THE likelihood of the £100 million contract for two new Calmac ferries being awarded to overseas shipbuilders surely sounds the death knell for shipbuilding on the lower reaches of the Clyde.

We are all aware of the utter shambles involving the two long-overdue Calmac ferries currently being built at Ferguson Marine in Port Glasgow and the resulting huge loss of taxpayers’ money. Yet at a time when the highly-paid turnaround director of the publicly-owned Ferguson Marine, Tim Hair, supposedly sees an upturn in the company’s fortunes, Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd, presumably with Scottish Government approval, has rejected the work going to Ferguson Marine or any other UK yard and is willing to give the contract to our competitors in Europe. With what has happened with the current ferries, there are serious questions to be answered about the suitability of Ferguson Marine to get the contract, but the future of shipbuilding on the lower reaches of the Clyde and the consequential loss of hundreds of jobs and skills must also be taken into account.

The actions of CMAL and the failure of the Scottish Government to give sufficient backing for the yard’s future will hardly attract other contracts to be given to Ferguson Marine. Finance Secretary Kate Forbes may well urge Ferguson Marine to work harder to get future contracts but with dwindling Scottish Government support, the yard’s future looks bleak.

Bob MacDougall, Kippen.


NICOLA Sturgeon has let Scots know a referendum is definitely coming in 2023, but is it? Setting aside the fact she cannot actually call a legal one there are mounting difficulties facing her bid.

A hard border with England, using sterling without “permission” plus debts are all well-aired problems. Less well debated are other serious and costly issues. An effective armed service, defence against cyber weapons, a chain of embassies worldwide, a postal system and postage costs, as it is well known no service apart from the Royal Mail wants to send parcels and the like north of the central belt never mind to the islands at a fixed cost.

The independence bill just goes higher and what about our NHS, social security, free personal care, pensions and even house price valuations? Independence brings with it a lot of highly expensive scenarios but appears to provide few solutions unless drastic tax rises and service cuts are introduced.

In the event 2023 will come and go and there will be no referendum, but can Ms Sturgeon survive the political fallout of yet another slippage of her referendum dream?

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow.


GEOFF Moore (Letters, September 12) implies that I am being naive in showing “enthusiasm” for the Leaders Pledge for Nature.

My intention was to draw the attention of your readers to the Pledge, it being a significant global statement of intent, the way forward. At the very least I see it as evidence that our leaders know what needs to be done, even if we cannot entirely trust them to tackle, to good effect, the inter-related crises of gross global inequality, local poverty, climate change, species loss, ecosystem destruction, pollution and further pandemics.

As the saying goes “we get the politicians we deserve”. I suggest that our future and that of all life on our planet is in our hands as we come to realise that we are not mere “subjects”, are more than “voters” but are “citizens” who recognise their consequent responsibilities. We deny these responsibilities if we think it enough to vote every five years and in between times put our practical involvement in our democratic processes back to sleep, especially when we are in the midst of a number of life-threatening crises.

There are many steps we can take as individual citizens in the face of the aforementioned challenges. However none is more important than our duty to put intense pressure on our representatives and political parties to ensure they commit themselves to demonstrating, in practical terms, their ability and determination to face up to these crises.

John Milne, Uddingston.


WE have all now had two weeks to study the Government-ordered Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) report which concluded that most major religions are guilty of ‘‘blatant hypocrisy’’ for covering up sex abuse while preaching ‘‘right from wrong’’.The IICSA examined child protection in 38 religious organisations and settings in England and Wales, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baptists, Methodists, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, Hinduism, Buddhism and nonconformist Christian denominations. These organisations it said, had a ‘‘significant or even dominant influence on the lives of millions of children’’. The inquiry found that between 2015 and 2020, of all known institutions where abuse had taken place, 11 per cent (443 instances) were committed within a religious organisation or setting. Ten per cent of suspects (726 people) were employed by, or somehow linked to, a religious organisation or setting. ‘‘What marks religious organisations out … is the explicit purpose they have in teaching right from wrong; the moral turpitude of any failing by them in the prevention of, or response to, child sexual abuse is therefore heightened,’’ it said.

Freedom from religion is at least as important as freedom of religion. Professor Alexis Jay, chairman of the inquiry, said: ‘‘When we heard about shocking failures to prevent and respond to child sexual abuse across almost all major religions it became clear many are operating in direct conflict with [their moral] mission.’’ No parent of young children can fail to be shocked by this report. Is more evidence required to show that, as a matter of urgency, religion must be removed from our schools?

Doug Clark, Currie.


“IF anyone doesn’t love this film, I don’t want to hear about their problems,” wrote a hardbitten American critic after the premiere of ET. Emma Raducanu melted hearts throughout the world in much the same way. This was not a time for knee-taking; universal goodwill had crowded out any such consideration. The only racism present was to be found amongst the many nations who queued up to claim the champion as their own.

Unlike many other events put to us – the Euros, the Olympics and more – this was an occasion when the entire globe was uplifted. The victor had achieved not only the unbelievable, but the inexplicable too. And both finalists were such wonderful ambassadors for the sport. Their smiles were so wide and bright. They both were so positive and so strong. Each revelled in engaging with the media and rising to its challenges.

Then there were the post-match interviews. The runner-up began by congratulating her opponent graciously on her win, before going on to commend New York on bouncing back from 9/11. There could be no more consummate, polished, professional performance. Then Raducanu beguiled everyone with her sparkling modesty and her sincere bemusement at all the attention she was getting. Both would have romped home in any election as the preferred candidate.

It was all true. No one could fake the achievement. No one could feign the presentation.

As with ET, everyone bought into this dream come true. Further, it was clear insoluble problems had been solved within that process. An undercurrent within the media commentary was utterly unambiguous in its huge sigh of relief: “Thank goodness we don’t have to deal with that troublemaker Osaka any more.”

Nothing detracts from Raducanu’s triumph. And she, perhaps unlike others, has no case to answer in the sad descent of yesterday’s heart-melting star.

Archie Beaton, Inverness.


GLASGOW City Council leader Susan Aitken says that “the SNP can lead the way” using COP26 with the prize of “green space for all” (“Prime Minister is ‘undermining COP26’, says Aitken”, September 12). That is precisely the aim of the Merchant City Park group. For three years now we have campaigned to have the long-vacant plot on Ingram Street developed as a green public space, to benefit the local community, businesses and many visitors, as a city centre oasis for Glasgow. At present there isn’t any such life-enriching natural feature or other common gathering place.

Unfortunately we have not managed to have any meaningful dialogue with the council to discuss possibilities. A request for participation under the positive Scottish Government legislation was prevented, without notice, by the council selling the plot on to its own City Property Aleo (arms length external organisation) which has no legal requirement to engage with community groups. The site has since been sold to a developer, subject to planning permission, for a mixed-use development.

Councillor Aitken rightly goes on to promote green space “not only because if we don’t respond to the climate emergency now, the cost later, and not just the financial cost, will be so much higher”. The current plan for a modern build on this Conservation Area site will cause such costs. These will not only be from the major carbon footprint that construction would cause but also to cover the ongoing need to mitigate the loss of the many attractions and benefits a green open public area in this part of the city centre would bring.

She adds: “We understand that done well every pound spent on these interventions will also deliver multiple benefits.” In this case a park would give significant returns. It would take advantage of the mature trees, space for people, nature and its much-admired mural tourist attraction.

Green space here would be in line with the ethos of the Glasgow designation as a Global Green City and could be an exemplar for COP26.

Peter Hayman, Trustee, Merchant City Park Limited, Glasgow.