THE efforts of Marcus Rashford to alleviate child food poverty are inspiring and humbling. Also inspiring is his measured response to quite disgraceful criticism of him and his efforts and his determination not to be deterred. I suspect his MBE was intended to buy him off, so it is to his immense credit that he is persisting.

I would like to understand what objections Tory MPs can reasonably make to helping parents in distress to feed their children during school holidays ("A shameful act that will leave children hungry", Catriona Stewart, The Herald, October 23). The accusations appear to include that these parents are choosing to let their children go hungry, that they have options to earn more money but choose not to, that Universal Credit is instant and sufficient for a family's needs. All of which is demonstrably not true, so why would almost all of Scotland's Tory MPs vote against providing hungry children with food? I will be writing to these Tory MPs today to ask them to help me understand their position.

We can see people losing their livelihoods because of the pandemic and insufficient support available to keep food on the table for all. Surely at this time we can demonstrate compassion and care for others less fortunate? It may well be a sticking plaster since no meaningful attempts are being made to reduce structural child poverty, but a sticking plaster is a better, if temporary, solution than letting the wound bleed.

Scotland's children may be in a better situation, but while we remain in the UK we should demand the UK Government looks after those in greatest need. I note that MPs, earning three times the average wage, can dine on ribeye steak at a subsidised cost of £9 – it would be a good start if that subsidy was re-directed immediately.

Sandy Slater, Stirling.

IF Rishi Sunak and the Conservative Party believe they have a "sacred responsibility” to “balance the books" (as Mr Sunak put it in their digital conference earlier this year), then they should resign now, before they turn the Covid-19 recession into another Great Depression, by being unwilling to provide what people on low incomes, and small and medium businesses, need to survive local lockdowns.

Balancing the Government budget in the short term is idiocy if the result is you destroy the economy and so your tax revenues and peoples' lives in the long run.

Boris Johnson in his conference speech claimed everything couldn’t be funded by “Uncle Sugar” the taxpayer”. The Tories balk at giving ordinary people and businesses (who are taxpayers themselves) what they need to survive local lockdowns (amounting to £75 million in Greater Manchester). Yet they don't think twice about handing Serco and Deloitte more than £100 billion of taxpayers’ money for a "moonshot" testing programme, before we even know if these new tests work or not; and despite the test and trace contracts they already got being a mess.

A simpler, cheaper solution would be to copy Italy by testing everyone someone testing positive may have been in contact with (neighbours, family, people in places they go regularly), avoiding contact tracing questions that take too long and rely on the person answering their phone and co-operating, and fallible memories.

Mr Sunak and Mr Johnson claim Universal Credit will top up wages of people in local lockdown to “up to 90 per cent”. But Andy Burnham is right that people struggling to survive on the minimum wage can’t survive on 90%, let alone 60% of it. These are people who will have no savings, and many will already be in debt, especially after the lockdown earlier in the year.

That’s apart from some genuine Universal Credit claims being rejected; it sometimes taking five weeks or longer to get the first payment; and the “advance” offered being a loan that must be repaid to the DWP from the first payment received.

Duncan McFarlane, Carluke.

WE are a few weeks away from 2021, and we are told that Covid-related restrictions could last for another six months. Dealing with the fallout from all of this will last for years. What then is the priority of the (minority) governing party in Scotland? Michael Russell, a minister in that Government, tells us that there could be an independence referendum in 2021 ("Indyref2 could take place next year, says senior SNP minister", The Herald, October 23). The SNP’s manifesto for the May election will include a programme for holding a referendum – since only it is allowed to choose the conditions for it, apparently.

At the same time, Nicola Sturgeon demands more money from the Treasury to support Scottish businesses hurt by the Covid crisis. Ms Sturgeon, then, acknowledges that Scotland depends on the UK in hard times but her constitutional affairs spokesman wants to break with the UK as early as next year. Does no-one in the SNP see the contradiction in this?

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh EH14.

I'M intrigued by the Scottish First Minister's latest Twitter attack as regards Westminster's financial distribution across the nation. Earlier this year our then two-year-old daughter was promised a budgeted flagship 1,140 hours of nursery time throughout the school year. She currently receives nowhere near that flagship promise. Schools fully reopened in August following John Swinney's monumental u-turn on blended learning. Where is the cost saving on my now three-year-old daughter being redistributed to?

Laurence Wade, Ayr.

LIKE Douglas Sooman (Letters, October 22), I voted to remain in the EU. Baiting Teresa May was such fun for the SNP, who are currently riding high on the back of Covid-19. The SNP does not admit errors. Pride comes before a fall.

William Durward, Bearsden.