LAST summer, Nicola Sturgeon told us she was on the way to eradicating Covid in Scotland; now the World Health Organisation tells us Scotland is the Covid capital of Europe. It's also, under the SNP, the drugs death capital of Europe.

For years Ms Sturgeon told us to judge her by her education record; the once-respected Scottish education system has tumbled down international rankings, despite dedicated frontline professionals' efforts.

Her teenage dream was independence yet, after 14 years in power she can't even deliver Indyref2, let alone also break up the UK. Maybe, despite her record of relentless failure, she's become a wee bit too fond of being a big, if ineffectual, fish in a not very large pond?

Martin Redfern, Melrose.


NO government wants to be seen in a bad light, especially just prior to an election. In hindsight, this very scenario is starting to look more and more dark for the SNP. Recent ongoing revelations over the apparent lack of information that might very well have been relevant to voters is worrying.

Details on care home deaths, the OECD education report outcomes, the failure to advise on cervical cancer dangers and even the mist surrounding the £600,000 Indyref2 funds are setting a pattern which is not helping the trust that is a fundamental political requirement.

Furthermore, the SNP's avowed aim of separation requires unimpeachable evidence that this course for Scotland is for the best. There may be perfectly reasonable explanations from the SNP as to why not just the odd one but multiple reports unfavourable to it were not made available prior to the election, but the public need to hear them. Will we, and will they be convincing?

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow.


I THOUGHT that up until now I have been a nice wee man, however I discover that Kenny MacAskill has now blown my status in society to bits. I will certainly not be taking up his Alba Party's call to arms on Calton Hill with all the "good people" of Scotland and beyond, so it therefore deems me to be one of the "bad people".

The Scottish Parliament parties must get their act together and jointly discuss, and agree, the line of action to be taken on independence and, in particular, agree on the definition of a majority in any future referendum. If no joint agreement is reached, Scotland is going to be plagued with unrelenting calls to action on independence, instead of getting on with the job of the recovery and future prosperity of our nation, independent or not.

George Dale, Beith.


SO Boris Johnson has promised the English "freedom" on July 19. Do they still believe him? What do a few weeks of face masks and petty rules made by bureaucrats who don’t understand matter? I prefer to take the longer view: what kind of freedom will my grandson’s generation need in 15 years' time?

• Freedom from the absurd illogicality of the Westminster system?

• Freedom from the consequences of a botched Brexit?

• Freedom to travel where they like (it doesn’t need to be fast...), and interact with those who live there?

• Freedom to breathe fresher air on a less polluted planet?

• Freedom not to believe everything they’re taught in school… (so far, princes Harry and William seem to be making a better fist of family life than a well-known fellow Old Etonian and Messrs Hancock and Gove…).

I don’t know all the answers, but then neither do the folk in Westminster. Let’s begin by asking the right questions. All sensible suggestions considered.

Norrie Forrest, Kincardine.


JOHN V LLOYD’S critique of Britain’s latest iteration of gunboat diplomacy (Letters, July 4) concluded that we must not allow Britain to be dragged into Joe Biden’s campaign against China. I tend to agree with him but regretfully the voyage of the flotilla/fleet, call it what you will, built around the carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth set sail some time ago.

Low-fly buzzing, loud banging, close encounters, and incursions very near or into the territory of others has become standard operating procedure of today’s naval belligerents, whether British or American, sundry other allied bit players or the navies of Russia and China.

Even in the supposedly better-monitored nuclear arena we have dozens of examples of stand-off mistakes. In these newer conventional naval contests something will eventually go wrong too. We will all have to live and in some cases, die due to the consequences.

As the Queen Elizabeth task force deliberately encroaches into China’s back yard it’s the presence of US Marine Corps personnel that will probably keep our own Royal Navy personnel safe. Just over 50 per cent of the strike air wing aboard the Queen Elizabeth is furnished by the US Marine Corps.

The technical term is interoperability. Being able to be interoperable with a great power is of course the underpinning rationale of almost every aspect of UK defence procurement.

