IN the course of this week, we have learned that there had been a cover-up of accusations of sexual harassment involving the SNP Chief Whip at Westminster ("SNP ‘protected’ Chief Whip accused of groping two men", The Herald, March 10), that the Scottish Government could lose many millions over the smelter contract at Lochaber ("What lies behind latest worrying threat to Scottish manufacturing?",The Herald, March 10), and that the First Minster and the head of the civil service held meetings, plural, with legal counsel but failed to take any notes ("Swinney expected to survive no confidence vote in Holyrood", The Herald, March 10).

Just how low can this SNP Government go? For how long must Scotland be humiliated like this?

We thought we'd seen the worst with Derek Mackay taking £100,000 from the public purse to sit at home and do nothing, Margaret Ferrier travelling on public transport while confirmed as infectious and John Swinney releasing legal advice to the inquiry committee just five minutes after Nicola Sturgeon completed her evidence. What utter contempt for a parliamentary process.

This has to be one of the most untrustworthy governments in Europe. No wonder the SNP never uses its substantial borrowing powers; no-one would be willing to lend.

Carole Ford, Glasgow G41.


IS it just simply coincidence that the wholly-owned subsidiary of the SNP, the Scottish Green Party, decides not to support a vote of no confidence in John Swinney the day following its support for the SNP Budget having apparently obtained budgetary concessions?

For those in any doubt, and there were only 160,000 in the 2016 Scottish Elections, a vote for the Greens is a vote for the SNP in all but name as they are nothing more than SNP lackeys there to save utterly discredited and disingenuous ministers and pass ineffective and incompetent SNP budgets. They wield power and ideas way above their station.

Richard Allison, Edinburgh.


TWO large sums of money are mentioned in today's Herald (March 10). On page 1 is "£20 billion tunnel: Review into Northern Ireland link" and while this project might have some merit, particularly if it is primarily a rail connection, one must realise that if we had had a truly United Kingdom government for the last 40 years or so, rather than a UK government for the south-east of England, it would have been done and dusted at the same time as the Channel Tunnel.

However, this £20 billion is currently just a very initial estimate, with "£20 million committed to developing the plan" and must thus be considered in the light of the article on page 4, "Call to justify £22bn test and trace". This is an eye-watering sum of money that has apparently been spent on a scheme "overly reliant" on contractors, consultants and temporary staff, some of whom have been paid up to £6,600 per day. Not only that, it appears the test and trace system in question has not noticeably contributed to the struggle to overcome coronavirus infections.

The UK Government is strong on promises but weak on delivery and those who support it over and above the Scottish Government should take careful note of the squandering of public money, the lining of private pockets, the failure to award a decent pay rise to low-paid NHS staff and more emanating from it, and should start, along with the rest of us, to look forward to just what an independent Scotland could achieve.

Patricia Fort, Glasgow.


I WOULD like to commend Andrew Dunlop for much in his article ("Could Boris Johnson be the Union’s secret asset?", The Herald, March 9), including the humorous headline. He is surely right that “nothing less than a revolution in the way Whitehall acts and thinks is required”, and is spot on when he points out that different parts of the UK require different policies, whether for education, labour markets, immigration or many other fields.

His analysis, though, stops short at the civil service. Unfortunately this inflexibility pervades the whole body politic in Westminster, and a revolution is required in the political sphere too. For example, take immigration: Tory policy is to try to reduce it, and the Conservative Party plays on this repeatedly and everywhere in its messaging. How can they possibly reconcile this with a nuanced policy of encouraging it in Scotland and parts of England, while railing against it in others?

This is the way the UK political system works. If the civil service finds it hard to adapt its “delivery” to different parts of the UK, that is because it is the servant of UK politicians whose whole instinct is for bold, sweeping measures. Westminster politicians, seeing themselves reflected and magnified by a metropolitan media, are trapped in this mode. They want to be seen as “world-beating” and “global”. This is the ambition that Whitehall has to indulge.

Asking Boris Johnson to be otherwise is to plead forlornly against nature. Tasking him with making Scotland “feel … part of a shared endeavour” asks for the impossible. It’s not just Mr Johnson, though. Any UK PM is ineluctably drawn towards grandiosity, because the Westminster/London universe implicitly demands it. Careful attention to Scotland, Wales or English regions gets you nowhere in that world.

The remedy, Lord Dunlop, is to leave it.

Lyn Jones, Edinburgh.


I AM moved to write this letter by a sense of incredulity at the events surrounding Rangers fans' celebrations at winning the Scottish Premiership.

First, it has to be acknowledged that the sporting achievement is certainly a significant event for the club for which they have to be congratulated. However, as a retired former police officer I am appalled at the police handling of the various incidents. In my view it highlights the inappropriate strategy of promoting officers with limited operational experience to positions of strategic control.

When we see photographs of police officers having selfies taken with people forming part of an illegal mob, escorting the same mob to the main focal point of the city to celebrate illegally and indeed openly engage in various aspects of illegal activity, then we simply have to speak out. Who is setting the standards?

Where was the leadership to make decisions on what was a slowly developing situation? They had the time it takes to slowly walk from Govan to the city centre to decide what to do, yet did nothing to stop the illegalities. This is a personal affront to me as a former member and an embarrassment to those taking good money to be entrusted with our protection. I believe I can say with confidence that in my day, the early 1980s, this would never have happened, as the police would have simply refused to accept it and tackled the group head on with the confidence that we would have had the support of our experienced leaders rather than worry about any careerists who simply don’t know what to do.

Unfortunately, there seems to me to be a cadre of senior officers who are more worried about their next promotion than in looking after our wellbeing.

The demands of society haven’t changed in hundreds of years. People still lean out their windows shouting for help and “Get me the Polis", not “Get me the statistical quality analytical unit”.

If these senior officers aren’t confident to carry out their duties, I know a number of very senior retired officers who would be more than happy to return and advise.

Brian Murphy, Glasgow.


IT is utter nonsense for Nicola Sturgeon, and indeed, for other members of the Holyrood Parliament if they support the SNP line on this, to put the blame squarely on Rangers for this past weekend’s crowded fan street celebration ("Rangers did not do enough to stop disgraceful scenes, says Sturgeon", The Herald, March 10). That is squarely on the fans themselves.

The Government can’t stop mass gatherings in any circumstance – even the present Covid pandemic – if the public are intent on going out to them (for example, in the local parks on a sunny day); so how on earth is a vastly smaller entity such as a football club going to do so?

Rather, I see this as a cynical attempt to divert the attention of the public from the SNP’s in-fighting woes. For as Rangers stated in a letter to the Scottish Government, they have been liaising with the Government and police from as early as the end of February in regard to enabling fans to keep to Covid restrictions; but all concerned can only do so much.

Philip Adams, Crosslee.

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