I AM saddened and disgusted to hear that Jeane Freeman will stand down next year citing the "toxic" messages which she has received, along with many other women MSPs and MPs. Ms Freeman, whom I have met, is straightforward, honest and hard working. I would suggest that the cretins who write on "anti-social" media have never met her and just sit at home and write the most disgusting and hurtful comments they can think of. What sort of society are we breeding here – foul-mouthed, illiterate, idle, bigots and racists? We, as a society, are tolerating this situation; we should not. It’s obvious these people contribute nothing to our society, for them it’s just self-gratification they get from inflicting pain on others.

Male MPs and MSPs don’t get the vile and unprintable comments which are sent to women politicians – the people who send these are probably someone’s husband, son or grandson. If another person spoke to their mother or other female relative using the offensive and often obscene language they use to women politicians I’m sure they wouldn’t even care about that.

We see letters to the newspapers from correspondents throughout Scotland deriding the Scottish Government (usually the SNP and the First Minister) day in, day out with nothing better to do than criticise. If their knowledge of Scottish politics is so extensive let me suggest they get up off their backsides and stand for election to the Parliament. The Scottish Parliament is composed of at least six parties whch have managed to work together for close on 21 years and one of them may be just ready for them. But then again, those who do might also find themselves inundated with "toxic" messages.

DD Moran, Dumfriesshire.


POLLS show growing support for independence, seemingly on the back of Nicola Sturgeon’s confident daily TV Covid briefings. But isn't this a non sequitur, especially in light of the SNP administration's latest economic figures?

The Reader's Digest version of the numbers shows that, in the last fiscal year so before the pandemic, Scotland's deficit soared to 8.6 per cent (remember EU entry requirements demand no higher than 3%) with Scotland generating £308 less per person than the UK average in taxation while public spending was £1,663 per person higher in Scotland, as a consequence of the generosity of the UK's Barnett Formula.

Ms Sturgeon may be considered by some to be telegenic yet she has made many of the same errors as Downing Street in handling the pandemic. Scotland's continuing lacklustre financial position plus slim prospect of joining the EU any time soon suggests that with independence would come a lengthy period of austerity. Ms Sturgeon may be self-assured on TV, but that won't run the NHS and educate our children in an independent Scotland.

Martin Redfern, Melrose.

I HAVE observed many political leaders come and go over the years, in the UK, the United States and elsewhere, among them JFK, Harold Wilson, Margaret Thatcher, right up to the present day.

The present incumbents I believe are most certainly the worst and least able. At local, Scottish, level we are governed by one-issue-obsessed nationalists. Forget the "civic’’ appellation beloved of the SNP. Nationalism is like a cancer, there are different kinds, but the basic illness is exactly the same. It is in effect tribalism and an appeal to the worst instincts in humans.

None of this is helped by the rampant narcissism and rabble-rousing displayed by the SNP’s leaders, past and present.

At UK level, we have Boris Johnson, and in the US, Donald Trump, both at times approach the buffoon level. Both are lacking the intellect and political skill to govern wisely.

I fear for my children and grandchildren in this "brave new world’.’

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh EH6.


IAIN Macwhirter suggests that while Alex Salmond has been found not guilty by a jury of his peers, he remains on trial ("A jury found him innocent but Alex Salmond is still on trial", August 23). Of course he is. The story of a colleague suggesting that Nye Bevan was “his own worst enemy”, being met with the comment by Ernest Bevin, “not while I’m around he ain’t” is instructive in that if we substitute Salmond for Bevan and much of the Scottish media for Bevin, the situation is much the same.

Mr Salmond enjoys a fantastic degree of loyalty from his supporters, much to the astonishment of his opponents, some within the SNP. But the not guilty verdict has been greeted in some circles with “he got away with it”. This is most ably demonstrated by the last words in Kirsty Wark’s recent “documentary” on the trial going to one of the women whose case did not convince the jury of Mr Salmond’s guilt.

