RUTH Marr (Letters, November 3) 2023 describes Nicola Sturgeon’s performance during Covid in heroic terms. That is not my recollection.

She certainly outperformed Boris Johnson and his team on communication skills and delivery (Bojo’s bouncing-along style isn’t really appropriate for such a crisis). However, she did take every opportunity to be in front of the cameras and in almost every media appearance all she did was quote the latest figures and tell us to wear a mask and wash our hands.

Her Government’s actions were generally in line with those of the UK albeit about two to three weeks behind. I don’t know if this was simply that she did not want to be seen to fall into line with Westminster or astutely waited to see the effect of their actions before adopting a similar position.

I also recall that when the Covid figures initially began to fall, she was on the brink of claiming that it was her Government’s success but as a second wave emerged she quickly changed her tactic to say that her actions were based on “the science”. Westminster had already began to lean heavily on the science argument.

Finally, if her Covid leadership was in any way heroic and an example to us all, would an astute politician like her not have kept all her electronic media messages to prove to the world how wonderful she is?

Duncan Sooman, Milngavie.

Where is the transparency?

I READ with amusement GR Weir's annoyance with the BBC obsessing over deleted WhatsApp massages, whilst at the same time expressing dismay over the devolved administrations' apparent exclusion from decision-making (Letters, November 2). Presumably he failed to notice that this very revelation came from WhatsApp messages: messages that were retained and disclosed to the inquiry. Messages that, if the participants had been part of the SNP Government, would probably have been purged.

Perhaps this is the very reason why the BBC and others are pursuing the SNP and seeking answers over its WhatsApp mass deletion. We currently have a situation where the First Minister states that the policy was to delete messages, who then apparently ignored this policy and kept all of his, and a former first minister who claims to not use WhatsApp and refuses to say whether anything has been deleted and a Green I suspect that the SNP WhatsApp purge is a deliberate attempt to avoid scrutiny and a similar maelstrom to that which is consuming Boris Johnson et al.

Government requires accountability. Accountability requires transparency, something the SNP will soon learn at the ballot box. Perhaps Mr Weir should reflect on this rather than bemoan the free press for attempting to hold the Government to account.

John McSweeney, Edinburgh.

Read more: Sturgeon was a hero during Covid. How can they turn on her?

Rewriting history

EXAMINING what governments did in addressing the Covid pandemic is far more important than asking any individual if they ever deleted a WhatsApp message. The furore is beginning to sound a bit like the witch hunt for Communists during the McCarthy trials in America.

With the benefit of hindsight, we know that all governments made mistakes but only Labour in Wales has refused to hold a Covid inquiry. The Welsh FM Mark Drakeford is under pressure as the scrutiny over the release of WhatsApp messages has not been applied in Wales due to the UK inquiry not examining the minutiae on how Covid was handled in Wales.

Anas Sarwar was guilty of rewriting history when he told Channel 4 that he spoke out about discharging patients into care homes in March and April 2020 which was immediately proved to be false by Ciaran Jenkins, who also corrected claims that Scotland had the worst record in Europe by pointing out that a Stirling University study showed that excess deaths in care homes were higher in England and Labour-run Wales.

Lord Foulkes and Dame Jackie Baillie put pressure on BBC Scotland to stop Nicola Sturgeon’s daily Covid briefings which included the media asking searching questions. The briefings were only resumed when BBC Scotland allowed Labour and Tory spokespeople to immediately respond and often contradict the Covid messaging.

The UK Covid Inquiry heard that in the early days of the pandemic the UK Government ignored representations from the devolved administrations over messaging, which led to public confusion. As did some of the BBC's coverage, which should also be examined.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh.

What about the alternatives?

I HAVE just returned from visiting my relatives in Scotland and I am relieved to get away from the dreary news regarding the Covid Inquiry whitewash. Indeed, the Scottish whitewash is just mirroring the UK whitewash which will result in millions of pounds of taxpayers' money being wasted just to back up the Establishment's actions.

But, of the many questions that will not be answered with honesty by governmental ministers/civil servants, one will not be asked: Why did the governments ignore the NHS's 2011 Pandemic Plan, updated 2017? (Subsequently updated in 2020 but without changes.) The plan, which was well thought-out, in effect stated that if any virus was in the public domain, the only action available was to carry on as normal, but look after the vulnerable people. It was strategy which Sweden, Belarus and many other countries successfully followed. Indeed, it was followed by many American states after summer 2020.

I doubt if this will ever come up, though.

Joseph Adam-Smith, Lesvos, Greece.

