WE do not need Donald Macaskill to tell us about the financial difficulties facing adult social care (“Social care in Scotland at 'real risk of collapse' this winter”, The Herald, November 12). He runs an organisation representing predominantly commercial care home companies, some very large with multiple premises, whose fundamental aim is making profit – profit which is sometimes “adjusted” with intra-group charges and then tucked away beyond the reach of the UK Revenue. Naturally, his job is to represent their interests.

Dr Andrew Buist, Chair of BMA Scotland's GP committee, is absolutely right in saying that recruitment and retention of staff must be the top priority. My wife is a resident in a care home, owned by Highland Council and run by the NHS (would they were all like that). The love and devotion of the staff is, in a very real sense, beyond price. However, salary levels for all care home staff are shamefully low, and fall well short of what is needed to reflect the high level of skills and responsibilities involved, not to mention the need to compete with other job opportunities.

Many more voices – individual and collective – need to be raised urgently, if this is to be put right. Let's go for it.

Michael Otter, Kinlochbervie.


IN his review of Tim Stanley's Whatever Happened to Tradition? Iain Macwhirter says of Stanley's version of Christianity that "his is not the woke religion you hear on Thought for the Day ("We of little faith – has humanity lost its way?", Herald Magazine, November 13). Very punchy, no doubt – except that Stanley is himself a regular contributor to that august programme.

More importantly, when Macwhirter goes on to acknowledge that "religion reaches the parts other modes of thought cannot" he also adds that "you have to have faith to experience its mystique" and states that this requires "not just a suspension of disbelief, but a mind closed to rational critique of religion". This ignores the clear historical fact that Christianity has been in an ever-changing and complex relationship with rationality ever since Paul argued with the Athenian philosophers (see Acts 17). To be sure, there have been those like Kierkegaard who preferred absurdity to reason but, on the other side, Augustine, through Aquinas, Leibniz, Hegel are only a few of those who have argued for the compatibility of reason and faith ­– as have a great many of the distinguished Gifford lecturers who have addressed the ancient Scottish universities annually since 1888. My own theological formation in Edinburgh (in the 1970s) began with a course examining some of the most influential modern arguments against religion.

Throughout history, reason and faith have worked through just about every combination of agreement, disagreement, confusion, and harmony – inside and outside the churches. Look beyond Christianity and it's the same story in Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and many other traditions. There's no obvious reason why this story of creative conflict should stop soon.

George Pattison, St Monans, Fife.


I NOTE that the ferry services between Stornoway and Ullapool were cancelled on Saturday afternoon (November 13) and were subject to the turmoil of awaiting a decision during Sunday, eventually sailing late. According to the Calmac service app, this was due to a crew member testing positive for Covid-19 and the consequent need to sanitise the vessel, test all her crew and find replacement crew members.

This does not surprise me. I travelled from Ullapool to Stornoway last Wednesday, the first scheduled run following the vessel’s annual refit. The crew were meticulous with mask discipline. In contrast, around a third of the passengers, not including those sitting eating, flagrantly disobeyed the law and did not wear masks. Three days later, a crew member has Covid.

In a previous decade, Calmac branded itself as Scotland’s “Marine Motorway”. If 50 citizens blatantly disobeyed the law thereby taking the M8 out of service for 24 hours, Police Scotland would get involved. Given that it is not the crew’s role to police the law of the land, might I suggest that law adherence would be improved by providing the ferry with a police patrol, on board?

Jamie Dobson, Uig, Isle of Lewis.


AS far back as 2018 our much-missed Fidelma coined the phrase "buggery bollocks" for things that she often "lobbed our way". What a hoot she could be even amidst the trials and tribulations that beset her at times. Now the time has come to welcome a new columnist to Page 5 of the Herald Magazine.

We are asked to "be gentle with him" as Hugh Macdonald begins his Saturday columns ("Following Fidelma makes me feel like a karaoke singer next to Sinatra", Herald Magazine, November 13). How can we be anything else, as he is a great favourite already? So, welcome Hugh, you will be a worthy successor to Fidelma, whatever you decide to "lob our way".

Thelma Edwards, Kelso.


ROBIN Johnston's reference to the dustbin of English grammar (Letters, November 15) prompted research.

The late linguist Adam Kilgarriff advised reviewing anything one has written and seeing what can be omitted without loss of meaning, resulting in a less rambling text. According to Kilgarriff, the words cut are more likely to be adverbs, which he goes on to describe as the dustbin of English grammatical categories.

Never use three words when two can do.

David Miller, Milngavie.