WE must recognise that more zoonotic diseases, such as SARS, Dengue, Ebola and Covid-19, may arise with increasing frequency and with more fatal outcomes as a consequence of the relentless process of forest clearance bringing humanity into ever closer contact with wildlife carrying viruses against which we have had until now no need to develop an immunity.

The foregoing would be a repercussion of the current capitalist model’s ever-increasing need for more resources. SARS-CoV-2 has revealed the dangers, to our local and global economies and our lives, underlying our growth based economic systems.

On September 28, 64 world leaders, including Boris Johnson, signed the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature in recognition of “the state of planetary emergency,” acknowledging that current levels of production and consumption are unsustainable, the intent of the pledge being “to transform and reform our economic and financial sectors”.

Perhaps the appearance of the green shoots of a reimagined capitalism is foreshadowed by the Leaders’ Pledge and by Ranald MacDonald’s “Revolutionary plan [to] rescue the Scottish economy” (Neil Mackay, The Big Read, October 11).

As Prof MacDonald suggests, “if we stick to ‘the old paradigm’ then we’re in trouble. Change is needed immediately and it’s got to be radical, almost revolutionary.”

Furthermore one-fifth of the world’s countries are at risk of their ecosystems collapsing because of the destruction of wildlife and their habitats, according to Swiss Re, the world’s second largest reinsurer. Their report further reveals that over half of global GDP depends on high-functioning biodiversity.

John Milne, Uddingston.


DOUGLAS Ross, leader of the Tories in Scotland, recognises that the Union is in trouble. Westminster simply doesn’t take it seriously. He hopes to rescue it by ousting the SNP in the May elections and establishing himself as First Minister. But Mr Ross fails to grasp that the independence movement goes beyond any single party, and in the vanishingly unlikely event that he defeats the SNP in May, the demand for independence will not go away.

The game-changer has been Brexit. This has revealed the Union for the sham it has become. Holyrood, like the other devolved governments, has been completely excluded from the negotiating process. Apparently, Brexit is an England-only affair. David Mundell made that clear when he told Parliament that Scotland is not a partner in the Union. And when Holyrood last week rejected the contentious Internal Market Bill, Michael Gove announced that he will simply over-rule their decision. Better Together?

The disdain with which Scotland has been treated since Brexit has been noted. So too, has the respect with which Ireland has been treated by the EU. Ireland is an equal partner and its interests have been robustly defended – not sacrificed to the imperatives of Brexit. Whereas, the UK seems happy to break the 1707 Treaty of Union, the Good Friday Agreement – and any other legally binding agreement that gets in the way – regardless of the damage this does to the other three nations.

We are at the mercy of perhaps the most recklessly incompetent and right-wing Government in history. Brexit is a financial bonanza for the mega-rich and an economic disaster for the rest of us. Mr Ross is a supporter of this Government. He has absolutely nothing to offer Scotland.

Scotland must take a lesson from Ireland. With a population of 5.5 million and rich in resources, Scotland fits comfortably into the EU along with the dozen other small nations of comparable size. Scotland has a choice. To remain impotent and impoverished with an increasingly isolated and xenophobic UK – or to become independent and negotiate its way back into the EU to take its place among the grown-ups at the top table in Brussels. An equal partner in the decision-making processes. Genuinely better together.

Marsali MacDonald, Peebles.


AS a resident of the English region most closely linked to Scotland, I have been struck by the contrasting responses to Covid-19 north and south of the Border. Whereas Boris Johnson’s has been marked variously by denial, complacency, distraction, bluster, incoherence or knee-jerk reactions, the Scottish Government’s handling of the pandemic seems more measured, sensible and evidence-based. I was thus unsurprised to read that “One third of Scottish ‘no’ voters have now changed their minds on independence” (October). I don’t blame them.

Professor Nick Megoran, Newcastle.


