ADAM Tomkins ("Anas Sarwar could forge a rosy future for Scottish Labour", The Herald, April 27) is right. The Scottish Labour leader is smart, engaging, charismatic, and as far as Labour goes these days, a socialist.

Professor Tomkins' piece points to the Labour voters who have migrated to the SNP, and says Mr Sarwar wants them back. But first, he's going after the smaller number who joined the Conservatives.

Surely, he should be chasing the supporters who've gone from Labour to the Scottish Nationalists and asking why? The answer could be they want to see a better, fairer Scotland.

Many stalwart Labourites, including John Mulvey, who was Labour leader on Lothian Regional Council during the Thatcher cuts era of the 1980s, former Glasgow Lord Provost Alex Mosson, and ex-Strathclyde Regional Council leader Sir Charles Gray, defied their party to vote Yes in the 2014 independence referendum.

Now, we are seeing people like actor Brian Cox, a committed socialist and Labour man, re-evaluating their position and supporting an independent Scotland.

Mr Sarwar should recognise that many Labour supporters who have flitted to the SNP want Scotland to have its own voice, and not just through devolution, which still limits its powers and funding, but through complete control. At least let the people vote again.

If he could embrace that concept, even though that might mean a battle with the UK Labour Party, he might win the political war in Scotland, and not have to settle for silver.

The very fact that Labour, once the dominant party in Scotland for generations, has been lying third for some time tells you a lot about where its strategy has gone wrong.

Andy Stenton, Glasgow.


I WATCHED the interchange in Holyrood between the hapless Ivan McKee, Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise, and various opposition MSPs as they tried to get to the bottom of the Ferguson scandal, especially in light of the damning Audit Scotland report and the disappearance of key documents from October 8, 2015 ("Ministers accused of 'constitutional corruption' over contract", The Herald, April 27). Mr McKee trotted out the same "we've looked and we can't find it" answer to all questions and a promise of a full review on completion of the project, whenever that is. The usually-forensic Labour MSP Daniel Johnston questioned the legality of the SNP's actions within the rules of a "Finance and Public Administration Act" which no-one has heard of.

The best we can hope for is an investigation by the Public Audit Committee that might not get fobbed off in the manner the Alex Salmond committee did. Since the squandered £245 million originated from Westminster, isn't it time we got the professional civil servants and MPs from there to take charge of finding where UK voters' money has gone?

Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven.

* THE questions are indeed mounting, as stated in Brian Wilson’s excellent article on CMAL/Calmac (“We must hear from the man at heart of Calmac ferries fiasco”, The Herald, April 26) and those of your correspondent Sandy MacAlister (Letters, April 22 & 26).

It is extremely unlikely that CMAL will purchase the MV Pentalina, a purchase which would have the consequence of extreme embarrassment. Some 15 years ago Pentland Ferries introduced the catamaran to the Pentland Firth route with such immediate success that she was replaced with the larger 98-car Alfred more than two years ago. Soon after, I made an FOI request to CMAL for any evaluation or reports on the new concept. The answer was, unbelievably, none.

Imagine the difficulty for CMAL should a successful Pentalina, a highly manoeuvrable vessel much more suited to the difficulties of Ardrossan harbour, make a nonsense of its recent decision to purchase two large monohulls for the Islay route. CMAL is now 15 years behind the game and, come the end of their service life, these Islay vessels will be obsolete by almost half a century. Undoubtedly the embarrassment will come eventually but I doubt that CMAL will hasten it by purchasing the Pentalina.

J Patrick Maclean, Oban.


BORIS Johnson’s threat this week to sell off the Passport Office and DVLA due to backlogs created by Covid and years of budget cuts is a classic move by ideological right-wing governments. US Republicans have used the same tactic of first starving government departments of funding, then when those departments can’t deliver the services to which they were tasked because of this lack of resources, the political party in power shouts that government doesn’t work and the only solution is privatisation.

Clever, eh? Except that experience shows that transferring public assets into for-profit private hands that care only about increasing those profits and rewarding shareholders results in more expensive and less efficient services. We have an energy crisis because private companies are profiteering at the public’s considerable expense. England’s waterways are filthy because private companies allow sewage dumping and won’t invest the resources to clean them up. Since privatisation, train and bus routes have been cut, especially to poor and rural areas, and fares have increased.

And now we are seeing the same neoliberal tactic used against the NHS. Huge backlogs due to Covid, under-investment and Brexit staff shortages are creating the perception that the NHS isn’t working. Mr Johnson’s solution? The private sector, which also happens to be the Conservative donor base and trough at which Government ministers feed, is standing by ready to pounce.

The lights are blinking red. Scotland must get out.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh.


IN Action This Day – Working with Churchill, the historian Sir John Wheeler-Bennett, basing his thoughts on living in Germany in 1927-34 and reports from his contacts there during the 1930s, wrote: “I, like many others, tried desperately to convince those in authority of the growing menace of National Socialism first to Germany and then to Europe and the world at large. In the attainment of arousing interest and awareness of danger we failed miserably. The forces of apathy, wilful myopia and general delusion in high places were too strong for us. We were denounced as alarmists and unfounded prophets of doom.”

History repeated itself in 2000-2022, when the similarities with the 1930s, clear to many non-experts, were ignored. Who were our Sir Johns and “many others” warning those in “high places” of the growing menace emanating from Moscow?

Were there no such “alarmists”, despite the domestic and foreign policy speeches, writings and actions of an increasingly anti-democratic, media-controlling, constitution-fiddling, history-falsifying, religion-distorting, language-prostituting, agreement-breaking, paranoid, aggressive, authoritarian and ultimately outright totalitarian regime, simultaneously imposing with its Axis partner their straitjackets of energy, raw materials, technology and manufactured goods on the West’s naïve and myopic political, business, financial and academic leaders?

Whether such warnings were made and simply ignored by our lords and masters, or not even voiced by our diplomats, military attaches, academics and others, an urgent public inquiry is required.

John Birkett, St Andrews.


IT is not often (if ever) I agree with Donald Trump, but it is surely time to stop running scared of Vladimir Putin ("Morgan: Different approach by Trump", The Herald, April 25). The time has come for Nato to stop pussyfooting about and tell Putin that a single action against any Nato country will be taken as a declaration of war and will result in an immediate obliteration of all Russian forces in Ukraine and a simultaneous pre-emptive strike on Russian airbases, missile sites and ships, including submarines. The final warning, not for discussion, should be accompanied by information that all weapons have been programmed for immediate launch.

Bullies only understand one language and Putin needs to be told firmly that he is greatly out-resourced in terms of firepower. This ultimatum should be accompanied by a firm reassurance that Nato has no inclinations to seek to advance its boundaries now or in the future and this is purely a defensive move in response to his threats.

James Watson, Dunbar.


WIMBLEDON says it had “no choice but to ban Russian players as Russia invaded a sovereign nation". So why did Wimbledon not ban US and UK players when George W Bush and Tony Blair invaded sovereign nation Iraq?!

J Moir, Aberdeen.

Read more: May 5 lets us tell Westminster what we think of their mess