I THANK Peter A Russell (Letters, June 13) for his reply to my letter of June 12, but my letter was about facts, not surmise: only Westminster had the legal authority to impose a lockdown and a quarantine of ports, tunnels and airports. No other administration in the UK had these legal powers.

As I stated in a previous letter, the devolved administrations were “daft” to go along with the “four nations approach”, where London was setting policy based on the SAGE advice where they were not allowed to ask direct questions.

I was first in these Letters Pages to suggest an inquiry would be required to learn lessons. I hope we get the entire truth of this pandemic, herd immunity and the reasons for the languid approach of the British state, but I doubt it. We get a glimpse of Westminster control-freakery with the side-lining of England’s Chief Nursing Officer Ruth May and Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathon Van Tam, and the prevention of others from answering pertinent questions. This, for political, not scientific or health reasons. Everyone has questions to answer, but Westminster is, by far, the most culpable.

G R Weir, Ochiltree.

THE “evidence” Peter Russell assembles for his claim that the Covid-19 “buck stops with the Scottish Government” has more holes than a piece of Emmental cheese.

Showing “how and when the Scottish Government was overruled on the issues of lockdown and quarantine” may be interesting, but the fact is that their powers are not adequate to accomplish most of what Mr Russell condemns them for not doing.

Mr Russell forgets how Lord McConnell, while still First Minister, was slapped down by the Home Office for suggesting that post-graduate students be allowed to remain for a couple of years after their course had completed. Immigration is reserved to Westminster, so the First Minister had no powers to close Scotland’s borders and any suggestion or implication to the contrary is misleading.

As far as the lockdown is concerned, if put in place before Westminster’s decision, does Mr Russell not consider it probable to the point of near certainty that, their powers over public health notwithstanding, national chains of shops would have gone to court to test the power of the First Minister to close their Scottish branches as excessive, particularly when Westminster had not done the same?

Moreover, lockdown would mean many employees having no income, but being non-sovereign, and unlike Rishi Sunak, unable to drop a line to Andrew Barclay at the Bank of England asking him to print more money to support the furlough scheme that has put in place a floor for the economy, where was the First Minister to secure the resources to do this? This is why the Nicola Sturgeon and the (Labour) First Minister of Wales have written to the Chancellor asking that the furlough scheme be extended to suit the pace at which the different nations leave lockdown.

Despite Mr Russell’s imaginative demands to see evidence of the Scottish Government taking its own alternative position, none of this challenges Bismarck’s view that “politics is the art of the possible” and that what was possible was very much in the gift of the Westminster Government. Yes, public health is devolved, but the above are not. As the UK Government has learned in its approach to the EU, cherry-picking is not possible.

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.

STRUAN Stevenson’s claim that the coronavirus has claimed two-thirds of the lives that are lost on British roads every year ("Mixed messages and confusion at heart of coronavirus strategy", The Herald, June 13) cannot go unchallenged. As soon as I read those words I thought, that cannot be right, so I decided to do some research.

The most up to date figures I was able to find were from 2018. The website for Brake, the road safety charity claims that 1,784 people were killed on British roads in 2018. The UK Government’s own website states that the figure was 1,770 and gives a provisional estimate for the year ending June 2019 of 1,870.

We can all make mistakes of course, but to quote figures so wildly far off the mark is irresponsible.

David Clark, Tarbolton.

I AM a 67-year-old retired doctor with ongoing cancer, living in the Scottish Borders. I wrote to my MP, John Lamont, on March 14, nine days before lockdown, strongly supporting the open letter 245 British scientists had sent that day urging immediate lockdown. I asked my MP to urge the Government to implement immediate social distancing measures. He replied on March 15: “I strongly believe the British Government is correct to follow what our own advisors tell us”. I was so troubled I emailed him on March 16 and again on March 17 emphasising the fact that every day of delay was allowing more viral spread, meaning overwhelmed NHS doctors and nurses would soon be making agonising treatment decisions.

Mr Lamont believes that local voices should be heard "at the highest levels" and is diligent with correspondence. I have asked him repeatedly whether he acted on my March emails. Unfortunately, he declines to answer that question, instead replying tersely on June 6: “I point out again, the decision on when and how to impose lockdown restrictions here in Scotland is the responsibility of the Scottish Government. Do you dispute that?”

I’ve been shaken by such a reply from my elected representative. It leaves me feeling more vulnerable and totally unrepresented by the MP who, in mid-March, I asked three times to forward on to Westminster my urgent and relevant health concerns regarding all UK citizens.

Earlier action by Boris Johnson in March would have made such a difference. On March 11 both Denmark and UK had a similar number of recorded cases of coronavirus, 514 and 456 cases respectively. On March 11 Denmark locked down. UK allowed business to continue as usual and inexplicably stopped all virus testing in the community on March 12 despite WHO advice to "Test. Test. Test." Denmark is now out of lockdown with a Covid death rate of 100 per million population. UK has an exhausted care system, a death rate of 600 per million, and worryingly high rates of new infection as we struggle to emerge from lockdown. It is a tragedy that could have been avoided if Mr Johnson had listened to all scientific advice in March.

Dr Mary Gillies, Selkirk.

ANDY Maciver ("Try to walk in the shoes of our leaders before booting them", The Herald, June 12) writes that we should have some empathy with our senior politicians as they have to make very difficult decisions at this time.

Indeed they do have very difficult choices and one of the easiest for Mr Johnson to make was to sack Dominic Cummings for taking us all as fools for driving to Barnard Castle to check his eyesight. Maybe he needed them checked to read his marriage certificate. Oh yes, it was that date.

Funny how the Government and Mr Johnson’s popularity has plummeted since making that choice.

Sorry Mr Maciver, any sympathy I had for Mr Johnson has disappeared. He is not a leader, he continues to wing his policies.

Willie Towers, Alford.

ANDY Maciver urges us to give our leaders our support, as human beings in the same boat as we all are, but with much greater responsibilities than most of us, instead of heaping opprobrium on them.

He's got a good foundation for this attitude. There's a biblical mandate for all of us – believers of whatever persuasion and none – o honour those in authority and to pray for them. (You can find that in the New Testament letter of Paul to Timothy, 2 Timothy 2:1).

We're responsible for having put these men and women in a position of authority over us by our votes. We need to continue our duty by supporting them and doing so, as Mr Maciver writes, not by agreeing with everything they say or do but by recognising the responsibility that lies on their shoulders.

David Kennedy, Glasgow G42.

Read more: Letters: It should be clear that the buck rests with the Scottish Government