HAVING re-read Alison Rowat’s excellent article on Nicola Sturgeon’s undisguised election bribe (The Herald, December 3), I found nothing whatsoever which justified the heading “Labour took taxpayers for mugs, now the SNP is at it”. This assertion is nowhere in the text and I have to ask: why, therefore, was the heading not confirmed in the writings?

The nearest she came to it, by a country mile, was when she wrote: “The SNP should know this. It spent enough years castigating Scottish Labour for taking voters for granted, yet now it is doing the same.”

In agreeing with Ms Rowat’s account of propaganda, I would like to take the opportunity she poses to ask a few questions.

Since Labour has not been in power in Westminster and Holyrood for more than a decade and I was among the Labour MPs wiped out in the nationalist tsunami of 2015, where is the evidence? Ann Begg, who travelled from Aberdeen weekly in her wheelchair and did a great job chairing the Work and Pensions Committee? Tom Greatrex, who was an outstanding MP for Hamilton West and Cambuslang? Douglas Alexander, who was not only an excellent MP but would have been a first-class Foreign Secretary? Jim Sheridan, who balanced his work as an MP with being a councillor in Renfrewshire because he knew if he stood down from the latter it could have been possible for the SNP to use every lever available as it does in Holyrood to promote independence?

As for myself, I spent the last week of my parliamentary career having very little sleep – not because of the election but because I was constantly in touch with the Foreign Office as we traced a young man who went missing near Nepal and as we kept his distraught family informed in the lead-up to his safe return home.

Frankly, I cannot think of a single one of my Labour colleagues who deserved to be defeated on the grounds that they took anyone for granted. Before the myth becomes a reality I would simply invite Scottish voters to reflect on whether – setting political opinions apart – as the shine is rapidly disappearing from the nationalist cause, our replacements have been more than a whimper in place of “ the stronger voice for Scotland “ which has hardly materialised.

Tom Clarke, Former Labour MP for Coatbridge.

I SIMPLY cannot agree with Alison Rowat that a “thank you” to health care workers was political. These dedicated people put themselves (and their families) directly at risk of serious illness or death, in confronting an unknown, lethal virus face to face. There can be no comparison between them and any other workforce. None.

The political element is surely the Scottish Conservatives, who opposed the bonus, then tweeting that heath care workers should join them, and say #THANKYOURISHI for the £500 bonus. There are no words to describe this appalling hypocritical low by the Tories. Why hasn’t #Rishi extended this bonus south?

A vaccine has been developed in Germany by BioNTech, a company set up by German scientists whose parents were Turkish migrants. The drug is produced in Belgium on behalf of BioNTech’s American partners, purchased with UK taxpayer money, and licensed for use, slightly ahead of the EU, which has a more rigorous process of approval. We in Scotland are apparently expected to give our thanks, not to those who developed and produced this vaccine, but to Jill Stephenson’s old Blighty Letters, December 3).

GR Weir, Ochiltree.

IN response to Jill Stephenson's letter regarding Nicola Sturgeon failing to thank the UK Government for its success in rolling out the Covid vaccine:

1) It was developed in Germany;

2) A team of Turkish immigrants was principally involved in its development;

3) It's being produced in Belgium.

So precisely why has Ms Sturgeon to thank the UK Government?

Perhaps for its disastrous handling of this pandemic from the start and the tens of thousands of resultant deaths?

Kevin Orr, Bishopbriggs.

I HONESTLY burst out laughing when I read Jill Stephenson's epistle on the vaccine.

Let us be honest, if Nicola Sturgeon walked across the Clyde and then announced that she had found the cure for cancer Ms Stephenson and the group of interminably negative unionist contributors would immediately jump into print to criticise her for putting cancer charities out of business.

For Ms Stephenson to berate Ms Sturgeon for not heaping praise on the Westminster Government, especially after the complete mess it has made of handling Covid, is nothing short of comedy gold.

David Stubley, Prestwick.

THE news that UK regulators have approved the Pfizer vaccine will start to bring an end to the Covid crisis. Unfortunately there is no vaccine in sight to end the SNP’s campaign for independence under any circumstances.

Whilst Nicola Sturgeon was busy diverting funds intended to help Scottish businesses stay afloat to give NHS workers a £500 bribe six months before an election, the UK Government was announcing that a vaccine has been approved by the regulator and will roll out next week – the first country in the world to do so.

