I WAS sorry to learn of the Saramago cafe's closure ("Glasgow CCA: Saramago Cafe Bar to close for good following pay dispute", heraldscotland, April 21).

Much of what passes for plant-based fare today is ultra-processed junk-food (UPF) that is more likely to tell you what it's not than what it actually is. According to the food writer Kimberly Wilson, the increased consumption of UPF is linked to worsening brain health, and is actively fuelling our mental health crisis. In contrast, Saramago's offerings were stylishly prepared and made with recognisable products. Its closure is undoubtedly a loss to the city.

In his 2012 paper Stop The Union-Bashing, written for the Demos thinktank, Robert Halfon MP argues that Conservatives and the trade union movement have more in common with each other than sometimes imagined. Behind the noisy air of militant rhetoric, trade unions are, Mr Halfon argues, in reality capitalist institutions which exist to not only offer constructive advice to solve disputes between workers and management, but also offer services that directly seek to replace government such as private medical insurance. Individual trade unionists are essentially conservative and capitalist too: for it is in their material interest for their employer's business to survive and thrive. The last thing that any trade unionist wants is to be an unemployed trade unionist.

Businesses, of course, come and go; that's just the nature of the marketplace. But Saramago hasn’t so much closed as been destroyed by a minority clique of left-wing troublemakers ("Small businesses ‘being held to ransom by US-style direct action’", The Herald, May 22). The heaviest cost of the actions of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) will, not for the first time, be borne by ordinary workers who did not support union militancy, and who now, outrageously, find themselves out of a job. No decent socialist should support such an outcome.

In Saramago's demise we can recognise the truth of Roger Scruton's analysis that good things are easily destroyed, but not so easily created. Emboldened by their success the IWW now has the 13th Note in the crosshairs ("13th Note Glasgow: Unions and activists stage pay demonstration", heraldscotland, May 12). After that, which small business will be the next domino to fall? Humza Yousaf has said that the relationship between the Scottish Government and businesses needs reset. This must now include protecting small businesses from the destructive rage of the radical left.

Graeme Arnott, Stewarton.

The myth of Sturgeon's good work

RUTH Marr (Letters, May 22) writes that I am in cloud cuckoo land for suggesting (Letters, May 19) that the donation of £1 million to every worker at Ferguson Marine would have been better value for money just as the Transport Minister declares open-wallet surgery of the Scottish coffers regarding future spending at Fergusons. Another "estimated" £62 million will be spent this year alone, bringing the cost of two ferries to more than £300m to add to the £170m required to remodel the port facilities to take the oversize ships that Calmac did not want. Just who is in cloud cuckoo land?

Further, Ms Marr suggests that our past First Minister was exemplary in her handling of Covid.

Really? She and Michael Russell warned the Westminster Government that "people would die unless we joined the EU in procuring vaccines". Well, whilst the EU argued over the price, the Westminster Government, with great foresight, set up manufacturing facilities for an as-then-unknown vaccine which put the UK well ahead of the vaccination curve whilst the EU's delays and haggling did indeed cost lives.

Nicola Sturgeon's daily diatribe was watched UK-wide because she sprinted from the the daily home nations meeting and briefing so that she appeared to be ahead of the game; the entire UK then knew what had been discussed and decided. In true dictatorial style, it was rare that any other member of the Scottish Government gave the daily briefing.

Ms Marr's confidence in Ms Sturgeon's future is not even shared by her own party, who have distanced themselves from her policies and have categorically moved away from any continuity of them. I for one am confident that neither the UN nor Hillary Clinton will be beating a path to her door to take up the torch that Ms Sturgeon worked so hard upon in her self-appointed role as a world ambassador for anything anyone might be remotely interested in.

Peter Wright, West Kilbride.

Read more: We must press for more public funding of our universities

Will we pay for English tax freeze?

IT'S a bit rash of the Scottish Tories to reference "scandal and civil war" when their own Boris Johnson and Suella Braverman have been engulfed in accusations of the same ("Labour could win 23 SNP seats at General Election, poll hints", The Herald, May 23). The Yougov poll is interesting, but its prediction is a little odd, given that, if things stay the same, the SNP lead would be over 10% in a first-past-the-post election (and Yougov warns of the marginal nature of many of these seats).

Ian Murray claims a "fresh start" is coming: but what does that entail for Scotland? We know Labour plans higher charges on oil and gas exploitation to pay for a freeze on English local government tax, but jobs are already being lost in this sector in Scotland. Scottish jobs lost for a tax freeze elsewhere? When will Labour be asked about this?

GR Weir, Ochiltree.

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The Kirk's lost opportunity

I NOTE an interesting letter (May 24) from Elizabeth Scott on the subject of the Church of Scotland and independence. Many would claim that religion and politics should not be mixed, yet in a socially-just society, the values of Christianity – peace, kindness, goodness, love – must come forth.

Many churches have stepped up and demonstrated those values by opening their doors and providing "warm spaces"’ and a cuppa during the current cost of living crisis.

Ms Scott says there is no Church of Scotland for Independence Group meetings, but there is a cross-party group, Christians for Independence, which holds meetings.

Ms Scott asks why the Kirk is not leading the drive for Scottish independence, a question that takes me right into the heart of the congregation where I worship. The 2014 referendum certainly resulted in some strong views being aired, but the church locally and nationally did not embrace democracy and self-determination for Scotland. Could this have been a missed opportunity? Was the Kirk oblivious to the feelings of the country, closing the door to change as suggested?

The Kirk faces a much-reduced presence in the country, so, perhaps Ms Scott’s question should be on its agenda if it is indeed to survive.

Catriona C Clark, Falkirk.

Read more: Why isn’t the Kirk leading the drive for independence?

Increasing pain of island life

IT would appear that the ideal of living on a Scottish island has been regularly compromised in recent times.

To the persistent and serious issues with regard to the services provided by ferries, one can add two more recent developments – one being the proposal to instal 12,000 solar panels and battery storage systems on the Isle of Cumbrae ("Massive solar farm could be ‘imposed' on angry islanders", The Herald, May 23) and the other being the introduction of a pilot scheme for policing, apparently without consultation, on the island of Bute ("On-call policing trial creates ‘open invitation for criminals'", The Herald May 24).

For many there have been various advantages from having the lifestyle of a islander, such as having a feeling of always being on vacation, visiting beaches and beauty spots, different walks, and a feeling of being away from the cut and thrust of life in an urban setting. As time goes by one wonders if the advantages are slowly but surely being overtaken, for at least some, by the drawbacks.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.

Council must take Dargavel blame

THE real tragedy of the Dargavel situation ("Calls for auditors to probe school blunder", The Herald, May 19) is that the residents of Renfrewshire will have to pick up the tab (£160 million) for this incompetence. This whole thing could have been done at no expense to the taxpayers, had the council done due diligence or even listened to residents in its calculations of pupil numbers.

The Developer (BAe Systems) had to provide the school under the Section 75 agreement negotiated with Renfrewshire Council. The council specified exactly what it wanted, and BAe provided the land and built the school to that specification. No blame for the current mess can be laid at the developer’s door. All of it should be fairly and squarely laid at Renfrewshire Council’s door.

John Mackintosh, Bishopton.