In this instance, at least, I have no complaints. Developments over recent years in supersonic shore-to-ship missiles mean all carriers are sitting ducks. The presence of the US personnel on the Queen Elizabeth means there will be no deliberate shooting war.

However, we live in 2021 and many see cyber as the latest in an increasingly-expanding list of so-called revolutions in military affairs.

There may well be attempts to damage the pride of Britain,s fleet the nearer it gets to China, however any Chinese response is highly unlikely to be kinetic. There will be no 21st century version of the 1905 battle of Tsushima, where having travelled across a large part of the globe with much media fanfare, Tsarist Russia was humiliated by the new rising power of Japan.

Rather the Queen Elizabeth’s fight deck elevators will suddenly develop a propensity to break down or the refrigerators in the galleys may suffer serial malfunctions and of course there could be worse. Countermeasures will include the personal effects of the personnel too.

If a battle does ensue in the South China Sea it will in all probability be prosecuted thousands of miles away by Ministry of Defence press officers and related cyber warriors and whoever does the same job for the Chinese Navy, or at least we will have to hope so.

Bill Ramsay, Glasgow.


JOHN Lloyd has a set of values different from mine.

Freedom, democracy and self-determination of peoples are universal values universally to be upheld. This is not an anti-Chinese campaign on the part of President Biden

Sailing close to Crimea demonstrates to the Ukrainian people that they are not alone in world and their new-found freedom has friends. It also reminds Vladimir Putin that dictators do not last for ever, however many innocent citizens they persecute and murder.

Sailing close to Taiwan demonstrates to her people that the free world does not forget them, and that’s why the free world arms them. If the chief gangster of China thinks his country is being bullied, let him reflect on his country’s 50-year campaign of bloodshed and destruction in the neighbouring country of Tibet, his double-dealing over the freedoms of Hong Kong, the million Muslims in his concentration camps, his declared intention to overthrow the democracy and freedoms of Taiwan.

The dogma of One China bears a likeness to Hitler’s Great Germany. To complete the picture, China is already, exactly like the Third Reich, drenched in innocent blood.

Tim Cox, Bern, Switzerland.


IF the Westminster Government is correct that irreversible freedom from lockdown will begin on July 19 (though that I think will sooner or later have to be taken with a pinch of salt), then a return to near normality will spell the death knell in many offices for traditional patterns of working.

Working from home, now characterised by its own acronym of WFH, poses a problem for bosses in those areas where face to face physical contact is not vital for the efficacy of services in those areas.

Bosses will be experiencing self-doubt over how to re-establish tight supervision and control over their underlings in such areas. Zoom meetings have replaced the frisson of physical confrontation which could be so intimidating for those summoned to appear before the boss under pre-Covid rubrics. Those areas will have to come to terms with the new normality imposed by the pandemic and the opportunity to work from home which clearly appeals to those blessed with that situation.

Downsizing of central city offices will save money for those firms in that position but it will remain unnerving for bosses until they learn to accommodate to the new normal.

There are, however, areas where face-to-face meetings cannot be replaced by Zoom contacts and they include teacher-pupil, doctor -patient, lawyer-client and other similar relationships.

Emergency services, construction and shop working will continue to demand that workers be present at their places of employment to meet the pressures of the day. All of us will find out soon enough what long-lasting effect our exposure to Covid will have on our daily lives.

Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.


SUSAN Egelstaff’s article last Sunday ("Butchart’s Covid story a warning to other athletes", July 4) was interesting, as always, but one remark jarred. Anent the Tokyo Olympics, Ms Egelstaff wrote: “Around the world, and in Japan in particular, Covid is still running rampant”.

In the seven days ending July 5, Japan had an average daily rate of 1,591 new infections. Given that Japan has a population 23 times greater than Scotland, an equivalent rate of infection here would result in 70 new cases per day; in fact the Scottish rate was 3,324. So it’s a gross exaggeration to suggest Covid is rampant in Japan, and unhelpful to spread such misinformation.

Scotland and the rest of the UK have among the worst infection rates and highest Covid mortality rates in the world, despite our developed status and advanced healthcare facilities. It’s vital that we find out soon why that is the case, and I urge both governments to set up inquiries now.

Doug Maughan, Dunblane.