MARK Smith proposes a three-part personality test in which – in his opinion – Nicola Sturgeon is starting to fail ("The three-part personality test that Sturgeon is starting to fail", The Herald, March 8). This "test" focuses on performance/presentation, competence (vision/managerial efficiency) and trust.

Mr Smith suggests that there are signs of wear and tear in the area of trust and honesty and that these, once they have been eroded, may be difficult to recover. He runs three previous Prime Ministers – Gordon Brown, Theresa May and Tony Blair – through his test parameters and suggests that each had serious failings on one or other dimension: Mr Brown on competence, Mrs May on competence and performance, and Mr Blair on honesty.

Curiously, however, he omits to submit Boris Johnson to his tripartite test – I wonder why? Here is a man whose performance/presentation is bumbling and unfocused at best (though Tories are very accepting of this quality, as it marks him out as one of their own), his competence is distinctly questionable in all spheres (bridge to Ireland, anyone?), and he is known to be a proven liar. On Mr Smith’s terms, he should have been run out of office long ago, suggesting, perhaps, that his personality test theory has been holed well below the water-line.

Dr Angus Macmillan, Dumfries.


TIM Bell's eloquent analysis of the Scottish political scene (Letters, March 9) demonstrates an understanding of the logjam affecting the democratic position of the Scottish nation. He lists the clear policy choices offered by the other parties, concluding that the SNP is the exception inasmuch as it faces in no particular direction as a party of government.

While his conclusion is beyond dispute, the problem remains, as demonstrated by the Brexit vote, that after the UK parties have presented their manifestos to the Scottish electorate, the result is imposed by voters south of the Border, regardless of the votes of the Scottish nation.

SNP voters include many former supporters of the various other parties, the only cement which binds them being a shared objective of self-determination for Scotland. If independence were to be achieved the SNP, to survive, would need to align itself more clearly within the political spectrum. Until that time, the independence movement will continue to seek a vehicle heading clearly towards its desired destination.

Willie Maclean, Milngavie.


IT’S slightly ironic that when discussing matters of journalistic rigour ("When the best laid plans of TV reporters go awry", the Herald, March 8) Alison Rowat herself manages to confuse her readers in two areas.

One, she is wrong to say that the BBC Complaints Unit said Sarah Smith’s comments about Nicola Sturgeon in a live broadcast last summer were an “inappropriate expression of opinion” – which were phrases actually lifted from The Herald’s report at the time, but which should have been attributed to complainants. What the BBC actually said was that this was a straightforward error, a fact acknowledged by Sarah herself when she apologised on Twitter for her choice of words.

Secondly, the election takes place on Thursday, May 6, and not May 5 as she stated.

Journalists are of course only human, and make mistakes like everyone else, but I suspect they don’t all receive the same unacceptable abuse that Sarah did.

Gary Smith, Head of News, BBC Scotland, Glasgow.


I HESITATE to attempt the heights of erudition displayed by your correspondents Professor Brian Boyd, Richard H Allison and Ian Hutcheson on the subject of Latin (Letters, March 9), especially as someone who scraped a French O Level and was kicked out of the Latin class so many years ago. Perhaps though we should always remember what language is for; its purpose is to convey ideas and understanding between people, and as Latin and Classical Greek are not spoken in any country, as far as I can tell, then it's hard to see why we should still be teaching it.

Many years after leaving school I studied for a humanities degree which included a diploma in French, and my goodness, didn't I have to sit down and learn the difference between an adjective and an adverb, all the various kinds of pronouns, and how to use the hideously complicated subjunctive tense (still can't). My point is that we should be teaching the languages of the people we encounter most, and these days that's more likely to be French, German, Japanese and Chinese than Latin and ancient Greek.

One further point, and I hope the classicist Richard H Allison will agree; we should teach the Greek and Roman philosophy that the likes of Boris Johnson and his chums at Eton were taught, then our children would better understand sophistry.

Curiously, though, the vestigial remains of Latin have stayed with me, and I often look for the derivation of a word in my dictionary to better understand its construction (did I manage to un-split the infinitives correctly?).

John Jamieson, Ayr.


I AM a bit late in entering the Latin debate (Letters, (March 3, 4, 5, 6 & 9). However, I studied it at school, well, I attended classes, and at the time it gave me no pleasure at all; the opposite actually, as my hands were usually warm after classes. I have to admit though that it became handy, lingo wise, when travelling to foreign lands; however, more importantly, it explained how my job description of plumber came to being.

George Dale, Beith.

Read more: The game is over for the teaching of Latin in our schools