An unprincipled opportunist

FRANCES McKie (Letters, November 2) astutely likens U-turn addict Keir Starmer to a character created by playwright Henrik Ibsen in the 19th century. Similar prescience was displayed a century later by Groucho Marx who probably never expected the 21st century to yield such an accurate embodiment of his humorous aside that "these are my principles, but if you don't like them I have others".

Surely the electorate of our Scottish nation will not be gullible enough to switch their allegiance to a party led by this dangerously unprincipled opportunist.

Willie Maclean, Milngavie.

The answer is talks, not war

NOW that the Israeli army has encircled Gaza City, it will be able to maintain a 24-hour bombardment of tank and artillery shells on the city and its inhabitants. Once most of the buildings are reduced to rubble, Benjamin Netanyahu will no doubt echo Calgacus and tell the Israeli people that he created a concrete desert and they will now have peace. He will be wrong. He may reduce the short-term threat from Hamas, for long enough to see out his political career, but his long-term legacy will be decades of unrest in and around the borders of Israel.

Israeli citizens deserve to be able to live in peace and to build good lives. Palestinians deserve the same and, until they are given the opportunity to do so, there will be some among them who resort to violence and terrorism. Whatever the solution to the catastrophe in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank, it’s clear that the current situation isn’t it.

The UK had a mandate to rule Israel until 1948, so we helped produce the tragedy that exists today. We should be calling for an immediate ceasefire and talks between the warring parties. Atrocious acts were committed in Northern Ireland, but the British government eventually accepted that it had to negotiate with those behind them and, unlikely though it seemed, the Good Friday Agreement was achieved. The scale of the carnage in the Middle East is much greater, but the solution is the same: talks, not war.

Doug Maughan, Dunblane.

Read more: The move to super-hospitals has failed us

Why EVs are a non-starter

MY daughter has just put me off changing to an electric vehicle. Last weekend she drove up from Kent to Gargunnock in an electric car - three charges en route with one of more than an hour. I had let her know that there are two charging points in the village so that would be useful. When she attempted to use them, as she didn’t have an RFID card specific to the Charge Place Scotland charger, she attempted to use the app. No luck, so she phoned the helpline who couldn’t help.

She therefore went into the charging hub in Stirling which is operated by the same outfit; no luck. She then charged successfully at a chain restaurant nearby, all well. When she tried to charge there again today, it wouldn’t accept her bank card, the same one that she had used before. She is now going from charge point to charge point topping up in dribs and drabs.

For the e-tourist, this must be an absolute nightmare and until there is joined-up infrastructure, I’ll be staying clear.

Steve Barnet, Gargunnock.

The Herald: The pyrotechnics at the Dundee-Rangers game which led to the match being interruptedThe pyrotechnics at the Dundee-Rangers game which led to the match being interrupted (Image: PA)

Getting tough on pyrotechnics

THERE is only one way to stop pyrotechnics getting into football grounds ("Government hits out at 'reckless' Rangers fans over pyro", heraldscotland, November 2) and that is simply to punish the club whose fans bring them in. How though to punish them?

We all know fines won’t work, we all know the police will do nothing about racism and sectarian singing at games so they clearly will not bother about pyrotechnics. No, only one punishment will work and in fairness it will work quickly and be very effective. Going forward the SPFL, and Uefa for that matter, should bring in a new rule. If a club's fans bring pyrotechnics into a ground or if flares are thrown on to the pitch (as happened at the St Johnstone v Kilmarnock game) then the game must be stopped and suspended by the referee and the match awarded to the opposite team with a scoreline of 2-0 against the club of the offending fans.

That would mean that this past midweek Kilmarnock and Dundee would have been awarded three points each. That will stop this frankly dangerous and irresponsible behaviour and save us from potentially another Bradford in the future.

Alexander Lunn, Edinburgh.

• JAMES Martin (Letters, November 3),writing about the youth disturbance in Dundee this week, pondered "Goodness knows how effective the Dundee police would be if confronted by disorderly adults".

His question was answered the following night at Dens Park where Rangers supporters delayed proceedings with an illegal pyro display.

The police did nothing.

Gregor McKenzie, East Kilbride.

Consign fireworks to history

FOR the sixth year Police Scotland has had to divert scarce resources into Operation Moonbeam to protect the public and the emergency services during the fireworks "season". The Scottish Government to its credit legislated in 2022 to make it illegal for children to buy fireworks and said we need to change our culture towards them, and so we must.

Fireworks and bonfires attract thugs because they are both intrinsically violent. Fireworks threaten wildlife and domestic pets. They cause flashbacks in our veterans who suffer from PTSD. They cause pollution. And at a time when the cost of living is soaring they are simply wasteful. Let's consign them to history.

William Loneskie, Lauder.