Moreover, bear in mind the Moorov doctrine, which says “ that the evidence of one witness can corroborate the evidence of another in certain situations if the Crown can prove that the accused's offending was part of a course of conduct, systematically pursued”. This can address difficulties of proving rape or other sexual offences, where there is no corroborating evidence, by showing a pattern of behaviour over a period of time. However, while there were 13 charges for the jury to consider, with certain features in common – the involvement of alcohol, being alone with Mr Salmond – the jury chose not to convict. Therefore, is the conclusion not that the jury were unconvinced by the women’s versions of events not just individually but collectively as well?

Mr Macwhirter concludes “that you are guilty even when you are found innocent”. Early in her “documentary” Ms Wark speaks of the “women’s stories”, but without convincing evidence that is what they remain – stories. The Carl Beech case, though I am not associating any of Mr Salmond’s accusers with him, is a prescient warning of where justice being based on “stories” without convincing evidence can lead. We cannot have a legal system that accepts something is true just because the accuser says it is.

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.


WHAT a pointless brouhaha created by the BBC so unnecessarily over those two rousing tunes which bring such a resounding climax to the Proms.

If ever we needed the feelgood factor in our lives, it is today, in the midst of a pandemic and the gloomy prospect of economic woe.

What better way to raise the spirits of any community than with powerful community singing which comes across even from our TV screens as energising, defiant and uplifting?

Those tunes provide a marvellous send-off to the traditional finale of the last night of the revered Proms.

Yes, Britain did have an empire, which like any endeavour contained elements both good and the bad.

Maybe we should recall those words of a well-known holy man, "let he who is without sin cast the first stone".

Again while the lyrics of the songs were written in a different era with a different outlook ,they take on a fresh new meaning, outside of nostalgia (though who does not like to indulge in the golden mist of nostalgia from time to time?) for every new generation.

No one can quarrel surely with the sentiment that Britons shall never be slaves when that applies to all our compatriots regardless of their origins, colour or creed.

Let the BBC reinstate the choral singing of those tunes which it has downgraded out of a weird and faux concern over political correctness.

There are some traditions we should always cherish and this is one of them.

Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.


DOUGLAS Robinson (Letters, August 23) chooses to reduce the important topic of illegal immigration to that of a pub discussion. (Letters 23 August) He is obviously a Europhile. Mr Robinson misses the whole point about UK sanctions on France, since the Yellow Vests would riot on the streets demanding Emmanuel Macron stopped the migrant flow to the UK. Britain can get food from elsewhere delivered to our door.

More than 5,000 asylum seekers, paying large sums of money, have illegally entered the UK this year. Following the death of 28-year-old Sudanese migrant Abdulfatah Hamdallah on a beach in France, the usual suspects have been rushing to blame Britain. After leaving Sudan he and his friend Gamr Alsha were in Italy and France, so under EU "safe haven" rules they should have claimed asylum there and Abdulfatah would not have died. The 5,000 who travelled through numerous "safe havens" in Europe should quickly be deported and this would deter others from risking their lives.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow.


THERE is much talk in the media currently on whether people should wear masks in various situations.

Inevitably most people wear cheap masks, and the fact that my glasses steam up, and that when I seal a cheap medical mask around my mouth I almost can't breathe, suggest that my breaths are taking the path of least resistance and going round the edges of the mask unfiltered.

There are several research papers on the effectiveness of mask wearing, and perhaps the most interesting one is from 2015 which claims to be the only study on cloth masks to that date. Lead-authored by C Raina MacIntyre, it could not have had any preconceived notions on Covid-19. The study says “filtration was extremely poor (almost 0%) for the cloth masks” and “poor filtration may result in increased risk of infection”.

Danger is the illusion of safety.

Geoff Moore, Alness.


THERE was a lot of talk last week about the Rangers “Iron Curtain Defence” of the late Forties/ early Fifties ("Morelos absence raises Roofe", August 23). This was Brown; Young, Shaw; McCall, Woodburn and Cox. There were no substitutes then and no thought of squad rotation. When one of the five outfield defenders was injured, Willie Rae came in at left half and the others were moved around as necessary. Young could play at full back or centre half and Cox could play anywhere. So for other defenders at the club, the Iron Curtain meant they could not get a game. An Iron Curtain can be different things to different people.

Neil MacDonald, Glasgow.