I’M considering embracing independence for the first time after 50 years, activism in a very different movement.

Many powerful arguments lead me, and one of the most powerful is the person of the First Minister.

She is the anchor and the symbol of a mature and responsible government, and for now the only real hope of holding the middle ground and bringing the nation with her.

No movement for independence can afford to lose this leader. None before her had anything like the stature.

If there is substance in the recurring accusations of wrongdoing in the legal wrangling with her predecessor, there is only one way past that: admission, apology, understanding and forgiveness from the public.

Anything else leads to unnecessary tragedy. I don’t name examples because I don’t need to.

I don’t believe the First Minister has been incompetent enough to set a time-bomb for herself, but if she has she should say so and the nation should move on with her.

As it stands, I believe what she’s saying, that accusations of misdemeanour on her part are guesswork and nonsense.

Tim Cox, Bern, Switzerland.


I AM, like many others, deeply concerned that the Scottish Government's vaccination rate leaves it extremely questionable that the Scottish Parliament election in May should proceed.

Apart from the complexities of establishing and maintaining safe polling stations, we should especially remember those voters in the age group thirty and under who would not have received the vaccination by May. This would mean the Scottish Government, having cancelled exams in June of this year for fear of increasing infection, would be saying to those in education and further education, it is not safe to sit exams but it is safe to go out to a busy polling station.

MJ Dunsmore, Kilmacolm.


I MUST take issue with Martin Redfern (Letters, January 17) regarding his view that Nicola Sturgeon is exploiting the daily Covid briefings for political advantage. I have listened to the majority of the broadcasts and on occasions when journalists have tempted her to comment on other matters apart from Covid, she has declined to do so, and kept to the public health brief. I note Mr. Redfern makes no objection to Boris Johnstone and his colleagues, or to the Welsh First Minister, updating the public on the current state of the pandemic.

Up to now I have read Mr Redfern's anti-SNP diatribes with some amusement, and am a believer in freedom to express one's opinions. To use the present dire situation we find ourselves in as a vehicle to promulgate political dogma, however is a step too far.

Beryl McKenzie, Ellon.


WHAT folly of David Leask calling for Scots to join the fashionable cult of self-flagellation over slavery ("A country in denial? Why Scots need to face the truth on our role in the slave trade", the Herald, January 17).

The elites benefited from the brutal slave trade. Not so the 99% enjoying the delights of their masters' dark satanic mills, mines and slums in the pre-health and safety era. The notion that somehow that wealth paid for in black blood ever "trickled down" to the poor was a lie long before John Major resurrected it for the modern era.

No one expects Ireland, Denmark, Norway or Sweden to apologise or pay reparations for 250 years of butchery and enslavement of these islands' citizens (including a certain St Patrick) during the Viking era (Dublin was for decades the world's largest slave market). Or for that matter Africa's Bantus and Tueregs for selling whole tribes for slavery to other continents in the first place. Jeremiad for the customs of bygone ages is mawkish self-indulgence: all future generations are doomed to blanch at our ancestors' mores.

The mature reflect on history's brutalities and beauties alike. Britain freed its slaves and spent a fortune over sixty years to clear the Atlantic Ocean of a half-millennium-long stain on civilisation. Yet no memorial exists to the bravery of the West African Squadron (and those pirates who did so in return for pardons) who fought and died to save 100,000 Africans from transportation and wipe that evil trade off the seas. Nor are their deeds taught in schools. That is the real shame.

Mark Boyle, Johnstone.


SHONA MacLennan, the chief executive of Bord na Gaidhlig, claims that the future of the language "is going to depend on lots of organisations and individuals all working together" ("Gaelic promoters deny complacency – but admit ‘real anguish’ over the language’s future", January 17).

This is a fallacy. There is no way that a minority language can be propped up by outside bodies. The only thing which will promote Gaelic is an increase in self-confidence and commitment by the people who speak it.

The three outstanding examples of language revival in the world today are Faroese, Hebrew in Israel and Afrikaans in South Africa. In each case the initiative for language maintenance arose within the community in question.

One way to raise confidence in Gaelic would be to make more use of the language. I have written giving a variety of examples of Gaelic as an industrial language in the recent past. However, in the present context it is rare for example to obtain service in Gaelic in hotels and restaurants, although I have obtained this in Stornoway and Acharacle.

Putting the language to practical use is more likely to lead to a prosperous, confident coimhearsnachd than any amount of propping up by public sector quangos.

Richard A A Deveria, Aberfeldy.


CHINA promised that its emissions would peak around the year 2030 and pledged to slash its carbon footprint to zero by 2060. However, China burns about half the coal used globally and is building hundreds of new coal-fired electricity plants. Edward Cunningham, a specialist on China, at Harvard University, revealed that China is financing and building or planning more than 300 new coal plants worldwide including Turkey, Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Egypt and the Philippines so more greenhouse gases.

China is responsible for 30 per cent of global emissions so the multi-billions countries are spending on preventing climate change is worthless since, without China reducing its emissions, the target of keeping temperatures to a maximum of 2C above pre-industrial levels will be impossible. China should not be welcomed to COP26 in Glasgow.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow.


EVER since the ghastly racist killing of George Floyd in May, the BBC has been following an agenda that the UK is a similar dystopian racist nightmare which few of us would recognise. The number of racist incidents reported to Police Scotland are 27 per cent fewer than a decade ago.

The people of Fife have confidence and respect for our police. I have first-hand experience of how they react professionally to a 999 call involving a violent incident.

There is an independent public inquiry set up under Lord Bracadale to examine the case of Sheku Bayoh Yet, at a time when the matter is very sensitive, and distressing for the family, and the family solicitor, Aamer Anwar, had advised that there should be no further speculation about the case, the BBC's Panorama undermined its deserved historic reputation for objectivity by covering aspects of this case underpinned by its agenda. It was a blatant attempt to justify a tenuous link to racist incidents in the US and England.

This programme should never have been aired and diminishes trust in our national broadcaster.

John V Lloyd, Inverkeithing.


IN Alex Burns’ article on homemade Scottish scran ("Traditional Scottish dishes you can make at home this weekend", January 17) she employs an extremely liberal interpretation of the word “traditional”. Even if haddock fishcakes were ever a Scottish staple half the ingredients in her recipe would never have been present in the average single-end kitchen.

Satyapal Singh Rathore! Traditional? Really? Scotch eggs did not originate in Scotland but possibly London in Fortnum and Masons’ kitchen and the word Scotch when used as an adjective should stick in the craw of anyone who is Scots or Scottish.

Vegan stovies, favoured by generations of Peterhead fishermen, aye right. Italian Scotch broth; hard as I tried, I couldn’t find whisky, whiskey or scotch anywhere in the list of ingredients. Garlic and rosemary pesto, very 18th century Scottish working-class fare; not!

Where, I ask, was the recipe for the ever-popular traditional Scottish supper of huevos fritos con jamon papas fritas y frijóles horneados?

David J Crawford, Glasgow G12.


RAB MacNeil (Talking Rabbish, January 17) always a hoot, surpassed himself yesterday with his Mills and Boon literary aspirations. Go for it Rab with your Tam Gonadson and Chantelle Kylie characters.

I can't stifle an image of the lusty "zookeeper uniform" fetish portrayed by the late Johnny Morris, yawning host of sleepy Bedtime Stories and the BBC's vintage Animal Magic series. Bonus: he always kept his bossy zookeeper's hat on, and he wasn't billed as The Hot Chestnut Man for nothing ...

Gerry Burke, Strachur.