Letters: If we’re going after war crimes, why should Blair get a free pass?

RUTH Marr (Letters, March 4) finds it inexplicable, especially at this time when the UK wants Vladmir Putin indicted at the International Criminal Court (ICC), that Tony Blair has never been punished in any court for his role in aggression when a co-initiator of the invasion of Iraq.

It is unfortunately all too explicable. Although the ICC became a reality in 2002, it could not act upon the crime of aggression in the Rome Statute because the signatory states had not agreed upon a definition. Agreement took until 2018 but, lucky for Mr Blair, it seems the ICC could not apply it retrospectively.

There is at present an anomaly in Scots law (similarly in England) that, although the International Criminal Court (Scotland) Act 2001 brings into our jurisdiction crimes listed in the Rome Statute of the ICC, the crime of aggression is not there. Perhaps the Scottish Government will now amend the Act to include it, and make it retrospective.

I appreciate that as a general principle retrospective law is repugnant, in that a person should not be indicted for an act that was not a crime when done. However, two points should be considered: war crimes and crimes against humanity are of such a nature that Parliament, in the War Crimes Act 1991, felt retrospection was unavoidable if justice was to be done; in the House of Lords R v Jones 2006 UKHL 16, Lord Bingham noted that customary international law recognised the crime of aggression, so Tony Blair, a lawyer, would have known he was committing a crime.

We must all hope President Putin lands in a court for his criminal acts in Ukraine. Like Ms Marr, I don’t see why our former Prime Minister should get a free pass when we could bring him to account. There is no difference between the crime of aggression, with its destruction, death and anguish being visited on Ukrainians, than was inflicted upon Iraqis.

Jim Sillars, Edinburgh.


IT’S time for the West to stop encouraging Ukraine to fight a proxy war on its behalf. The loss of Ukraine’s independence looks inevitable without Nato military intervention. It’s unfair on the Ukraine people to keep suffering on behalf of a West unwilling to intervene militarily; it will only lead to more death and destruction.

Instead Vladimir Putin must be put to the sword by his own people. A war of attrition must be brought down on Russia in such a way that the Russian population is left in no doubt where the blame lies. We must cut off supply of resources that keep Russia’s economy operating, and do it quickly. In the West we must be willing to take on economic pain today on behalf of our children and their future. We have the resources, ingenuity and moral compass to destroy this despot. President Putin fights dirty – we must be prepared to do the same.

Robert Gemmell, Port Glasgow.

* AS live theatre reopens post-Covid the hit musical Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat embarks on a nationwide tour. Joseph, of course, was famous for interpreting Pharaoh’s dream about lean cows devouring fat cows. Well, that’s a lesson once oil-rich Britain failed to learn as we struggle to pay for imported fuel.

They say that those who fail to learn from history are bound to relive it. This is usually followed by references to Hitler and comparisons with current and past political positions. But in truth there are only two lessons to learn: all power corrupts but absolute power corrupts absolutely, and the love of money is the root of all evil.

While we common people occupy ourselves by discussing what Vladimir Putin might do next in his quest for absolute power we should reflect on this fact: there are wealthy Russians in Britain today who have bought more access to and influence over our Prime Minister than can be dreamed of by we who may shortly be required to send our sons and daughters to die so that the corrupt Westminster system may continue.

G Davidson, Aboyne.


IN recent days, British politicians have argued that visas should be rescinded for “everybody” with Russian nationality on account of the invasion of Ukraine. Others are calling for the expulsion of all Russian citizens and for dual Russo-British nationals to make a citizenship choice; the Home Secretary has also conjured up images of extremists and Russian agents sneaking into the UK posing as refugees.

As a refugee and migrant homelessness charity employing people of Russian origin, and other nationalities, we utterly condemn such rhetoric and the hurtful impact it has on our friends and colleagues who have precisely nothing to do with this conflict.

The Irish, Black and Muslim communities have long known how it feels to be targeted for vilification depending on the political temperature. So now it’s the turn of the Russians, is it? How utterly reckless.

Ordinary British citizens are not responsible for the fascistic Nationality & Borders Bill which the Home Secretary is trying to push through Parliament. Similarly Russian citizens here are not behind Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, as multiple protests there testify.

