I SUSPECT that there must be a fair number of people asking what's WhatsApp? Indeed, I was one of them until I remembered that I'm on it at the insistence of family members. Everyone is welcome to see my messages, they are all there because I keep forgetting to delete them. I'm not a big fan of WhatsApp but I can understand why, during the pandemic emergency, it was desirable that key figures should be able to have instant communication with each other in an often fast-moving situation the likes of which nobody had experienced before.

The Deputy First Minister has confirmed that the Scottish Government did not routinely use systems such as WhatsApp for decision-making and that decisions are routinely made in minuted meetings or through formal submissions to ministers.

I don't recognise the Nicola Sturgeon described by Alasdair Sampson (Letters, November 2) as being "in total ruthless control, revelling in her power, scheming and deliberate in her dissembling and deception". The Nicola Sturgeon I know stood up at the podium almost every day during the pandemic, informing us, advising us, encouraging us, and answering questions from the media. Ms Sturgeon had virtually no time off during the entire emergency, she was completely focused and an inspiration to many with her calm and clear delivery, impressing the public not only in Scotland but in other parts of the UK.

Some people would appear to have short memories; I consider it quite shocking that she should be vilified in the way she has, after leading us through that difficult and dangerous time.

Ruth Marr, Stirling.

No wonder Kate Forbes is smiling

DO you remember the big smile on Kate Forbes’ face when Humza Yousaf’s victory in the leadership contest was announced? She knew that she had dodged a bullet, avoided the poisoned chalice, by losing. And so it has seemed, with Humza Calamity Yousaf’s tenure of office.

Now she has reprised the big smile when announcing "I’ve not deleted anything. I’ve retained all relevant correspondence, and that includes retaining all my What’s App messages ("Disabled patients with Covid given DNR notices", The Herald, November 2). Averring that "I speak for myself", she set an example that was strongly at odds with the evasive and distinctly grumpy responses given by Nicola Sturgeon when questioned on these same issues.

Ms Forbes enjoyed making her announcement so much that one might almost think she will gain political advantage from it, and that others will be correspondingly wrong-footed.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh.

Read more: Kate Forbes has retained all her pandemic WhatsApps

Johnson was right to deliberate

WHILE Boris Johnson's language in cold print may now seem callous (“Covid inquiry told Johnson was ‘ready to let elderly die’”, The Herald, November 1), it was his duty as Prime Minister to set priorities, and he was surely right to debate with colleagues and advisers whether in general the old, or the young and the economy, should be the main governmental concern.

Also, it is easy to condemn his alleged flip-flopping, but his top expert advisers also changed their minds as the pandemic progressed, for example (but not limited to) in first supporting the unfortunately-named herd immunity, whose effects might well have been positive or little different from allowing the old to die sooner.

Having inherited an apparently benign and so-called "post-Cold War" world in 1990, the West's leaders in politics, diplomacy, security, banking, business and academia, then inflicted the banking crash and lockdown on us all including the younger generations, and facilitated Putin's war after handing over our production and energy needs to him and other totalitarian regimes, thus creating a new anti-democratic axis and trashing our economies far more than the UK's central bank and short-lived government did in September 2022.

My generation, born in the Second World War or soon after, has enjoyed a better and more predictable peaceful life than its predecessors had or our children or grandchildren will probably experience. To have prioritised the younger generations' education, employment and welfare during the pandemic, albeit at our expense, would have been a perfectly reasonable policy.

John Birkett, St Andrews.

Guilty until proven innocent

HAVING read so many of your correspondents over recent weeks, of an anti-SNP and, almost by definition therefore, unionist persuasion, it seems that a new legal principle has been established: guilty until proven innocent.

We will have to wait until the UK Covid Inquiry gets around to Scotland before we find out where the alleged WhatsApp messages figured in the Scottish Government's handling of the pandemic. The SNP Government is pretty well hamstrung in its response until that happens, but in the meantime critics have free reign to say whatever they want, including, sadly, your esteemed cartoonist Steven Camley (The Herald, November 2). I guarantee this to all of them though; it will turn out to be a damp squib compared to the fireworks display coming out of Westminster.

John Jamieson, Ayr.

Bank should have cut rate

IT has just been announced that the Bank of England will hold the base interest rate steady at 5.25%. This is no surprise since mini-me UK follows the US Fed’s lead.

But hold off on the champagne. The Bank’s successive interest rate hikes haven’t cooled inflation as Andrew Bailey claimed they would. That’s because inflation wasn’t ignited by excess consumer demand, but by energy, food and commodity price volatility which is outside the influence of monetary policy.

Instead, the Bank’s interest rate policies have engineered a recession. Credit has become costlier and harder to get, businesses and consumers are spending less, demand for goods and services has tanked, investment has shrivelled and joblessness has risen.

What the Bank should have announced is a rate cut as well as an end to its policy of quantitative tightening, which is only making matters worse by raising market rates further, compounding the misery for households and businesses.

And the UK Government should increase public sector pay to compensate for inflation losses and increase taxes on wealth, currently undertaxed by £170 billion per year. A government that taxes income at 33% but wealth increases at just 4.1% shows where its priorities lie.

The impoverishment of the UK is proceeding as planned, as the wealthy establishment elites become ever richer. When will Scotland, Westminster’s cash cow, summon the nerve to walk away from this disastrous Union?

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh.

Read more: Our biggest Covid problem was having to follow the UK

Gender Act should be changed

YOU report on the Court of Session ruling that the legal definition of a woman is “not limited to biological or birth sex, but includes those in possession of a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) obtained in accordance with the 2004 (Gender Recognition) Act stating their acquired gender and thus their sex" (The Herald, November 2). That amounts simply to an affirmation of the wording of the 2004 Act rather than questioning it.

All of the current costly and divisive arguments on the legal definition of a woman will likely continue on up to the Supreme Court. If all that curt has to consider is the interpretation of the GRC requirements of the 2004 Act, I cannot see how it could go against this Court of Session ruling.

However, surely the real question to be decided is whether the “artificial" rules in the 2004 Act defining the requirements for obtaining a GRC are adequate to address the privacy and safety rights and fears of biological women? For example in that regard, under the 2004 Act those rules avoid any call for appropriate surgical alteration which if required could at least go some way to meeting the safety fears. Overall the current rules to obtain a GRC are simple, and would be even simpler if the Scottish Government has its way. However, as presently written I believe they are inadequate to give a sufficient measure of comfort and protection which biological women have a right to expect, and therefore should be changed to deal with those reasonable concerns.

Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop.

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Why did Dundee police not act?

READING reports of disturbances in Dundee it is reported that 50 youths, some as young as eight years of age, went on the rampage for an hour causing damage and fear to residents ("‘Moronic’ behaviour of youths behind Dundee disorder condemned", The Herald, November 2).

Photographs at the scene showed at least 15 police in riot gear standing watching the mayhem unfold.

One wonders why whosoever was in command did not order the heavily-prepared, presumably well-trained officers to disperse the weans, take them back to their homes and suggest to their parents that they take control of their offspring.

Goodness knows how effective the Dundee police would be if confronted by disorderly adults.

James Martin, Bearsden.