CARL McCoy in his pro-atomic weapons letter (May 13) states: “This is a common statement from people who don’t seem to see the alternative of being paralysed at the mercy of others”; it appears he believes the 186 countries who don’t possess nuclear weapons live in perpetual fear and trepidation that one of the nine which do will wipe their country from the face of the Earth.

The fact is that other than the United States using two devices against a beaten Japan in the Second World War, but in reality to demonstrate its power to the USSR, nobody has ever used one in anger; this despite US armed forces being involved in conflicts on almost every continent ever since then. Since the US is no longer unique as a nuclear power and we have a “Nuclear Nine”, the weapon has been rendered pointless as the idiotic concept of “mutual destruction” is not a vote-winner.

The power of nuclear weapons is not as a weapon of war it’s all about power, status and money, India is the perfect example of this. The country is currently being ravaged by the viral pandemic, its health service is in collapse, medicines and oxygen are in scarce supply and ordinary people are dying in their tens of thousands yet India has spent billions on nuclear weapons and a space programme rather than on public services. Here in the UK the Establishment has the same skewed priorities, public services suffer cutbacks yet we are upgrading and expanding a nuclear weapons system that has no defensive capability. Nobody is allowed to question the billions that are siphoned from the public purse into corporate pockets, spent on something that will never be used and if someone was ever stupid enough to do so the best that the general public could hope for is to be killed outright in the first wave.

I wonder just how many Herald readers will end up in the underground nuclear shelters when the bomb goes off. What? Did nobody tell you about them? I rest my case.

David J Crawford, Glasgow.


IN response to L McGregor (Letters, May 13), no, I am not against children of 16 leaving school, working, and paying tax – that is all part of growing-up into mature adulthood. We clearly cannot stop them copulating and even having children, but I believe 16 is too young for the long-term state-approved commitment of marriage.

Currently, they may join the armed services, but not in combat roles until aged 18, still very young – and many might deem that as a form of abuse.

My hunch is that around 1900 the average mid/late teenager, in an apprenticeship in the world of work, was probably more mature than currently, when around 50 per cent remain in full-time education until at least 20. Recent events at universities confirm the immaturity of many.

There is increasing expert evidence that the human brain does not mature until the early/mid twenties. Hence with voting from age 21, and elections every four to five years, the average first-time voter would be aged 23-24, which ties in with that evidence.

Finally, as Mark Twain is reputed to have said: “When I was 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand having him around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

John Birkett, St Andrews.


YOUR report "Green future at risk from high electric grid charges" (The Herald, May 11) highlighted Ofgem's partisan policy on transmission charges being a great disadvantage to Scotland.

This was followed next day by the Queen's Speech in which the Westminster Government promised that "levelling up" for all parts of the UK would be a priority.

One of the first corrections it could usefully make would involve instructing Ofgem to remove its electricity distribution surcharge which is suffered by the entire population over half of Scotland's land mass stretching from Kintyre to Shetland and including the cities of Dundee and Aberdeen.

This punitive penalty of privatisation covering the former Hydro Electric Board area is bad for the Scottish economy and particularly bad for the health of citizens in the coldest part of the UK. Urgent remedial action to "level down" should be taken before next winter is upon us.

RJ Ardern, Inverness.

* YOU will have noticed that in the year when the UK is supposed to be leading on the climate emergency, there was no mention of the climate in the Queen's Speech.

Graham Noble, Kinlocheil.


R RUSSELL Smith (Letters, May 12) writes: "I rejoice that one benefit of Brexit may be the demise of extravagant Continental cheek-cheek, kiss-kiss nonsense." He goes on to say that he can't wait to hug his family but wants to be spared from being hugged by everyone else. But we should all remember that hugging is often accompanied by kissing and as the American songwriter Leo Robin wrote: "A kiss on the hand may be quite continental/but diamonds are a girl's best friend." This could include kissing on the cheek – even hugging, as a lady might insist on some of that expensive "ice" before she allows any familiarity.

Maybe we should just listen to Robert Burns (who better?) who wrote: "A man may drink and no be drunk: A man may fight and no be slain; A man may kiss a bonnie lass, And aye be welcome back again." Presumably that could include hugging too. Just don't forget to bring the diamonds. Or maybe chocolates and flowers?

Thelma Edwards, Kelso.