I HAVE been saddened to read that faith groups across Scotland are opposing Liam McArthur’s Assisted Dying Bill, and I wonder how many of those individuals have had direct experience of people dying in agony, suffering protracted deaths beyond the limits of pain relief?

I believe strongly in God/Creator and in the non-physical Life which follows earthly death but I also believe in compassion, in realising that what we are doing might be prolonging death, rather than Life.

Twenty years ago my son Daniel, aged just twenty-one, died from a virus which migrated to his brain. That was devastating but I never thought at the time that I would one day give thanks that he was unconscious and intubated for the six days of his illness: no chance to say goodbye, but at least he didn’t suffer.

Today I work as a bereavement counsellor and have listened to many horrifying accounts from bereaved people who have been traumatised by the long-drawn-out, often agonising deaths of their loved ones.

In 2020, my brother-in-law died slowly from degenerative heart disease which brought him into a world of catheters, swelling legs which seeped, of poor oxygen level and chronic pain, from which he tried to escape by taking an overdose of his medications and half a bottle of whisky.

He was devastated when that didn’t work and spent another miserable three months before his heart finally gave up and he was released from his body.

That was very hard to witness and I believe that the majority of people do not want that sort of ending for their own or their loved ones’ lives.

I hope that people will support this Assisted Dying Bill.

Lilian McDade, Glasgow.



NORMA Rivers’s letter about assisted dying (“Help me, I do not want my daughter to watch me begging to die”, January 6) touched my heart.

This is a person who obviously still has all her mental capabilities, and through her life has been able to make rational decisions, but now as she approaches death, the decision as to when and how she will die is taken from her.

Instead, it will be left to medical and nursing staff to provide her manner of dying.

It will be discreetly done by prescribing and giving drugs which will kill eventually but which, unfortunately, will only be administered, in many instances, when the individual has already experienced great suffering.

And why should it be that the caring professions have had to take on this burden? Because our government and other interested parties – ie, faith leaders are prevaricating about this issue.

There are many safeguards that can be initiated to prevent abuse of assisted dying legislation. No-one else – neither state, religious leaders or the medical profession – should interfere in how and when you die.

Like Norma Rivers, I wish that decision to be mine and mine alone.

Lesley Barrow, Edinburgh.




IN response to the letter from Norma Rivers, the faith group I belong to is not opposed to the Assisted Dying Bill.

I am a practising Buddhist, and the tradition I belong to leaves the responsibility for such matters to the individual. I have the freedom to choose; nobody imposes their will on practitioners of our tradition.

Norma’s letter broke my heart. Compassion should be at the forefront of end-of-life care.

The medical establishment concentrates too much on prolonging life at all cost. They forget that we are born, we live and we have to die. That is the circle of life, death can not be avoided. Surely we can give people the choice to pass peacefully with their family round them.

Margaret Forbes, Kilmacolm.


TEDDY Jamieson is entirely correct when he highlights that Boris Johnson lies repeatedly (“Boris has been lying again”, January 7) but he fails to ask some important questions.
Firstly, why did a majority of those voting consider him a suitable character to run the country and therefore give him their vote? This is a man who had been sacked for lying from virtually every job he has had. An individual whose personal life would fit better into a racy, holiday novel. 
As a litmus test I have asked friends who admitted to voting for him if they would trust him with their personal bank account. Without exception they have either avoided answering or admitted they would not. How illuminating.
If we all accept that politician lie, then we truly are in a very bad place. We have seen various members of Johnson’s cabinet and indeed himself breaching the ministerial code with no consequences. 
Surely this is what has emboldened various members to award what can best be described as questionable contracts to firms with which they had close links?
In his final statement Mr Jamieson describes Donald Trump as a “liar” and criticises those who believe that there were serious irregularities in the 2020 presidential election. 
It is surely relevant to point out that the swing state of Georgia which fell to the Democrats has launched a formal investigation into ballot harvesting, which is totally illegal in US elections. #
When this is coupled with various election officials in several other states being indicted for election fraud, is it possible that Mr Jamieson is himself falling into the trap of supporting those who practice dubious political strategies?
David Stubley, Prestwick.





