WHY does the BBC put its good stuff on the radio and not the TV? After yawning through Kirsty Wark's "Ooh I'm enthralled, how about you Sarah (Smith) synopsis of what was in the papers in March I listened to Danni Gravelli's far superior Scotland's Uncivil War on Radio 4.

The most revealing section was former Salmond chief adviser Alex Bell saying that when Nicola Sturgeon was put in charge of the referendum campaign "she rapidly came to the conclusion that much of what Alex Salmond had been saying doesn't stand up to the facts"

He said that "during the run-up to the referendum Nicola Sturgeon began to see that Salmond's assertions about Scotland's wealth and how it would move on economically were kind of coming apart, and this came to a head in the first Salmond-Darling debate when, in the Green Room she could be seen to be wincing".

Mr Bell has often written that the SNP independence case is "dead". The fact that the current First Minister has known it all along and, even worse, the civil service people dragooned into writing and supporting it knew it, is for me a much bigger scandal than what Alex Salmond got up to or Nicola Sturgeon's involvement was.

The deception and hype from Mr Salmond and his team bloated the Yes result from 28 per cent at the start to 45% and have fuelled all the division, scandal, ridiculous parades and border patrols, neglected government and ravaging uncertainty ever since.

Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven.

I WAS stunned by the blatant bias in the documentary The Trial Of Alex Salmond ,which was yet more evidence that the BBC is no longer capable of impartial reporting and that is a tragedy, given its deserved worldwide reputation. It does not augur well for its coverage of a likely second Scottish independence referendum in the near future. Kirsty Wark is a friend of prominent Labour politicians and has holidayed with a former First Minister, Jack McConnell.

The documentary bore all the hallmarks of one in production in anticipation of a very different verdict which, perhaps, Ms Wark craved. Thirteen High Court jurors, who had heard hours of evidence, it must be remembered, decided that Mr Salmond was not guilty, despite the prosecution having the top QC from the Crown Office. This documentary seemed to fail to grasp this. Why was it even broadcast at the very time the Holyrood inquiry began?

This whole episode was shameful and I am saddened more than angry. The BBC follows an agenda these days whether it be Brexit, the EU, President Trump, Boris Johnson, Channel migrants, BLM, LGBT, the police, racism, Extinction Rebellion and more. Nothing figures more prominently in that agenda than the preservation of the Union of The United Kingdom. Was this documentary another salvo in that war?

John V Lloyd, Inverkeithing.


I AGREE with Denis Bruce (Letters, August 16) that the Government's U-turn on exam results was political: youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds protesting about unfair treatment was not good "optics" for the SNP. Speaking as a teacher though, it's been disappointing that much of the focus since seems to have been political: "get that man out of his job".

I had hoped for a wider debate about how we examine our young people; the SQA's methods of assessment are much the same as they were for the grandparents of those protesting. In my own subject, 80 per cent of a student's award is determined by a 150- minute, hand-written exam. A year or two of learning boiling down to that May morning in the exam hall. It's time to look at alternatives.

Within the review of SQA procedures, serious consideration should be given into allowing teacher judgment to take a more prominent role. As a matter of course, teachers regularly assess their pupils (in a plethora of ways) to check understanding and progress. Grading of these assessments by teachers could be combined with the SQA's traditional assessment methods to produce a final mark. This would lower the stakes of the end-of-year exam as well as encourage more pupils to engage throughout the academic year, rather than cram at the last minute.

Callum Mitchell, Largs.

DENIS Bruce is lavish in his criticism of John Swinney, but in writing that Mr Swinney "has succeeded in ramping up grade inflation, leaving employers and higher institutions wondering whether some of the results are worth the paper they are written on", he is also insulting the intelligence and professionalism of teachers, employers and those working within the higher institutions.

