AT last evening’s Labour love-fest in Edinburgh ("Gordon Brown unveils his Alliance for Radical Democratic Change", heraldscotland, June 1), Gordon "The Vow" Brown made empty promises Scots have heard before, ad nauseum. Decentralise Westminster power, devolve power to the "regions" and "make the Union work".

Politely, this is drivel. Mr Brown, Andy Burnham, Mark Drakeford and Anas Sarwar have zero power to effect these changes because they won’t be in a Labour government. Sir Keir Starmer wants to "make Brexit work" when it’s a complete bust, keep energy, transport and water in private hands, accelerate NHS privatisation, jail protesters, criminalise migrants, fight the unions over fair pay, impose further austerity, and avoid electoral reform. Labour is a Tory twin.

Regardless of who rules – Rishi Sunak or Sir Keir – the UK Government will ram through the Retained EU Law Bill to reassert complete Westminster control over Scotland. Devolution was always a trap – power devolved is power retained.

Scotland has no veto over English decisions – our MPs are outvoted 10 to 1, we’ve no control over our land, resources, or economy and our people are poor. The Union is a sham and Scotland no more than a colony within it.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh.

Shame over the Glasgow slums

YOUR picture of children playing amongst rubbish bins ("The play house of the bins", The Herald, June 2) brought back many memories; helped by my wee cronies, I once emptied the contents of a rubbish bin into my old pram which was standing in our back court. The photo you published was taken in 1965, and many old tenements resembling the one in the background had terrible problems with dampness and lacked decent sanitation. In 1965, Harold Wilson was in power and that tenement would probably have had a Labour councillor and a Labour MP.

I remember George Brown, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, expressing his shock at the horrific housing conditions in Gorbals during the by-election there in 1969. Some years after that, following Margo MacDonald's victory at the Govan by-election, I visited her in her surgery a few weeks later and the queue to see her stretched far down the street. Mrs MacDonald dealt with more than 900 housing complaints in the short period she was MP for Govan, before boundary changes lost her the seat. Where were the Labour councillors, and what had they done for their constituents? Precious little.

Of course, the discovery of oil in Scotland's waters could have brought to an end Glasgow's reputation as having the worst slums in Europe, but no. Norway got an oil fund, Scotland did not, and the rest is history.

Ruth Marr, Stirling.

• I NOTE that your picture showing several children "midden-raking " in a back court was taken in l965. Considering this was 20 years post-war it was a disgrace that such conditions still prevailed. It certainly confirmed the case for demolition of much of Glasgow's tenemental housing stock and the re-housing of families. The advent of health and safety at home and work for all our citizens is to be welcomed.

Allan C Steele, Giffnock.

Read more: There is no justification for a two-thirds rule in Indyref2

Where is the positive case?

PETER A Russell (Letters, June 1), despite recent opinion polls demonstrating that support for independence remains high, would have us believe it is a “vanishingly tiny project”.

I wonder if he appreciates his reliance upon the Supreme Court ruling and intransigence of the unionist parties only confirms his continued inability to present a positive case, economic or other, for remaining in Brexit Britain?

Alan Carmichael, Glasgow.

Yousaf and the blame game

HUMZA Yousaf has described himself as the Continuity First Minister. This is becoming more evident with each First Minister's Questions ("Angry hamster Ross rages in Holyrood’s own Low Enlightenment Zone", The Herald, June 2). Like his predecessor Nicola Sturgeon, anything that doesn’t go well is the fault of the Tories in Westminster.

Gordon W Smith, Paisley.

Madness of the bottle block

THE UK, unless I'm a complete idiot, is made up of Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales. Three of these countries want glass bottles to be included in the proposed Deposit Return Scheme.

England does not, despite an agreement initially being reached after consultation with Wales and Northern Ireland. But when Scotland said Yes to bottles the Tories said No ("Scottish Government may not proceed with DRS – Yousaf", The Herald, June 1).

Why? Because the Westminster Government does not want its champenoise or magnums recycled like its policies? Or because it wants to stop its northern neighbour from exercising its devolution rights?

It's madness. How could you disagree with a project encouraging fewer recyclable goods going to landfill and hopefully less litter on the streets?

Andy Stenton, Glasgow.

Glasgow losing out through LEZ

MY partner and I are regular visitors to the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall and the nearby Theatre Royal. As we live well outwith the area we have to drive by car into the city, which is a round trip of about 72 miles. When attending any of these events we always arrive early in Glasgow and have a meal in a restaurant close by before attending the venue.