SIR Ed Davey accuses critics of the honour for Tony Blair as being “disrespectful to the Queen”, as it is the monarch who has personally bestowed the honour of the Order of the Garter.

Perhaps it is the Queen who is being disrespectful and is genuinely out of touch with the feelings of the population as a whole.

Steve Barnet, Gargunnock.




WITH nuclear making up 20% of Britain’s power supply, the retirement of the Hunterston B nuclear power station is inevitably going to create further volatility in the UK energy market, given the strain it will put on the grid by increasing reliance on gas at a time when prices are rocketing.

This was 1GW of generation the grid could rely upon, and could be given as an example of knocking down the walls before the roof is supported.

To protect the security of the grid, it is essential we build up a safety net of renewable energy capacity and storage well in advance of decommissioning ‘old’ power. To neglect this will risk sending even more people into fuel poverty.

Protecting consumers from rising energy costs must be considered hand-in-hand with decarbonising the grid to ensure affordability of energy and keeping households’ lights on.

We are barely scratching the surface of what is needed to reach a net zero energy system by 2035.

There’s no doubt that we need to replace our power supply with clean and flexible energy, but we need to go much further and much faster to avoid putting consumers at greater mercy of a volatile energy market.

Phil Thompson, CEO and Managing Director, Balance Power, St Helens, Lancashire.




IN response to my letter, Alasdair Galloway (January 5) states that his 24% figure, as Scotland’s share of Europe’s renewable energy, includes tidal and wave generation.

There is a small amount of tidal power at present and the prospects for scaling it up are not promising because of the high cost, and challenging technical issues. There is no wave energy generation at present and there seems to be little prospect of effective methods of such generation being devised.

He recognises that a mixed source of energy is needed but the mix has to include generation such as gas and nuclear that is reliable, synchronous and provides inertia. Renewable energy alone does not provide these features that are crucial to the operation of the Grid.

He states that I have a preference for nuclear. In so far as it is the only solution presently available to us for base load, other than gas, we have no other choices if we wish to reduce our carbon emissions to a low level – a position that will prevail for the foreseeable future.

The fact that nuclear is a practical and safe solution just adds emphasis since the only alternative is to continue burning gas in very large quantities.

As for the economics of nuclear versus wind generation, the cost of integrating the wind into the system is high (this cost is not being assessed) and the cost of producing nuclear power need not be as expensive as for Hinkley Point C.

He refers to an offshore strike price of £39.65 in comparison to the £92.50 per MWh for Hinkley Point C, however the strike prices for offshore wind cover a wide range.

It is essential that everyone understands that, although renewable generation methods can make a contribution, they cannot, on their own, provide a climate change remedy for Scotland and an overdose will cause the untold economic harm I noted in my original letter.

I cannot reconcile my concern for Scotland’s future economic health with Alasdair Galloway’s suggestion that I am being short-sighted.

Norman McNab, Killearn.




THE Second Vatican Council occurred just as I was starting university and my adult life.

It was so wonderful, at last, to feel that I had a proper role to play in the Church, rather than as cannon fodder for the clergy.

I find it very sad that today’s students in the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh are being dragged back to the fifties, with emphasis on guilt and confession, use of Latin and Gregorian chant whenever possible (I don’t expect that anyone under 70 understands a word), disappearance of the Bidding Prayers, which connect the concerns of the local congregation in the liturgy, and a notable absence of women playing their part (apart from cleaning, of course).

I agree with Kevin McKenna in his column (“Why has Catholic Church hidden during Covid and migrant crises?”, The Herald, January 1) that the silence of our bishops on the plight of refugees is shameful and should be rectified.

O. Jones, St Andrews.