THE news that a trade deal has been struck between the UK and the EU must have come as a big disappointment for the hardline Brexiters and Nationalists alike. However, the vast majority of people who respected the democratic will of the people (in the 2014 and 2016 referendums) will breathe a huge sigh of relief that common sense has prevailed with give and take from both sides being the order of the day.

For example, many of those who voted to leave wanted a Brexit trade deal but did not to want to be dragged into a political union with Europe which would have prevented the world’s fifth-largest economy striking individual major deals with other other countries and large trading blocs like the Tans-Pacific Partnership.

On the other hand the nationalists are now up the creek without a paddle with nothing to offer other than chaos – outside the UK internal market and outside the EU market. Indeed the latest opinion polls in Scotland were taken when a no-deal Brexit seemed most likely, and even unavoidable. The spotlight will now focus on the populist SNP dismal performance in power as a Brexit deal will deprive Ms Sturgeon of a vital source of deflection and grievance.

Ian Lakin, Aberdeen AB13.


THE fact that seed potatoes are notincluded in the deal will be deeply damaging to our rural economy. Scottish seed potato farmers are one of the biggest exporters of potatoes, used in the production of chips and crisps, in the world. The sector in Scotland accounts for around 80 per cent of UK production and is worth about £122 million annually.

One-fifth of these exports go to the EU, amounting to more than 20,000 tonnes a year.

This is clearly a disastrous Brexit outcome for Scottish farmers and like all other aspects of Brexit, foisted on Scotland against its will.

A terrible negotiating failure on the part of the Tory Government, and a devastating blow to an extremely valuable part of Scotland’s farming industry, I am sure it will not be the first damaging impact to be highlighted once the deal is fully analysed.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh EH9.


A GOOD proportion of Scottish people were happy to be part of Europe but the narrow national UK vote in favour of leaving, combined with the 80-member majority of Conservatives in Parliament, has moved us toward the exit.

This can be compared to a man, happily married for over 35 years, divorcing his wife, leaving his home and two children, thinking that he can spend the rest of his life as a single man sleeping with highly-sexed younger women.

A few years later he is sitting alone in his crummy bed sit, eating Pot Noodles and thinking of the past.

Take care.

John Ewing, Ayr.


THE treatment of the lorry drivers at Dover has been yet another disgraceful indictment of the UK Government's handling of both Covid19 and Brexit. The Covid mutated virus late announcement was mismanagement of the highest order and kickstarted the port crisis. The Brexit lack of preparedness at the port itself was in full public gaze.

Our esteemed ministers have been telling us for months how well prepared we are for the end of the transition period. If this was the case even the most basic of contingency plans would have considered the welfare of the truck drivers, so it does smack of the usual lies that emanate from this bunch. Reporters described the conditions for the truckers as horrendous. I am not surprised to see their frustration turn to anger. These key essential workers were festive pawns in a political game between UK and France. Tut-tut to both nations in the season of goodwill.

Paul Morrison, Glasgow G69.


TWO of Labour’s failed leaders, Gordon Brown and Iain Gray, have rejoiced at Sir Keith Starmer’s plan to offer the Scottish Parliament greater powers as the best of both worlds. So did Sir Alec Douglas Home in 1979.

The former Conservative Prime Minister’s offer never materialised. But it killed off Labour's Devolution Bill. Scottish Labour politicians, colluding with the Tories, then buried it.

Thus, John P Mackintosh’s admirable four-year campaign, prior to his early death, came to nought. Twenty years then passed till Cannon Kenyon Wright’s Constitutional Convention won a Scottish Parliament for us in 1999.

When John triggered his devolution campaign on October 12,1974 he told me: “My major interest, in parliament, is to revive Home Rule as Keir Hardie, the Labour leader and fellow Scot did, in his first leaflet, 1895. I want a Scottish Assembly to handle Scottish affairs”.

"What if it becomes a demand for independence?" I asked. “So be it. If that is the will of the Scottish people. And why not?’ he asserted.

As his close friend, who held a cord at his funeral, I know these words to be true.

