SO there has been a climbdown by the Tory Government, but no contrition. This generation of Tory politicians very much resembles the man they have elected as their leader.

Boris Johnson, by his conduct and expressed opinions over many years and on many fronts, is not a fit person to lead a mature democracy. His party has conducted itself in government by showing civil servants the door, by-passing or altering rules to allow Mr Johnson to avoid censure, attempting to prorogue Parliament (and lying to the Monarch in the process), tearing up the conventions that have sustained devolution and deliberately picking fights with our allies in Europe, who also form our main trading block. Now they have been caught out attempting to get rid of the standards body that has oversight of conduct in Parliament.

This is the most sleaze-ridden government in my lifetime, yet it appears a certainty to win the next election. Why would Scotland want to remain?

GR Weir, Ochiltree.


IAIN Macwhirter ("We are seeing new realism in the environment movement", The Herald, November 3) calls Boris Johnson "the dodgiest showman since PT Barnum".

Barnum was a man who is described in his Wikipedia profile as "an American showman, businessman, and politician, remembered for promoting celebrated hoaxes”. But the crucial difference is that Barnum was, in comparison to the PM, a distant, historical relatively harmless threat, whereas Mr Johnson is – I believe – a clear and present danger and a national embarrassment. He is a serial hypocrite, more conman than Barnum-esque showman.

Sitting minus face covering alongside Sir David Attenborough at COP26 – the only maskless VIP within sneezing distance of the 95-year-old naturalist/broadcaster – was insulting and reckless; were Sir David to catch Covid, pressure on the PM to resign would be loud and clear, yet I doubt he possesses the good grace to do so. He is a man who appears utterly shameless.

A growing body of evidence reveals a character who makes the rules but considers himself above and beyond them; rules are for us little people. He has been lecturing fellow-delegates over fossil fuel production, whilst simultaneously championing a new coal mine and oil field at home; criticising air travel whilst sanctioning cuts to air passenger duty and personally private-jetting between London and Glasgow, when train travel was the responsible choice.

Addressing the UN in New York, Mr Johnson had the temerity to scold fellow world leaders, telling them he was growing “increasingly frustrated” at their efforts to tackle climate change.

This is a man whose personal and political leitmotif should read "you must do as I say, but not as I do"; it’s not big, and not clever. For me, he is a national embarrassment.

Mike Wilson, Longniddry.


IF Dr Gerald Edwards (Letters, November 4) truly believes that the First Minister and her Health Secretary are to blame for the current predicament of the Scottish NHS, the insinuation being that they are distracted by the aspiration of self-determination for their country, how does he explain the more perilous state of the English NHS?

The NHS in Scotland may be devolved, but funding for the NHS across the UK is effectively controlled from Westminster. Holyrood does not have the economic powers that would have enabled the Scottish Parliament to substantially act earlier to counter the initial spread of Covid-19 after it continued to enter the UK through borders which Holyrood does not control. Holyrood has no say in UK immigration policy, so staff lost to the Scottish NHS and our care network due to Brexit cannot readily return.

Yet, in spite of the significant limitations of Holyrood’s current powers, even in devolved matters such as health, the Scottish NHS continues to outperform the NHS in England across most objectively measurable outcomes, from A&E waiting times to relative numbers of family members and friends regrettably lost to us due to Covid-19.

Perhaps it is time for Dr Edwards to focus his ire on the heart of the problem, and other matters related to health across the UK, such as increasing poverty evidenced by the spiralling use of food banks, which is down to a Westminster Government led by a Prime Minister focused on making the rich richer (especially Tory Party donors) while those struggling in our "society" continue to suffer.

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry.

* DR Gerald Edwards attempts, again, to place the blame for the Scottish NHS crisis on the First Minister, as well as the Health Secretary.

In fact, the NHS has a multitude of senior managers, board members and national advisors on hand to run the service and they should be held accountable. These people need to report on their actions and performance.

We cannot allow politicians to micro-manage public services and can't allow them to make up policies off the top of their heads. We should see local boards and authorities explain why national policies are failing.

Allan McDougall, Neilston.


ELECTIVE surgery is a phrase that can be misleading, as it sounds as if it is something that we choose to do, such as cosmetic surgery to improve our looks. This, however, is not the case, as it actually means non-urgent surgery, something that can be planned for.

The Eye Pavilion in Edinburgh has cancelled almost all elective surgery until March next year while staff help out at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. This means treatment such as cataract operations and the treatment of glaucoma, which is the second most common cause of certified sight loss in the UK. Robbing Peter to pay Paul will not improve the general health of the nation. Sight loss is a traumatic event and can often be preventable.

This issue of lack of staff was foreseeable but the former Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon and the current incumbent, Humza Yousaf, are clearly myopic.

Jane Lax, Aberlour.


NICOLA Sturgeon has stated that Scotland and London have more to gain by "working together as partners ("Scotland and London have more to gain from being partners, claims Sturgeon", The Herald, November 4). If only Scotland was already in some sort of long-standing, political, economic and social union, based in the British Isles, where nations could share resources, technology and talent, but with enough flexibility to reflect cultural and geographical differences. Oh well.

David Bone, Girvan.


ALISON ROWAT writes a summary of the Brown-Blair series currently on the BBC iPlayer and concludes that Gordon Brown's legacy is under-appreciated ("Does history owe Prime Minister Brown an apology?", The Herald,November 4). But Mr Brown notably failed to curb the excesses of the bank; he deregulated them. The bonus culture thrived and multinationals evaded taxes whilst the poor suffered. After the bail-out of Northern Rock, he told the Institute of Directors on April 30, 2008 that he understood the need to keep Britain's tax regime competitive, boasting that they had cut corporation tax twice and announcing he wanted to go further.

After Margaret Thatcher smashed the unions, New Labour under Tony Blair and Mr Brown did little to restore workers' rights. Low wages remained low but were to be topped up by the public purse in the form of Universal Credit. It was Mr Brown who ushered in the travesty we know so well today, of the working poor being in receipt of benefits and kept on a tight leash by an authoritarian and uncaring Tory Government because their earnings no longer cover the basic cost of living. No longer is being in employment a route out of poverty. Rather than a decent minimum wage being instituted, a public subsidy is effectively being given (indirectly) to employers to enable them to keep wages below the cost of living, and we have Mr Brown to thank for that.

Is it any wonder that the people of Scotland felt betrayed and bitterly disappointed by New Labour and voted in significant numbers in 2007 and 2011 for the SNP as the social democratic alternative to Labour? These were values that New Labour had ditched.

Mairianna Clyde, Edinburgh.


HEALTH Secretary Humza Yousaf and his wife made a very serious and high-profile complaint against the Little Scholars Day nursery of racial discrimination. After an inquiry, and by the looks of it a fair bit of head scratching, the Care Inspectorate declares that their complaint is upheld and then strangely it supports its decision using words that don’t even remotely reference racism ("Nursery told to improve after Yousaf access row", The Herald, November 4).

"Consistent and robust" systems of management and "fairness" are what most organisations aim for but the lack of them is a mile away from the serious charge of racism.

The Care Inspectorate’s findings smack very much of a fudged political solution; hopefully the commercial future of what appears to be a very successful nursery is not endangered because of them.

W MacIntyre, East Kilbride.

Read more: How can we succeed when our leaders are so elitist?