I found Islay McLeod's piece on carers extremely moving and it brought back memories of a shameful practice in my first teaching post that I had a peripheral part in changing.

Back in the good old days of child beating, it was the unalterable rule in Albert Senior Secondary that latecomers were belted; a rota of male teachers stood at the door, waiting for offenders, no questions asked. My husband (just a colleague at the time) hated it, specially as he had to belt the same poor wee boy every morning. He talked to me about it in the staffroom; clearly upset.

Then he had to take a class for an absent colleague and there the boy was. Bill kept him back at the bell and elicited that he cared not only for his mother but for two younger siblings that he had to get ready for school. He was terrified that Bill was going to report him and in some way make matters worse. To cut to the chase: Bill did two things. He told the head that he was no longer prepared to participate in this barbarity and then he called a meeting of his colleagues and they unanimously signed a statement indicating that they wouldn’t either and demanding the end of the practice. The boy did then get support in school and out, and other sanctions were found for latecomers.

Rose Galt

Brilliant and insightful article today by Islay McLeod on community care and child carers.

Cllr Alan Lafferty (Convener for Social Work & Health, East Renfrewshire Council)

We first met Tam and Kathleen after keen dissent began to arise over the handling of the background to the Lockerbie disaster of December 1988 in which our elder daughter Flora was amongst those brutally murdered.

There is nothing on this earth that can counter the intensity of grief at the loss of a child, but the friendship and love of Tam Dalyell and his wife Kathleen often fed our strength and determination to establish the truth about all that was really known about the disaster. We felt enriched by their friendship. We came to know no other person, politician or not, who so exemplified true caring and integrity as did Tam and his wife.

Because Tam lived within a complex strata of society close to the heart of the Whitehall establishment, he was able to elicit confidences and assess allegations with an insider's knowledge second to none. As the truth about Lockerbie began to become clear through the fog of deception he was prepared to use his privileges and the respect in which he was held to progress the search for that truth.

There was a difference of texture about Tam which stamped him immediately as a man who simply could not become contaminated with the
half-truths and convenient hiding places used by those prepared to tolerate convenient fictions in order to make their lives easier or their ascent towards power smoother. It was similar to how oil and water can share a space but never mix.

Tam did not tolerate fools gladly and many of us will long remember the message he had recorded on his answering machine, of which the key phrase was DO NOT GABBLE. Many years of dealing with those of lesser integrity had made him a master at assessing the integrity of others. Nor will we forget his working 'Spitting Image' kept at the Binns to the great amusement of both visitors and Tam and Kathleen themselves.

Tam had become a thorn in the side of Margaret Thatcher to earn that accolade. But for those he trusted there was no stauncher friend. I have no doubt that had Tam been prepared to compromise his integrity he would have risen to lead at least his party and probably his country. It was a key part of the measure of the man that he could never do that.

Although nothing can staunch the hurt of our loss of Flora, meeting Tam and his family and having them share in our suffering was an uplifting experience for which we shall be eternally grateful. Tam was a righteous and fearless soldier in the cause of what is right, and with the strength of Kathleen's support he was a tribute to all that was best in the old world preceding the post-truth age in which we are now said to live.

We shall not see his like again, and Kathleen and the family, Linlithgow and a galaxy of other friends and acquaintances will miss him and his unique integrity of purpose for as long as memory lasts.

Jim and Jane Swire

Kenneth Roy's piece on Tam Dalyell brought back memories of speaking to Tam and his wife at Aye Write last year. I reminded him of our meetings during the passage of the Scotland Act when I had the honour of convening the Law Society of Scotland's devolution committee and met with Tam many times at Westminster. He recalled these meetings and it was humbling how much detail he recalled about some of the society's then reservations about the position of the law officers amongst other aspects of the bill. He remained trenchant in his views and was clearly still an independent thinker on all matters as regards Scottish governance. A privilege and a pleasure to have known him.

Seith Ireland

As a space filler I’m sure that Dick Mungin’s article served a useful purpose for SR but elsewise it failed to say anything new and managed only to pull together some irrelevant points and a mish mash of Tory feeders in order to reach what was the author’s foregone conclusion well before the end of the article.

It wasn’t only the vagaries of the Westminster system and the shiny-eyed zealots which led to Labour’s downfall in Scotland – it was their continued unwillingness to respond in any worthwhile way to Scotland’s needs unless they received instructions from London.

Other than that both the SNP and UKIP had candidates in the UK, what was the point in comparing SNP votes in Scotland with UKIP’s votes throughout the UK? Comparing like for like probably wouldn’t have suited his slant. Why try to conflate election results with referendum results?

Move on please, the Scottish electorate are less willing just to suck it up these days.

Archie Hamilton

Cafe is SR's readers' forum for short articles or responses to other articles. Send your contribution to rachel@scottishreview.net

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