DR Gerald Edwards (Letters, April 29) states that Boris Johnson has "pretty effectively" saved the United Kingdom from the true ravages of coronavirus. I always understood that the use of such a phrase meant not wholly effective and indeed my understanding is endorsed by Dr Edwards in his own conclusion that "yes he could have done better" – hardly a ringing endorsement for the Prime Minister.

Dr Edwards's opinion that "I don't think the general public are really concerned about who paid for the decoration of the flat or about his throwaway lines" I find rather remarkable. Contrary to that viewpoint, I believe that most people have a good understanding of the issues raised. Those same people also know the real issues of concern do not actually relate to £850 rolls of wallpaper or to the rumoured £58000 to redecorate a flat – it is simply about the difference between right and wrong ("Blackford asks PM ‘are you a liar?’ as watchdog to probe flat revamp", The Herald, April 29). Mr Johnson cannot be allowed to decide what rules and/or laws he will or won't follow without appropriate repercussions.

The reference to "throwaway lines" seems to me to be a rather lame attempt by Dr Edwards to excuse what most thinking voters, of whatever persuasion, would consider grossly offensive comments about bodies being piled high which are unbecoming for a Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

My final point relates to the reference by Dr Edwards to "it is the overall national effect that really matters". Presumably if it is the overall national effect that matters he will be fully supportive of the result of an SNP majority victory in the forthcoming election and will do his utmost to ensure a smooth transition towards independence.

John S Milligan, Kilmarnock.

* THERE is abroad the suspicion that Sir Alex Allen resigned from his position as the PM's adviser on ministers' interests when the PM refused to act upon his findings about the allegations of bullying levelled at Priti Patel. Nearly six months later his successor was appointed in the person of Sir Christopher Geidt.

If the stories circulating are to be believed, then whatever emerges from Sir Christopher's investigation into the refurbishment of the Downing Street flat will be for the PM's eyes only and the PM will be the sole judge and jury in the appraisal of, and the verdict upon, the evidence laid before him.

It surprises me that any self-respecting civil servant would acquiesce in such arrangements and accept those conditions. To have done so means that the holder of that office is but a toom tabard who carries neither weight nor authority but becomes no more than welcome camouflage for the final arbiter to shelter behind.

If the PM were not a vacuum of integrity and if he believed in transparency, he would be happy to release the findings in full for public viewing to prove his credentials as a man who believes in the disinfectant of openness. Otherwise, there will always be an unhealthy odour surrounding the final judgment, leaving the public to suspect that there is a fouler stench ready to seep from the buried facts excavated in the investigation but hidden from public sight.

Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.


THE concept of innocent until proven guilty has apparently been overlooked by those hounding Boris Johnson regarding the funding of the cost of redecorating the flat he and his family are living in. He has said he paid for it, and like most of us it would be no more than normal (think mortgage, bank loan) to fund large expenditure by paying for it by borrowing without being unreasonably beholden to the funder.

What a ridiculous daily distraction from the dreadful virus problems he continues nevertheless to deal with successfully, for which he gets scant thanks. Let him get on with his vital day job for the time being and if the Electoral Commission in its inquiry into the matter finds some serious fault on his part, that is when he needs to address it.

The fact also that the media has coined the term Wallpapergate for this matter stokes up the present relentless furore and prejudges the issue by linking it in terms of guilt and scandal to the infamous Watergate break-in which led to the resignation of Richard Nixon.

Perhaps Mr Johnson should drop any attempt to explain the funding and claim selective amnesia by adopting what could be termed the “Sturgeon Manoeuvre". When responding to any question of breach of the ministerial code why not simply say he doesn’t remember and didn’t keep any records of it? It appears to have worked well for the First Minister, so why not for the PM also?

Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop.


AN alleged comment by Boris Johnson in private about "bodies piling up" is enough for people to demand his resignation as Prime Minister, while an admission by Nicola Sturgeon that she took her "eye off the ball" while the bodies of Scottish drug addicts did pile up is scarcely worth further comment.

The harsh reality is that after 14 years of SNP government Scotland has by far the worst rate of drug deaths in Europe. Despite higher per capita public spending in Scotland, it is three and a half times the rate in England.

Each of the 1,264 people who were recorded as dying from drug misuse in Scotland in 2019 was someone’s parent or child or friend or neighbour.

Surely Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP should be held to account for this?

Otto Inglis, Crossgates.


I HAVE been scouring the columns of The Herald for the past week for mention of the revelation which hit the headlines down in this part of the country. But nary a word appeared. Not even on Saturday last with the banner headline about Calmac and the ferry breakdowns. Even on the business page by Ian McConnell where there was reference to Ferguson Marine but nothing about the item I was looking for. Not even a letter from a reader on the subject.

Then today, thank goodness for Brian Wilson, in his piece about the SNP Government having squandered millions ("Just think what hundreds of millions squandered by SNP could have done", The Herald, April 28). There it was. I refer to the news that the person put in to Ferguson Marine as the "turn around" director was paid an income of £790,000 for the 12 months of 2020. No, I did not make a mistake and add a zero too many to the figure quoted nor did Mr Wilson. I repeat, £790,000.

Now I do not know what extra-special qualities that individual enjoys that makes him worth that amount of money. From my point of view walking on water would be the first necessity.

This is just another example of the wasteful use of taxpayer’s cash by the SNP during the last parliament. For such a high-profile contract for two ferries for Calmac, approval of the terms and conditions for payment to the "turn around" director must surely have come from the top of the house.

My last letter to The Herald berated Ms Sturgeon for running a cult of personality and surrounding herself with a Cabinet of duds. Sure, Ms Sturgeon can talk but this country needs more than a talker. Why the electorate would vote the SNP, a bunch of economic illiterates, back into office beats all logic. It maybe says something about how gullible the Scottish electorate are.

John Findlay, Greenock.


PETER Russell (Letters, April 29) questions if, in its quest for independence, there is any level of pain that would be too much for the SNP to inflict on Scotland. On September 18, 2016, in an interview with your own Tom Gordon, Nicola Sturgeon provided the answer: “The case for full self-government ultimately transcends the issues of Brexit, of oil, of national wealth and balance sheets and of passing political fads and trends”.

So there we have it. If necessary, Ms Sturgeon is prepared to foist indeterminate hardship upon the people of Scotland. In short, in pursuit of her party’s ideological dogma the First Minister is prepared to take this country into penury and beyond.

Bob Scott, Drymen.


AFTER a year which so many letter writers and columnists appear to have spent sucking lemons, what a joy it was to read Neil Mackay’s piece on Paddington 2, a film about positivity and kindness ("Move over Citizen Kane, Paddington deserves its crown as greatest film ever", The Herald, April 29). Is there any hope that it might catch on sometime soon?

Robin Irvine, Helensburgh.

Read more: Is there any level of pain that would be too much for the SNP?