to create many good, green jobs in the coming years and contribute significantly to the net zero ambition.” Scottish MPs in Westminster are being cut from 59 to 57 while English MPs will increase from 533 to 543. Scotland doesn’t stand a chance.

What will it take for the Scottish government to finally recall its MPs from Westminster and get on with the business of liberating Scotland from a Union that is slowly strangling us?

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh.

More money does not mean better standards

It came as no surprise to read that more is spent in Scotland on school pupils than in anywhere else in the UK. That it is £800 per pupil did come as a bit of a shock.

What did also not come as a surprise was to learn that this increase in spending did not translate into better standards and performance. Throwing money at something does not fix it. The Curriculum for Excellence has been criticised for many years now and the dabbling round the edges is not making any improvements.

In 2015, the First Minister asked to be judged on education, stating that she was prepared to “put her neck on the line on the education of our young people”. Of course this was an empty promise as we watch the attainment gap rise in many areas while she points out the one or two areas where it has narrowed.

Jane Lax, Aberlour