I TOTALLY agree with the sentiments in your Agenda item ("Ensuring public trust in the electoral process", The Herald, February 4). I am particularly in agreement regarding the safety of electors and staff in the diverse polling stations throughout Scotland.

For the last year, the First Minister has urged people to “work from home” where possible. Most local authority staff have done so, including those who normally do extra work at elections. Now they are being told that it is “safe” to go back into their various offices and to organise an election at the height of a pandemic, including asking hundreds of other staff to work in polling stations from 7am till 10pm on election day. The election could be easily delayed till later in the year when safety of staff and voters can be better guaranteed.

I wrote to the First Minister making this point some time ago, but I’ve not had the courtesy of a reply.

It’s time for her to take heed of George Thorley’s Mercat Group concerns and to delay the election.

Neil Graham, Paisley.


WITH reference to Donald MacLeod’s opinion that the Scottish election on May 6 should be cancelled ("Scottish election should be cancelled", The Herald, February 5), could I point out that on the same day the English council and London Mayor elections are being held, with steps being taken to ensure all polling stations are Covid-safe? So yes, what’s good for the goose is indeed good for the gander.

Linda Hamilton, Glasgow G76.

* ALL I can say in response to Donald MacLeod's well-expressed article is "Hear, hear!" If the current opinion polls, which are strongly suggesting a favourable result for Nicola Sturgeon, were predicting otherwise, would the Scottish Government's view on elections in May be more in line with the mantra that Ms Sturgeon repeats daily in her Covid updates? Namely, stay at home and keep your distance.

Willie Ferguson, Irvine.


MICHAEL Settle ("Has Covid shifted terms of the independence debate?", The Herald, February 5) refers to the LSE report on trade costs post-independence, which it transpires was mainly written by a couple of students with limited knowledge of Scotland’s economy.

The report has been rubbished by many economists for its poor methodology and lack of reliable data, not least by Richard Murphy, an economic adviser to Labour prior to the last General Election, who said that he couldn’t take the report seriously as it was based on unsubstantiated data and absurd assumptions.

The authors admit they have ignored many important factors in order to manufacture their conclusions. The researchers ignore any tax changes designed to boost exports or any investment in new export industries after independence. This is virtually to rig the calculations to reach a pre-determined outcome.

No wonder the principal author admitted on the BBC Scotland Nine programme that the report should be “taken with a pinch of salt”. I think we can safely say that the report is mince.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh EH11.


DRIVING home from the highlight of my year to date, an appointment at the local tip, a comment came across the airwaves, the source of which I did not catch, which initially made me laugh out loud and almost crash the car before, on reflection, almost bringing tears to my eyes.

A Scottish business leader, speaking either before, during or after Thursday’s Scottish Affairs Committee was paraphrased by the radio presenter as observing, in the context of Brexit and the real-life damage it is inflicting on the food/drink /fisheries sectors: "The UK must surely be the first country in history to have imposed economic sanctions on itself."

Sad, but true, absolutely brilliant, simultaneously solid comedic and tragic gold.

Mike Wilson, Longniddry.


ALISTER Jack’s offer of increased British military support for vaccine rollout in Scotland ("Jack offers UK Government help to Holyrood over ‘stuttering’ vaccine rollout", The Herald, February 5) was received with the by-now customary lack of grace by the First Minister.

However, in her insistence that Scotland has paid its share of taxes for the Army she has acknowledged the benefits accruing to all parts of the UK of the "Union dividend".

Following independence can we assume that her tax-raising powers will support a Scottish military force suitably equipped to supply the resilience required in the event of separation and the onset of any future health disaster?

(Dr) Douglas Pitt, Newton Mearns.


BY giving residents of care homes priority, the Scottish Government has slowed down the initial flow of vaccines.

The results of this caring policy are as follows:

1, The distribution of vaccine in England to over-80s was sooner and faster – especially if you were a relative of Boris Johnson.

2, Since it was unthinkable to use the Army in care homes, Scotland could not use it to speed up the first vaccination programme, unlike that in England.