Given all the stramash regarding the grades awarded to young people south of the Border, questions must arise over the intelligence of their Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, who might have been expected to learn from and quickly follow Mr Swinney's example, but no; Mr Williamson agonisingly strung things along until finally capitulating and executing his U-turn. UK politicians are invariably ignorant about what is happening in Scotland, but perhaps next time Mr Williamson should pay attention; he might learn something.

Ruth Marr, Stirling.

NOW that the dust is beginning to settle over the intensely emotional furore over the now notorious algorithmic effect upon exam results, this may well be the right time to reflect rationally upon the purpose of exams for the individual and the community.

For the individual, an exam tests the competency of the individual in that area under examination.

The result in the exam shows whether the individual has the capacity to proceed further in that direction, needs to put more effort in to improve in that subject, if the individual wishes to continue with that line, or to seek another area more in keeping with the individual's talents.

For the community which depends upon the ranking order of exam results, such asemployers and higher institutions, exam results provide the opportunity to select those who are best placed to meet the challenges their selection places upon them.

To ensure that the results carry credibility, there needs to be a quality control agency to validate nationally the standards of the certificates.

If the exams do not produce a satisfactory range of results, their validity would be questionable.

Grade inflation comes into that category, posing the question: "Are the exams too easy, are the examinees cleverer or are the teachers today more effective than their predecessors? "

Ask yourself which of those three sides you would come down upon and you will be well on your way to find out how you would react to another such fiasco as the one we have just experienced.

Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.

ACROSS Scotland this past week schools were being closed down amid new outbreaks of Covid-19.

If we had taken the time during lockdown and during the summer holidays to devise a system of national lesson plans, with a standard national lesson delivered on the same subject at the same time on the same day to the same age group, wouldn't we now be in a position to broadcast these lessons to pupils stuck at home through digital TV? What is so hard about putting lessons on the telly? Wasn't the Open University broadcasting lectures back in the 1960s when we only had three black and white TV channels?

Nigel Boddy, Darlington.


WHAT a brilliant feature by Joanna Blythman (“Want to stay fit and healthy? Then ignore the PM’s bad advice because fat and salt aren’t our enemies”, August 15). She is right on the money saying that ultra processed food is the biggest killer. We have become a nation of people that live on takeaways. There is something seriously wrong with society when an advert on tv says that everyone’s favourite restaurants are back on Deliveroo, meaning Burger King, McDonalds and KFC. Seriously, is that what we aspire to, getting a takeaway from them as our main meal of the day. That’s why we have an obesity problem in this country, people have become so lazy that they just sit on their phone and click Deliveroo. If more people cooked from scratch with properly sourced produce they would see that it is a lot cheaper and healthier. Even if one person changes their eating habits after reading Joanna’s brilliant feature it will have been worthwhile but I won’t hold my breath. Is it any wonder we have so many health problems with our younger generation in Scotland?

Mauro Benedetti, Kilmarnock.


PRITI Patel wants to stop immigrants because she, like so many people, is treating them as statistics and forgetting they, like herself, are people. The fact that these are ordinary people fleeing from corrupt governments, persecution, brutal attacks and wrongful imprisonment and much more seems to be of no consequence to her.

The handling of people sympathetically seems to have been forgotten by governments and businesses. One of the fundamental principles of any person of stature should be "to do unto others as we would have them do unto us; and to be merciful, just and pure".

It is too late when the people have left their oppressive regimes. Governments across the world should join together to take action against these oppressors and forget national interests and stand up to big business who only look at their profit motives.

Prevention of the problem arising is the only way to deal with the situation: it is too late to attempt to solve the problem when the people arrive on our shores.

Ian Turner, Bearsden.

YOUR correspondent Clark Cross (Letters, August 16) in his proposal (a proposal worthy of the best pub philosopher) of a solution for the "immigrant problem" – to ban all imports from France and suggest that British holidaymakers avoid France – is, like the Prime Minister, ignoring inconvenient facts. Particularly the fact that the UK is dependent on imports of many essentials such as food and needs access to foreign ports, especially ports in the EU.

Douglas Robison, Polmont.