FOR those of us who lived through the 1970s there is more than a whiff of “all our yesterdays” about the UK today.

An energy crisis; bare shelves in shops; borrowing highest since the Second World War; inflation; huge inequalities and poverty; poor productivity; low infrastructure investment outside the South of England; feckless politicians. Add to this the collapse in trade due to Brexit, and a Prime Minister strutting about abroad, smirking about “crisis, what crisis?”.

Scotland produces four times more gas than it consumes and exports substantial quantities of oil, electricity (14.3 TWh net in 2020) and prime food and drink. All the basics are there. It was the discovery of Scottish oil which “saved” the UK in the 1970s, and it will be the waning of this industry (whose benefits largely bypassed Scotland), allied to the shambles above, which will lead to Scotland becoming a self-governing country.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.


AS Alister Jack has rightly pointed out, it is the British Army that will be driving our ambulances. It was the British Army in the firemen's strike and the British Army was there to empty our bins when the bin men went on strike.

Would SNP members who are needing an ambulance urgently refuse on principle to use the service on finding it was driven by a British soldier? I think not.

When is the SNP going to realise and appreciate that if we were not part of Great Britain this would not have happened?

Neil Stewart, Balfron.


THE current energy crisis reminds me of a similar scenario back in the 1980s. Back then we were all advised to look around, search the market, get the best deal and were told that loyalty could be costing us dear. That was the message regarding one's mortgage provider and we all know the consequences of that misselling. So, has the similar message to shop around for your fuel supplier come home to roost?

Is there a bailout for the smaller energy companies? Not according to Westminster. Is there any lifeline from Westminster for hardworking families who are facing massive reductions in their household incomes with the removal of the £20 per week uplift to Universal Credit, the end of furlough approaching, the increase in National Insurance, inflation rising exponentially (3.2%) and now massive increases to home fuel costs? I make reference to hard-working families, but there are those who are unable to work through disability, who need homes to be properly heated.

Thankfully in Scotland we have the child winter heating assistance grant (£202) which is available to families with disabled children 18 years of age and under. This grant must be publicised in the current fuel crisis to allow any families slipping through the net to secure their entitlement.

Catriona C Clark, Falkirk.


READING the article by George Fergusson (“Australian sub deal will sink trust in UK”, The Herald, September 22) reminded me of the Govan Shipbuilders order from Brittany Ferries which was cancelled and placed with a French yard.

The cancelled submarine order by Australia where the boats were to be built in France is maybe of a different magnitude, but nevertheless, "pots and kettles" come to mind.

The link to Bruce Millan's contribution on the British Shipbuilders (Borrowing Powers) Bill from July 16, 1987 makes interesting reading in relation to this latest turn of events some 34 years later. And with everything that has followed regarding shipbuilding in Britain compared with France, what do the French do to enable them to build the largest cruise ship in the world, which has just completed its sea trials?

Ian Gray, Croftamie.


I NOTE with interest George Fergusson's article. Any country or state or government or diplomat or interpreter who expects anything other than treachery, betrayal or a knife between the shoulder blades from Britain or the US will be sadly disappointed. Both countries have shown themselves incapable of sticking to treaties, agreements, accords. Now Australia has joined their mendacious partnership, thus proving you can't trust any of them.

This bodes ill for future co-operation with Europe, but that doesn't seem to bother those in charge. They've got their escape hatch ready, so they don't give a toss.

Margaret Forbes, Kilmacolm.


THERE are few surer signs that your opponent in a debate has run out of ideas than the vacuous appeal to authority of "the Oxford English Dictionary defines...". It is therefore deeply regrettable that Iain Macwhirter apparently hasn't outgrown this juvenile rhetorical tactic ("Why can’t they say a woman is an adult human female?", The Herald, September 22).

But given his pedantic attachment to dictionary definitions, it surprises me that it has escaped his notice that the Oxford English Dictionary also defines "Woman" as "a person with the qualities traditionally associated with females". This presumably makes the statement that "transwomen are women" look less like an example of the dread "gender ideology" that so haunts his and his colleague Kevin Mackenna's fevered nightmares, and more like, in his own words, "a proposition that 99 per cent of British voters would see as wholly unobjectionable". Unless, of course, Mr Macwhirter's arguments against trans rights are based less on logic, or even on defending (some) women's rights, than on his own prejudice.

Fortunately, most feminists and LGBTQ+ activists are capable of a level of sophistication that seems beyond Mr Macwhirter and his ilk and that renders this trivial, specious hair-splitting as redundant as it is intolerant.

Ian Macbeth, Leith.


WHAT is surprising to me about the current debate on transgender issues is the total absence of any reference to an individual’s chromosome complement.

You might argue we are all female, in that we all carry the genetic information for expressing female characteristics in the X chromosome. Most females have 23 pairs of chromosomes including two X chromosomes (46XX). Individuals with Turner’s Syndrome (45X0) and so-called Superfemales (47XXX) have female characteristics. It is the presence of the Y chromosome that conveys male characteristics, in both 46XY, and 47XXY (Klinefelter’s Syndrome). You might say that maleness is a superimposition upon femaleness. The arrangement 45Y0 is incompatible with life. A mosaic pattern, by which an individual might develop cell lines with both XX and XY components – hermaphroditism – is rare. Similarly, an XY individual may develop female characteristics because a crucial part of the Y chromosome has been deleted, but that again is vanishingly rare. So, by and large, like it or not, mother nature with regard to gender takes a binary approach.

Of course, this need not tell us whether or not the Y chromosome should be welcome in a women’s refuge, but at least it solves a problem of semantics. If a woman (sic) chooses to wear a T-shirt with the logo “A man has a Y chromosome”, it would be hard to argue the point.

Dr Hamish Maclaren, Stirling.


I CAN agree with some of what Rosemary Goring says about young people and the climate change crisis ("Global warming: Be afraid ... but not too afraid", The Herald September 22). But I disagree with her statement that "today's predicament is not a reason for younger adults to feel hopeless".

Not only should all young people feel hopeless at the totally inadequate measures being taken by the older generation to mitigate against climate change; they should be demanding that they won't have to look back in 30 years' time and say "Granny knew what to do, but she didn't do it".

Rose Harvie, Dumbarton.


BORIS Johnson said that the current electricity and gas crisis shows that we must build more wind turbines. Shadow business secretary Ed Miliband wants more wind turbines to "meet net zero with affordability and security". Politicians are out of touch with reality.

Affordability? Electricity is 5.6 times more expensive than gas. Security? Fossil fuels this month provided, on average, 55 per cent of our electricity needs, nuclear 16%, renewables a pitiful 10.6%. Coal power plants had to be reconnected to stop blackouts.

Wind turbines have never provided reliable or cheap electricity. Politicians must suspend the 12% green levies on our energy bills, cancel constraint payments which have added £1 billion to our electricity bills, reopen gas storage facilities and start shale gas extraction.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow.

Read more: Sorry, but the independence movement is alive and well