ONE rogue poll based arguably only on the perceived dislike of Boris Johnson and the SNP bandwagon for independence goes up a gear ("Poll shows ‘yes’ support highest for a year as confidence in PM hits new low", The Herald, December 2). Meantime in the real world the problems pile up for Nicola Sturgeon and the voters are watching ("Hospital probe families in demand for resignations", The Herald, December 2).

Nicola Sturgeon is caught between a rock and a hard place and how she handles this is critical. The SNP was always a party of protest and dissent. Now it is experiencing the real dilemmas such behaviour creates for those in authority.

Indyref2 is still in the melting pot and the manifold crises in the NHS are not going away, to say nothing of all the other pressing problems in her in-tray. Ms Sturgeon has ridden her luck for many years now. Is it about to run out?

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow.

* JOHN Dunlop (Letters, December 2) likes to submit short acerbic letters to The Herald, usually with an anti-Scottish independence slant. Perhaps he was a bit premature with his latest effort, given the result of the recent Ipsos-Mori poll showing support for Scottish independence at 55%. Could it be that the electorate of Scotland really do want to catch up with the rest of the modern world, including Barbados?

Alec Oattes, Ayr.


COME on over to his place,

Come on, he's having a party.

With loads of booze and plenty of nibbles,

Boris is having a party tonight.

How very galling, how very Downing Street; one rule for us and another for those behind the black door. While we all wearily faced another lockdown last Christmas, after a frightening year, and with the prospect of spending a dismal festive season cut off from family and friends, No 10 staff were merrily rocking round the clock ("Johnson under fire over claims of festive parties at No. 10 during lockdown", The Herald, December 2). Whether he was present or not, the party took place within the Prime Minister's official home and on his watch.

Given all of Mr Johnson's gaffes since he took office, perhaps we shouldn't really be surprised at this one, but somehow this latest example of cynical insensitivity and lack of solidarity with the rest of the population really sticks in the craw. Mr Johnson declares that all Covid guidelines were followed, but seems unable to grasp that holding the party at all was a breach of his own rules.

The party's over for Mr Johnson; it will take him a long time to clear up the mess.

Ruth Marr, Stirling.


MARK Smith claims he identifies with Sir Keir Starmer because the Labour leader is "attempting to steer the Labour Party back to the "centre" ("I look like Keir Starmer. And I think like him too", The Herald, December 2).

Perhaps he could elaborate and tell us the last time the Labour Party was in the "centre". The last Labour government which I voted for in 1997 will, in my opinion, forever be associated with the following: its kow-towing to the Bush White House and the oil billionaires which determined its policy; its sycophancy towards media moguls; and policies which allowed the City of London to run rampant. The upshot of course was the biggest financial collapse in the country's history and one of the biggest foreign policy disasters in the country's history. (Always remembering of course that when it comes to British foreign policy debacles the bar is set high.) Is this Mr Smith's centre?

Many people I feel will still be in the dark about what Sir Keir stands for; perhaps he has let Mr Smith in on his secret. It is worth remembering that the most effective British politician of the 20th century did not eschew "radical and damaging ideologies". This is what made Mrs Thatcher, loathe her or love her, such a towering figure.

Brian Harvey, Hamilton.


THE debate in Holyrood on Wednesday on the cases of hospital-acquired infections was enlightening. The main argument from SNP politicians was that they had carried out reviews and acted on the recommendations.

Just as with the impact of Storm Arwen, the SNP is always chasing its tail trying to fight fires rather than stopping them starting in the first place.

Jane Lax, Aberlour.


ANDY Maciver's article suggesting paying politicians more to get better service was astonishing. For the last few decades we have heard endless justifications for the absurdly-high salaries paid to executives ("So you want better politicians? Then pay them more", The Herald, December 2). That has not prevented financial disasters, business failures, scandals and revelations of incompetence and corruption.

Mr Maciver should perhaps study the government of Sweden, where politicians do not have official cars and drivers or other privileges. They cannot vote themselves extra money for constituency travel. They live in state-owned apartments in Stockholm but do not get allowances for homes or second homes. They have no way of claiming for duck ponds or moat cleaning.

Their tax returns are publicly available like most other information.

In 1995 the deputy prime minister was sacked because she made a small purchase using a government credit card, despite having already refunded the money.

If our politicians received salaries comparable with those paid in Sweden and worked under similar conditions, our government would be more credible. But perhaps Mr Maciver thinks that the UK is already much better managed than Sweden?

Peter M Dryburgh, Edinburgh.


WHILE there can be little doubt that the new Omicron variant of Covid is cause for concern, it is interesting that we are being given very little information about the state of health of the very few people who are unfortunate enough to have contracted it. Are they seriously ill? Hospitalised? Or only mildly affected?

We don’t actually know, because it would appear that governments across the UK keep this information secret in the belief that giving this information to the public would affect their attitudes towards taking precautions. The general assumption is that we can’t be trusted to do the right thing to prevent transmission. Well, after nearly two years of bad decisions by our leaders during which, in general, we have followed their guidance, it may be time to treat us more like adults than children.

At the start of the pandemic, most of our leaders stated that there would be an open and honest consultation with the public about measures to control the spread of the disease. It didn’t happen then, it hasn’t happened since, and it isn’t happening now.

Dave Henderson, Glasgow.


TEN days after Omicron was detected in Scotland the First Minister has failed to act yet again. Unlike Austria she hasn't made the vaccine compulsory, or made it compulsory for NHS or care workers like in England.

Nor has she introduced eight-day isolation for people flying into Scotland despite calling for the UK Government to do it in England.

She hasn't led by example by making Holyrood Parliament online again, nor has she banned hospital visits, or shutdown or curfewed pubs and nightclubs like many European countries. In other words, once again she has done nothing but try to shift the blame elsewhere. As we head towards 13,000 Covid deaths in Scotland by the end of this winter, Nicola Sturgeon should be ashamed.

David Watson, Edinburgh.


JILL Stephenson's letter (December 2) displays a curious lack of knowledge, as her reference to investigations would suggest she has never heard of the presumption of innocence. In her eyes it is quite okay to lambast the SNP over its actions, but not so in relation to Mr Johnson's party. I rarely write about politics, but her letter is nothing to do with politics; it is about plumbing the depths of shallowness.

I much prefer to write on other matters, such as the recent discussion on the elusiveness of snipe and woodcock. It brought to mind my late father's account of a shoot in Aberdeenshire. The keeper drew up a line of shooters to walk along the face of a gentle slope, placing the men in descending order of quality, with the best shots at the higher end. Almost at once a snipe arose at the top and flew down the entire length of the line, with every man firing at least one shot at it until it reached the last in the line, who downed it. The keeper walked over to pick up the bird and, on holding it aloft, declared: "That'll teach ye tae flee stracht." We should be glad such a bird exists as otherwise, Army marksmen might have ended up being called woodcockers.

George F Campbell, Glasgow.

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