THOSE who are of the opinion that the performance of the Holyrood Government in responding to the pandemic has been much better than that of the Westminster Government (Letters, May 3) should look at the data. The UK as a whole has had of the order of 1,870 Covid deaths per million population. The death rate for Scotland is similar. Based on this metric, and using Worldometer data, the UK has the 14th highest death rate in the world.

Hungary, at 2,840 deaths per million, is the world leader. Many countries have death rates of less than 10 – for example, Taiwan, New Zealand, China, Singapore. While countries might be forgiven for being unprepared for an initial spike in Covid-19 infections, there was no excuse for allowing a second spike to occur. What needed to be done was to copy the methods used by those nations that avoided a first major spike. The UK and the Scottish Governments failed to do this and thousands have died – of the order of 10,000 in Scotland, 110,000 in the England and Wales. Most of these deaths could have been avoided.

Arguing that Scotland did better than England and Wales in the pandemic is like saying that we lost the game by only four goals whereas England and Wales lost by five goals.

The key issue is leadership. We complain about the low quality of leadership at Westminster. The pandemic has exposed the truth that the situation at Holyrood is no better.

Iain MacLeod, Milngavie.


I DON'T know any "privileged, virtue-signalling, urban vegans", butI must reply to Joanna Blythman's risible opinion piece ("Beware: the vegan elite are stepping up the War on Meat", The Herald, may 1). She criticises veganism for a lack of B12, but is blissfully unaware that animal agriculture in Scotland relies upon imported feed and supplemented minerals, not forgetting vitamins, including B12. She paints a romantic picture of Scottish animal agriculture that bears no resemblance to the reality around me. It's May and there is fresh snow on the hills.

Like Ms Blythman, I buy local, from my nearby organic market garden. Healthy fruit and veg, and all produced without the subsidies available to animal agriculture. Oats and kale are also part of our food heritage, but ignored in this article.

I am not sure how I have moved from the scruffy lentil-eater of my youth to a member of a "white elite", but the notion of veganism as "neo-colonial" and ignoring "all cultures and ethnicities" was another laughable point. From the 1944 establishment of the Vegan Society onwards, all vegans will acknowledge their debt to food ingenuity all around the world. From lentils to seitan, my dietary range has expanded to places my younger self could never have imagined. Contrast that to the imposition of vast herds of cows and sheep throughout the British Commonwealth in the past and the constant push by multi-nationals across the globe to establish fast food outlets now. Global meat production has more than quadrupled since 1961, 15-fold in Asia. Who is imposing their diet upon whom?

I understand it is hard to change our habits, but change is what's needed.

Eleanor Murray, Killin.


HERE we go again. Hannah Stephenson displays an irrational, and all too common, prejudice against grey squirrels ("Want to feed the birds but not the squirrels? Here’s how", Herald Magazine, May 1). They are portrayed as nasty invaders to be deterred at all costs. Why?

If you allow the little creatures to have some of the food you put out for the birds, they will co-exist with the rest of the garden's wildlife. I cannot understand the prejudice against grey squirrels and the veneration of the red squirrel. They have different habitat needs, the reds being happier in pine forests and the greys being less fussy about what they eat.

It is not the fault of the grey squirrel that red squirrels are in decline in parts of the UK. Live and let live, Ms Stephenson.

Elizabeth Mueller, Glasgow.


I HAD to smile at Rachel Martin’s letter about her late mother (May 1). My own late mother used to say you could tell good breeding by the way someone held their knife.

Janice Grant, Elgin.


YOUR Those were the days... photograph of Clyde Craft Ltd making model yachts ("The fine art of model yacht making", The Herald, May 3) greatly interested me as I was told that a great-uncle of mine owned the business. My father was given a large, I’m sure plank-built, model by his uncle. It was in my grandmother’s loft until they moved house when she put it on a bonfire as “no one would want it”.

My father was aghast that I didn’t get the chance to sail it and is perhaps why so few survive today. Blame the grannies!

David Brown, Cambuslang.


THANKS to Doug Marr for reminding us of the lost art of heckling ("Old time political campaigns were enriched by the lost art of heckling", The Herald, May 3). Surely the classic example occurred when the great Jimmy Maxton, sporting unusual (for the time) long hair, was addressing a meeting in Glasgow Green. Maxton thundered about how many men in Glasgow were unemployed, when, in a brilliant burst of Glaswegian humour someone shouted: "Aye Jimmy, and there's 500 barbers among them!"

M Carr, Glasgow.

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