SOME of us remember how former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher favoured the easy ride she got from sympathetic interviewers such as DJs Terry Wogan and Jimmy Young. She would avoid the likes of David Dimbleby, Alastair Burnet, Robin Day and Robert Kee like the plague.

I was reminded of that watching Oprah Winfrey interviewing Mr and Mrs Harry Windsor, with the latter's actress skills in full display – the exaggerated looks of shock and stage-managed gasps of indignation and the repetition of key sentences for full effect.

One craved seeing them interviewed by a grand inquisitor like Jeremy Paxman, Andrew Marr or Andrew Neil. They would have leapt on rehearsed statements such as "I wanted to die", "the English tabloids were all racist" and "racism stopped Archie becoming a Prince". Those three would not be fazed by Meghan's default position that criticising her marks you out as racist, sexist or misogynistic.

ITN, which badly misjudged the public mood, had assured us there would be a 100 million US TV audience, even more than the US Super bowl, Mary Nightingale emphasised.The audience was 17m. In the UK it came in at less than Gavin And Stacey.

Netflix will view those figures with trepidation.

John V Lloyd, Inverkeithing.


IAIN Macwhirter must have listened to a different oral evidence session from Nicola Sturgeon than the one to which I did last Wednesday. His article ("Salmond blasted a blunderbuss, Sturgeon applied a subtle knife", March 7) focuses heavily on a very short period of the session where the Conservative Murdo Fraser suggested Ms Sturgeon should apologise for her previous support of Mr Salmond. Ms Sturgeon dealt with that rather questionable issue with self-restraint.

Prior to and after this matter Ms Sturgeon calmly and clearly answered questions put to her for seven hours. Her patience must have been sorely tried when various members of the committee repeatedly asked the same questions of the First Minister. All were dealt with politely and efficiently.

Eileen Michael, Ralston.


YET another article from Iain Macwhirter on the Alex Salmond/Nicola Sturgeon issue. May I suggest to Mr Macwhirter that other subjects he might have devoted his column to include the £2.6 million which was spent on Downing Street refurbishments, the £340,000-plus legal expenses paid to Sir Philip Rutnam regarding claims of bullying by Priti Patel (who is still in post after being found to have broken the ministerial code) or the fact that the SNP welcomed 10,000 new members to its ranks within two days of Ms Sturgeon giving evidence to the Holyrood committee.

Ruth Marr, Stirling.


READERS must be well aware by now that Dr Gerald Edwards detests the independence movement, directing his fire mainly at the SNP which, if any of his invective is to be taken seriously, would have to be aiming to create an independent state in which it would govern unopposed.

He explains today (Letters, March 7) that for independence to be credible Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP must demonstrate higher standards than other parties and be "beyond reproach". What a load of utter tripe. The credible case for independence has nothing to do with Nicola Sturgeon or the SNP and everything to do with the democratic deficit which denies the Scottish nation political self-determination.

Willie Maclean, Milngavie.


NO, Gavin Ferguson (Letters, March 7), Nicola Sturgeon is not being ripped down over a “procedural anomaly” – if you can call misleading parliament and the people of Scotland an “anomaly”. She is being ripped down as this is the culmination of a disgraceful term in power where she has trashed virtually every aspect of Scottish life. Only the judiciary and civil service were left and she has now trashed them also.

The pandemic and the Salmond/Sturgeon affair have, conveniently for this regime, placed on the back-burner, her woeful record on education: why not publish the OECD report now as opposed to June; on Police Scotland, a £60m black hole; on GP surgeries close; on the highest drug deaths in Europe; on child hunger; on homelessness, on vanity projects such as Prestwick and BiFab costing taxpayers more than £300 million, on ferries unable to be completed and at triple cost; on a new hospital lying empty; on the named person scheme and on and on and on. All of these, as indeed confirmed my Ms Sturgeon in September 2016, are of lesser importance than independence.

This is a regime where every aspect of our lives has been sacrificed on the altar of separation because destruction of the UK is the priority. We need, we demand so much better than this. That Scotland has been so damaged is a disgrace and I earnestly hope “the people of Scotland” will ensure the cancer of nationalism is damaged beyond repair in May. Nationalists clearly are content with a sub-standard government, the rest of us are not.

