IF Black Lives Matter had organised and advertised a march on the US Capitol, the building would have been surrounded by a ring of steel. There would have been thousands of police, state troopers and National Guardsmen, all in riot gear and with tear gas, shields and batons. Heavily-armed military units would have been on standby nearby.

But when supporters of Donald Trump, egged on by their demagogue, attack the seat of American democracy, all that greets them is a thin blue line of Capitol police on the steps, who are easily overwhelmed, and they storm the building. Sic transit gloria Americae; thus passes the glory of America.

The renegade narcissist currently occupying the White House will soon be gone, so one problem solved. But it’s clear that the dark stains of racism, intolerance and injustice run deep in America, and have only grown deeper over the past four years. It will take a huge effort by President-elect Biden, supported by the many millions of decent people in the US, to wipe away those stains. It’s in the best interests of all of us in the free, democratic world that he succeeds.

Doug Maughan, Dunblane.


FOLLOWING the disgraceful demonstrations in Washington DC, publicly endorsed by the outgoing President, Donald Trump, there have naturally been condemnations from around the world.

May I suggest that if and when Mr Trump decides to spend some of his enforced leisure time visiting his golf courses in Scotland, all elected politicians, and some expert lawyers, explore every possible legal way to prevent him from coming here, as we in Scotland do not wish public money to be spent on policing such visits.

On the other hand, it might be worth it just to tell him what we think of him ...

Rose Harvie, Dumbarton.


IN 1972 President Richard Nixon led a diplomatic mission to China, a diplomatic mission as important as any in the 20th century. It is said that at some point during said mission someone asked the then Premier of China, Chou en Lai, to opine on the impact of the French Revolution. Famously, if somewhat erroneously, it has been put about that he said it was too early to say.

Yesterday a premeditated insurrection took place in the capital of the world's only superpower.

All who really believe in models of the rule of law underpinned by democratic institutions are, I think, entitled to ask, what are the consequences of the American Civil War that took place between 1861 and its supposed conclusion in 1865. In this instance I think we can fairly conclude that it is indeed too early to say.

All of this should be borne in mind the next time, when we as British subjects, or potentially, future Scottish citizens, are yet again asked to play an auxiliary role in some else’s expeditionary war. A war no doubt touted to promote democracy.

Bill Ramsay, Glasgow G42.


THE American electoral system is a victim of its history and deserves an update. We can only hope Joe Biden is up to the job.

Nearer home there are also lessons to be learned. Our politicians are for the most part well-intentioned and concerned to improve our society, but they are as prone to human frailty as the rest of us. Certainly Donald Trump is an extreme case, but when someone with political power "goes rogue" the democratic mechanism needs an approved means of dealing with the situation.

If you haven’t already seen it, there is a public consultation online at the moment where such ideas can be aired and discussed by ordinary folk – and one is about empowering constituency associations to recall their MP if they consider it necessary.

That seems pretty democratic to me.

RF Morrison, Helensburgh.


I FIND it difficult to follow Jill Stephenson’s logic (Letters, January 7), which suggests that Scots should not forget the billions of pounds showered on them by the UK Treasury. It’s important to remember where that money came from: some from Scottish taxes and the rest from loans and quantitative easing that we may or may not know about. The Treasury is merely the statutory facilitator at present and these sources would similarly be available to an independent Scotland.

The letter also seems to claim a vaccine as English because it has Oxford in the title; I somehow think the international promoter and manufacturer might have played a part in its development, as did laboratories in the Netherlands and Germany. The vaccine is being made in many countries and we don’t depend on England for its supply as the letter suggests.

Unlike the writer, I don’t see anyone offering some pie in the sky, rosy vision of independence but instead I see an opportunity to take our own decisions and, through a lot of hard work, shape a democracy that fits with our social values.

John C Hutchison, Fort William.

* JILL Stephenson, just like her unionist cohorts, fails to appreciate and to understand the reality of national funding.

Firstly, Scotland donates to the Treasury on a pro rata basis and therefore is not subject to "handouts" by that institution. Secondly, the current emergency cash is simply borrowed by central government and will have to be repaid by all of us, in due and certain course.

Once Scotland has achieved its independence, it will do its own borrowing, as and when required and will repay any such sums in accordance with appropriate agreements, previously made.

Ian Cooper, Bearsden.


READING Jill Stephenson’s letter reminds me of the scare story when Malta was seeking independence. It was warned that the population could not feed itself, most of the workforce would be unemployed, and the economy would crash without Treasury support. If such dread prognostications are based in fact, how come Malta is a thriving, sovereign, independent country within the EU, taking its turn of top posts? Why should Scotland be different?

Anent the headline point, would Ms Stephenson like to consider that, if her view of the billions “showered” on Scotland by the Treasury were true, which it patently is not, perhaps such largesse would compensate in some small measure for the billions showered on the Treasury from the 90 per cent-plus revenues from the 80%-plus oil from Scottish waters over 40 years?

Some regular correspondents seem to forget, or perhaps do not know, that since devolution, just over half of the taxes paid from Scotland to the Treasury has been retained there and used for things that Scotland does not need, want or support, like Trident and illegal foreign wars. It seems to me that the Treasury, in reality, owes Scotland a great deal more than just the current subventions.

L McGregor, Falkirk.


I AM reading Jill Stephenson talking yet again about the "billions of pounds showered on them by the UK Treasury" on the same day as I am sending the UK Treasury thousands of pounds for my personal and corporation tax.

I am sick and tired of Ms Stephenson and others ignoring the fact that we are getting back some of the money we send from Scotland.

If she doesn’t pay of any sort of tax to Westminster then perhaps she could write in The Herald explaining how she does it and hopefully I won’t have to send money to the UK Government again. If not, can she and others at least elevate the conversation to a sensible adult level?

As for her comments about Scotland relying on an English vaccine, I presume she is preparing for a new career in comedy.

Robert Ritchie, Ayr.


I WAS extremely lucky to play some golf over the fabulous Crail Links in glorious winter sunshine, a rare treat in these difficult times.

As I played round I couldn't help but notice the cable-laying vessel for the cutely-named Neart na Gaoithe (NnG) offshore wind farm. A strange choice of name considering Gaelic was not spoken in Fife.

I couldn't help but reflect: how can it be that the French national electricity company can build a wind farm for its profit and contribute hardly a manufacturing job to our local area? Are our politicians of both Westminster and Holyrood terminally stupid and naive?

How have we got to such a place that we cannot mandate such jobs as a requirement of such contracts? Where is Scottish Enterprise in this? It is extolling the benefits of wind but not generating real skilled jobs.

We must be off our tiny little heads. If someone mentions Scotland as the Saudi Arabia of Renewables to me I won't be responsible for my actions.

We really need to get a grip.

Ian McNair, Cellardyke, Fife.

Read more: Letters: Scots surely will not forget the billions showered on them by the UK Treasury