AS we experience Nicola Sturgeon’s further actions which will destroy the economy ("Scots told to stay at home or risk breaking the law", The Herald, January 5), perhaps alternative logical actions could be recommended.

Guilt over the initial care home disaster, denied by the Government, has led to priority vaccination of those in care homes. This ignores the catastrophes in the NHS, and that facing young people’s education, a loss of which will affect their whole life chances. Are their possible achievements and 30 to 40 years of productive life less valuable than an extra five to 10 years of life for the elderly or chronically ill, notwithstanding the emotional consequences? Some might argue about the ethics, but in an existential crisis the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

Teachers fear catching the disease from children although the risk is very small. For the safety of one teacher the education of 20-30 children is cancelled. Teachers and school staff should all be prioritised for inoculation at the earliest opportunity. During the month-long closure all school staff can have two doses of the vaccine. Not to do this is illogical and causes greatest harm to the largest number.

The difficulties in the health service are manifest in the number of staff self-isolating or ill and thus unavailable for work. Those staff are also terrified of catching the disease and exporting it home. The general NHS has been effectively destroyed and elective care abandoned, and it may never recover. It is scandalous healthcare staff are not also inoculated now to protect them while caring for the sick.

Test and trace is only effective for contained local outbreaks of a disease. When that disease is widespread it is pointless. Someone clear one day can be infected the next day. If the structures for test and trace are available, and school children, teachers and NHS staff are contained in place, surely testing should be abandoned and inoculation substituted?

The Scottish Government and Ms Sturgeon are trapped in a failure whirlpool of their own making and the nation is being harmed permanently by blind adherence to failing policies, tardiness, dishonesty and lack of contrition. Propaganda is no substitute. Can anyone rise to the challenge and make the changes required?

Gavin R Tait, East Kilbride.


AND so the predicted lockdown measures have been enforced – the two leaders, the Prime Minister and the First Minister, now paying the price for their rash and foolish decisions in November of allowing us a Christmas holiday period – despite advice and suggestions by the health experts, advisors, the National Health Service representatives, to desist from such a policy; as did many of your contributors. But as we know, at that time popularity was the name of the game – from one man whose desperation and very existence is to be liked and popular and from one woman whose desperation and very existence is to be listened to and to be hailed as "one of the people".

Yesterday (January 5) both leaders spoke, and for the very first time, in my opinion the Prime Minister spoke and behaved and delivered in a much superior manner to the First Minister; the former articulated seriously (admittedly from an autocue) and as a statesman told what had to be done, for a total of eight minutes; the latter, as usual, rambled on seriously (as is her wont), explaining what had to be done and, of course, sympathising with us all, for what appeared to be an eternity.

I know the situation cannot be taken lightly, but this sort of repetitive approach, taken every time by the First Minister when she speaks, makes her watchers and listeners turn off the TV or radio, despite what she and her ardent followers may think.

Walter Paul, Glasgow G42.


THE new coronavirus lockdown was a shock-down for some people. And no doubt there are those who will ignore it, even flout it. But most Scots recognise the need to take drastic action to prevent even more deaths and stop the NHS being completely overwhelmed.

So, the big surprise for me was walking into Marks & Spencer in Glasgow's Argyll Street on Tuesday (January 5) for milk and bread, and discovering I could also buy jeans, a jacket, shoes, any item of clothing I wanted.

There has been during this pandemic many cases of one rule for the politicians, their families and advisers, and another for the public. Is there also one rule for the big stores and another for the little business-owner?

If M&S is allowed to sell more than just "essential" items, what's stopping someone who primarily sells clothes putting in a couple of tables and shelves stacked with baked beans, cereal boxes, and chocolate biscuits? Could they claim exemption too?

Andy Stenton, Glasgow G1.


THERE is a basic problem experienced by families on low income who are advised to have their children educated by remote learning. Not everyone living in near poverty can afford internet access and most providers now insist on the phone line being included in the service. Many people on benefits rely on the BT basic service for economical phone provision and are understandably unwilling to switch. Unless the authorities do something about this situation, many will continue to lose out and these are the most vulnerable and those most in need of assistance which is up to now being ignored.

James Evans, Dumbarton.


THE film Groundhog Day sees a weatherman, played by Bill Murray, reliving the same day (Groundhog Day) over and over again. I experienced the same feelings as Bill Murray’s character reading Ronald J Sandford’s letter (January 5) which reheats several of the 2014 scare stories.

First of all, when Juan Manuel Barroso gave his opinion it concerned the possibility of Scotland, then part of the EU within the UK, remaining an EU member even on independence. That possibility has of course been rendered totally irrelevant by Brexit, and unless someone wants to argue that an independent Scotland would simply be unacceptable to the EU, then the issue is done with.

Scotland, on independence, would have to apply for membership of the EU and go through a process of negotiation. However, the commission is flexible enough, despite claims made in 2014, to negotiate membership with several countries simultaneously. There is no queue. Moreover, unlike for instance Turkey, Scotland until last Thursday night had to be administered consistently with EU regulations. Clearly the longer we are out of the union the more there is the potential for drift. On the other hand, if independence is secured more quickly, this complication can be minimised.

On independence, therefore, we will not be members of the EU for a period that might be longer or shorter, depending on the above considerations. However, this makes even more attractive the suggestion by Dr Tim Rideout, an influential member of the Scottish Currency Group, that on independence, Scotland could seek membership of EFTA (along with Iceland and Norway), committing to the European Economic Area, which would give us access to the single market, freedom of movement and more. Subsequently, a referendum could be held on whether to apply to join the EU, depending on the outcome of negotiations, but if the terms were unsuitable, we could stay in EFTA.

Lastly, Mr Sandford, Spain has consistently taken the view that as long as Scottish independence is achieved by constitutional means they will have nothing to say. Alfonso Dastis, Foreign Minister to Mariano Rajoy, has said “if [Scottish independence] happens legally and constitutionally, we would not block [EU membership]”. His successor in the Sanchez government, Josep Borrell, has said “Why not? If they leave Britain in accordance with their internal regulation, if Westminster agrees ...,”

These scares “are old. Old. They’re getting old” (with thanks to Paul Simon).

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.


BORIS Johnson has decreed that Scotland won't get another independence referendum until 2055 ("Second vote should not happen until after 2050, says Johnson", The Herald, January 4), although under the Brexit agreement Northern Ireland is entitled to hold a referendum every seven years.

However, as Mr Johnson is infamous for chopping and changing his mind, for example telling children in England at 8am that they could go to school, and at 8pm telling them they couldn't go back, I look forward to Mr Johnson doing another U-turn and agreeing that Scotland's future should be a matter for the people of Scotland to decide, and that a referendum would be a "particularly jolly event".

Ruth Marr, Stirling.

Read more: Letters: No question that this a hard Brexit for Scotland to endure