THE past few months have been bad ones for Scottish politics, Scottish political debate and the country's institutions. Many people, especially those who support independence or just greater devolution, will have been dismayed and felt let down by the conduct of their elected representatives and the functioning of key institutions.

Perhaps the greatest cause for dismay was the report of the parliamentary committee on whether the First Minister misled parliament on matters relating to issues arising from the alleged conduct of Alex Salmond. The leaked report, and the committee which produced it, by dividing on predictable party political lines failed a central test of effective parliamentary democracy: the objective investigation and scrutiny of government action. An effective and objective committee system is an important part of the operations of any democratic parliament.

Even more important is open and candid debate on the floor of the chamber itself. The reaction of many to the measured comments of Patrick Harvie following the death of the Duke of Edinburgh ("Harvie faces backlash after ‘pathetic tribute’ to Duke", The Herald, April 13) indicate that even this could be endangered. Too often parliaments fail as a result of rigid party discipline, a sense that a line must be followed or that conformity to an overwhelming consensus must be expressed.

By speaking as he did Mr Harvie showed what a real parliament should be.

Brian Harvey, Hamilton.

* PATRICK Harvie would do well to heed the old Latin aphorism “De mortuis nil nisi bonum”. Perhaps better understood in a more modern iteration: “ You say it best when you say nothing at all”.

Dr W Sinclair Scott, Seamill.


ON your Letters Pages, many retired teaching professionals add their voices, expressing concerns, explaining conditions under which colleagues are expected to deliver a standard of education of which they can be proud. We do not write these letters out of spite, political preference or egocentric whim. They are written out of concern for the welfare of colleagues and students.

Education need not be a painful/stressful experience; however the approach of the last decade, not only in content but in delivery, the lack of prescription, the constant updates to flesh out the bones of a particularly meagre offering and of course, the lack of foresight which necessitates last-minute measures, have heaped stress upon stress on teachers and pupils alike. Education is an art and conducted in artful manner, to invigorate and develop the minds of the young, brings rewards that last a lifetime.

In Scotland we are advised, "do not mix religion and politics". Forthwith, may I suggest the separation of politics and education, for the last thing we wish to read is "thousands of teachers quit" ("Covid recovery fears after thousands of teachers quit", The Herald, April 12, and Letters, April 13).

Maureen McGarry-O'Hanlon, Balloch.


WE can now add two new certainties in life to death and taxes. First, the introduction of whatever "passport" system for Covid status, be it paper-based or electronic, will be botched. Second, it will provide criminals with a licence to print money.

Douglas McKenzie, West Lothian.

* I REFER to the current discussions concerning a Covid passport.

We have not been made aware if the proposed passport will contain a certified photograph of the entitled holder. By making it necessary for such identification, staff at turnstiles and so on would have no problem allowing speedy entry,

If no certified photograph is made necessary, the passport could be loaned, copied for sale by the holder and staff at entry points where provision of a passport is required would be none the wiser.

RTR Hailstones, Millport.


THE Greens want to upgrade existing wind farms and relax planning restrictions to make it easier to install wind farms. Have they asked rural communities for their opinion?

Insensitively-sited wind farms are objected to in droves by local people and councils as well as statutory consultees such as RSPB and Nature Scot, but the Scottish Government ploughs ahead, overturning these democratically-made decisions, and there is no right of appeal for third parties other than through judicial review which is financially dangerous and out of reach of the average person.

Rather than adjusting planning procedures to allow for easier consent, applications should undergo greater scrutiny to account for the increased negative impact these upgraded, much larger turbines will have on people, wildlife and the environment.

Campaign group Scotland Against Spin has lodged a public petition in parliament calling on the Scottish Government to “increase the ability of communities to influence planning decisions for onshore wind farms”. For the sake of rural communities throughout this country, I pray it is successful.

Aileen Jackson, Uplawmoor.


RE Steve Barber’s comment (Letters, April 12) about Boris Johnson’s unkempt appearance when speaking about Prince Philip, I have one word of advice for the PM: Brylcreem. He is an absolute disgrace to Britain and has made us a laughing stock in other countries. He should be required to tidy himself up and to at least try to appear professional.

J Gow, Armadale.


AMONGST the recent blizzard of tributes and reminiscences, I heard someone mention that the arrival of the Duke of Edinburgh within a room could have the effect of “lighting it up". It occurred to me, that this was a talent which the royal personage shared with my own late father ... well-known electrician of this parish.

Alastair Patrick, Paisley.