IN interviews, Nicola Sturgeon usually manages to mask her incompetence with her trademark articulacy, but even she was reduced to pretending that the line had broken to give her a few more seconds to think in the course of what proved to be a very uncomfortable interview with Justin Webb in this morning’s Today programme on Radio 4 (April 30).

Mr Webb said that the UK, like many other countries, has only managed to get through the current crisis by engaging in quantitative easing and pointed out that an independent Scotland which still used the pound sterling would not have that option. She repeatedly failed to answer the question, saying Scotland would have its own central bank, oblivious of the fact that the primary role of central banks is managing the currency and monetary policy. She also had no answer to the problems associated with a hard border with England, were Scotland to rejoin the EU.

After 14 years of being in power, she is presiding over a country with some of the worse deprivation levels in Europe. Councils have been starved of funds, while her Government has either withheld cash or else engaged in wasteful projects. The SNP administration in Glasgow is planning a programme of closures to libraries, sports facilities and community centres, the overwhelming majority of whose customers come from the less-well-off sections of society. With Ms Sturgeon's determination to gain independence at any cost, regardless of economic realities, it will inevitably be the poor in society who suffer most.

It is sad that ex-Labour voters have in the past fallen for this enormous con trick. Next week is the chance for them to put that right.

R Murray, Glasgow.


THE threat to move the RBS HQ brass plate from Edinburgh to London ("RBS would move HQ if Scotland voted Yes", The Herald, April 30) is not as dramatic as some seem to think.

The RBS group was rebranded the NatWest Group in 2020 and all the major decisions are made in London.

After independence RBS would require to establish a Scottish HQ as would all the other financial institutions, just as the Ulster Bank owned by NatWest has different companies with HQs in Dublin and Belfast.

Also, given cheaper overheads compared to London plus an established higher calibre of staff, it is fairly certain that most NatWest back-office HQ jobs would continue to operate from Scotland.

Many of Scotland’s small businesses have been ruined or damaged by the actions of banks, perhaps the most notorious being the UK Government-owned RBS and its rapacious Global Restructuring Group.

Based on Scotland’s reputation in the financial sector and a highly educated population there is every reason to be positive about our future after independence.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh.

* SURELY your headline should have read "RBS claims it would move HQ if Scotland voted Yes". We are all surely canny enough to take company statements with a grain of salt. Remember Guinness and its promises to move its HQ to Scotland? In the case of RBS scepticism can only be strengthened by the fact that we are in the run-up to an election and the majority of shares in this company are owned by a unionist Government.

Gerry Gill, Glasgow.


BRIAN Wilson, with good cause, takes the SNP Government to task for what he describes as failure to spend public money to maximum effect ("Just think what hundreds of millions squandered by SNP could have done", The Herald, April 28). I wonder if he ever reflects on the course and aftermath of the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The consequences for the people of Iraq, in terms, for example, of wanton destruction, killings, feuds, child poverty and civil war, have of course been catastrophic. It was once observed by the International Red Cross that the toll on the Iraqi people was "unbearable and unacceptable". There are many who view the decision to invade as being one of the worst made by a British Government.

Mr Wilson seeks to advocate the case for public funding to be well spent. I think that most of us can say amen to that. Perhaps he would like to let us know how he now feels the money spent, reportedly of the order of £8-£9 billion, by the UK Government at the time on the Iraq invasion and its aftermath, could have been put to more productive and beneficial use.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.


THE recent death of Shirley Williams, overshadowed by that of Prince Phillip, reminded me of the by-election of 1982 when Roy Jenkins of the SDP gained the Glasgow Hillhead constituency. The by-election was triggered by the death of long-standing MP Tam Galbraith. It was possibly the last barn-storming election.

The West End pavements were positively polluted with politicians of all kinds. There was Shirley Williams buying bulk sausages for the troops from the local butcher; Bill Rodgers offering his microphone to a shop window cleaner, who stated his opinion of all politicians clearly and with suitable expletives interspersed. An elegant lady of mature years, stopped by a brave candidate, suggested to him that he should take up aviation whilst attempting a personal physical impossibility.

