IS there not something exquisitely ironic about Aileen Campbell, the ex-cabinet secretary tasked specifically with “tackling inequalities" receiving a benefit payment of £12,102 just for giving up that task, this on top of the generous reward all MSPs receive on leaving Holyrood, voluntarily or otherwise ("Former inequalities minister gets £75k soft landing despite new job", The Herald, July 6)?

I doubt her constituents receive this generosity on leaving employment, voluntarily or otherwise. Is it not both a pity and a missed opportunity that she didn’t tackle that inequality while in office? It reminds me of Animal Farm in which it was explained that whilst all the animals were equal, some were more equal than others.

Ms Campbell has now secured an obviously well-paid position as chief executive of Scottish Women’s Football. Would it not be refreshing if she set an example by declining these substantial payments as not being essential to cushion her transition from Holyrood to Hampden Park? Whilst you report that she did not apply for them, I am sure there is nothing that says she must take them, particularly if she has no apparent need for them to meet their intended purpose “to assist the MSP with the costs of adjusting to non-parliamentary life". Would a means test be considered too demeaning?

Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop.

* I READ with interest the news that Aileen Campbell got a golden handshake of £75,000 despite landing a new job with Scottish Women's Football. Her portfolio was tackling inequalities; she should donate that money to struggling families having to survive on family credit and food bank handouts.At least then we could see that she had gone some way in fulfilling the remit of her portfolio.

Neil Stewart, Balfron.


ON reading your article about Aileen Campbell, I could only come to the conclusion that due to the ministerial post Ms Campbell had held, that of Minister for Inequalities and the fact Ms Campbell has secured future employment, justified bringing her pay-off to the attention of readers. However, in the interest of fairness, would it not have been reasonable to expect the same exposure to be afforded to other former MSPs who find themselves in a similar position as Ms Campbell?

After all, the former leader of the Conservatives in Scotland, who stood down before the election, has secured her future income with a seat on the red benches (House of Lords, £323/day), not to mention her new job, securing earnings well in excess of an MSP’s salary. Many of those standing down in 2021 were first elected in 1999, so have accumulated long service which increases their pay-offs. The 2021 election saw 34 MSPs standing down, nine failing to be re-elected, and one of that number entitled to a second pay-off from public funds (lost seat at past election), all receiving pay-offs from public funds as legislated for by Holyrood.

In the interest of fairness, why was Ms Campbell’s pay-off and future employment the only one to hit your headlines?

Catriona C Clark, Falkirk.


HAS Fiona Hyslop been talking to Boris Johnson or has the SNP secretly recruited Dominic Cummings as an advisor on independence? Her claim that Scottish councils could be £6,000 per capita better off following independence ("Council cash would grow by thousands per person if GDP matched Europe’s", The Herald, July 5) is as big a lie as was ever put on the side of a Brexit bus.

The original idea came for Kirsten Oswald as you reported last month ("UK is ‘poor man’ of north-west Europe", The Herald, June 28). The successful small countries referenced were Luxembourg, Switzerland and Ireland. What these countries have in common are low-taxation economies, either personal, corporation or both. There are several points to make.

First, there is no evidence from past SNP behaviour that it favours low taxation and its partnership with the Scottish Greens in previous budget agreements would lead one to believe the opposite.

Secondly, there are other small independent countries within Europe which are significantly less successful in economic terms. The UK per capita GDP is £31,038 compared to £22,969 (current World Bank figures) in Slovakia, which has a population very similar to Scotland.

Is Ms Hyslop guaranteeing that we will be Luxembourg and not Slovakia or one of many other small European countries with per capita GDP lower than that of the UK?

Brexit was based on a massive lie. Does the debate around Scottish independence not deserve better?

Paul Teenan, Glasgow.


IN ACCUSING those politicians who were not for independence of gaslighting the Scottish electorate, Doug Marr ("Whatever our politics, gaslighting corrodes the confidence of a nation", The Herald, July 5) is bordering on hyperbole and presents a somewhat lopsided view of the run-in to and the aftermath of the 2014 referendum.

As soon as David Cameron ceded control of the field to Alex Salmond, allowing him to dictate the date and year of the vote, and thereby the duration of the hustings (which were lengthy at around two years), he started the ball rolling on a wave of anti-Union agitation, which may or may not be classed as gaslighting, but was nevertheless widespread, never-ending, and often vitriolic.

Let’s not forget that the Scottish Government of the day argued incessantly and loudly for independence. How were those Scots not in favour of independence meant to feel about this? Gaslit? Not certain about that; but unrepresented, for sure.

The late intrusion of politicians who did not support the SNP cause, which Ms Marr describes as gaslighting, was welcomed by those of us who felt that there had been little balance in the public debate.

Since the referendum, and despite losing, Nicola Sturgeon and her political colleagues have simply continued where Alex Salmond left off, taking and creating opportunities to "other" anything that does not conform wholly or partly to their agenda. Is this gaslighting, or simply the rough and tumble of politics?

The answer, I would suggest, is subjective.

Stuart Brennan, Glasgow.


ALASDAIR Galloway (Letters, July 5) is of the opinion that since the SNP won most seats at recent elections, this gives it a mandate for a referendum, but omits to mention that it did not win a majority of those voting at any of these elections, the Union vote being split among three main parties.

On the same day, Chris Keegan discusses the debt caused by Covid-19, but omits to point out that were Scotland to be independent, it simply couldn't deal with the financial consequences of Covid – if it stayed with the pound, the Bank of England would engage in quantitative easing (QE), as it has done, and print pounds, but they would only be for rUK, while if Scotland on the other hand had set up a new currency, any attempt by its new central bank to print money would rapidly result in the Scottish currency becoming worthless.

R Murray, Glasgow.


IT gives me no pleasure to highlight the World Health Organisation’s statement announcing that Scotland has the highest Covid rates in Europe. This comes amongst a backdrop of quotes from many Herald letter writers who seem to think that Nicola Sturgeon and her faithful band are doing such a wonderful job in containing the virus.

This current situation only serves to demonstrate the fact that it is not just the Tory Government which is finding things difficult at the moment. This worrying trend in Scotland is matched only by the appalling and ongoing drug deaths up here, which again are the highest in Europe.

Instead of continuing to blame Westminster for all Scotland’s ills it is high time the Scottish Government got its own house in order and focused on fixing the issues over which it has devolved powers. In the light of the WHO revelations, it also comes as no surprise that Nicola Sturgeon does not want a Scotland-specific inquiry into the Covid pandemic when the time comes, preferring to mask her own inadequacies by a four-nation approach, something she steadfastly refused to do when it came to implementing Covid restrictions.

Christopher H Jones, Giffnock.

* APPALLINGLY, because of the serious subject matter, the Unionist media seem to be gloating about the present high infection rate in Scotland. This is because Scotland has fewer viral antibodies, because we had comparatively fewer infections than others, at the height of the pandemic. If we had suffered the same rate of infection as England, for example, Scotland would have had an estimated 3,000 more deaths. But due to the Scottish vaccination programme, we will now never catch up with the cumulatively higher per capita mortality rate suffered by Belgium, Italy, England, Spain, France et al.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.

Read more: Yes movement will not wait for Sturgeon for ever