COUNTY residents remain distressed and angry as Gaza’s agony continues.

‘Self-defence against terrorist attack’ means nearly 30,000 civilian deaths, principally Gaza’s women and children.

Stephen Flynn and Westminster’s SNP MPs again proposed demanding an immediate ceasefire, leaving Labour MPs to argue about wording. This isn’t party political: Courier readers of diverse political views will, I’m confident, back Stephen Flynn’s unequivocal moral leadership.

A General Election is looming, and I can point to the SNP’s record, especially the Scottish Government’s strong commitment to social housing. A hard Brexit (Westminster policy) has caused labour shortages and increased materials costs, but the supply of affordable homes still outstrips other UK nations. Harder to mitigate is the long-term damage of the social housing sell-off (also Westminster policy) driven through by Margaret Thatcher’s ambitions for extensive property-ownership.

There’s more work to do at Holyrood; who governs at Westminster will be decided mainly by voters in England under an outdated first-past-the-post system used in Europe only by the UK and Putin’s ally Belarus. How worrying is that?

Although Scotland’s voters won’t determine the General Election outcome, you can still vote for your aspirations: what sort of country should Scotland be? European and back in the world’s largest single market? Yes. With free movement of skilled workers and humane and enlightened policies on controlled migration? Yes. The future, not the past? Yes.

The unexplained death of Alexei Navalny in a state hostile to internal dissent is the grimmest reminder about global threats to democracy. Breaking international law; leaving the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR); imprisoning those exercising freedom of speech (protected by the convention) in ways opposed by government; forced deportations of migrants – these are, almost unbelievably, Westminster proposals.

The ECHR was the brainchild of Churchill, not some ‘lefty lawyers’; Westminster’s moral and legislative authority now hangs on a decidedly shoogly peg. Only the SNP offers a route to undoing Brexit. A quarter of EU countries are bigger than Scotland, a quarter much smaller – Scotland belongs among the other half of small to medium countries. In an uncertain world, there’s safety in numbers.