BRIAN Wilson is of course correct in everything he says about COP26 and the funding of local government services in Glasgow and elsewhere ("Leadership needed to stop COP26 turning into a national embarrassment", The Herald, October 27). However, there remains a deeper underlying issue which is also in urgent need of being fixed: local authorities need a sustainable and autonomous system of revenues which is simultaneously adequate to meet its needs and fair to local taxpayers.

Of course those of us with long memories will recall that the SNP first came to power in 2007 on an explicit manifesto commitment to “scrap the Hated Council Tax” and to replace it with a Local Income Tax (LIT). The idea was of course quietly scrapped when they realised that any reform creates losers as well as winners, and has never been mentioned again. So what can be done? Here’s what.

The Scottish Parliament should set about creating an agreed scheme of double devolution which would decentralise powers back to regional authorities and/or regional consortia of service providers. These would be empowered to raise a Regional Income Tax and act as a major tool of redistribution. The first of these regions should be Greater Glasgow, and beneath the regional level there should be a layer of burgh councils, each run by voluntary councillors and funded by a limited domestic property tax and service charges. Further regions might be Edinburgh and Lothians and Fife.

Crucially, each layer should also have the flexibility to introduce and set new and innovative revenue streams (subject to technical approval by the Account Commission).

These proposals are within the powers of the Scottish Parliament and could be developed right now. It is a mark of the dismally conservative and politically timid politics of devolved Scotland that local government has remained unreformed and reduced to a pitiful shadow of what it could be. And although the SNP is mainly to blame – having been in power for 14 years – I include in this all of the parties, including the one of which I am a member.

Peter A Russell, Glasgow.

* I ALWAYS look forward to Brian Wilson's episodes from the western edge of the country. However, suggesting in today's column that a Scottish Government minister has some duty to meet with Glasgow Life to discuss its budget crisis is absurd.

This kiddy-on, undemocratic and unaccountable charity is the brainchild of Glasgow City Council (and similar to other trusts in other councils across the country). It is up to the council to sort out its budget and the mess it has made.

Allan McDougall, Neilston.


MY interest in titles used in your Letters Pages was piqued by John McCallum’s letter (October 23) querying what subject Gerald Edwards’ doctorate is in.

Of course, normal practice is that those who have completed a PhD are entitled to use the academic title Doctor. However, medical doctors (for example your GP) with an MB ChB can use the title Doctor, but, their degree being at undergraduate level, this is a courtesy accorded to them by the university at which they studied. This is well-established practice

However, since the Millennium, other professions have begun using the title Doctor, including dentists and vets. In the case of these, the President of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons argued “of the three main clinical degrees in the UK, ie medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine, only veterinary surgeons do not use the courtesy title ‘Doctor’.” Yet while medical doctors’ use of the title is accorded them by their graduating university, the latter two professional bodies seem to have taken it upon themselves to allow their members to use the title without any external validation.

One justification appears to be that doing so “mirrors international practice” – ie, it is what happens in other countries. However, the medieval Latin saying “si fueris Romae, Romano vivito more; si fueris alibi, vivito sicut ibi” ("if you are at Rome, live in the Roman manner; if elsewhere, live as they do there") is an alternative point of view. Moreover, both vets and dentists already have a title in their qualification which some would argue is superior to Doctor/Surgeon.

But reverting to your Letters Pages, it would be in order for me to sign my letters Dr Alasdair Galloway (Glasgow 1991) but I choose not to. If a career in higher education taught me anything it was that a stupid argument remained a stupid argument whatever the title of the person putting that argument forward (whether Doctor or even Professor).

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.

* WITH a medical qualification hard-earned more than half a century ago I note the confusion over the all-embracing term “doctor” cited by retired consultant physician Colin Sykes (Letters, October 27), and it seems to me that there are too many imposters around, in Law, Theology, Philosophy, etc. On the very few occasions now required I confirm my status with the prefix “real”.

One exception is the Dixieland tune and lyrics, the bouncy and uplifting Doctor Jazz, written by King Oliver, recorded by the legendary Jelly Roll Morton in 1926, and a staple for many groups since. “Hello Central give me Doctor Jazz, He’s got what I need, I’ll say he has”.

Jelly Roll? Don’t ask.

R Russell Smith, Largs.


I ENJOYED Rory Mair's column about the ongoing march of officialese in our lives ("Speaking officialese can leave compassion out in the cold", The Herald, October 27). I would suggest to him that the next time he encounters someone resorting to this, he should throw him out the next window of opportunity.

Dr Angus Macmillan, Dumfries.