JILL Stephenson’s letter (“SNP has shown Indy would fail”, November 20) seems based on the proposition that devolution and independence are all about the SNP.

I think it is clear from her previous contributions that Ms Stephenson is not a fan of the SNP. However, her detestation of that party becomes a problem when she writes, for instance, “The SNP has had 14 years in which to demonstrate that devolution is such a great thing”.

Of course, devolution was introduced by the Blair Labour government, not in 2007, as she seems to imply, but in 1999. Is she suggesting that the first Scottish Governments – coalitions of Labour and Liberal Democrat – were not trying to demonstrate that devolution is a great thing?

In turn, but much more egregiously, her judgement of the SNP’s performance on a range of policy areas is “a lesson in how to fail in government”.

At the last Holyrood election, the SNP were returned as the largest party, indeed for the fourth time. Does she know better than the electorate? However, there is nothing inevitable about this outcome. There is no law of politics that says the SNP will or must be returned next time. Who knows, perhaps Douglas Ross for FM with Anas Sarwar as his Deputy?

So, just what irks Ms Stephenson? Is it the SNP being in government, or that Scotland has a government? From her conclusion that “a separate Scotland would be an unmitigated disaster”, I think it is more likely to be the latter – that poor wee Scotland is just incapable of governing itself and should “always keep-a hold of nurse [Westminster] - for fear of finding something worse!” (Hilaire Beloc).

Likewise, her fear of independence is compounded by the possibility of the SNP being in government with “even more SNP control of even more areas of governance”.

I am sure Ms Stephenson is familiar with the gratitude shown by the UK electorate to Churchill in 1945 when they voted him out of office. In the same way, there is no guarantee the SNP would win an election in an independent Scotland. However, for those of Ms Stephenson’s point of view, it’s a jolly good scare story!

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.




I READ one Sunday commentator, incredibly saying that Ms Sturgeon might be around for another five years as the SNP follow the guidance of Hilaire Belloc to “always keep a hold of nurse, for fear of finding something worse”.

What does that say about quality of the separatist camp, who have failed with every devolved responsibility and hijacked every agenda with the collective lunacy of independence?

The SNP one-trick pony has been exposed as completely lame and not fit to govern even the devolved administration. Game over.

John Dunlop, Ayr.




I AGREE with all of Joanna Blythman’s points when she criticises Nicola Sturgeon’s recent moves on Covid (“Making vaccination compulsory is immoral – and it doesn’t even work”, November 20) but I would like to emphasize a more significant issue, that of PCR tests.

PCR tests are the linchpin justification for government action on covid. A critical part of PCR is the Ct (cycle threshold), and this is the number of amplifications required to create enough DNA for analysis from a sample from a patient.

Information on what Ct values are being used by testing labs has been sparse or non-existent, but a 2021 study lead-authored by I Engelmann reports that labs often use Ct values provided by PCR kit manufacturers which are between 37 and 40 cycles.

A more accurate method of diagnosis for Covid would be to take a sample from a suspected Covid patient and attempt to culture it inside cells, but this would be too time-consuming for mass screening of millions of people.

Engelmann cites a 2020 study lead-authored by J Bullard, where diagnostics were carried out on samples from PCR-Covid-positive patients by way of culturing. Bullard concludes: “Our study showed no positive viral cultures with a Ct greater than 24”.

If, as this suggests, most positive test results are false positives then the government needs to radically rethink its covid response.

Geoff Moore, Alness.




THE distressing pictures from the Netherlands and Austria must surely act as a salutary lesson for Douglas Ross and the Scottish Tories.

Of course, restrictions on our liberty are unwelcome, but measures taken by the Scottish Government are for our protection. Attempts to undermine these efforts can not end well. Please, Douglas Ross, accept the democratic will and support every effort to keep us safe.

Ian Richmond, Gretna.




EVENTS in the Covid campaign have really reached a new low when ‘experts’ feel that it’s OK to threaten us with more lockdowns unless we accept wider applications of the Covid passport scheme.

What next, one wonders? Perhaps they should adopt the policy which seems to have adopted in Holland the other day, whereby they shoot the citizens who disagree with their approach in order to stop them dying of Covid?

Dave Henderson, Glasgow.




IT is disappointing to note – but perhaps, not altogether surprising, given the heightened emotions on both sides – that the subject of Covid vaccinations has become just as toxic and divisive as the arguments over Brexit and independence were.

To an extent, the fact that people’s lives and livelihoods are affected by Covid explains the rawness of the language, especially on the anti-vaccination side.

It’s an argument that, no matter how scrupulous you are in marshalling your arguments, the other side will react with scorn, and a plethora of facts of their own.

One can but hope that all this will have died down by this time next year, and we can return to arguing about independence!

S. McDonald, Glasgow.




I WAS astonished to hear the UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid claim at the weekend that “England has the ‘right measures’ in place to curb infections”.

Asked if the government should be dusting off its Plan B and bringing in vaccine passports and mandatory requirements to wear face coverings, Mr Javid stated that he agreed with the Prime Minister that there was “nothing in the data” that suggested the government should move forwards with Plan B.

He went on to criticise other countries in Europe (and by implication, Scotland) for not following the UK lead and ending Covid restrictions sooner.

With UK infections now running at some 280,000 in each of the last few weeks, I find Mr Javid’s assertion that the UK is doing well quite extraordinary.

It is as though the UK government is now deliberately pursuing a policy of ‘herd immunity’ and thus wilfully exposing thousands of our fellow citizens to infection and adding yet more pressure on our over-stretched NHS.

I find this truly shocking.

Eric Melvin, Edinburgh.




IMPLEMENTATION of the Scottish Covid passport system has had very little effect on younger Scots getting the jab, which serves to undermine Nicola Sturgeon’s plan to extend the passport system this week.

There is now absolutely no justification in extending the passport system further and putting the hospitality industry in Scotland under threat of financial collapse.

Dennis Forbes Grattan, Aberdeen.




HENRY McLeish states that “you have to separate the hotel aspect of [residential care] from the care side” when arguing about the need for free nursing and care (“Scotland can unite health and social care in world first”, insists ex-FM”, November 20).

That comment could equally apply to the situation in hospital care where aspects of the service provided could be classed as hotel aspects.

In integrating services, does this then give the government the opportunity to introduce hotel charges for hospital services?

And would this be seen as a more affordable than the alternative of providing free residential care in either residential care homes or nursing homes?

Interesting times and challenges ahead for the integration of health and care services, where a level playing field across both will be required – or, no doubt, legal challenges will follow.

Bill Eadie, Giffnock.