HEALTH Secretary Humza Yousaf has ascribed some of the blame for the recent increase in Covid infections to the behaviour of our Euro 2020 football fans.

For a virus, spread person to person by exhalation and inhalation of oral and nasal droplets and aerosols, a most unwise aspect of our first attempted release of lockdown was allowing folk into pubs, and to sit one metre apart, remove masks, fill their mouths with liquid, and talk at each other.

We have now witnessed another extreme of allowing crowds of fitba' bawheids in homes, pubs, streets, fan zones and stadia, to fill their mooths wi' swally and then jump aboot, shouting and screaming.

Both examples constitute and demonstrate the extremes of Darwinian self-selection for extinction.

I’m reluctant to suggest any extension to the reach and expense of government, but perhaps, from this and other examples, the formation of a small Ministry For Joining The Dots would be a cost-effective investment.

Norman Dryden, Edinburgh.


JOHN Milne (Letters, June 29) recognises that the UK has “an authoritarian neo-liberal government”, is “a nativist flag-waving country incapable of being honest with its citizens and with the international community”. What is his solution? Stay with it, “join with the moderate forces in the three other nations saying “enough is enough”.”

The most recent opinion polls showed that the “authoritarian neo-liberal government” still enjoyed a commanding lead. Labour, under Sir Keir Starmer, is pretty much back, in electoral support terms, to where it was under Jeremy Corbyn.

Meantime, in Northern Ireland, instability increases by the day, with the DUP having gone through two leaders in a less than a fortnight, now seeming likely to elect Jeffrey Donaldson, someone who resigned rather than accept the Good Friday Agreement. In addition to the problems posed by the Protocol, the conflict between the DUP and Sinn Fein is over an Irish Language Bill, so the conflict is one that is becoming explicitly existential. Will Westminster renege on the EU, or deal with the hard men of Northern Ireland? Neither choice seems likely to end happily. How long will the Nationalist community tolerate this situation before pushing for the border poll guaranteed by the Good Friday Agreement?

In Wales, Mark Drakeford, a man to whom the description “nationalist” would seem totally inappropriate, was quoted by ITN as saying “The United Kingdom 'is over' and a new union should be crafted to reflect a 'voluntary association of four nations'". The response to that, of course, is whether the “authoritarian neo-liberal” Westminster Government will make a positive response to this? Is it interested in a “new union” which would be a “voluntary association of four nations”? The evidence – the Internal Market Act, the focus on “Britishness” – suggests not. Mr Drakeford’s view in that case is that “the break-up of the UK” is possible if politicians only offered a "tweaking of the status quo".

In short, there may be a situation developing where the issue is less one of Scottish independence, but whether the UK can persist? Is the UK becoming a dysfunctional state?

Therefore, Mr Milne is to be praised for his optimistic view of rescuing the UK by joining “with the moderate forces in the three other nations”, but there is evidence that at least two of the other nations might be getting ready to make for the door.

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.


ROBERT Buntin (Letters, June 29) makes a lot of good points with regard to the Scottish independence debate. However, with regard to the SNP, I’m afraid he misses the point. As the only party currently supporting independence, those of us who wish to see Scotland as a thriving, independent nation have no choice but to lend our support to the SNP, as a means to that end. Why does Mr Buntin suppose that the party that delivers independence will be the party that governs that an independent Scotland?

The SNP may well be less than perfect and a future, independent Scotland will no doubt remember its current failings (albeit minimal compared to the billions lavished by Boris Johnson & co on their cronies and donors) and vote accordingly in the election after independence.

So, if the SNP is indeed incapable of governing a wealthy, independent Scotland, the electorate will vote accordingly and elect the party, of which I am sure there will be a choice, that can deliver the reality of being “loved at home, rever’d abroad”.

John McCallum, Glasgow.


NEIL Mackay sums up nicely the constitutional impasse paralysing Scottish and UK politics ("Let us have a British summit to move Scotland forward", The Herald, June 29). However, his suggestion of a British summit involving the four nations and overseen by a panel of observers is a non-starter.

The UK state mentality is that of control. Its imperial past means it is used to commanding smaller nations and never developed the skills or will to negotiate with them. It was uncomfortable playing the part of a member in a club of equals (the EU). It's already trying to consign the term "the four nations" to the history books in the hope we can get back to the pre-devolution days when "the UK" and "England" were synonymous.

It would certainly never countenance England's negotiations with the smaller constituent nations being overseen by a panel which included foreign diplomats.

Mary McCabe, Glasgow


MANY comments made about funds coming to Scotland reveal a strange confusion, and this is well illustrated by Bill Eadie's letter (June 26). As a constituent of the UK, Scotland is not "taking money from Westminster" but receiving an allocation of the resources of which it is a co-proprietor. The constant attempts to portray any Scottish funding as a generous subsidy from England, as if it were an external source, is inconsistent with the story that we are an inseparable part of one nation. Either England is a separate country from Scotland or it is not.

Peter M Dryburgh, Edinburgh.


KEVIN McKenna’s recent article ("Misguided help to die bill talks of dignity in death yet we deny it to many in life", The Herald, June 28) powerfully contrasts the cases of two private bills to be considered by Westminster and Holyrood respectively. The former, proposed by ex-Cabinet minister Dr Liam Fox, seeks to give parity of esteem to those with Down’s Syndrome, thereby affirming the value of every human life. This is significant, for Mr McKenna cites for us the heart-breaking tally of pregnancies terminated due to Down’s, something he rightly describes as “eugenics by stealth”.

By contrast, the Holyrood bill, in the name of Orkney MSP Liam McArthur, proposing to legalise assisted suicide, risks sending a message that certain lives are no longer worth living. It is therefore no great surprise, as Mr McKenna observes, that most of the UK’s largest disability rights groups oppose a change in the law. Any assurances about disabilities made by proponents of assisted dying ring hollow, standing in marked contrast to concerns recently expressed by the likes of new MSP Pam Duncan-Glancy, and Paralympian Baroness Tanni Grey Thompson, who have spoken with an abundance of eloquence and authority on the issue.

Throughout this dreadful Covid pandemic the entire apparatus of the state and society has been focused on saving as many lives as possible, regardless of stage or condition of life. This is the principle that should continue to guide our MSPs as they consider how best to preserve dignity and care near to death. It is to be hoped that they choose the pursuit of world-class end of life care over assisted suicide.

Michael Veitch, Parliamentary Officer, CARE for Scotland, Glasgow.

* THE famous lines by AH Clough, "Thou shalt not kill/but need'st not strive/Officiously to keep alive" are invariably quoted – as they are by Dr Hamish Maclaren (Letters, June 29) – as if they were serious advice to the medical profession. However, the poem is a satire on various social ills. I have often wondered if Clough was not actually referring to the many in Victorian Britain who were being allowed to die of poverty and neglect, without the intervention of the authorities. Perhaps an expert on English literature could enlighten us?

Kenneth Fraser, St Andrews.


I NOTE several employers in the licensed trade and restaurant sector complain about a lack of available staff since reopening after enforced Covid lockdown. Considering the availability of the 80 per cent Government furlough scheme to assist staff, my question is where have all these former employees gone? I trust a close check has applied on this considerable figure of public money which the Chancellor swiftly and generously made available at the outset of the enforced Covid restrictions.

Allan C Steele, Giffnock.

Read more: Where are the leaders Scotland so desperately needs?