GIVEN the prevailing political climate it should come as little surprise that reporting and comment on the current Covid inquiries, both UK and Scotland, have started to degenerate into a blame fest.

There is a certain irony that opposition parties which spent much of the Covid period sending up prayers of thanksgiving to their respective gods that they weren’t having to deal with it now see political capital in the mistakes made by those who were. Although there has been much frothing at the mouth over WhatsApp messages whether deleted or not they seem to have merely provided confirmation of what people “knew” already.

It is to be hoped that the inquiries rise above this and take a wider view of what happened and the lessons to be learned from it. Perhaps one aspect to be considered as playing a major part in what happened is that of the British culture best seen in those ubiquitous dish towels that parody the wartime poster urging the population to carry on in the face of adversity which seemed to be the attitude in the early days of the pandemic and continued to be the attitude of many throughout.

While some like to compare our response with the soft-touch approach of Sweden it is worth looking at countries who took a stronger approach due to their previous experience with potential pandemics. While the UK has recorded close to 240,000 deaths from a bit over 24.5 million cases, South Korea’s figures are 36,000 deaths from 34.5 million cases and Senegal 1971 deaths from 89,000 cases. While there are often credible reasons for resisting the adoption of methodologies and approaches from other countries, might it nevertheless be sensible to at least consider them when they are, apparently, successful?

Robin Irvine, Helensburgh.

Read more: D-day for Skye on catastrophic power plan

Matheson must be open with us

I AM with EE on my mobile phone contract and am advised that there is no standard data roaming charge for Morocco. Instead one must "buy data add-on when you land". That applies for contract, out of contract and pay-as-you-go. Michael Matheson ("Minister runs up huge bill on iPad", The Herald, November 9) must have had some kind of cost warning on obtaining that add-on.

There is a suggestion that the cost per megabyte is £7. That would give Mr Matheson 1.57 Gigabytes for his £11,000 bill and as a WhatsApp message uses an average 30 kilobytes of data, that would give him 52,000 messages, a staggering four Covid inquiries full.

It is also interesting that the monthly bill for Mr Matheson exceeds the total phone bill for all MSPs for last year, which was £9,500. Something does not add up and I think Mr Matheson needs to give us some of the "openness and honesty" that the SNP promises but like so many of its promises, fails to deliver.

Peter Wright, West Kilbride.

• IN the light of getting away with not paying all of his staggering internet bill, I wonder if Humza Yousaf will promote Michael Matheson to Finance Secretary? He seems better at saving money than the rest of the Government.

Michael Watson, Glasgow.

Compare ferries with HS2

KEITH Howell (Letters, November 9) drew attention to the incomplete CalMac ferries. On Saturday David Leask mentioned the topic ("Tories botched chance to bolt Scotland to rest of the UK with a ‘Union’ railway", The Herald, November 4), suggesting a final figure of quarter of a billion - the approximate price per kilometre of HS2 track from London to Birmingham.

Scotland will derive no advantage from HS2. At least travellers will have the ferries.

Colin Campbell, Kilbarchan.

The trouble with the grid

THE objection expressed by Lyndsey Ward (Letter, November 8) to the proposed power transmission line across Skye is justified and extremely serious. It also illustrates one of the many difficulties arising in contemporary discussions about electricity supply, which arise from misunderstanding about the original purpose of the national grid.

The national grid was a triumph of engineering and its purposes were to make electricity available to the whole population, to standardise voltage and frequency and to allow the reliable provision of power, even when there were unexpected circumstances. It is not generally appreciated that large amounts of electricity were not routinely moved to remote locations. The majority of the power supplied to major consumers like cities and industries was generated quite locally.

After the Thatcher government wrecked the electricity industry in order to facilitate it being looted by profiteers, some of the principles of the grid became overlooked.

Now that the generation of electricity by wind has become such an extremely profitable industry, it has become necessary to move vast amounts of power from where it is generated to where it is required. It's difficult to accept that this is a step forward, especially as it involves violating the visual environment so seriously.

Peter Dryburgh, Edinburgh.

Read more: I'm a cyclist and I skip red lights and use the pavement

The COP28 polluters

LABOUR MSP Monica Lennon’s proposed "ecocide" legislation “could see lengthy jail sentences and company profits confiscated for those wilfully harming the environment” ("Major polluters face jail for harming the environment", The Herald, November 8).

Will this include targeting the astonishing 70,000 elite delegates from 190-odd nations who will fly off to Dubai at the end of this month to attend the ludicrously-polluting jolly at COP28?

George Herraghty, Elgin.

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Do as the Romans did

JOHN Jamieson’s cycling letter (November 9) rang a bell – unlike most cyclists. Some years ago, in his town (Ayr), I was on a narrow section of pavement along King Street when a squeaky toot from a mobility scooter driver frightened me off the pavement. Seconds later the same vehicle met two cyclists. I was still on the road so passed them without learning who won the face-off.

Ayr has a one-way High Street so I assume that Mr Jamieson sees many cyclists respecting the law by keeping off the busy pavements, but how do they go in the opposite direction to the vehicular traffic?

In respect of his “mea culpa" I would point out that Roman pedestrians had an easy life as there were no cyclists to bother or endanger them. Lepers, unlike present-day cyclists, did announce their presence with a bell – just as I did in my youth.

JB Drummond, Kilmarnock.