WHETHER you are a Nicola Sturgeon supporter or not, the outrage from some quarters on the First Minister momentarily forgetting to wear her face mask makes me really angry.

Who hasn’t forgotten to reapply or put on their face mask at some point? Good for you if you’ve never erred, but I’ve done this at least twice, when getting up to go to the loo in a cafe and a restaurant.

Give this woman a break for goodness sake ... and anyone else who makes this brief blunder for that matter.

The extensive coverage of this simple mistake on TV, radio and in the press is crazy.

Judi Martin, Maryculter.


OK, so our First Minister whilst at a wake was spotted by an opportunist out to make a quick buck who took a sneaky photograph and no doubt has successfully sold it to a newspaper rather than politely point out her error in not wearing mask. Yes, in a few seconds she made a stupid mistake and yes, she has held her hands up, but I defy any of those who are probably about to lob criticism her way to look in a mirror and ask: have I one hundred per cent followed the rules?

I know the feeling, having been rebuked in a restaurant on my way to the toilet having forgotten to put my mask back on. It is so easily done.

It is alleged that others have bolted from London to Scotland in recent days. These are the actions of people that need highlighted and stopped before 30 seconds of stupid inattention. Indeed, my daughter in Devon commented last night that their village worryingly appears busier since the weekend with people “fleeing” the city to their holiday homes.

Douglas Jardine, Bishopbriggs.


NICOLA Sturgeon’s failure to wear a mask at a pub wake was arguably no more than careless and foolish – though somewhat dangerous in that she mixes with large numbers of people every day. Theoretically she should be fined, though this seems unlikely. Her lapse serves as a reminder, however, that her friend and former colleague, nationalist MP Margaret Ferrier, not only remains in her £80,000-plus job but still has avoided even being charged after potentially endangering the lives of hundreds of people, as a consequence of travelling hundreds of miles by train and wandering around Westminster while suspecting or knowing she had Covid-19.

Many may feel Ms Sturgeon should be forgiven for her stupid lapse; I'd suggest that most of us continue to believe Ms Ferrier should not.

Martin Redfern, Melrose.


IT'S looking increasingly unlikely that Jeane Freeman will get anywhere close to having one million Scots vaccinated against Covid by the end of January, as she claimed in November.

If only Pfizer would invent vaccinations to stop politicians making stop-gap claims and the public being so gullible.

Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven.


IN response to the letter (December 23) from Geoffrey Robinson (no relation), may I suggest to him that he follows the NHS guidelines and does not pester them with his frustrations, but waits to be contacted? His turn will come.

Does he also in all honesty consider that the Westminster Government has handled the fallout from this pandemic more efficiently and sensitively than that in Edinburgh.?

I would suggest to him that just because Boris Johnson states on national television that hundreds of thousands of people have received their vaccination, it does not mean there is any veracity in the statement. However, to give him the benefit of any doubt, then if we apply the 10 or 12 per cent rule as is the norm in these situations, a figure of approximately 40,000 to 50,000 for Scotland would result, a figure which Mr Robinson will discover equates to what is actually being achieved in the clinics and health centres across this country.

Gordon Robinson, Perth.


THE nomination of a peerage to Tory donor Peter Cruddas by Prime Minister Boris Johnson ("Johnson facing ‘cronyism’ storm after appointing Tory donor as life peer", The Herald, December 23), exemplifies the huge failings in the British political system.

Mr Cruddas, and I am sure it is a mere coincidence, has donated £3.3 million to the Conservatives, including a £658,000 gift since Mr Johnson became Prime Minister. He resigned as Tory co-treasurer in 2012 after he offered reporters access to Prime Minister David Cameron in exchange for a £250,000 donation.

In August, Russian newspaper owner and a friend of Mr Johnson, Evgeny Lebedev, was handed a peerage by Mr Johnson and bizarrely became Baron Lebedev of Hampton in the London Borough of Richmond on Thames and of Siberia in the Russian Federation. Mr Johnson also awarded a peerage to his own brother at the same time.

There are now 830 unelected lawmakers lounging on the red benches, despite a Lords committee recommending this number be capped at 600. Many of these flunkies and cronies pick up £300 a day in expenses, often doing very little as members of what is in essence a publicly-funded private club.

This yet again further illustrates why the House of Lords, which stands out as a bizarre anomaly in nearly all western democracies, needs urgent radical reform – which of course will not be forthcoming. In this festive season turkeys, as they say, do not vote for Christmas.

Lawmakers should not be appointed through the patronage of the Prime Minister or by accident of birth but elected by us, the people.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh EH9.

THE Prime Minister is accused of cronyism for pushing the peerage of Peter Cruddas despite objections by the Appointments Commission. Well fancy that ... a Tory PM adding another of his chums to the gravy train that is the 830-plus-member, unelected upper chamber. Whatever next? It appears he has bolstered this exclusive superannuation club by some 52 new bodies this year.

For the life of me I cannot understand any surprise at this outrageous abuse of power given his track record.

The idea of having an unelected upper chamber of such a bloated size is an affront to democracy and it must be changed. The United States, with a population some four times the size of the UK, manages with a mere 100 elected members of its upper chamber. However, given the naked self-interest oozing from this Government and its cronies I will not be holding my breath.

Forbes M Dunlop, Glasgow G13.


THE graphic photos of mile after mile of trucks in Kent ("France re-opens border, but only to UK travellers who test negative", The Herald, December 23) is surely a powerful stimulus to transfer as much of this freight as possible from road vehicles to rail containers through the Channel Tunnel and have the final delivery miles made by road at each end. This would eliminate the need for drivers during the majority of the journey time, take these enormous vehicles off our roads and reduce road pollution.

Where a consignment is not sufficient to fill a container, then computerised logistic modelling should make it possible for consignees to share part loads.

Dave Stewart, Glasgow G11.


THEY say that you find out who your true friends are in adversity and the contra to this is that you also find out who are your enemies.

The actions of the French government in closing the Dover to Calais border were abhorrent and unfortunately typical of that nation's leaders' attitude in its dealings with the UK. They justify this by saying they are concerned with the spread of the variant virus, knowing full well that it is already in the EU and it is only focused on the UK because our expertise discovered it first.

Our Government will hopefully remember this level of betrayal when the French next need our assistance like they did in the past and to which they owe their very existence as a nation today.

The auld alliance... aye, right.

James Martin, Bearsden.


SANDY Gemmill’s letter regarding the Union Flag remaining after Scottish independence is wrong.

The Union Flag was created after the union of the Scots and English parliaments in 1707, and was originally a construct of the flags of both nations. If Scotland were to leave this Union then the Saint Andrew’s part would be no longer part of a flag that denotes a "union" which no longer exists.

Scotland and England have their own Royal Standards, that is, the Lion Rampant for Scotland and the Three Lions for England. They are part of the Royal Standard of the United Kingdom and have been since the Union of the Crowns in 1603. This is the standard that will fly over Buckingham Palace.

Iain Macdonald, Oban.