This perfectly illustrates one of the benefits of Scotland being a part of the UK. How far down the list would an independent Scotland be?

Matt Davies, Inverness.

AS a frontline care worker I can assure you that the £500 "gift" from the Scottish Government has been met with quiet indifference in my workplace. We neither demanded this nor expected it. Neither did we expect to be politicised for our ongoing efforts to care for society's most vulnerable and ensure they don't need to access the NHS needlessly throughout this pandemic.

My colleagues and I know how fortunate we have been to retain full-time work and full remuneration since March. I believe the estimated £175 million "gift" expenditure can be distributed more fairly. Inevitably, I will receive it via BACS payment. I personally pledge to reinvest this payment into locally-run businesses if and when they are permitted to re-open.

Laurence Wade, Ayr.

I HAVE just finished watching First Minister's Questions (December 3).

Ruth Davidson weighed in with a load of questions, where are the freezers to be, where are sites for vaccinations to be, etc.

I wish Nicola Sturgeon would answer truthfully something along the lines of (or maybe stronger) "You know fine well plans are fluid and we do not yet know where they are actually to be. Stop asking stupid questions anyone with any common sense would know the answer to; to wait until they have been confirmed and we announce the details in due course."

I despair at times at the point-scoring and showboating at this critical time

Dougie Jardine, Bishopbriggs.

NICOLA Sturgeon doesn’t seem to understand how divorces work. When asked by Robert Peston if the UK being the first to administer a vaccine showed the benefits of being part of the Union, she said that “we would probably still choose to work together on things like drugs and vaccine approval, because it makes sense to do that given our geography”.

There is an assumption that the other side would wish to work with Scotland after separation; geography and demographics are what makes the Union work now. Scotland receives £1,633 more per capita than the UK average, which is possible due to the high GDP per capita in London and the south-east of England. We are stronger and richer due to the Union.

When the SNP talks of leaving the United Kingdom but still expecting the benefits thereof, it always reminds me of the young lad who decides he wants to be independent by leaving home but still needs mum and dad to help pay his rent and comes home to use the washing machine. That’s not how it works in the grown-up world, Ms Sturgeon.

Jane Lax, Aberlour.

JUST how shallow and fickle does Nicola Sturgeon think the Scottish electorate are? Behind the headline "Sturgeon faces backlash over £500 bonus to NHS workers" (The Herald, December 2) lies the patronising hypocrisy we have come to expect from the sanctimonious posturing of this SNP Government.

Coming from the party responsible for making Scotland the highest-taxed region in the UK but which is now shamelessly virtue-signalling that the £500 should be tax-free, this should be seen for what it is: a bribe for votes. Free school meals, free cardboard boxes, free prescriptions, free bus travel, free sanitary products, free university fees, all regardless of income, make you wonder why on earth anyone would want to be independent from a Union such as ours.

Her support built on freebies with this latest offering is like a flock of seagulls being thrown a fish and reminds us of the "parcel of rogues" whose morals and souls were bought so cheaply.

There is no such thing as "free goodies", it is all paid for, the only thing free is the bait they swallow.

The freebies and lip service paid to our failing NHS services, education system and centralised police belie the true focus of Ms Sturgeons priorities – independence.

It is not good enough to say vote SNP, "it will be alright on the night". It is separation for the sake of separation, nothing else.

Allan Thompson, Bearsden.

PETER Russell (Letters, December 3) makes the quite astonishing contention that the Scottish Government will go to court for a “referendum [which] will be a meaningless charade designed only to have validity in the eyes of our own gullible supporters”.

But, even if organised within reserved matters, would it be meaningless? Would the UK Government, if it resulted in a clear and unequivocal win for independence (a not unreasonable assumption after 15 polls in a row backing independence, and the last two showing a lead of more than 10%) would the UK Government respect this and negotiate?

Or would it, as it did following the decision of the International Court of Justice, when it was ordered to hand back the Chagos Islands to Mauritius, say: “This is an advisory opinion, not a judgement”?

How many such international judgements, in or out of court, can the UK, and its international reputation, withstand, particularly after making clear that it was willing to breach international law by reneging on part of last year’s agreement with the EU? A clear and unequivocal statement of opinion by the Scottish electorate would surely push Westminster further, and irrevocably, in the direction of being deemed a state with respect for neither international norms nor democracy.

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.

Read more: Letters: Why can’t the FM praise the UK’s fine work in delivering the Covid jab?