AFTER slashing the UK’s foreign aid budget and announcing they’re going to cut benefits for the poorest in the UK by more than £1,000 a year, I thought the Tory Government at Westminster couldn’t sink any lower; but I was wrong.

You report today that Home Secretary Priti Patel wants our gunboats in the Channel to push dinghies, overloaded with men, women and children, back into French waters if they’re found to be approaching the English coast ("Patel accused of blackmail over migrants", The Herald September 10). This is reckless, heartless and extremely dangerous. It’s also likely to be a breach of international maritime law.

This Conservative Government is a disgrace. It’s full of wealthy, privileged, entitled chancers who are bereft of the qualities that make us better than beasts. If this is how the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland wants to behave, then I’d rather take the risks of leaving and try to build a better country, one that earns respect not for its might, but for its decency, compassion and humanity.

Doug Maughan, Dunblane.

* CONTAINED within your article on the migrants row I noticed the sentence "She is said to have ordered officials to rewrite maritime laws".

Our Home Secretary seems to have the opinion that whatever she wants she will get, but this is beyond belief.

I would like to think that border security and maritime operatives would simply refuse to carry out the proposed instruction to turn back incoming boats carrying migrants.

Brendan J Keenan, Glasgow.


IT’S beyond parody that the 20th anniversary of 9/11 was marked by a Taliban victory over America. The tribalists who enabled Saudi terrorists to down the Twin Towers by giving them bases in Afghanistan finally forced the superpower into an exit as embarrassing as Saigon. Perhaps it was inevitable from the moment George Bush declared “War on Terror” – just as Richard Nixon’s “War on Drugs” was a prohibition folly driving narcotics policies out of the sphere of rational debate.

Initially it looked promising. The US sent in crack troops (Rangers, 82nd & 101st Airborne, 15th & 26th Marines) as did the UK (SAS, SBS, Marines and Paras). As winter arrived in the Hindu Kush America’s 10th Mountain Division was joined by our Winter Warfare experts (45 Commando). The Battle of Tora Bora in December witnessed units from this formidable allied force reduce Al Qaeda and the Taliban into a disorganised rabble fleeing into Pakistan or holed up in lonely caves.

The way in which the West managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of such a victory should be a compulsory course in every institution training military officers and a diplomatic corps. Certainly a coalition of 40 nations remaining in the country to set up democracy, a free press and educate women was a very “woke” idea, but why would illiterate tribalists want such a thing? Better to have said: “Bye for now – but you allow another terrorist base to set up and we’ll be back.”

Dr John Cameron, St Andrews.


THE Taliban have barred women from playing cricket or any other sport where they might be "exposed". Cricket today; what women's rights will be banned tomorrow? Pakistan's military and intelligence establishment have for decades maintained links with Islamic groups in Afghanistan, including the Taliban, and given material and logistical support. The UK must immediately stop the foreign aid of £305 million it gives to Pakistan and the £292 million it gives to Afghanistan every year.

In fact the UK gives £2.454 billion every year to the 10 countries getting the most. The majority hate Britain so we should cut them off and spend the money more usefully helping those living in the UK.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow.


REGARDING photographic voter ID ("Tory voting reforms ‘could discriminate against minorities’ says opposition", The Herald, September 8): a few days ago I had to go and pick up a parcel from the Royal Mail office. It was necessary to produce acceptable ID in order to receive my parcel. Simply stating my address was not acceptable.

Surely the process of voting is considerably more important than this activity and producing “acceptable” proof that you are who you say you are is not much of an imposition.

In this day and age it must be quite unusual to be completely bereft of suitable ID or at least pretty straightforward gaining some.

The knee-jerk “liberals” are just making a fuss about very little, as usual.

Forbes Dunlop, Glasgow.


I WONDER if the Tories have really thought through this idea of photo ID to be allowed to vote.

I believe we are always told that it is mostly the older folk who vote Tory, and they are the very group most likely to have given up things like passports that include a photo.

But then, I suppose that Tories are probably seeing the proposal, as usual, from the angle that having to pay to acquire such a document will only affect the poorer elements of society, while the rich won’t notice the cost and probably keep things like passports updated anyway. A nice, pain-free little earner.

P Davidson, Falkirk.


