THE Owen Paterson affair has taught us a lot more about our man at the top.

Apparently he does not subscribe to the dictum that the buck stops here for whoever is in charge.

He ducked having to face the music in Parliament, preferring to bump elbows in the more forgiving atmosphere of a Northumberland hospital. He could so easily have deferred his visit and fronted up his Government with a leadership appearance at the despatch box.

"Frit" is the word Margaret Thatcher would have employed to describe his body-swerve of the debate on the standards befitting public servants.

And just look at how thinly populated were the governing party's benches at the actual debate, both leaderless and deserted by many of that craven crew. The optics were not good and it would be no surprise that the conduct of the man who wants to remain PM has holed his whole premiership beneath its waterline.

The sheen of his charisma is beginning to wear thin, and behind that mask lies a little frightened man who is out of his depth and up to his neck in hot water brought to boiling point by his own mistakes.

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Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.

WITH Glasgow’s COP26 closed – and whether pitched/perceived as “ a success” is immaerial – several important, inescapable imperatives stand out.
Foremost, it is surely far better to have had the majority of countries on Earth present in person rather than not at all – or virtually – leaders, advisers, scientists, lobbyists, experts and the world’s media all interacting in person, preferable to the easy way out, ignoring the whole damned mess?
But, on the opposite side of COP26’s balance sheet lie two equally unavoidable and inconvenient truths.
First, and most grievous of all, with fossil fuel lobbyists apparently outnumbering all other designations, those most harmed – potentially and practically – by the climate emergency were largely absent, at best on the outside looking in, protesting rather than participating.
The world’s safe, secure prosperous establishment majorities – mostly authentic, some not – were striking a tone of mild condescension towards the unsafe, insecure and poverty-stricken minorities of Planet Earth.
The world’s youth, due to inherit the horrors of floods, fires, storms, lost habitats and damage to a natural world inflicted on them by my generation, an environment they have every right to inherit reasonably intact, were largely patronised, treated at best as a worthy, enthusiastic sideshow.
The world’s poor were absent too, far too busy grinding out a living back home, the elephant in the room – that there can be no climate solutions without social justice – largely ignored by a UN that should know better.
Meanwhile, there were a few – I fear “token” – representatives of the world’s indigenous peoples present, many suffering disproportionately at the greed of the world, and whilst their colourful costumes were much admired (patronised?), their voices were not proportionately heard inside the sprawling official COP campus.
Finally, with the post-Brexit “Global Britain” afforded the opportunity of a lifetime to show leadership and take responsibility over the existential threat of our time, having slashed the Overseas Aid budget in the run-up to COP26, how on earth did the Alok Sharma/Boris Johnson presidency ever expect to be taken seriously, let alone elicit telling financial commitments from other citizens of the world who know hypocrisy when they meet it?
But, overall, surely better to have met, debated, argued, negotiated and highlighted the plight of the planet and its people, even though promises made are barely worth the recycled paper they are written on.
A low bar for sure, but surely better than no bar at all.
Mike Wilson, Longniddry.

COP26 may be virtually over but it’s clear that Nicola Sturgeon has been successful in elbowing her way onto centre stage to promote her views on independence and on Scotland being a “world leader” in battling climate change.   Yet we are none the wiser about what some of her policies are.
Is she abandoning oil and gas production in the North Sea and ceasing any support for oil exploration off Shetland putting hundreds of Scots jobs at risk?  We know that the ultimate aim is to stop reliance on fossil fuels but reducing it too quickly could require the importation of oil and gas to make up the difference in the short term.   Additionally, is Scotland joining the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance where some governments are grouping together to take collective measures to combat climate change? Again tentative talks seem to be taking place with no firm conclusions.
So Ms Sturgeon’s assertion that Scotland is a “world leader”  in battling climate change seems to be all hot air as leadership doesn’t include sitting on the fence.  Only firm action does.
Bob MacDougall, Kippen.

DESPITE what Greta Thunberg says, COP26 was a success. Huge mainstream and social media coverage reached beyond the middle class bubble and delivered a reality check for all.
It’s now clear that unless all of the main polluters, Russia, India and China, engage and act, we in the UK are suckers. The cost of transition is staggering with no idea how it will be funded, especially by households. There is no consensus on the best technologies to adopt and no Plan B if the imagined technologies don’t materialise.
In Scotland our First Minister shamelessly waved her CV around, despite consistently missing inflated, headline-seeking targets on renewable jobs, recycling, wildlife and emissions, and being at loggerheads with the Greens on Cambo, carbon capture, funding and transport.
That these issues are now in public discourse is a positive outcome and will hopefully end the smug, chauffeur-driven “we know what’s best for you” attitude that Barack Obama alluded to in his speech encouraging greater engagement with sceptics and ordinary people. They clearly don’t.
Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven.

NO ONE really knows how the costs of net zero will be absorbed and no-one is being remotely honest about the impact on our most financially vulnerable families. The best estimate of the net zero cost to the average household comes from the Office of Budget Responsibility: £50,000 or £32 per week for the next 30 years.
The government response north and south of the Border is that green policies are popular – which they are until they are costed. For example, a recent poll found two-thirds of respondents supported replacing gas boilers but that fell below 10 per cent when they were informed of the expense. Net zero will have highly unjust social consequences in these islands with the poor switching off their heating to cut bills.
Fossil fuels have generated the single biggest upsurge in living standards in global history. Before we embrace the blue-sky thinking of celebs for whom money is no object, we need to make sure our feet are firmly on the ground. Let’s remember that cost and reliability are key features of energy and the very poorest of our fellow citizens stand to lose out.
Dr John Cameron, St Andrews.

AT COP26 Population Matters had a huge inflatable “Big Baby” to point out that there are too many people on Earth. The world population today is 7.9 billion, will be 9.9bn by 2050 and 11bn by 2100. Why was this not on the COP26 agenda? 
Foreign aid of trillions of pounds/dollars/euros/yen has been lavished on developing countries for more than 80 years but instead of linking it to birth control the cash was wasted on vanity projects or found its way into Swiss bank accounts. 
More than 100 countries have pledged to reduce methane from oil and gas wells, pipelines, decaying waste in landfill sites and livestock farming by 30 per cent by 2030 compared with 2020 levels. They ignore the 7.9bn people who emit huge quantities of methane every day. 
Foreign aid must be linked to birth control.
Clark Cross, Linlithgow.

THE nightmares simply pile up for Nicola Sturgeon. On top of all the usual ones such as education, ferries and Indyref2 the Scottish NHS is becoming a quagmire of problems for both patients and staff. Now Scotland’s essential oil and gas industry is in the firing line too. 
SNP policies give little room for leeway particularly now with a Green input and the last thing any politician wants is to paint themselves into a corner but the Scottish Government under Ms Sturgeon’s leadership is fast reaching this position. Normally there is always the hope that a new brush might sweep clean but this option is very limited for the present  administration. Currently everything is just being swept under the SNP/Green carpet. This is not the answer.
Dr Gerald Edwards  Glasgow.

I CAN confirm to Gavin Ferguson (Letters, November 7) that he is being overly paranoid regarding anti-SNP bias in the mainstream media. Not reporting on the activities of the Scottish Labour leader would itself be political bias and it is perfectly valid for Anas Sarwar, as an MSP for the Glasgow region, to scrutinise Glasgow City Council.
It should also be noted that Mr Sarwar’s views on the council are not unusual in the city and I suspect many people who voted in the current administration are regretting that decision now. It is entirely logical for a council to want their city to look the best when it is hosting a major conference and the height of incompetence to get itself involved in the situation we have seen over the past few weeks.
John Shanks, Glasgow.