ANAS Sarwar is turning a blind eye to history when he uses the current ferry problems to attack the First Minister ("Sturgeon told ferries failure on her watch is an ‘international humiliation'", The Herald, September 24).

Eleven years ago Peter Timms, then chairman of David MacBrayne, said its Calmac and NorthLink subsidiaries had suffered decades of under-investment by successive governments. As reported in The Herald of September 27, 2010, "between 1974 and 2010 the average age of vessels in the Clyde and Hebrides fleet has crept upwards from 13 to nearly 20 years".

There have been Labour governments both in Westminster and at Holyrood over that 11-year period, but MPs and MSPs of all parties choose to ignore island problems until it becomes politically expedient. Where was Anas Sarwar in the years when it was obvious that Islay’s ferry service was fragile?

In normal circumstances I, too, would like to see Islay’s much-needed ferries built in Scotland, but with no firm end date for the construction of the two ferries in Ferguson’s yard, Mr Sarwar has to understand that Islay can’t wait.

Catriona Bell, Bridgend, Isle of Islay.


THE “best of the best” said Kate Forbes when describing Ferguson Marine’s management on a fleeting visit just several weeks ago. Did she come with the knowledge of ferry orders going abroad – Romania, Poland, Turkey – yet still made that statement?

What has that enormous pay packet to the “best of the best”achieved? Don’t argue competitive tenders. We are no longer in the EU, so no hassle there. Don’t argue best value for the Scottish purse. People on the dole will cost more than any paltry savings made in foreign yards. Don’t argue we don’t have the workers. Provide well-paid work with guarantees of year on year orders and the workers will come while we build our own skill force once more. Take Inchgreen Drydock into public ownership to give space for Ferguson’s to do the work.

There is no will. Why not? The people of Inverclyde have been and are being betrayed by those in whom we placed our trust. No wringing of hands. No excuses. No meaningless bluster.

Nothing would please me more than to be proved wrong by a united front forcing a reversal of this calamitous decision. Heads should indeed roll, not when management/director/government choose but immediately. Our representatives stand or fall on the outcome of this. Here is an opportunity to build an industrial base which will give job opportunities at all skill levels and across all age ranges to an area where a new cafe, restaurant, call centre, fish processing plant is all we can aspire to. Shame on us all.

Isobel Delussey, Gourock.


WITH the conference on climate change just about upon us I have yet to hear any politician even mention the root cause of the problem, namely human population growth. Unless this thorny issue is sorted then the future for our children and grandchildren is really bleak.

Still we see in the news that surrogacy is on the rise and we are also spending millions annually on IVF. Surely with so many children on the planet requiring loving parents we should be outlawing these practices. I have four children and love them all equally, the fact that I am the biological father of only two does not matter. Instead of increasing the problem I would urge more potential parents to consider adoption rather than proliferation. Maybe by doing so and also modifying our outrageously wasteful lifestyles we could offer a brighter future to coming generations.

To quote Sir David Attenborough: "All environmental problems become harder – and ultimately impossible – to solve with ever more people."

Professor Eric R McVicar, Strontian.


ON October 3 it will be 69 years since the United Kingdom became the third nuclear power, with the successful detonation of an atomic device at Monte Bello Islands off the West Australian coast. This was followed by further test detonations in Australia and Christmas Island (Kiritimati).

While the UK and the world have been a safer place since these tests, the service personnel involved in the tests, and their descendants, have suffered many unexplained illnesses which can be traced back to their participation in these tests.

Over the last few years, the service personnel who were involved in these tests have been campaigning for the Government to award a medal to personnel involved in these tests. This request has been turned down twice, in 2013 and again in 2019. When veterans and Members of Parliament have queried this decision they are given the usual hackneyed answer: “The Government continues to recognise and are grateful to all the servicemen who participated in the British nuclear testing programme. They contributed to keeping our nation secure during the Cold War and since, by ensuring that the UK was equipped with an appropriate nuclear capability.”

If the Government were truly grateful for our service during this period then they should demonstrate this by awarding a medal.

Colin Moir, Peterhead.


HAVING in the last year downsized, measured and replaced, I am now more conversant with conversion from imperial to metric, as discussed in recent letters (September 21, 23, 24 & 25).

But while “one foot in the grave” remains apposite and unchanged, I guess that for my generation, in the winter of life, 180cm lacks the impact of “six feet under”.

Unlike Rachel Martin going back to imperial to measure scary inflation (Letters, September 24), I look back with nostalgia to the 1950s, where a pint of university scrumpy converts to 5p and a pie and beans 7p.

If only.

R Russell Smith, Largs.