FOLLOWING the startling accusations in the submission made by Alex Salmond to the inquiry against his successor Nicola Sturgeon, it became immediately clear that this current inquiry by James Hamilton should have its remit broadened. In simple terms, we now have the unedifying sight of the two most high-profile Scottish political leaders, past and present, detailing vastly conflicting accounts of the supposed “facts”.

The only conclusion now to be drawn is that one of these combatants is being disingenuous at best. Ms Sturgeon, if so sure of her submission ("Sturgeon ‘does not consider’ she misled Holyrood over Salmond", The Herald, January 12), should immediately overrule the inept John Swinney and instruct a wider remit for the inquiry. Surely she has nothing to fear?

Richard Allison, Edinburgh EH4.


DOES anyone who has been paying attention to the mess of British politics over the last decade think that Scottish opposition MSPs’ call for increased time, money and energy to be spent trying to discredit Nicola Sturgeon over the complex issue of how the painful Salmond investigation was held, is anything other than a tacit admission they have lost the argument over independence?

When we think of the lack of accountability over the Cummings attitude to lockdown rules, or the lack of any proper examination of Boris Johnson’s history of racist comments and professional lying or inability to follow life-saving Covid advice, or the profiteering of Tory chums from PPE contracts and the like, one can only conclude that the disproportionate and co-ordinated attacks on the First Minister stink of desperation; they reek of double standards.

Would that these parties had been so co-ordinated/energetic in their approach to the pandemic or to fighting the harm of Brexit.

Amanda Baker, Edinburgh EH12.


THE start to 2021 for the Scottish Government just continues in an oh-so-familiar pattern. Failure of the online learning system ("Online bugs known about 40 days before first lessons", The Herald, January 12). Failure to stem the tidal wave that is coronavirus. Failure of its Test and Protect system. Failure of the speedy vaccine roll-out. Failure to put fighting the pandemic front and centre of its thinking as independence keeps its nose in the lead.

The background to all of this is the SNP's misguided idea that it can do anything it likes as it is so far ahead in the polls. This is wishful thinking. In any system ever invented failure cannot keep being positively rewarded. There is a price to pay sooner or later. The only question is which of these options it is.

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow G77.


THE Letters Pages are invariably my first destination when I open The Herald. Your correspondents are informative, provocative, amusing and irritating in equal measure, but always a good read.

Today’s letter from Joanna Cherry MP (January 12) in which she took your columnist Mark Smith to task was an excoriating, but beautifully written riposte to Mr Smith’s column of the previous day (“A nationalist view of history that raises a worrying version of Scotland’s history”, The Herald, January 11).

It is the role of your readers to point out inaccuracies and challenge the opinions of The Herald’s columnists. Ms Cherry has achieved this with incisive, logical argument and not a little style. I concur with Ms Cherry that for unionists to conflate the campaign for an independence referendum with the violence of the Easter Uprising or the Irish Civil War is simply unacceptable and inflammatory.

Iain Gunn, Elgin.


HOLYROOD’S bizarre procedure for electing MSPs means that out of 129 Members of the Scottish Parliament only 73 managed to convince their local electorate that they were good enough to do the job. There are 30 sitting MSPs who at the start of this session represented the Conservative and Unionist Party; the Scottish Parliament website shows that only six of them are currently constituency MSPs, the rest party drones in more ways than one. I find it impossible to understand how a list MSP chosen by the party rather than the electorate can renounce membership of the party they are chosen to represent without losing their seat. It makes no sense.

How is it possible that Michelle Ballantyne, who sups at the Holyrood trough simply because the faceless puppet masters at party HQ expect her to obey orders, can switch allegiance to Nigel Farage’s Little England Party and face no sanction from party or Holyrood ("Rebranded Brexit Party announces ex-Tory Ballantyne as first Scottish leader", The Herald January 13)? Democracy my bahookie!

David J Crawford, Glasgow G12.


THE Scottish Government has prioritised the order in which different occupations should be vaccinated. Health workers deservingly enjoy high priority, level 1.

However, I have a concern that given the rise of telephone consultations during the Covid crisis many health care professionals no longer have physical contact with patients and face a correspondingly reduced Covid risk. On the other hand many teachers and classroom assistants, prioritised at level 3, run a much higher risk of infection and even longer wait for vaccination. This is particularly so with nursery classes and infant classes which do not enjoy the luxury of being able to maintain physical separation from their charges.

It is surely time for these anomalies and others to be urgently reviewed.

Ian Martin, Milngavie.


BORIS Johnson recently suggested that a "once in a generation" referendum might bring us to 2055. Mr Google tells me that the Baby boomer generation is 1946-64 (18 years), Generation X 1965-79 (14 years), Millenials 1980-94 (14 years) and Generation Z 1997-2020 (23 years) – an average of 17 years (I don’t know what happened to the poor souls born between 1994 and 1997) and certainly nowhere near the 40 years that Mr Johnson demands. Does he really feel that he belongs to the same generation as someone 40 years his junior? Personally, I feel that 10 years' difference is quite enough for me to recognise someone belonging to a different generation.

I know that all this “once in a generation” stuff is quite beside the point, but let’s at least recognise what the word means.

Ken MacVicar, Lesmahagow.


WHAT I find off-putting about the Westminster Government's public statements about how it is rolling out the vaccine is its self-congratulatory content. Self-praise is no honour, as we have all been brought up to believe. It shows a distinct lack of self confidence when it continues to boast about its achievements in what it appears to take as a race to see which nation is ahead of the game.

Mind you, the Johnson Government has not covered itself in glory either on the Covid or Brexit front and so its spokespersons feel the need to crow where they should be showing compassion and support for those countries too poor and with insufficient infrastructure and logistical facilities for rolling out the vaccines against the virus.

The answer to this mean-minded Government's approach, lifted from the Donald Trump playbook, lies in the word pandemic, namely a universal scourge which demands international cooperation if the virus is to be quelled and the planet is to be released from its threat.

It is time for our UK Government to stop patting itself on the back and to offer a helping hand to those countries too poor financially to meet the cost of supplying their populations with the safety promised by the vaccines.

Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.


MONDAY'S front page was dominated by news of "a shocking new survey" ("Nurses ‘willing to strike’ as a third forced to skip meals", The Herald, January 11). This was conducted over three months by a support group called Nurses United and Nursing Notes, a group hitherto unknown to most of your readers, I am sure.

It managed to persuade 659 nurses to respond to the survey and all of the shocking findings, including percentages of nurses willing to strike, were based upon their responses. It should be noted, however, that the number of nurses in Scotland exceeds 164,000. So the bold initial statement that “the majority of Scottish nurses are willing to take strike action” was based upon the responses of around 0.4 per cent of our nurses. And the same goes for all the other findings of this inadequate piece of research. Why you should have accorded it such prominence is beyond me.

Iain Hall, Scone.

Read more: Joanna Cherry: Why I must set the record straight