We had the late Jack Glass and crew berating the public from the back of an old Bedford lorry, and Tony Benn and Michael Foot occasionally appearing to little effect. There were lots of others: Gerry Malone, George Leslie, Bill Boaks RN and more, all with loudspeakers and supporters.

Posters fae a' the airts were on the lamp-posts, sometimes so high that a ladder would be required to read them. They became a source of irritation for a long time. Many were plastic fastened with cable ties. They did not naturally degrade. Nonetheless, a kind of carnival feeling.

The virus has knocked such on the head. Could our present crop of candidates have produced such a show?

Donald Macaskill, Glasgow.

* TONIGHT (April 29) I watched Question Time on BBC1 for the first time in years. Apparently some politicians are capable of talking about matters other than independence. Who knew?

John Dunlop, Ayr.


HUGH MacDonald’s column on libraries ("The end of libraries closes a book that promised opportunity for us all", The Herald, April 24) drew powerfully on the sense that they have been at the heart of Glasgow’s communities for the last 150 years, founded on principles that no-one should be excluded from making a better life because they couldn’t access knowledge. Public library services around the world face unprecedented challenges. Rapid advances in technology – increasing broadband speed, mobile connectivity, portable devices, social media – transform the possibilities around how we access and consume information, knowledge and services.

It was this environment that led Glasgow Life to develop A Vision for Glasgow Libraries, in 2015. We consulted 3,000 residents and industry professionals and it demonstrated the continuing value of libraries and how they inspire a love of reading, learning and discovery. It recognises that what people need and want from a modern library service is changing. Since the introduction of free wifi in every library in 2015, more than 7.5 million sessions have been recorded. Access to the internet and computers is accepted as part of the fabric of Glasgow Libraries.

The impact of A Vision for Glasgow Libraries can be seen in the 4,500 support digital support sessions delivered in 2019/20 helping people go online; in the CoderDojo sessions teaching children how to code and the high level adult coding courses delivered to 228 adults the same year which was supported by JP Morgan.

Libraries are where 5,500 people have accessed help filling in Universal Credit claims and where you can find practical advice from McMillan Cancer Support when you need it.

They are still where the very young discover reading via Bookbug sessions, where people meet literary heroes at Aye Write and where borrowing books is still a cherished pleasure.

Cardonald, Castlemilk and Partick libraries have been recently upgraded with plans to refurbish Woodside and Elder Park libraries well developed following extensive community engagement programmes. Parkhead library will become part of a new health and social care hub.

Councillor David McDonald, Chair, Glasgow Life.


I WAS interested in your article on wasps ("Wasps do have a purpose ... and could even be a cure for cancer", The Herald, April 29, and Letters, April 30). I went on several organised holidays in France where at lunchtime a picnic was set up at the side of the road. The usual wonderful French food was provided, and the wasps came too. There was never any of the screaming, running away and panic-stricken arm-waving that people indulge in in Britain. So nobody got stung, the French just accepted the right of the wasps to join in the picnic.

Margaret Forbes, Kilmacolm.


SURELY I am not the only reader who has noticed a remarkable change in the appearance of your columnist, Kevin McKenna? For years we were used to seeing that thumbnail photo of him which showed a chap in dark-rimmed specs who was a bit beardy and – let's not mince our words here – a bit jowly. Then a fortnight ago, I opened The Herald to find that the Kevin McKenna we were used to had been replaced by quite a suave-looking chap who was neither beardy nor jowly and wasn't even wearing specs. I wondered if, perhaps, there had been a mix-up and this man's photo had been used in error. But no – there it was again the next week ... the new-look Kevin McKenna.

And your point, reader? No, I have no point but I just wanted to let you know that this change has been noted. (Unless there has been a mix-up?)

Deedee Cuddihy, Glasgow.


ALL this news about Boris and Carrie's redecoration, to say nothing of their opinion of John Lewis ("Boris fiddles while his ears burn, and Labour on a roll over Wallpapergate", The Herald, April 29), reminds me of one of my late mother's pithy aphorisms: "It's impossible to define good breeding but, by heavens, you always know when it's missing."

Rachel Martin, Musselburgh.

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