NATIONALISTS might be highly excited by their recent poll leads but these are transitory. The fundamental problems of independence remain the same as in 2014, but with the added huge problem of a genuine hard border with England in prospect.

The current poll lead is only due to the perceived differences in handling of the coronavirus north and south of the Border. The coronavirus might have handed the SNP this lead for now but its enormous economic fallout will quickly remove it. Serious questions will be asked of the independence movement with regard to real future economics, not its fantasy version.

A far more questioning population post-Brexit will be far more difficult to convince. If we ever even get as far as a second independence referendum the outcome is certainly not in the bag for the SNP.

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow.


MORE confusion and uncertainty continue to flow almost daily from the First Minister’s seemingly never-ending broadcasts. If we add to this the darkening political backdrop and the possibility of an engulfing major scandal over the Alex Salmond business still seeming likely, we have to think of who might replace Nicola Sturgeon if and when she goes.

Unfortunately, it is not a star-studded list of possible replacements. As well as appointing only political sympathisers and yes-men into advisory and influential positions over the years – and most notably in light of the current pandemic ignoring a world-renowned expert in epidemiology, Professor Hugh Pennington – the vast bulk of her MPs and MSPs have been appointed merely for their loyalty and enthusiasm for breaking up the UK; demonstrably not for any expertise or intellectual might. As Margaret Thatcher used to ask, "is he/she one of us?’’ was the only question.

For those Scots thinking that things are bad at the moment, my feeling is you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.


SO Nicola Sturgeon’s going to align Scotland with England's new three-tier lockdown system – yet drawing up her own variations. Being different to England in devolved matters is the SNP administration's prerogative and indeed seemingly, its obsession, so what changes might she devise?

Hitherto, for example, she's renamed social distancing as physical distancing and "test and trace" has become 'test and protect' north of the border. Vitally important changes? Or utterly needless? Perhaps the three-tier system will become three levels, or ABC not 123, or maybe Ms Sturgeon can ferret around for some obscure Gaelic terminology?

Only time will tell whether she and the SNP will create yet more pointless differences merely for difference's sake.

Martin Redfern, Melrose.


MANY years ago, a friend told me how he'd watched a farming neighbour walk around his field inspecting his cattle. The farmer had paid particular attention to one beast, notably thinner than the others – running his hands along the neck, sides, rump and down all four legs.

When he was finished his inspection the farmer walked across to the fence for a chat. "What's wrong with the thin one?" asked my friend. "Nothing," was the reply. "That one's for our own freezer."

"But it's much thinner than all the others," said my friend.

"That's because all the others are fed hormone boosters"

This was back in the days prior to EU regulation banning such practices. The current Westminster Government's determination to make a trade deal with the United States – and using its UK Internal Market Bill to force a lowering of standards for our own livestock hygiene/feedstuffs/welfare, food labelling, and the like – suggests we're heading backwards, instead of forwards.

Internal Market Bill? Should be renamed the Infernal Market Bill.

Ian Waugh, Dumfries.


IN response to the letter by Clark Cross (October 11) where I think he is referring to wind turbines, though this is not clear, I would offer the following fact check on his words.

“When there is too much electricity being produced turbines are switched off and constraint payments made.” Fact check: correct, but payments are made irrespective of source of electricity production (renewable or otherwise).

“Since 2010, £727 million of constraint payments have been made for Scotland’s turbines.” Fact check: statement is too inconcise to be confirmed. Electricity in Scotland has been produced from many different turbines since 2010, driven by many fuels including coal, hydro, gas, wind, nuclear, all of which will have received constraint payments when not required so not sure what turbines are being referred to.

“These [constraint payments] are added to all electricity bills in the UK, so Scotland is being subsidised by English consumers.” Fact check: Oh how I sniggered. Mr Cross seems not to have a clue how the energy industry works and he is definitely a unionist. But that’s not to say he isn’t a good person, which he probably is as he reads The Herald.

Tom Cassells, Ayr.