IAIN Macwhirter seems quite taken by the populist blagging of Boris Johnson, as are millions of others ("Why Johnson is donning the mantle of a Tory Tony Benn", The Herald, October 6). However, quoting a handful of occupations where the wage packets are a tad heavier does not mean we are heading toward a “high-wage economy”. Indeed the higher wages in some sectors only mean a cost increase for the rest of us, because it is not based on higher output per worker, or better productivity. If we all get more money for doing exactly the same, it results in inflation, higher costs and less competitive goods in the international marketplace.

It took a country like Germany decades to become a high-skill, high-wage economy (while bringing in “guest” workers to do the less esteemed work). There was year upon year of company re-investment of profits, a workforce willing to forgo today's wage boost for “jam tomorrow”. What Mr Johnson is invoking is high inflation, stoked by shortages of goods and staff. With the UK heading back to the joys of the 1970s, this makes Mr Johnson not Tony Benn, but James Callaghan, another populist, out-of-his-depth leader. “Crisis, what crisis”?

GR Weir, Ochiltree.


IT is great that the Prime Minister now wishes to push forward towards a high-wage, high-skill, high-productivity and yes, low-tax economy. However I cannot be the only person in Scotland who wonders why this can't be reconciled with a real living wage in the proposed green ports in Scotland. The Secretary of State for Scotland has said that these high wages would make them uncompetitive ("Jack in wage fears for green ports plan", The Herald, October 6).

Possibly the PM should have a word with him?

Foster Evans, Renfrew.


JILL Stephenson (Letters, October 6) is to be commended for her directness in insisting that in the event of another referendum the Union side should have the advantage of question wording. However, her justification that “Yes” had the advantage in practice stands up to little scrutiny, as the question used was the one recommended by the Electoral Commission. Moreover, having mentioned that a Remain/ Leave question was shown by Professors Ford, Johns and Garry to advantage “No”, Ms Stephenson concludes: “As a matter of balance, in any future referendum, the question should be "Should Scotland remain in the UK? Yes or No".” I think we can draw our own conclusions from that.

However, more important is Ms Stephenson’s focus on the Electoral Commission, whose aim is to ensure “UK elections remain secure, fair, modern, inclusive and transparent”. However, there are proposals in the Elections Bill, for a Strategy and Policy Statement for the Electoral Commission, which will set out the Government’s priorities on electoral matters and principles under which the commission will be expected to operate. While this must be approved by Parliament, it will be prepared by the Secretary of State, currently Michael Gove. The commission itself has said the proposals will “place a fetter on the commission which would limit its activity”.

Thus, the organisation charged with ensuring that any question for a second referendum is fair and not misleading will be under the control of one of the parties in the referendum debate. Perhaps Ms Stephenson will even get her way with the question for the next referendum, even if through the unfair, prejudicial, and undemocratic means contained in the Elections Bill.

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.


THERE is endless quibbling about how the simple answers "yes" or "no" might give advantage or disadvantage to those voting in a referendum (Letters, October 6).

There are important decisions made every day by governments, management boards and committees on the basis of votes cast for a motion or against it. No one ever suggests that there is bias in favour of the supporters.

If we ignore the bias implied by such inaccurate phrases as "secession", "separatism" or "leaving the UK", the only honest and historically justifiable question for a referendum would be "Should Scotland become an independent nation again?"

Peter Dryburgh, Edinburgh.

* A NUMBER of your correspondents have discussed the nature of the question to be put in any putative future Indyref2.

However, it has been clear since 2014 that the only referendum result that nationalists will accept is one in favour of secession from the UK. Therefore their preferred format for a future referendum ballot paper would surely be “Do you agree that Scotland must leave the UK whatever the cost?”

And a box marked “Yes.”

And that’s all.

Peter A Russell, Glasgow.


BRIAN Wilson tells us that poverty matters ("Nicola Sturgeon vs Douglas Ross working class battle doesn't matter. Poverty does", The Herald, October 6). Indeed poverty does matter. The "rape clause" and the bedroom tax would not have been visited on Scotland's poorest families if it had not been for Westminster rule by a Government rejected by the Scottish electorate.

These, and other reactionary "hostile" measures such as racist immigration laws, are no doubt regretted by some supporters of the Union but the huge cost to our poorest families is, it would seem, a price that wealthy Union supporters are willing for the most vulnerable to pay.

Brian Dempsey, Lecturer, School of Law, University of Dundee.


ADAM Tomkins ("When institutions like ours fail us, people will just take the law into their own hands", The Herald, October 6) will be disappointed to learn that on Tuesday, the Welsh Senedd also agreed to introduce vaccine passports and this is commonplace throughout Europe, as it is seen as a vital tool in encouraging the uptake of vaccines and to protect those who frequent crowded nightclubs and large sporting events.

Nicola Sturgeon’s far superior handling of the health crisis in Scotland has resulted in Scotland having lower cases and deaths per head of population plus a greater number of jags administered compared to England, thanks to our much-better-performing NHS.

It could be argued that the Scottish position would be even better if we had had control of our borders and the fiscal powers required to introduce an earlier lockdown, rather than relying on Boris Johnson’s fatal dithering that trashed our economy and resulted in the UK having the worst death rate and the highest number of cases per head of population in Europe, when as an island we should have had the lowest rates.

Tories continually fail to recognise the four different health services in the UK, and on June 10 a House of Lords committee found that Mr Johnson's use of the Union Flag as a backdrop for coronavirus briefings caused "unacceptable and unnecessary" confusion, which is amplified by BBC Scotland allowing opposition politicians to immediately undermine the Scottish Government’s health briefings – a practice that is not followed by the BBC elsewhere in the UK.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh.


I WISH to commend Willie Maclean’s stunningly clear analysis of the Scottish/British national identity (Letters, October 6). When it comes to football (rugby or otherwise), I am Scottish. When it comes to world war, I am British. That analysis could provide the basis of a rational, flags absent, debate over what happens in the grey area between these two positions.

My Scottish identity, for example, prevails in many issues other than football and includes our legal system, our education system, our sense of humour and many others.

Michael Sheridan, Glasgow.


PRIOR to reading today's Herald (October 6), my eyes were drawn to the front page, just above your main headline. "Ross v Sturgeon" it read, promoting an article within the pages.

My immediate instincts were to imagine a sporting comparison. Petershill FC v Barcelona sprung to mind (with all due respect to Petershill, a mostly amateur side with a distinguished history).

Kevin Orr, Bishopbriggs.


WITHIN the living memory of many of us, the Clyde was the hub of Scottish shipbuilding, but under the care of our current Scottish Government we are now in the ignominious position of having to buy a second-hand ferry from Norway for £9 million because Scotland can't seem to organise having one built here at home for an acceptable price and within a given time limit ("New ferry for islands bought for the fraction of the cost of languishing vessels", The Herald, October 5). And that's after those who are in charge of such things appear to have already spent about £110 million on a couple of other older ships.

It all makes me ashamed to be Scottish.

Archibald A Lawrie, Kingskettle, Fife.

Read more: The Union side should have the advantage of Yes question in Indyref2