Sadly these outings will cease as our car (a 2007 Saab 93 diesel) is now not allowed into the city centre ("First Minister defends launch of Glasgow’s Low Emission Zone", The Herald, June 3). This car is serviced regularly and passes the current MOT regulations on exhaust emissions with flying colours and when we bought the car in 2007 the UK government was advising the public to buy diesel cars as this was the policy of the day back then.

Now we have to forgo our visits to these venues and we will miss out on our entertainment in Glasgow. However, it is not only us who will miss out, the venues will lose our custom, as will the restaurant owners and staff.

However we have now started to attend venues in Edinburgh and Perth – so Glasgow's loss will be their gain.

John Coyle, Kippen.

• IRRESPECTIVE of the pros and cons of low emissions zones, a great deal could be done under existing legislation to reduce air pollution in our cities. For example, today (June 2) in Edinburgh there were 12 tour and service buses parked in Regent Road in the centre of the city. A large majority of them had their engines idling, and some did not even have a driver in evidence.

Surely this major cause of unnecessary air pollution could be very easily stopped by applying existing laws?

Brian Moore, Edinburgh.


The Herald: Can we rely on recent claims about the health benefits of reducing air pollution?Can we rely on recent claims about the health benefits of reducing air pollution? (Image: Getty)

Are health claims reliable?

I READ Vicky Allan's article ("Answers to key questions as Glasgow's Low Emission Zone starts tomorrow", The Herald, May 31) with great interest, and was very impressed by the health improvement statistics quoted towards the end of the article.

Afterwards, I searched Google Scholar and Pubmed databases, and the University of York site, but despite finding large numbers of papers relating to air quality, there were comparatively few which researched health effects, and many of these tended to involve studies of children. Of course, my search techniques might have been deficient, or I might have lacked patience, or perhaps the work is not yet in the public domain, but I was unable to locate this item.

While the comparisons were very striking, and would confirm the intuitive view that a reduction in air pollution would reduce sickness, it would be important to know what was being used as the comparator.

Thus, if they were drawing on information derived from 2020 in the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent "Pingdemic"' havoc caused by the Test and Trace scheme, then a reduction in sickness absence and anxiety in subsequent years may not be surprising, Alternatively, perhaps the great increase in working from home which occurred during the pandemic and continued thereafter might have reduced the need for sickness absence. But what would be really important would be to what extent this improvement is maintained in the years to come.

Christopher W Ide, Waterfoot.

Read more: We are right to rage against the machines

Barriers to business

YOUR article about the state of the Scottish hospitality industry ("Sun is shining, but dark clouds still hang over this key Scottish industry", The Herald, June 1) is timely, judging by my recent experience in Argyll.

On Tuesday I took a bus from Oban to Lochgilphead. Although the scenery was beautiful the journey was long, so upon arrival in Lochgilphead, the administrative centre of Argyll & Bute Council, my first priority was to find a café or pub with conveniences where I could have some refreshment. I could not find anywhere that met these requirements, only one or two takeaways and none with toilets. The pub was closed and several sit-in cafés were closed, although at least the public toilets were open.

I therefore decided to cycle down to Ardrishaig, where I found only one of the two pubs open, the other being closed for works in the cellar. The next day, in Tarbert, having taken another long bus journey from Campbeltown, there was nowhere one could have a bar meal, with one of the few pubs open which had hitherto served food both in the bar and an attached restaurant having had no chef for three years. Tarbert, Lochgilphead, Ardrishaig and even Campbeltown were also blighted by large closed hotels with dilapidated exteriors.

The demand from tourists, as the article states, is clearly there. In Oban, people were happily sitting at external café tables, despite being right beside a roundabout on a trunk road and no sight of the sea. If people were eager to do this on a street corner a matter of a few feet from heavy traffic which included articulated lorries and coaches, and without any view to speak of, surely they would have welcomed opportunities for refreshment overlooking the sparkling waters of Loch Gilp, Loch Fyne and East Loch Tarbert.

There has to be a way of getting the infrastructure up and running.

Jane Ann Liston, St Andrews.

A hose by any other name

A HOSE will never again just be a hose. After the clue to 13 across in the Double Crossword (The Herald, May 31) I will always refer to a hose as "a garden-watering-tube". Can I say thank you to the clever crossword compilers who each day make life one great round of brain-bashing and pen-chewing. I love it.

Thelma Edwards, Kelso.