YOU have to wonder how long it will be before it dawns on Boris Johnson that the shine has disappeared from his premiership.

He has shown himself to be a serial promiser who fails to deliver and yet he continues to make the same mistakes over and over again both in his public and private life.

His career path is littered with unfulfilled promises. It's as though he cannot help himself; he must make blue sky optimistic noises which carry no substance as though he can blind the electorate to his failures of fulfilment.

His address to the virtual reality Conservative Conference had all the hallmarks we have come to associate with his modus operandi, promises and more promises of jam tomorrow in the hope of extricating himself from the jams of today.

We do like upbeat politicians, but only when we can see that what they are saying is grounded in reality, which his forecasts have never yet been.

You could produce a whole catalogue of the promises he has made, from his garden bridge through to the Brexit bus slogan about the NHS to his world-beating and trace system, to name but the three most egregious.

There must be alarm bells ringing in the 1922 Committee that their election winner could prove to be an election loser, unless the men in suits can put a quiet word in the man's ear that his time is now up.

Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.


THE stall in Scottish life expectancy since 2010 is a powerful reason for independence ("Scotland now has the lowest life expectancy in western Europe – and the slowest increase", October 4).

Tory austerity policies are the chief culprit. In 2019, the UN rapporteur noted that while austerity increased poverty across the UK, the devolved administrations mitigated the worst impacts, despite significant cuts in block grant funding and constitutional limits on their ability to borrow. An independent Scotland would not have chosen to plunge the population into poverty but, as Iceland did, would have jailed the bankers responsible and borrowed money to help the economy and people recover.

With Scotland due to be dragged from the EU in the middle of a global pandemic in less than three months, more hardship is on the horizon. We will lose £2.1bn per year in EU funding, have our Parliament over-ruled by Westminster courtesy of the law-breaking Internal Market Bill, and stand by helplessly when our Health Service is auctioned off to the highest bidder as Boris desperately tries to secure a US trade deal.

Life expectancy isn’t helped by the fact the UK has the worst state pension in the developed world, worth just 29% of average income compared to the EU average of 70.5%. Pensioner poverty will worsen when the state pension age increases to 68 by 2038, the oldest in the OECD. And because Scots don’t live as long, we subsidise pensions in rUK to the tune of £10,000 per year per person. An independent Scotland would have the power to invest in Scotland and raise the state pension age to the EU average.

It’s not a mystery. The key to a prosperous Scotland is freeing ourselves from a Westminster government that has stolen our wealth, sapped our confidence and ignores our votes and our values.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh.


I COULD understand, perhaps sympathise even, with Brexiters if they were to apply their eulogising of independence not just to the UK re continental Europe but to Scotland re the UK. This is the litmus test for me which indicates the insularity of mind pervading Brexitism. Scotland, as the nation that it is whether acknowledged by UK Unionists or not, voted to stay in the EU and as this is still the preference of its Holyrood ruling party, the SNP, does not see its European neighbours as compromising its sense of independence. England might perceive membership of the EU as compromising England's independence but its apparent failure to recognise the different perception of these relationships that pertains in Scotland ensures the continuing political divergence between the two countries.

That Scotland and England are different countries and each entitled to individual perceptions is no reason that they cannot neighbourly co-exist in a world of nations where such co-existence is the norm, not the exception. The EU is one such example, which is how Scotland perceives it, however else is the Westminster perception.

Ian Johnstone, Peterhead.


NEIL Mackay promotes Dr Lawrence Powell's new climate alarmist book ("Could atomic power save the world from climate change?", October 4).

I take issue with the assumption that the world is getting warmer beyond natural variation. There is plenty of evidence against this. For example Nasa, a climate alarmist organisation, wrote in the small print of a document this January that the temperature of the contiguous US in 2019 was only the 34th highest on record.

Dr Powell claims that “so far climate change has been worse that the worst projections”. How does he explain then that not a single climate alarmist prediction, and I present some here, has come true? In 1988 the Maldives government claimed that the atoll would be submerged “within the next 30 years”, and Nasa's James Hansen predicted that, within 20 years, New York's West Side Highway “will be under water”. In 2007, Professor Wieslaw Maslowski made a “projection of 2013” for the Arctic to be ice-free in summer.

Dr Powell also says there will be “mass deaths on a global scale”. If, as he claims, the world is getting dangerously warmer, then the deaths won't be due to temperatures being a couple of degrees higher. After all, every single tropical country has seen their population rise since 1800. And if he repeats the old claim that food production will collapse then how does he explain the UN data telling us that global food production rose from 2334 kilocalories per person in 1968 to 2884 per person in 2013? Both of these inconvenient truths happening when the world was supposedly getting dangerously warmer.

Geoff Moore, Alness.


RON McKay hould know by now that satire works well only if backed up by research and that is a very different thing from ascribing to "urban myth" anything for which he has not yet found the evidence such as the much-discussed Aberdeen newspaper’s putative headline of 1912 ("Titanic Coverage", Diary, October 4). The newspapers of April, May and June 1912 have hundreds of references to Scottish people lost on RMS Titanic.

In the event, the front page headline of the Aberdeen Daily Journal on the first day when the story reached Scottish headlines, Thursday April 18, 1912, was "Mid-Atlantic Calamity", with "Aberdeen People on the Titanic" as a sub-heading, and that fitted the tragic event just fine.

What is missed, both by your diarist and by the many who seek to trivialise the matter, is the extent to which local newspapers in the North picked up relevant references from agencies and adapted them to their own areas. Thus, on April 23, 1912, the Inverness Courier carried on page 5 a Titanic story headed "Skye Woman Drowns", referring to the tragic death of Eliza Johnston born at Eynort, Skye on January 6, 1876 along with her Newmachar-born husband Andrew Elmslie Johnston and their two children.

It is not beyond possibility that the Inverness Courier’s headline is the eponymous stenography from which the "Aberdeen man drowns at sea"’ narrative derives. A close look at the three paragraphs which the newspaper carried reveals that the story is written from an Aberdeenshire point of view with Mrs Johnston’s Skye origins mentioned only at the end, though she earns the headline. Might more research not reveal an item in a north-east paper entitled "Newmachar man drowns"?

The matter is given added poignancy by the fact that Mrs Johnston’s sister, Margaret Ann Ford, born in Eynort, Skye on December 3, 1857 was also drowned along with her three children.

We relegate rural fact to urban myth at our peril.

Norman Macdonald, Portree.


ROSEMARY Goring mentions rosehips and their vitamin C value ("Does anyone want any apples? Free to a good home", October 4). I went to Kilmelford Primary School from 1947 onwards and recall that we were encouraged to pick rosehips in the late summer, bring them into the school where Miss Nimmo would weigh everyone's harvest and presumably forward them all on somewhere to be made into rosehip syrup. I think there was a small monetary reward based on the weight you had picked but I have no recollection of how much that was. As I walked “over the hill” from Melfort there was no opportunity to spend any money anyway.

Kilmelford was a single-teacher primary and this was just one of the various supplementary tasks that Miss Nimmo had to handle in addition to teaching the seven primary classes and the occasional “straggler” who elected to stay on for a further two years until leaving school aged 14.

Duncan Miller, Lenzie.