3, When Scotland did start the present roll-out of vaccinations Lord Ha Ha-Mogg could falsely claim that we needed help from "his” British Army.

Our First Minister has been trying to limit travel and Mr Johnson supposedly supports this, despite his visit to a Scottish factory with 10 positive cases of Covid. He also stated that hotel isolation was impractical, yet New Zealand did it with great success.

Can we afford such a two-faced neighbouring Government?

JB Drummond, Kilmarnock.


ACCORDING to Jacob Rees-Mogg, we Scots should be grateful to HM Government for instructing the British Army to assist us in our supposedly tardy Covid-19 vaccination programme. In order to celebrate this magnanimous gesture of solidarity, I am going out to purchase a British fish for my tea tonight.

However, before I eat it I am going to ask if it thinks that future generations of haddock will live "happier lives" now that their UK nationality has been restored. I do not of course expect a reply but I would much prefer talking to a dead fish than listening to the Leader of the House. Finally, I am aged 65 and received my first vaccination from our wonderful NHS staff yesterday.

Drew Mackin, Irvine.


THE letter from retired consultant surgeon Paul Teenan (February 4) rang so many bells simultaneously. Several health care professionals with many years' frontline experience volunteered to help administer the vaccines and were either rebuffed or put through "training" before they could be used. This "training" included diversity, equality and gender modules.

I thought the vaccine rollout was all about getting needles into arms with the greatest possible speed and efficiency regardless of the lifestyle of the recipient. Obviously I am wrong.

Celia Judge, Ayr.

* I NOTICE that Paul Teenan, who makes scathing remarks on the vaccination roll-out, is a former surgeon. I am a former GP with younger family members, who are also GPs, working on the frontline. I would not dream of commenting on the efficiency of the vaccination delivery as I am not involved and I do not know. Locally, I can say that it is very well organised indeed.

Dorothy Dennis, Port Ellen.


I READ with great interest your article on the Scottish Government’s plan to improve public transport systems in Scotland ("Glasgow metro and capital tram network expansion top priority", The Herald, February 4). It beggars belief that the A83 at the Rest and be Thankful only gets “improved resilience”, while light rail and metro systems in the Central Belt seem to take priority.

The A83 is the only connection for much of Argyll and the islands beyond. There is no railway line. Having travelled extensively in alpine regions in mainland Europe where trunk roads that are at risk from landslides and avalanches, galleries are built to protect the roads from closure. This is the only way forward for the A83 instead of the piecemeal efforts to date.

While I acknowledge improvements to the public transport system in the Central Belt would be wonderful, I feel that the importance of the lifeline of the A83 should not be overlooked.

Marjorie Macintyre, Stirling.


CATRIONA Stewart makes the important point that our politicians are good at talking the talk on public transport and associated "green" issues. Many of us remember the proposal round about 2007 to double the subway with another loop out to Parkhead in time for the Commonwealth Games, and we are well used to seeing politicians and civic leaders getting on, or merely straddling, a bicycle when a new active travel initiative is announced.

Sadly, we rarely see them walking the walk. How many of our politicians and leaders commute by train, by bus, by bike? They can all make the excuse that they have so many meetings, so many places to go that they really do need that private car, along with its expenses and private parking at City Chambers, or wherever they work.

If public transport is going to work then we need changes from the top, with politicians and others travelling out to Castlemilk and Easterhouse, and to the well-heeled areas of Kelvindale and Pollokshields, by bus, subway/metro, train or perhaps even the bike.

Patricia Fort, Glasgow G1.


I NOTE with interest Rebecca McQuillan's article ("Capt Tom: stoical, kind and modest. With his passing, something precious has been lost", The Herald, February 5).

There are many Captain Toms of both sexes, in care homes, living alone and soldiering on, or with family, stoical, kind, modest and unsung.

Captain Tom caught the nation’s heart and raised many millions of pounds. He also drew attention to the many who remain.

R Russell Smith, Largs.

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