DR Gerald Edwards (Letters, April 29) looks at life through rose-tinted spectacles if he believes that Boris Johnson has pretty effectively "saved the United Kingdom from the true ravages of coronavirus both in health and economic terms".

Credit where it is due, the immunisation programme has been a success and all should acknowledge this. But the fight against Covid has involved much more than a successful immunisation scheme and overall has been handled extremely badly.

At the beginning of what was to turn out to be a pandemic the Prime Minister refused to wear a face mask, insisted on shaking hands despite being asked not to do so and he mocked social distancing. The short-term result was an outbreak in Downing Street circles which nearly claimed his life, but his disdain for precautionary measures set an example that was followed throughout the country. Then there was the journey north by infected senior adviser Dominic Cummings, supported by Mr Johnson, which seriously weakened public support for the official stay-at-home policy deemed necessary to prevent the spread of infection. Delays in implementing lockdowns and delays in stopping flights from countries with a high incidence of Covid infection made matter worse. His Government's policy of subsidising meals out to the tune of £10 per head has been calculated to have cost thousands of lives due to the consequential spike in infections.

Not a brilliant record. And that is without mentioning the cronyism and inefficiency that has led to billions of pounds worth of wasted expenditure; £12 billion on a useless track and trace system being just one example.

Dr Edwards ends his letter with a question as to how Nicola Sturgeon has fundamentally alleviated the virus outbreak in Scotland. Well, she set a good example, regularly gave calm, informative advice backed by science, acted speedily to introduce lockdown and quarantine measures and gained the support of the general public for these measures. It is impossible to quantify this in lives saved, but I know which approach I prefer and I am sure many Scots feel the same.

Dr Ian McKee, Edinburgh.


THE SNP claims to protect the NHS, but we should examine its track record over the past decade.The real reason why lockdown had to be imposed so strictly was the lack of facilities and beds.

Nicola Sturgeon as Health Secretary was responsible for cutting 4,000 NHS beds across Scotland. The experts maintained that these beds were surplus to requirements and people could be more easily treated at home.

There was also a desire to save money. Here in Lanarkshire five years ago there was a Scottish Government directive to save £35 million. These savings have had a disastrous effect on the whole community. In Lanark, for example, we lost the Lockhart Hospital, which was a community hospital principally engaged with the care of the elderly. The local health centre has been in a very difficult situation due to staffing issues and some local services to the wider community were cut back.

Not only has the NHS suffered cutbacks, but also the amount of money available to councils to provide care homes and social care has fallen. This process has been going on for the past decade and councils have had to close care homes as well as dig deep into their reserves to keep social care going. There should have been much more money provided for these services, as half the population of Scotland is now over 50.

All the problems that I have described result from decisions made by the Scottish Government and maybe there should have been more careful thought given to effective management of the resources available to secure our health and wellbeing.

Ed Archer, Lanark.


MANY thanks to John Findlay (Letters, April 30) for his opinion on "how gullible the Scottish electorate are", as we are clearly run by "a bunch of economic illiterates" in the form of the SNP.

Clearly Mr Findlay has chosen to conveniently ignore the lying millionaire elite who currently occupy Westminster, backed by billionaire tax-evading donors who own and conduct almost the entire mainstream media (as well as the Government itself if we're being honest) .

Personally I'd prefer to live in a country independent of these morally-bankrupt, entitled toffs, despite Mr Findlay's assertion that Nicola Sturgeon has surrounded herself by a "Cabinet of duds".

Compare these "duds" to a PM mired in sleaze and a Westminster Cabinet of millionaire liars who brazenly gift contracts to their rich sponsors. These opportunists then frequently produce precisely nothing, but gladly accept wads of cash from honest taxpayers.

The "gullible electorate" Mr Findlay referred to are, in fact, the ones who voted for the worst, and most corrupt government in living memory, and unfortunately many of them will vote for its Scottish cohort again on Thursday.

Kevin Orr, Bishopbriggs.


I FOUND myself in complete agreement with the article by Dr Elliot Bulmer saying the pro-independence and anti-independence camps are primarily in a trial of strength, yet both are failing to address the constitution, which is why the UK and Scotland will continue in a constitutional impasse which will dominate until resolved ("The great tragedy of UK and why we all need to pay heed", The Herald, April 29). Interestingly Mr Bulmer says the UK cannot continue as it is but reform would meet with great difficulty. Likewise the independence movement led by the SNP cannot continue as it is without addressing the constitution at some point – how do we get there, how will it all work, what type of government and country do the people want?

The results of the Scottish independence referendum of 2014 gave the UK a big fright, with independence only 191,969 votes short of victory. Since then the UK has done nothing to address the UK constitution except to denigrate half the population of Scotland with demeaning language whilst trying to limit the powers of the Scottish Parliament. At the same time those on the independence side criticise Westminster but offer no solution as to what an independent Scotland could offer its people – both must do better and should not use the pandemic and Brexit as excuses for lack of constitutional clarity. Although talked about for decades, proper reform of the House of Lords has come to nought. It is, therefore, unlikely any Westminster government will address the wider and more complex issue of the UK constitution unless absolutely forced to and the potential breakup of the UK could be the catalyst.

Since 2014, politicians on both sides of the constitutional divide have done nothing in pursuit of their respective cases and have led the people down a blind alley. There is no point in holding a referendum until the people have some idea what they are voting for. Only then can we move on from the current 50/50 constitutional split which is stymieing normal politics. Westminster would of course be delighted to see the fall of the SNP which would then mean a return to business as normal for the Westminster unionist parties, with Scotland ignored and its parliament rendered impotent. There is no going back to how we were before devolution, it’s all or nothing now for Scotland’s place in the world.

Alan M Morris, Blanefield.


THE whole point of the SNP separating Scotland from the rest of the UK was and still is "Stronger for Scotland" with the claim that we will be better off, which has been accepted not to be true by most economists and even by the SNP hierarchy.

So, what then is it that drives our First Minister towards her goal of independence?

Nicola Sturgeon has laid out her plan for the "first 100 days" in protecting jobs, supporting young people and children and NHS recovery if she is re-elected. She has had 14 years so far; will she achieve this in 100 days or in a daze ?

Allan Thompson, Bearsden.


APPROXIMATELY 32 MSPs are not seeking re-election for various reasons. Doubtless some will be markedly missed, others less so. Certainly amongst the most notable losses will be the immediate past Presiding Officer, Ken Macintosh. He has proved a fine ambassador in his Holyrood role with his firm and undemonstrative handling of business in an often ill-tempered debating chamber.

Albeit not being a Labour Party member, I can confirm Ken Macintosh is greatly respected locally by political adversaries and residents. Doubtless he will embark on future challenges with similar dedication.

Meanwhile, well done good and faithful servant would be an appropriate signing-off tribute.

Allan C Steele, Giffnock.