Words have consequences, and such rhetoric from politicians directed at innocent people has, as we should know, dangerous consequences.

Robina Qureshi, Chief Executive Officer, Positive Action in Housing, Glasgow.


WHILE watching television news last night (I’m not even sure which channel, since at the moment they tend to blend in), my wife and I were struck by the item which showed a train arriving in Berlin railway station and being met by German citizens who had travelled from all over the country to offer hospitality to exiles (my preferred word, rather than refugees).

There were more hosts than exiles since many of the incoming exiles had relatives and friends to go to.

The story covered a young couple in their thirties who took home a family of six covering three generations.

It made us think that perhaps man’s humanity to man is inexhaustible. It also made us think that with a spare room we could, given the opportunity, do no less.

Brendan J Keenan, Glasgow.


I HAVE just watched for the first time the old black and white film of Steinbeck’s magnificent novel the Grapes Of Wrath. I’ve read the book many times. Towards the end and after Tom Joad, played by a very young Henry Ford, strikes out on his own, the family continue their tortuous journey westward. As they battle on, Paw says to Maw: “We could not have got this far without you.” She replies: “We are the people,” quietly referring to the female attributes of forbearance and fortitude when under duress.

I had always thought this expression originated in Scotland but no, here it pops up in a film script set in the American Mid West during the Depression. Just shows you.

The womenfolk of Ukraine will need all of these qualities and more to keep their families safe from harm.

Rick Lawrie, Aberdour.


WHILE appreciating fully the utter barbarism involved in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, surely isolating the clearly paranoid Vladimir Putin further is not the answer. Many in Russia do feel Nato is encroaching and is a threat and Ukraine was set to join the organisation. This is surely not an insoluble problem. With goodwill, it surely could have been amicably settled diplomatically. The further it goes the less chance there is for a peaceful settlement.

Winston Churchill always preached that “jaw-jaw” was far preferable to “war-war”.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.


DOUG Maughan (Letters, March 4) is absolutely correct to state that Labour neglected Glasgow for decades. I spent my early years in a housing scheme in the east end of Glasgow, in a house riddled with damp, and with mould growing on walls and ceiling. I remember during the Gorbals by-election campaign in 1969, George Brown, then Labour’s deputy leader, visited Gorbals, and expressed his shock at the conditions people were living in, saying that he “had no idea it was so bad”.

Labour’s vote in Glasgow, and indeed throughout Scotland, has collapsed, and its new thistle logo won’t fix that. And neither will Anas Sarwar’s insistence that Scottish Labour candidates must support the Union. Clearly, Mr Sarwar is content to be just another office manager of London Labour’s dilapidated branch office in Scotland; and sadly, he is not going to follow Mr Maughan’s advice and “consider the possibility that a self-governing Scotland could make a better fist of things if it wasn’t dependent on the whims of dysfunctional Westminster”.

Many former Labour Party members did not turn their backs on Labour; Labour turned its back on them. By refusing to allow Labour members who support independence to stand as candidates at the local government elections, it seems likely that yet more members will grasp a real thistle, and quit Labour in disgust.

Ruth Marr, Stirling.


WHAT a joy on this beautiful morning to do some local shopping – and for a few minutes or so take my mind off the dreadful events taking place in our world at the moment.

And also to be reminded that we have local elections approaching in Scotland, on May 5; I thought that as usual I would have had to wait until the immediate two weeks prior to voting day to see our policemen, in twos, walking smilingly through our streets as in days of yore, saying “Good morning”, and generally making us feel safe in our wonderful constituency of Govanhill – which happens to be the First Minister’s constituency. Well, surprise and joy today to discover pairs of council workers with bin bags and clip sticks picking up the rubbish in every street – not just two, I have to say, but many pairs – presumably not just here but everywhere in Glasgow. And yes, going to be here for a few weeks; thank you so much, SNP, for thinking about us, or at least our possible votes, for those few weeks approaching an election in our constituency, and this year adding rubbish collectors to the strolling policemen.

My neighbours and fellow Govanhill dwellers have already clocked the caper, of course, and we are thanking the workers who have been told to do this, for attempting to tidy up the horrendous state of this area. Most of them, of course, know exactly what we are talking about.

Walter Paul, Glasgow.

Read more: It is a myth that Nato has helped keep the peace

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