THE vacuous nature of contemporary politics is neatly summed up by Sir Keir Starmer saying “Labour needs to rebuild trust” ("Sir Keir Starmer: Labour has a lot of work to do to regain ground in Scotland", The Herald, January 22). If he feels we can’t trust his party he needs to elaborate on why this is, just what acts detrimental to the electorate has his organisation perpetrated that he feels led us to not trust them?

He himself encapsulates the divide in society when a millionaire with the lifestyle associated with that leads the party that was created to look after the working class, the poor and the disenfranchised and is well paid by the electorate to do so. Both major parties at Westminster have become different faces of the same coin in the same pocket.

What Sir Keir fails to grasp is that Scots didn’t abandon the Labour Party, it was the party which left us. I believe Scots are predominantly a socialist breed and what the UK Labour Party has been espousing recently and practising when in power is not socialism. The tens of thousands of Momentum supporters of Jeremy Corbyn would agree with me on that, and look what the party did to him. Labour voters have migrated to the SNP as they offer the chance of Scotland becoming a fairer country if unshackled from England, which is so far under the thumb of the Establishment that it never can nor will change.

David J Crawford, Glasgow G12.


I WOULD like to congratulate Ian McConnell for another excellent article ("Tory post-Brexit agenda starts to crystallise in alarming ways", The Herald, January 22).

He carefully lays out the probable path to destruction of the workers' protections gained over time through the more modern attitudes of the leaders of the European Union.

A particular worry is the maximum 48-hour week. When family and friends began working in the NHS as junior doctors the European Directive was not long in place and despite that, many junior doctors across the UK were required to work punishing hours and night shifts. The probable direction of a US-style labour market of long hours and short holidays would seem to be likely under the scrutiny of Conservatives like Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng.

Can anyone really trust the statement from Mr Kwarteng when he says "we are not going to lower the standards of workers rights" after the Christmas Eve promises about Brexit from Boris Johnson?

The searing image of neo-liberal deregulation for me is that of Grenfell Tower burning with "protective" building material, blocked fire doors and few safety measures. Can anyone forget the lack of empathy shown by the then Tory Government and Kensington Council to the traumatised surviving tenants?

I am not optimistic about the Labour Party putting up a fight against the reduction of health and safety standards and the development of "flexibility" of regulation, because they also contributed in the build-up to the disaster that was Grenfell.

I know that there were Scottish voters who voted for Brexit, but I think on the whole that there was a sense of EU worker protections being important. It was certainly talked about in the referendum campaign.

I hope that the Scottish Government will be taking steps to protect Scottish workers from the avalanche that might be about to happen.

Maggie Chetty, Glasgow G13.


I SUGGEST that your front-page lead headline on Thursday (“Peacetime excess deaths at their highest since 1891", The Herald, January 21) tiresomely adds to the continuing and unnecessary narrative of fear regarding Covid-19, and further, that, since we were caught unprepared for this pandemic, these figures are actually not unusual in the circumstances.

Of course this coronavirus can have serious and even fatal consequences for some people; therefore, I’m sure that no one wants to contract it just in case they are one of those few.

But all the statistics glaringly support that Covid-19 is a minority infection if we take prudent precautions against it; despite constituent governments of the UK and the media actively promoting a narrative of fear regarding this virus by citing an non-comprehensive, "cherry-picked" selection of the same statistics.

So let’s all "catch a grip" in dealing with Covid; take prudent precautions against contracting it, and don’t cower in fear before it.

Philip Adams, Crosslee.


THURSDAY'S issue of The Herald (January 21) reported on yet more criticism from both Labour and Tory regarding the Scottish Government’s efforts to defeat Covid. This time it is the national vaccination programme that has provoked their criticism. I think that it is regrettable that here in Scotland, the national response to this unprecedented challenge has become politicised far too frequently. Sadly, this relentless negativity has been a constant feature since the start of the pandemic.

Perhaps Jackie Baillie, Ruth Davidson and Donald Cameron, the Scottish Conservative health spokesman, should reflect on the performance of the Westminster Government and Her Majesty’s Official Opposition. The Labour Party has struggled to lay a glove on Boris Johnson, perhaps the most incompetent Prime Minister since the Second World War. Sir Keir Starmer toils to articulate a plausible alternative strategy for dealing with Covid.