In 1979, John Smith, then Labour leader and fellow Scot, declared: “Devolution is unfinished business. Independence should be accepted if proven, by democratic process, to be the settled will of the Scottish nation.” Donald Dewar, First Minister, another fellow Scot, stated in 1999: “This is about more than our politics and our laws. This is about who we are. How we carry ourselves. Devolution is a process not a destination. A new stage in a journey. Devolution is a work in progress. It is not an end in itself.”

Thus, three brilliant Scottish politicians, plus the founder of the Labour Party, have all supported a referendum on independence for Scotland.

Today, with 58 per cent of voters now in favour of Scotland’s independence, the important question that must be answered by Mr Gray and Labour’s leader, Sir Keir Starmer, is this: "Do you agree with the view formerly expressed by Keir Hardie, John Smith, Donald Dewar and John Pitcairn Mackintosh that the democratic will of the people must be respected?"

Arthur Greenan, Founder, The John P Mackintosh Memorial Lecture Fund, East Linton.


IT is with some dread, during this horrendous lockdown, that I peruse comments online. Every day the partisan bile from all sides of the political divide leaves me cold. Is it not possible to constructively criticise or comment on any particular policy or human failing without getting dog's abuse from the other side?

I just happen to be that terrible person without any particular partisan opinion. I treat each policy, election or referendum on it's own merits with a particular bias to the potential economic outcomes. For example, I'm happy to forgive Nicola Sturgeon for her mask error but equally able to forgive Douglas Ross missing a meeting.

These days I cannot be alone in feeling disenfranchised given the extremes of unionism and nationalism. Doing the right thing for the good of the country seems to have gone completely out the window.

The one thing I do know with absolute certainty is that the calibre of our politicians is woeful, so if we are expecting them to lead us to some Nirvana then I think we are destined to be disappointed. That said, my vote is up for grabs so a bit more constructive and knowledgeable debate instead of endless partisan sound bites would not go amiss.

Ian McNair, Cellardyke.


I AM always very impressed with Iain Macwhirter's writings. I don't always agree, but have great respect for his penmanship and for his reflections on our society.

In his article on Wednesday, however, he once again rolled out an ill-informed "fact" regarding SNP merits in "abolishing tuition fees". Scotland never had tuition fees. What the SNP abolished was a £2,000 graduate tax which was introduced to build up a fund to help give grants to the poorest students in Scotland. A very re-distributive move to help improve the level playing field of student learning in Scotland. It was never to pay for tuition.

This was yet another ill-thought out move to try to pander to its following, and was only (eventually) adjusted when the SNP realised what a mistake it had made.

Keeping repeating something as fact doesn't make it true.

Councillor Eileen McCartin, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Paisley.


WITH Dominic Cummings no longer working for Boris and Margaret Ferrier MP suspended from the SNP, there is still one senior "Covidiot" to deal with. Professor Neil Ferguson, whose computer model and predictions of half a million dead plunged us into lockdown nine months ago, is still on a sub-committee of SAGE, the UK Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies. If a man can’t obey the rules which he advised the Government to impose on us all, then he really shouldn’t remain a key advisor.

Otto Inglis, Crossgates, Fife.


THERE will be more than young visitors to Edinburgh Zoo disappointed if Sweetie and Sunshine return to China ("Zoo hopes to keep pandas in Scotland", The Herald, December 21). Political commentators and comedians will be unable to spin the well-worn line referring to the days of David Mundell, when MP for Dumfriesshire Clydesdale and Tweeddale: "There were more pandas in Scotland than Tory MPs." Of course, for those so minded, it can currently be spun about the Labour Party in Scotland with Ian Murray, MP for Edinburgh South, being its sole Westminster representative.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.


I WAS saddened to read of the death of songwriter Mac Davis (Herald Obituary, December 22), with whose catchy and authoritative composition I have countered my nearest and dearest’s occasional character defamations:

“Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble,

When you’re perfect in every way –

– To know me is to love me –

Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble

But I’m doing the best that I can”.

R Russell Smith, Largs.