THERE is much debate today over the Rangers celebrations in Glasgow over the weekend, with criticism of fans, the club, the police and anyone else you can think of ("Sturgeon tells Rangers fans: You’re risking lives by celebrating title win", The Herald, March 8). There are some points, however, which have not been made.

I would like to focus on whether the police could and should have dealt with it better or even prevented it from happening. First and foremost, they cannot legally interfere where no crime has been committed – that is part of policing by consent.

Secondly, an outright ban would need to have come from the council, after considering a proposal for a gathering being presented. This event was not so planned and sanctioned.

Thirdly, apart from a number of older officers, most of the police have not yet been vaccinated and like everyone else, must observe the rules about distancing and the like unless it is absolutely necessary to do their job. This means close contact with anyone being arrested or having to be restrained in a violent situation. They are as likely as anyone else to catch the virus from such contact and then take it home with them.

Finally, how many officers would it have taken to have arrested or fined all those breaking the law in this situation? Considering how many reports we have heard of actions being taken, the manpower must be as depleted as in any other line of work by the numbers having to self-isolate after close contact, or being deliberately spat at and more.

How anyone decides to behave is a matter of responsibility and many have insisted that deciding to gather to celebrate is exercising their right to civil liberties. Perhaps they should ponder that exercising this right is, in present circumstances, also exercising a right to risk infecting or even killing someone else. One person’s freedom should never endanger the freedom of another, as long as we claim to live in a civilised society.

L McGregor, Falkirk.

* I NOTED that one of the members of the public, interviewed in the article about Rangers' celebrations outside Ibrox, stated that it was like Christmas for them. Let's hope that it`s not like the 2020 Christmas shopping break with another Covid infection spike shortly after.

George Dale, Beith.


AFTER recent events Nicola Sturgeon might reflect on the UK senior minister who was asked by a new MP how he coped with facing the enemy every day. "That’s not the enemy," the minister explained, indicating the benches across the floor, "that’s the Opposition. The enemy are behind me".

Colin Forbes and John Dunlop (Letters, March 6) question the calibre of leaders or public servants. Both debates circulated during the 2014 referendum and bear further thought. A group of Edinburgh financial and business leaders hosted a well-oiled lunch to persuade would-be Yes voters of their folly. One tactic involved rubbishing the Scottish civil service, while also claiming to be patriotic Scots. In undermining public servants, however, the business leaders were by implication also denigrating the cohort of professionals, graduates or smart school-leavers working for their presumably wildly-successful companies. These same businesses have now been forcibly removed from a vast single market for their goods and services. Why? Because a Westminster cabal of elected politicians and unelected "advisors" led a mendacious campaign to vote Leave in a bigger country that then imposed its will on a smaller one. It is a historic error that Scotland’s public servants, and its voters, did not make.

During the pandemic civic Scotland revealed astonishing capacities to adapt "at pace" (the new buzz phrase). As with the smoking ban, or the profligate waste of plastic carrier bags, general compliance – with pandemic restrictions, with the work of local resilience teams – was immediately evident. A galaxy of brilliant academics, researchers and medics shone from our screens. We attended to every word from new household names: Jason Leitch, Linda Bauld, Devi Sridhar. We lapped up Zoomed specialist expertise in fields many of us didn’t even know existed. If Ms Sturgeon’s strategy required nuanced niche information, someone in Scotland had it.

As financial services experts roll up their sleeves in pristine inoculation booths will they be rubbishing the strength in depth of public and private sector teams who have developed, planned, co-ordinated, supplied, sterilised, secured, communicated, logged, managed and finally injected their life-saving vaccination in record-breaking time? Presumably not. Trust Scotland: big enough, smart enough.

Dr Geraldine Prince, North Berwick.

* BRIAN Taylor reminds us of what happened in "that apogee of political strategy, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" ("Sturgeon's performance was thorough, respectful, controlled and capable", The Herald, March 6). To keep a long story short, look what eventually happened in Lewis Carroll's marvelous tale.

"You're nothing but a pack of cards," screamed Alice as the pack flew though the air and the trial, the nightmare, was over. The First Minister maybe hoping for a similar outcome to the muddle that has taken place in Holyrood this past week and the whole nightmare disappear like a tossed-away pack of cards. But this is not a fairytale, it is very real and irrespective of "controlled and capable performances" the truth will out. The jury in the present case is not a jury-box full of lizards, dormice and guinea pigs but the people of Scotland and I suspect that we are all facing the right way up, know how to hold a pencil and will come to a sensible conclusion.

Thelma Edwards, Kelso.


VARIOUS commentators are right to identify Nicola Sturgeon as a capable politician in need of comparable talent alongside her. But that’s not her only poverty.

Healthy modern democracy is an interplay between the best of collective endeavour and solidarity (Labour), the upholding of diversity, human rights and civil liberties (LibDems), and wealth generation within the market place (Conservatives). All these principled positions apply at any level of government.

The SNP, in contrast, has no principle for government, only a single policy aim, which Alex Salmond called a “dream” after referendum day 2014. It has no interest in making devolution within the UK work well. SNP councillors have no principled purpose for holding office; they are there to support the party’s voter base and acquiesce to SNP legislation from Holyrood.

Furthermore, the SNP seeks to bypass our long-established representative democracy by means of winning a simple majority of votes on a day and tell us that a profoundly important and highly complex matter is thus resolved. Our voting procedures, with surrounding legislation, are designed to lawfully elect named individuals to office for a fixed period. Transference of these arrangements to the testing of an abstract idea renders the legislation irrelevant and ineffective. A referendum has no legal standing.

The days of the SNP being a welcome bit of pepper in a tired body politic in the 1990s are long gone. It has morphed into a dead hand on Scottish political life. Nicola Sturgeon, obviously a capable politician, is stuck with a poverty-stricken party and cause.

Tim Bell, Edinburgh.


I WAS saddened and a little surprised that Struan Stevenson found the well-thought through slogan of FACTS incomprehensible ("Sturgeon is still swimming against the tide but she is ultimately doomed", The Herald, March 6).

Perhaps I have the advantage in having watched and listened to the FM’s daily coronavirus updates since they began. FACTS was explained and is explained every time it is mentioned – it is how we are being asked to conduct ourselves and I find it punchy and to the point.

Mr Stevenson also says these updates are some sort of grandstanding by our First Minister. I have never found this to be the case. Too often reporters try to draw her into answering queries unrelated to the pandemic – and she usually manages to bat them aside gracefully. The one time I heard her stray from this was with repeated queries into the Alex Salmond case – and I believe this was to put an end to this line of questioning – so she could get on with the job she was trying to do.

She is often slated for not getting on with the day job – I am amazed that she is managing to do just that and would suggest that this is a classic case of damned if she does and damned if she doesn’t.

Priscilla Douglas, Killearn.

Read more: Federal solution for the UK cannot work while Tories are in power