WHEN Conservative MP Robert Adley warned against the dangers of privatisation he held up a British Rail timetable – " a wonderful book" – explaining that it allowed passengers (and freight) to travel smoothly from Wick to Penzance on a single ticket. Mr Adley has been vindicated. It's sad he's not around to see it.

The Williams-Shapps report ("Scottish Government hits out over UK railways shake-up", The Herald, May 21) should have gone further in allowing a directly-operated service to run the entire network – LNER has shown it's a model to follow.

Rail nationalisation is one of the most popular policies with the electorate and if the Tories adopted it completely it would make people ask "what's the point of Labour?". Furthermore, while privatisation pulled the Union apart, nationalisation pulls it together.

It's only sensible that in the new set-up ScotRail services should be incorporated into Great British Railways – the UK network is a single entity and there is no border at Berwick.

The same logic should be applied to the UK's fragmented and privatised electricity generation system, where numerous private suppliers lose economies of scale and with their snouts in the troughs of wind power subsidies ensure that electricity bills will rise at an exponential rate.

William Loneskie, Lauder.


THE BBC inquiry into the now-notorious Princess Diana interview ("Martin Bashir used ‘deceitful behaviour’ to secure Diana interview and BBC fell short of standards, report finds", The Herald, May 21) would suggest the corporation is facing its own equivalent watershed of the tabloids’ phone-tapping scandal.

A recent BBC interview with Ian Paisley Junior brought the corporation’s even more recent fall in standards into sharp focus. Let me say straight off, as an agnostic bordering on an atheist, I am no fan of Mr Paisley nor of his late father. But I found the barely-concealed sneering attitude of the BBC interviewer, Faisal Islam, very unpleasant, when asking Mr Paisley for his thoughts on the new DUP leader, Edwin Poots, and his fundamentalist Christian beliefs. Mr Paisley stormed back, with surely good reason, that Faisal Islam would not dare to ask about the new leader’s religion had he been a Muslim. Surely no honest person, of any faith, would disagree with that point.

As it was with the Princess Diana interview, I think all most licence payers would ask for from the BBC is truth and fairness.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.


IN answer to Alasdair Galloway (Letters, May 21) and others who comment on the atrocious behaviour of Rangers fans in George Square, all require a reality check. Mr Galloway writes: "Rangers fans involved last week were given no licence to behave as they did." Wrong, they were. They were offered carte blanche.

Security is about stopping trouble before it starts; take it from one who worked in that role at another major football stadium in the East End of Glasgow. Even the bampots/heidbangers recognise when control measures are in operation; they might try their luck but met with firm boundaries, they usually comply.

From the moment the Scottish Government denied Rangers Football Club's request to arrange events to allow celebrations to occur in an organised and controlled environment and once again, called upon a totally outnumbered Police Scotland to deal with conditions for which it was poorly prepared, the result was inevitable.

I can guarantee you that the bampots checked out the opposition and saw there was none, and I doubt if they gave Covid a thought. So, if we could cut out the moral high ground posturing, that would be one step in accepting that the situation in George Square was allowed to develop. No preventative measures that could have been adopted were put in place and the responsibility for that lies with the Scottish Government.

Maureen McGarry-O'Hanlon, Balloch.


IN her Covid briefing at lunchtime today (May 21), Nicola Sturgeon made a point of no longer referring to an Indian variant, yet continued to refer to a Kent strain. Political correctness gone mad. Now we only offend the English?

John Di Paola, Glasgow.


YOU report that crofter Donald Macisaac disputes my stance on sea eagles ("Angry crofter attacks expert claims that sea eagles ‘pose little threat to sheep’", The Herald, May 15), but it is backed up by good hard science. Mr MacIsaac is presented with a fine opportunity to influence that science if he cam provide some good evidence of adult sheep being killed by sea eagles.