YOUR article on the opening of the Johnnie Walker scotch whisky attraction in Edinburgh ("Can Glasgow be inspired by Johnnie Walker in Edinburgh?", The Herald, September 9) must have made bitter-sweet reading to many in Ayrshire and particularly the citizens of the town of Kilmarnock, of which there was no mention despite that whisky originating there in the 19th century and having a huge continuing presence there until it was all closed down by Diageo in 2012.

To the best of my recollection Johnnie Walker had no such connection or association with Glasgow or Edinburgh, and I can only imagine what a boost it would have been to tourism in Kilmarnock if Diageo had had the courage and vision to establish this visitor attraction there, its historical home, rather than taking the easy option of citing it as just one of many attractions in Edinburgh.

Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop.


NOW we know Glasgow City Council's answer to the ongoing rubbish and filth problem inflicting our city ("Residents urged to muck in and tackle Glasgow’s litter before climate talks", The Herald, September 8). Its idea is to set up community hubs, city-wide, and encourage the people to do the clean-up themselves. Not withstanding the genuine concerns of residents for the state of their localities, this is nothing more than taking advantage of this dire situation. At present the council is panicking as regarding the COP26 conference coming to Glasgow in November, which will mean the eyes of the world will be on Glasgow, and it doesn't want the world to see a filthy city. Four years of SNP control, what has changed for the better?

This crisis has long pre-dated Covid, with years of cuts to the public services budget, and now the chickens are coming home to roost. By law the local authority has a responsibility to keep the streets clean, not to pass the responsibility on to the shoulders of Glaswegians’ and just to make matters worse, bulk uplifts are now being charged at £35 per large item. Who will be able to afford this? The net result will mean more fly tipping and general environmental degradation.

If council leader Susan Aitken thinks that Glasgow just needs a wee sprucing up, she should take a long walk around the east end. Surely this would open her eyes to the state the place is in.

The short and long-term solution to this problem is in increased funding to local authorities from central government. Councillor Aitken should be demanding from Holyrood emergency funding to clean up and maintain the cleanliness of our great city. It is the very least we should be expecting.

Stuart Jackson, Glasgow.

* NEIL Mackay ("SNP’S thin-skinned sense of entitlement will be its undoing", The Herald, September 9) implies that Glasgow City Council is solely responsible for litter. In the accompanying photograph council workers are busily picking up other people's litter.

Margaret Pennycook, Glasgow.


THE disaster in Paisley when 71 children died at the Glen Cinema has been featured on a number of occasions by you, including this past week in your "Remember when..." features (The Herald, September 7, 8 & 9). This for the town was a profoundly sad occasion affecting so many people.

It is clearly difficult to find anything of consolation and benefit to emerge from such a traumatic event. However, subsequently a decision was made to change the law in a number of respects, including making it compulsory for the doors in such facilities to open outwards and to be fitted with push bars which give way to pressure from the inside. The installation of such measures probably contributed significantly to the prevention of similar tragedies being experienced elsewhere.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.


HEAR, hear to Mike Bath (Letters, September 8) on so-called “background” music and inaudible speech by actors. You were good enough to publish my letter on September 19, 2019 on the appalling, excessive music inflicted on us in TV and film dramas, documentaries and the like, which I hoped might have generated the courtesy of a reply from your not-so-distant neighbour BBC Scotland. But in vain – just as similar requests in the London papers, and even an excellent article by a respected journalist, were ignored by the arrogant BBC top brass, among others.

Such intrusive, obliterating cacophonous decibels are invariably quite unnecessary to create or heighten the drama; and the music selected is often totally inappropriate, with Mozart’s Requiem an inexplicable favourite for such abuse. They drown out what we’re trying to hear, even on an Attenborough wildlife programme while he told us sotto-voce to listen to the mating call of an exotic bird in the Indonesian rainforest; and on others about our own James Clerk Maxwell (on whose shoulders Einstein said he stood, not on Newton’s), on the rise of the Nazis, on Edinburgh’s New Town and on Portillo’s Great Canadian Railways, to name but a few.

Surely the producers, directors and commissioners of such programmes could make and broadcast some, as an experiment, without any such musical “enhancement” and with actors speaking clearly for their audience, not as we all speak in normal life. I’m sure the reaction from viewers of all ages would be positive.

John Birkett, St Andrews.