SHONA Robison, Social Justice Secretary, close friend of Nicola Sturgeon and failed former Health Secretary, demands the usual "more powers" to tackle poverty ("LibDems block SNP’S cross-party poverty attempt after devolved powers call", The Herald, June 5). In fact, the Scotland Act 2016 assigned Holyrood responsibility for introducing 11 new social security benefits. When given the opportunity to implement these, Ms Sturgeon’s regime requested that Westminster remain responsible for them until 2024.

These two have been found out by Professor James Mitchell of Edinburgh University, who is on record as saying: "The Scottish Parliament at the moment has got the powers to do an awful lot… frankly, at the moment they have ample powers to be getting on with the job, and they’re not really using them. They’re not really addressing poverty with the kind of focus that the language and rhetoric would suggest. You have it in your gift to do a lot. Let’s see if you can get on with it."

This sums up the SNP regime in a nutshell. It constantly demands "more powers" and focuses on process – lining up its powers in a row to be admired – but it doesn't make use of the "levers" (another favoured term) actually to achieve a difference. The SNP has had 14 years to lift Scots out of poverty. Instead, it has squandered money on failed projects and international grandstanding. It really is not good enough.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh.


MARK Smith ("Yes, it has finally happened: I agree with Kenny MacAskill", The Herald, June 7) makes the sensible point that Home Rule for Scotland could bring about an end to the current arguments on the constitutional issue of another independence referendum.

It is therefore time for the Liberal Democrats to unearth Gladstone's proposals for Home Rule and bring them up to date, although I am not convinced that ardent nationalists, such as Alex Salmond, will warm to these proposals.

Sandy Gemmill, Edinburgh.


COLIN Gunn (Letters, June 7) is entitled to his opinions about ferries, the SQA and independence, but to include Covid spread in his description as "the gift that keeps on giving" is in very poor taste, and must be hurtful to all those mourning a loved one, or who are still battling the effects of that terrible illness.

Rob Golbourn (Letters, June 7) declares that if we have years of what he describes as "the Government showing insufficient focus on the day job" and the "opposition obsessing on the constitutional issue" Scotland "will not get the Government it deserves". Mr Golbourn forgets that just over a month ago Scotland's voters went to the polls and got the Government they elected, giving a verdict on its commitment to the day job and to giving Scotland the right to choose its own future; the result, a landslide victory for the SNP and a drubbing for the opposition.

As for Mr Golbourn's suggestion that there should be a two-thirds majority at the future independence referendum, I always think that unionist proposals to change the goalposts is nothing more than a sign of desperation and an admittance that they've lost the argument; I never hear any of them suggest that parties who win Westminster General Elections must win a two-thirds majority of Scottish seats before they are permitted to impose their policies on Scotland.

Ruth Marr, Stirling.


AS one reads the latest updates in The Herald on Covid-19, I note that as well as politicians of all parties, even the Scottish Government spokesperson is now routinely referring to the NHS as "our NHS".

I look forward to updates from politicos and officials, couched in similar warm tones, in regard to our record drug deaths; our grinding poverty; our endless potholes; our underfunded local government; our failing education system; and much more.

Stuart Brennan, Glasgow.


GLASGOW is now in Level 2 Covid restrictions – the tightest in the UK. Our First Minister and Health Secretary are proclaiming daily warnings of a "third wave". Weddings and funerals can still have no more than 50 in attendance. The people of Glasgow and neighbouring regions are being limited to meets of eight people from eight households outdoors. Our amateur sports clubs and school end of year activities are not allowed spectators or are being cancelled completely.

Can anyone in our SNP leadership therefore please explain how, with such restrictions in force, for the duration of Euro 2020 it is permitted for 6,000 people to congregate daily on Glasgow Green (over 31 days a total of nearly 200,000) plus thousands more in Hampden Park itself? Or is this merely another in the increasingly long list of failures by Nicola Sturgeon and her inept colleagues?

Robin McNaught, Bridge of Weir.


AMONG the mistakes that even Nicola Sturgeon admits she made during the pandemic – albeit she doesn't specify them whilst criticising others for their failings – surely the one to rank alongside the disgraceful scandal of care home deaths must be her utter lack of a serious plan to handle non-Covid patients. This whilst having a ready-made Covid-only hospital that was available but not used. She can emote all she wants during her so-called Covid briefing about how her decisions make her feel, but I want real leadership not merely political party rhetoric, which is really her only discernible success during this crisis.

Bill Adair, Bishopton.


THE furore over the cutting of foreign aid has left me with a dilemma. In principle I am in total agreement that richer countries should help poorer, and I was disappointed at the decision to cut the UK amount, however marginally.

Yet there are poor and poor countries. That Pakistan and India – both with full and horrendously expensive nuclear arsenals and developing space exploration programmes – could be among the biggest recipients of aid I find genuinely shocking. Surely aid going to these countries merely eases their problems with paying for their weapons.

So, rather than an across the board cut, perhaps a more focused approach would have been better and we would know the money would have been going to those in desperate need, not to help facilitate nuclear arsenals.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.


LIKE Doug Maughan (Letters, June 7) I was at school during the late 1960s. However, unlike him I was taught a version of history that left you with few illusions as to the nature of the British Empire. The contemporary illustrations and satirical cartoons included in the books we learned from did not paint a glowing picture of either Britain or the various European countries who built up their empires during the 18th and 19th centuries, rather the opposite.

While an inadequate knowledge of history has certainly led to the myth of the glorious days of the British Empire it has also led to a modern myth that each succeeding generation is somehow more “woke” than its predecessors. Given that the term can be traced back to the mid-19th century I’m sure it could be applied to many of the radical thinkers and social reformers, not always fully appreciated in their day, who have shaped modern society. In many ways they created the framework that allows modern radicalism to flourish.

As with good journalism, good teaching of history will displease those on both sides of any argument but is vital in preventing cross-generational warfare fuelled by ignorance and self righteous thinking.

Robin Irvine, Helensburgh.


I SO agree with Kevin McKenna’s article when he asks if the Catholic Church has made a tawdry deal with Boris Johnson by allowing him to marry his fiancée in a Catholic cathedral ("Did the Church do a deal with power when it blessed the PM’S wedding?", The Herald, June 7). I am not a Catholic but I have many friends who are and I am well aware that no matter what, no divorced member of that faith is permitted to remarry in a Catholic chapel. The strange reasoning for bending the rules for Mr Johnson, made by several senior clergy of that faith, is that this serial philanderer’s first two marriages don’t count, as they were not Catholic services. This is not only deeply insulting to his previous wives but appears to remove legitimacy from his children.

I presume that henceforth the chapel doors will be wide open to divorced parishioners wishing to remarry in the faith? And if not why not?

Celia Judge, Ayr.

Read more: PM's bid to turn back the clock is doomed to failure