BRIAN Wilson's column ("Forget Paterson and even Johnson: House of Lords is democratic disgrace", The Herald, November 10)was difficult to read with a straight face. How many of his erstwhile Labour colleagues – Alistair Darling, George Foulkes, etc – parade through this gross insult to democracy? Perhaps he could begin by persuading these ermined "socialists" to help "change from within", as this is the usual justification offered to cover over some ever-so-slight feeling of unease at the process.

The gravy train is just too alluring, but this is the system that Labour has colluded with over the years. Socialism, eh? It would, of course, be too much to expect Mr Wilson to acknowledge the SNP's outright refusal to participate in this sham.

Dr Angus Macmillan, Dumfries.

* THE headline on Brian Wilson's latest column has got it half right

The egregious misconduct of Mr Paterson and Mr Johnson must never be forgotten, but I agree with Mr Wilson that serious opposition politicians should take the House of Lords seriously as a symbol of institutional corruption.

The Scottish Labour Party website lists no fewer than 26 Scottish Labour peers. I know of at least two who are now deceased, which leaves around a couple of dozen, most of whom are conspicuous by their silence but are nevertheless eligible to pocket more than £300 per day for just turning up.

It is perhaps not surprising that the erstwhile-dominant Scottish Labour Party has now only one elected MP when it proudly participates in this disgrace.

Dennis Canavan, Bannockburn.


MARIE White (Letters, November 10), states that it is perfectly legitimate to oppose independence, "but it is not legitimate to deny democracy. And it is not legitimate to use untrue arguments to justify this lack of democracy".

I cannot let that bold statement go by without reminding Ms White that it is she who is denying democracy, after the 2014 independence referendum result. And that is not an untrue argument – just one that the SNP wishes to erase from history, as it does with anything else with which it does not agree.

Walter Paul, Glasgow.


PETER A Russell (Letters, November 10) berates Nicola Sturgeon for failing to accept the decision of the Scottish people in 2014. He clearly believes that new Scottish electors who have joined the game in the last seven years and those who will join in the years ahead should never have the opportunity to cast a vote on the independence question.

The constitutional status quo was not created by Nicola Sturgeon and her personal views on the matter carry no more weight than those of any other individual; she was not First Minister at the time of the 2014 vote. The insistence of Mr Russell and his ilk on conflating the democratic right of our nation with the activities of individual politicians or political parties is boringly tiresome and can only be intended to divert attention from the clear and simple truth that we are held hostage by the votes of our southern neighbours.

Willie Maclean, Milngavie.


IN her (as usual) thoughtful letter (November 10), Thelma Edwards asks if sleaze in government is inevitable. She quotes John Adams, one of the fathers of American independence and democracy, who himself asked a similar question when confronting the question of the character (or lack of it) of their rulers.

John Adams wrote in 1765, just a few years before the declaration of American independence.

John Adams and his compatriots found an answer, and if the people of the UK cannot, then, as John Adams might have put it, the people of Scotland have an indisputable, inalienable and indefeasible right to do it for themselves.

John Jamieson, Ayr.


AS COP26 nears its end the fine words of Boris Johnson and his sleaze-ridden Tory Government are again suspect. With the prospect of opening another oilfield, a possible coal mine and cutting air travel taxes, the UK shows little understanding of the growing climate crisis.

Meanwhile, in a typical Tory Budget of giving with one hand and taking back more with the other, Chancellor Rishi Sunak's performance was outstanding. This personable and highly intelligent multimillionaire has greatly enhanced his premiership ambitions.

However, the Budget that would "strengthen the Union" could leave millions of Scottish families worse off and undermine the devolution settlement. With the Tory "One Nation" concept, the rise of the "four nations", or as Mr Johnson prefers, "the fab four", would be shelved. Indeed the continuance of the devolved parliaments, far less independence, would be in conflict with keeping the Union together in a failed Brexit Britain.

Grant Frazer, Newtonmore.


THE President of the Government of Catalonia, Pere Aragones, has thanked the Scottish people for their "solidarity and support" in their efforts to separate their region of Spain from the rest of that country ("Sturgeon and Catalan president discuss independence at COP26", The Herald, November 9). He said at COP 26 that the backing of Scotland had helped the Catalans during the "most difficult days" of "Spanish oppression and violence".

All well and good, except for one thing. The support of nationalist Scotland, which the President extols, will not exactly endear this country to the legal and elected government of Spain. If the dream of Scottish separatists ever comes true and they apply to return to the folds of the EU, there can be no doubt whatsoever that Spain, which holds a veto on new entrants to the organisation, would not forget, and would exercise its right to send the Scots homeward to think again and give a message to all breakaway and separatist movements across Europe.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.


FOR almost 70 years I have loved and enjoyed the music, poetry and literature of my native Scotland. Even as a child, there was a sense of pride that my own heritage was rich, diverse and embracing.

But how John Dunlop's letter (November 9) resonated with my own sentiments of late, as the Scottish nationalist movement increasingly devalues these precious resources, at times tainting them with a sense of disdain, discontent and division – using them to create a distance between us and our English neighbours.

How impoverished we will be if our Union is ever torn asunder.

Sheila Wallace, Blair Atholl.


DOUG Marr ("Don’t let later retirement and pension reform bring back the bad old days", The Herald, November 8) raises some pertinent issues. The rise in the state pension age has certainly not been well thought through: the needs of those who keep the infrastructure of our country running, out working in all weathers, receiving only statutory sick pay which results in the need to attend work even when unwell, cannot seriously be compared to someone sitting in a well-heated office pushing a pen all day, yet that is the current law on the pension age. Mr Marr says "recent years have been kind to the post-war baby boom generation" with final salary and index-linked pensions; all very well if you have the health to enjoy it, but for those workers mentioned above the story is so different.

Recent years have certainly not been kind to Waspi (Women Against State Pension Inequality) women, who were born in the 1950s and not afforded the statutory notice of a rise to their state pension age, plunging many into poverty and claiming benefits for the first time in their lives. Mr Marr makes reference to a report by Age Scotland which revealed 120,000 Scottish pensioners are living in persistent poverty – a shocking statistic in Scotland and a good reason why pensions should be devolved to Holyrood, where the needs of our vulnerable and ageing population can be met by those closest to the reality, those who see evidence of this poverty in their constituencies daily.

As to auto-enrolment into workplace pensions, this scheme was designed to assist employees to save for their pensions, additional to their state pension. Established in 2012 and seeing steady increases to contributions – now standing at 8% (5% employee and 3% employer) – it begs the question: is this the forerunner to the end of state pensions as we know it? The bad old days must never return, but are they creeping ever closer?

Catriona C Clark, Falkirk.


I AGREE with Neil Mackay’s column on Britain’s role in torture ("Britain must find the guts to confess to its role in torture", The Herald, November 9). I feel he is rather naive if he expects the most sleaze-ridden Government we have seen to admit the outrageous treatment carried out in our name ever happened. As a practising Buddhist, I know there is such a thing as karma, which no one can avoid.

Margaret Forbes, Kilmacolm.

Read more: Why Scotland is the luckiest country in the world