The Tory Government’s Covid performance meantime has been a catalogue of errors, blunders, missed deadlines and broken promises, whereas Nicola Sturgeon has, on several occasions, publicly accepted that mistakes have been made here in Scotland and apologised for them. I am at a loss to remember when I last heard any contrition emanating from Downing Street. Up until yesterday, the Tory Government’s equivalent of the Mafia’s Omerta had held firm. However, the report that Home Secretary Priti Patel has now admitted that the UK borders should have been closed in March ("PM accused of incompetence over timing of closing borders in pandemic". The Herald, January 21), just might indicate a change.

Eric Melvin, Edinburgh EH10.


NEIL Mackay is unlikely to be put on President Biden’s first Christmas card list later this year in the light of his hard-hitting condemnation of various aspects of the history of the United States ("Joe Biden can’t fix a divided America – because it has always been broken", The Herald, January 22). Having narrated where he felt that the country has gone wrong over the years, he then asserted that "coming late into the war against Hitler is not a get out of jail card free for past sins". With regard to the question of the US entrance into the Second World War, it is interesting to reflect upon the fact that Hitler declared war on America shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour.

President Franklin Roosevelt had often undertaken not to enter another war in Europe. Following Pearl Harbour, "a date which will live in infamy", but for Hitler’s action the US may well have decided to concentrate its forces in the Pacific and the world today, in all likelihood, would have been a much different place.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.

* BRIAN Harvey (Letters, January 22) said that I was "inaccurate on … one important point", and then referenced the overthrow of the Allende government in Chile. It was precisely this point – anti-democratic involvement by the US in the affairs of Latin American nations – which I was making.

Neil Mackay, Glasgow G32.


GEORGINA Forsyth tells of the satisfactory deliveries of her daughter Florence and son Magnus at home, with her husband there with her. Both home births were prompted by a traumatic experience with the delivery of her first daughter, Millie, in hospital ("Mother hopes traumatic Netflix film will not put women off having a home birth", The Herald, January 19).

I had also opted for a home birth after my daughter had been born in hospital which I found to be a most unhappy experience. I decided to accept the "midwife-assisted" home birth for our second child and what a difference it made. It took place in 1964 when the use of a special breathing technique was being taught to expectant mothers at the midwives clinics. It was being taught to obviate the need for too much gas-and-air and to make a home birth possible.

To have your own friendly midwife sitting with you in your own bedroom, chatting away, helping with the breathing technique, closely monitoring what was happening, was so relaxing. My husband was taking care of our small daughter and he also helped when asked.

Our son was born at 8am and Julie was brought in for a cuddle and to join me in bed as she held her new brother. A soak in a warm, salty bath for me and then breakfast was enjoyed – it was perfect. The midwife gave us each a hug and quietly departed, saying she would be back later for a wee check-up. Georgina Forsyth is right when she says "I felt very safe and secure". My experience was nearly 60 years ago and things have probably advanced since but I would certainly opt for a home birth if I was young again.

The choice is for each woman to make for herself.

Thelma Edwards, Kelso.


I ENJOYED today's articles from Rebecca McQuillan ("Without Trump, Johnson’s Brexit Britain is more isolated than ever", The Herald, January 22) and Jackie Kay ("Fascists targeted me at university with racist posters, reveals Makar", The Herald, January 22). Both were well-written, clear-sighted pieces.

In fact, Ms McQuillan's article will be cut out and pinned to my kitchen noticeboard (I am an elderly technophobe). Every time I hear a gratuitous insult from Boris Johnson about Scotland or the Scots I will re-read it to reassure myself that I am not the only one who finds his behaviour boorish, his words dishonest and his actions incompetent.

BM Hastie, Glasgow G52.


THE news that a haggis has been launched from its home in Scotland to the edge of space for the first time in Burns celebrations ("The world’s first space travelling haggis? Now that’s a real turnip for the books", The Herald, January 22 ), prompts me to reflect, having attended my Burns Club for many years, that already fuelled already by inspiring bold John Barleycorn, by the time the haggis is addressed the sky’s the limit, although it’s back to earth the next morning.

R Russell Smith, Largs.

Read more: Letters: Any Covid inquiry must start with the UK Government