THE idea that a Joe Biden presidency will ipso facto return decency to government of the United States and that the exit of Donald Trump will somehow save American democracy is simply more political mythology. Until America's politicians start representing their electorates instead of being mere lobbyists for big business corporations, neither decency nor democracy will typify US politics or policies.

The last US President anywhere near to deserving of decent and democratic credentials was Dwight D Eisenhower and what he warned about the danger of the country coming under control of the industrial military complex duly transpired, thus justifying Ike's worst fears. There are no candidates presently visible within the Capitol precincts capable of tying Ike's boot laces.

Ian Johnstone, Peterhead.


AS the vaccination roll-out gathers pace, is there one potentially vulnerable group of people who will miss out? I refer to illegal immigrants working in the black economy, where their crowded living arrangements are likely to expose them to a serious risk of infection, and whose existence by definition is unlikely to be known to the NHS.

Is there any official guesstimate as to their number to give some indication of the scale of the problem, and is it not in everyone’s interest that an amnesty be declared to encourage them to come forward so that they also can be vaccinated to avoid them becoming in effect a third column in the fight against the virus?

Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop.


I MUST challenge the letter by Dr Gillian Wright (January 2).

It is important first and foremost to understand that assisted dying and euthanasia are very different concepts.

Dr Wright writes eloquently about the subject of euthanasia, and I agree with many of the points she makes. But she is not addressing assisted dying, and it is confusing and unhelpful to conflate the two concepts.

Assisted dying aids a mentally competent adult who has a terminal illness and is nearing the end of their life, to choose when their life will end. Pursuing a complex process, meeting strict criteria and rigorous safeguards, they then have the liberty to self-administer a lethal drink, in a strictly controlled environment, at a time of their choosing, being in control at all stages of the process.

Euthanasia is markedly different, in that it involves the administration of a lethal medicine to someone by another person, and although also carried out in a formal, regulated framework, it carries more complex moral and legal implications and potential safety concerns.

It is important also to highlight that in the piece quoted about Ruth Davidson, she stated that she would only support assisted dying for the terminally ill.

Assisted dying is becoming more accessible in progressive countries around the world, and polls show that it has the support of the majority of the British population. It is unhelpful to the wider debate on assisted dying to confuse it, deliberately or otherwise, with euthanasia. The Assisted Dying Bill alluded to addressed assisted dying, not euthanasia.

I commend the short book entitled Last Rights: The Case For Assisted Dying by Woolason and Riley as an excellent, well researched, clear and accurate source on this topic.

Dr Ian Davidson, Giffnock.

* I COULD not agree more with the opinion of your correspondent Alan McKinney (Letters, January 5) regarding the end of life. To commit suicide all by oneself sounds to me rather complicated, but I have signed for up assisted suicide in terms of voting to have this legalised in Scotland.

It is already legal in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. There is more information to be found on the internet.

I am grateful to Mr McKinney for bringing the subject into the open, especially during these times of long-life existence. I suspect there are many more of similar opinions to ours.

M McNeil, East Ayrshire.


WHAT is concerning me at the moment is not necessarily the lack of an orgy (R Russell Smith, Letters, January 8) but rather the cynical turn of mind that is being forced upon me by the activities of many political persons, and most of all the massive national debts that are daily mounting. I can do nothing about either of them.

I do recall reading the words of Ethel Watts Mumford which appeared in the New Cynic's Calendar (1907). She wrote: "In the midst of life we are in debt." If that is so then maybe a bit spent on an occasional "orgy" might be money well spent. Perhaps listen to the words in the Earl of Rochester's poem The Imperfect Enjoyment (a very saucy work) when the lady in the poem asks "Is there then no more .... Must we not pay a debt to pleasure too?"

Often there will follow remorse. As the poet Cowper said, "remorse, the fatal egg by pleasure laid" perhaps will take all thoughts of orgies from the mind no matter what Ogden Nash advised. As Mr Smith does not specify of what his own once in a while "orgy" will consist maybe he could inform readers, and cause a few smiles?

Thelma Edwards, Kelso.


WHILE supporting Ian McNair’s main point on Neart na Gaoithe offshore wind farm (Letters, January 8) I write to correct his suggestion that Gaelic was not spoken in Fife. While there are certainly other linguistic influences, the county abounds in Gaelic-based place-names which is surely evidence enough that the language was spoken there at one time.

John C Hutchison, Fort William.