MRS R Slack (Letters, December 17) bemoans the quality of Kevin McKenna’s critique of assisted suicide (“Davidson’s push for assisted dying opens a Pandora’s box”, The Herald, December 11); however her own case for so-called "assisted dying" was decidedly weak.

Enabling an ill and vulnerable person to commit suicide by taking a lethal cocktail of drugs is not a compassionate act and is an altogether different prospect from improved end of life palliative care, which is what "assisted dying" would properly refer to. As the respected former Deputy First Minister Jim Wallace recently wrote in the pages of The Herald: “The current societal protection of life is clear and to move away from this would involve much more than a simple tinkering with the law. It would represent a significant change in how society regards those in our communities who are vulnerable, from which there would be no return.”

It must therefore be hoped that Liam McArthur will take heed of the wise counsel of his predecessor as Orkney MSP, and withdraw his proposals with immediate effect. Nothing less will ensure that our most vulnerable fellow Scots are protected from the invisible pressure of contemplating assisted suicide should such an option be legally presented to them.

Michael Veitch, Parliamentary Officer, CARE for Scotland, Glasgow.

* MRS R Slack berates Kevin McKenna for opposing assisted suicide. The main thrust of her counter-argument seems to be this: people must have "choice" at the end of life. If they wish to access lethal drugs on the NHS, this is their right.

The thing about “choices” is they have consequences. Not just for an individual, but invariably for others in society. In other countries, the choice of assisted suicide for some has led to coercion and abuse of other vulnerable patients; chilling discrimination against people with disabilities and mental health conditions; and plummeting access to palliative care for all. The evidence of this is indisputable, and deeply disturbing.

If proponents of "assisted dying" could guarantee that no abuse, inequality, or discrimination will occur in Scotland following a change in the law, they would have a stronger case. But they can’t. MSPs must therefore say "no" to this dangerous practice. This time, and every time.

Jamie Gillies, Better Way campaign, Brechin.


RECENT failures of electricity supply has got me thinking. Recently we had a short interruption to our supply and my clock, which is mains-operated, started again at the wrong time whilst my wife's, which is battery-operated, was not affected. Many years ago an associate of mine took over running a battery manufacturing plant. He was full of what he was going to do. Batteries were going to be improved at an amazing pace. I met him several years later and he was changing jobs. He found that as long as he could mass-produce batteries he could not get the money for R& D.

We are now at a point where there is plenty of research going into improving batteries. We in Scotland have a real opportunity to get back to a position in the world where we are a top producer as we were in shipbuilding and the like. We have the electricity generating capacity and we still have enough smart people. What we lack is investment and coordination. We know that concentration of type of work to specific areas can inspire growth as in Paola Alto. We have, within short distances of each other, top-class universities. Let us make them the R&D for battery improvement. The Government needs to find a way to fund and coordinate this R&D and yet leave freedom. The research should include new uses of batteries to cover for interruptions of supply. We have spare electricity capacity at many times. Set up to use this to charge batteries.

If we are going all-electric we should plan to have battery backup in every house in the country. If this was taken as the plan to move from oil then the Government might be remembered for centuries to come. A consortium of electricity producers, oil companies and the public could finance this if we had a government which was seen to really want to change things.

Come on, Patrick Harvie, let us see what you are made of.

Jim McAdam, Maidens.


I DON’T begrudge David Miller his little jollity and recourse to Tam O’Shanter in these momentous times (Letters, December 16). For myself “it’s being so cheerful that keeps me going” as I allow myself a little licence with the good Tam: “Pleasures now like poppies spread / The Party’s ower, Christmas has fled / No’ good at all / It’s now or never / No’ jagged, you’re doon the Swanee river”.

Apologies to Mona Lott of It’s That Man Again ( BBC radio, 1939-1949 ).

R Russell Smith, Largs.


YOUR Remember when... feature shows Queen’s Dock in 1957 before the later infilling ("Remember when ... Freighters were accommodated at Glasgow’s docks", The Herald, December 14). At this time the cost of land for building on in the city centre was escalating rapidly, hence at a council meeting a Glasgow councillor raised the question: “Would the Clyde Port Authority have any objection if we were to fill in the Clyde above Jamaica Bridge?”

Robin Dow, Rothesay.