IT is inevitable that the predicted election of Joe Biden as US President next week will lead to a further decline of the UK’s global standing.

Where formerly the UK was see as Europe’s “centre of gravity” in the eyes of the US, a post-Brexit Britain will be replaced by Paris and Berlin in this respect, while the UK will be seen very much as an outlier, sitting on the sidelines.

Both economically and in security terms the UK has burnt its bridges through Brexit and will not have the same prominence as it used to in Washington.

It is no wonder that commentators have pointed to the fact that Prime Minister Johnson is willing on a Trump victory to decide on whether to leave the European Union with or without a trade deal.

The British Government will face a major challenge in building relations with Biden’s team, who view Brexit as a risk to the EU’s stability. Biden already sent a warning shot last month, when he tweeted that “the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland” cannot become “a casualty of Brexit” The UK must therefore prepare for a Biden administration that keeps a particularly close eye on how Brexit affects Ireland, given the Irish influence in the Democratic party and Biden’s own Irish background.

Through the foolishness of Brexit, the UK has put itself out of an influential position in the EU and delivered a further blow to its standing on the global stage.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh EH9.


AS politicians and unions squabble about lost jobs, the real environmental tragedy of BiFab ("Senior lawyer dismisses claims over Bifab ministerial bailout", The Herald, October 30) seems to have been entirely forgotten. We are supposed to be saving the planet, not wrecking it.

Vast, industrial wind turbines, plonked among our dolphins, bristling on our once-pristine horizons should never have been approved in the first place.

Everyone has forgotten the RSPB was so incensed by the hugely-damaging Firth of Forth offshore wind farms – it described them as “the most damaging windfarms for seabirds anywhere in the world” and the Firth of Forth as “of international importance to wildlife”. It was so appalled by the Scottish Government’s cavalier attitude to birdlife it took the Government all the way to the Supreme Court.

The RSPB also objected to the Moray West offshore windfarm, describing the environmental assessment submitted by the project as “incomplete and inadequate”. It added that the initiative could “spell disaster for some of our most valued seabird populations”. Once again that passed by politicians.

Green energy schemes are in fact increasing CO2 emissions, increasing the use of fossil fuels and vastly increasing the mining, processing and consumption of the Earth’s dwindling raw materials.

Another meticulous review just published in the scientific journal Energies by a team of Irish and US-based researchers confirms this: “Renewable energy is cripplingly expensive, hopelessly unreliable, massacres wildlife, destroys landscapes, destabilises the grid, harms indigenous peoples, and actually causes climate change”.

We really should be asking: If renewables are so great for the environment, why do they keep destroying it?

George Herraghty, Lhanbryde, Moray.


ANDY Stenton wonders why the Government's five-tier coronavirus response system is numbered 0-4 rather than 1-5 (Letters, October 29). I believe the reason, paradoxically, has been to keep things simple by aligning tiers 1-3, more or less, with those in England. This implies that Tier 0 has been an addition to a catalogue that already exists, and there are impressive precedents for this.

The composer Anton Bruckner said his D minor symphony of 1866 was worthless ("gilt nicht") and declared it nullified ("annuliert"). It wasn't published or performed until 1924, when it became known as Symphony No. 0 ("Die Nullte"). And then there are 4 Laws of Thermodynamics, numbered 0 - 3. It was the great Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell who realised, retrospectively, that the statement, "If a body C be in thermal equilibrium with two other bodies A and B, then A and B are in thermal equilibrium with one another" could not be accepted, a priori, as obvious, but had to be experimentally demonstrated. Hence this became the "zeroth" law of thermodynamics.

So the Scottish Government is in good company. We must all long for Tier 0. Or, as T. S. Eliot put it in the Fourth Quartet, Little Gidding:

Where is the summer, the unimaginable

Zero summer?

Dr Hamish Maclaren, Stirling.


NAE trick or treatin’, nae guisin’, nae gaun roon the doors,

Nae dookin’ fir aipples oan cobweb fill’d floors.

Nae witches, nae monsters, nae vampires or ghouls,

Halloween hiz bin cancelled, it’s against aw the rules!

Nae monkey nuts, nae lollies, nae mouldy tangerines,

We’re aw in tier 3, so that’s whit it means.

Nae fun fir the weans, they’re aw highly contagious,

In a world that’s gone mad, it’s frankly outrageous.

So ah’m no really pleased wi’ this, as ye kin probably tell,

Cos I’ll jist eat those braw sweeties aw by masel!

Stuart McLean, Kirkintilloch.