Sea eagles are more closely related to vultures than to the active predator that is the golden eagle. Having been involved for nearly 50 years with sea eagles both here, in Norway and elsewhere, I too have rarely seen them catch a fish but various careful studies together with my own and others’ nest observations have proved that our sea eagles do take a lot of fish as well as carrion. I might add they also take rabbits, gulls, crows and, in the Hebrides at least, geese and goslings – all of which can be a problem to farmers. I am surprised that Mr MacIsaac has not seen or heard of sea eagles catching any fish, since many passengers – and even the crew – on the Glenelg ferry, for instance, see it regularly. The ferocious tide race there draws fish up from the depths to become easy prey for the eagles, as happens also in Norway and elsewhere.

Such is the diversity of prey taken by sea eagles that I was not particularly surprised to learn that one golden eagle had fallen victim – although being slightly smaller, goldens are usually credited with being the more aggressive of the two eagle species. Surprisingly, it is rare that the sea eagle comes out on top. More than likely that golden eagle had been occupying a coastal territory that its species had taken over after sea eagles became extinct in the early 20th century. Most of these coastal-nesting golden eagles are moving back inland again (their natural habitat) and their numbers have remained stable for decades.

If Mr Macsaac sees a decline in various other bird species then there are a host of other unrelated reasons that do not involve sea eagles. No one knows, for example, why fulmars are declining – even in areas where there are no sea eagles. No predator can afford to wipe out its prey.

John Love, South Uist.


A GREAT deal of work has been done recently to improve driving conditions around Greater Glasgow.

There is still an ongoing problem regarding the number and condition of potholes especially close to kerbed areas and the condition of surfaces in need of repair still is causing concern.

It is significant that the damage is being caused mainly by the 14/16-wheel multi-tonne lorries that are noticeably on the increase. They are here to stay and no doubt commercially they are vital. The fact remains that the damage they cause is being suffered and paid for by other road users and is particularly evident and heavy near traffic lights, roundabouts, inclines and so on, generally where low gears must be engaged. It might be appropriate for such areas when repaired to be reconstructed to a specification upgraded robustly to withstand the extremes of punishment that is causing so much distress.

The ongoing cost of repeated repair will only increase and something must be done to effect improvement.

J Hamilton, Bearsden.


NEIL Mackay writes: "Curing humanity of its innate taste for killing wasn't going to be achieved by Covid" ("We said we'd change the world after Covid but nothing changed and nothing will", The Herald, May 20). I read to the end of his article and wept. It seems that we are unable to set ourselves on a road to a better future for everyone. Like Mr Mackay I am not a religious believer; in fact it was a relief when I finally discarded it 25 years ago and realised that I am on my own and must make the best of myself and my bit of the world.

I do have help though, and am so grateful for it. These past few weeks I have been slowly joined by a thing of beauty and softness ... a pheasant. He waits in a particular place in the wood where I walk, makes his little noises when I appear and walks towards me. We stand and gaze and I have learned to reply in sounds he seems to appreciate. Slowly over the weeks he has been coming closer and I am hoping that in this presently awful, but hopefully soon to be better, world I will be able to sit under the trees and he will come ever closer.

On the world stage I am an insignificant entity and cannot achieve the large changes I hope could be effected. Mr Mackay says "it's in the little things – not the great horrors – that we find confirmation of our endemic failure", to make things better. But there are such lovely and loving things in this presently sad world and as I cannot change the rest of it in any significant way I will go on in this, and other small ways, such as being honoured by the action of a lovely iridescent pheasant.

"Do you remember when all of us clapped for the NHS? Was that a sick joke too – or just phoney virtue?" asks Mr Mackay. I clapped for my nieces who are nurses and I clap still inside my house. So "we said we'd change the world after Covid," he said. In small ways each of us can achieve some of those small changes needed. Things grow from the small to the large; each of us finding and doing small things. I have been taught a lesson in the wood this past few weeks. By a pheasant.

Thelma Edwards, Kelso.


I WAS pleased to read of the possible development of an Eden project in Dundee ("Another coup for Dundee as Eden Project signs deal to build site at former gasworks", The Herald, May 21), but amused and not surprised to examine the artists impression, presumably provided by Dundee City Council.

You might like to ask them why the lovely garden precinct just to the near side of the V&A and in front of the station building, omits the incredibly disappointing, short-termist and hideous office block they have allowed to be built in this key city centre feature...

Richard Hunter, Cupar.

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