Douglas Cowe, Newmachar.


AFTER all the hyperbole from the SNP of cliff edge, catastrophe and disasters if we left the EU, it is reassuring to know and see that the wider UK Government has secured enough vaccines for all of us in the UK and we now see clear signs the vaccine is gaining the upper hand against the virus since leaving the EU, also that the US-imposed 25% tariff imposed on Scotch whisky while being part of the EU, which cost our industry £500 million in business, has been lifted as a consequence of being outside the EU tariff wars.

It seems we are better off outside the tent.

Contrast this with the vitriol between which SNP First Minister told the most/least lies and the fanciful claims by SNP propspective candidate Toni Giugliano that we can double our pensions with SNP, it is clear that while the party and Nicola Sturgeon can certainly talk, the UK takes action.

As an ex-EU Remainer" I am still waiting for the prophesied "cliff edge catastrophe", but so far, so good, so let's get on with it.

Allan Thompson, Bearsden.


WITH every crisis comes an opportunity.

The pandemic has disrupted the educational progress of our primary and secondary pupils, the proper remedy for which is for them all to repeat the whole year to ensure that they proceed to the next stage properly prepared and equipped to handle the demands of the careers they hope and wish to pursue. Robert Frazer (Letters, March 7) was right to point out that there would be a blockage in the school system if my proposal (Letters, February 28) were not refined to counteract that difficulty.

What I would be proposing and had not clearly explained in my initial submission is that primary education would become an eight-year cycle, each new intake being inducted into a pre-primary year before entering upon primary one.

That would mean primary pupils going to secondary one year later than they do now and, of course, leaving secondary one year on from the age they do now Primary schools would need extra staff, extra finance and more accommodation in the form of huts to service this change .

What would the kids do in the pre-primary stage? Well, the groundwork for their future educational progress would be laid.

They would be drilled properly in their times tables and they would be shown the importance of proper spelling. However, that year would also give them taster courses in the wonders of the night sky, the identification of trees from their leaves and birds from their appearance and song.

There would be a gentle introduction to the cultural stories which infuse our literature from Greek, Roman ,Norse and Christian mythologies.

They could also be exposed to the work of the great composers and artists during that year before embarking upon the curriculum supposedly designated to prepare them for advancing onwards and upwards to secondary level and beyond.

Let us hope our politicians do not lose this opportunity to revamp our educational system and to ensure that those whose progress has been impaired by the pandemic do not suffer as a consequence.

Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.


YOUR article on staycation prices which was headlined across the front page “The great Scottish summer staycation RIP OFF” (February 7) was as misleading as it was irresponsible.

The figures quoted are quite right – tourism contributes a significant amount to the Scottish economy, yet only three holiday providers were cited. Of those, two were found to have significantly increased prices for periods of high demand. While this is nothing new and both companies admitted to the policy, neither of those companies is Scottish, Hoseasons being based in Lowestoft and Haven (part of Bourne Leisure) in Hemel Hempstead. The one Scottish business quoted said it is not increasing prices.

The headline across pages four and five ("Scottish staycation prices soar as hotels, lodges and holiday parks are accused of 'pandemic profiteering'") included hotels in the alleged “pandemic profiteering”, but no example was given. As the owner of a small hotel in Argyll, I am acutely aware that the leisure and tourism industry is on its knees, however, like the owners of Dalriada Luxury Lodges, and for the same reasons, we do not intend to increase our tariff this season.

Articles such as this could do much damage to our industry.

Christine Stevenson, Cairnbaan Hotel, Lochgilphead.


I AGREE with Ron McKay (Diary, February 28) and Anne Shackleton (Letters, March 7)that dog licences should be reintroduced. I would also like to see cat owners having to have a licence for their furry friends. So many cats are let out on their own to defecate in other people's gardens. Cats should be taken out on a lead and owners should pick up the mess.

There are serious infections one can get from cat faeces and I personally do not appreciate having to pick other owners' cat mess from my garden.

Pearl Stuart, Thornliebank.