NEIL Mackay is right to highlight the unacceptable behaviour and bigotry of some candidates standing in the local elections next week (“Local election reveals a circus of extremists, nutcases and halfwits”, The Herald, April 28). He is also right to show that no party or movement is entirely free of these people, though their presence should lead some parties, more than others, to consider overhauling their vetting processes; nonetheless I can't help feeling he is being a little unfair.

He doesn't say how many clippings he has in his folder, but he lists only 10 examples of this kind of behaviour by candidates. According to the Ballot Box Scotland blog (which I recommend to everyone with an interest in these matters) there are 2,548 candidates standing in this election, so Mr Mackay is some way off showing that a statistically significant proportion of candidates behave in the way he highlights. Of course the stories in his folder are so shocking, not to say disheartening, that it's understandable if voters have a bad impression of council candidates, and by extension, the work of councils themselves and the value of this election.

The overwhelming majority of council candidates, across all parties and none, will never end up in Mr Mackay's folder, and as a result are unlikely to be seen in the newspaper at all. Competence, advocacy, empathy and kindness are the qualities which make good councillors, but they are unlikely to generate many clicks or sell many papers. Candidates are significantly more likely to generate column inches if they do something horrendous, than if they don't. As a result many voters will have little other experience of these elections beyond stories from the gutter folder. In this context it isn't surprising that turnout at local authority elections is significantly lower than in other elections.

The decline in local newspapers is undoubtedly a factor, but characterising this election as a stramash of bigots and kooks doesn't help either. I hope people come out in their droves next Thursday, to have their say in how their communities are run. They still have some time left to get to know the candidates standing in their ward. In the main they may be quite a dull bunch, but given the state of UK politics just now, that could be something to be thankful for.

David Tam McDonald, Candidate for Clarkston, Netherlee and Wiliamwood (SNP), Glasgow.


ANDY Stenton (Letters, April 28) wants Scottish Labour to support Indyref2. Here is his handy cut-out-and-keep guide to pursuing that end.

1. Join the Labour Party.

2. Move a resolution at his local party along the lines of "This CLP rejects the principle that 'by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone' and accepts that all redistribution of resources, especially from the rest of the UK to Scotland, is a weakness not a strength.

"Therefore we demand that the Scottish Labour Party supports any Scottish nationalist demands for a further independence referendums whenever they feel like it."

3. See how his fellow members react. (That will put an end to it.)

Peter A Russell, Glasgow.


MANY people are scunnered with the 2022 census because of the questions it asked. The vast majority of the Scottish population don't speak Gaelic, so they would have to tick the box marked "No skills in Gaelic". Why not ask about skills in other languages too?

"What do you feel is your national identity?" is another question included to placate nationalists. Here the choice for the majority is between Scottish and Other British. So you cannot be both British and Scottish at the same time, according to the SNP government.

I wonder if the census information will be used by the 11 Scottish civil servants who have been instructed to prepare the ground for an illegal independence referendum to be held next year, according to Nicola Sturgeon. The annual salary total for this group of worthies is around £700,000.

William Loneskie, Lauder.


THE news that an elected Member of Parliament has been observed watching pornography on his smartphone in the debating chamber (“Ministers face axe over sex claims as MP pornography inquiry begins”, The Herald, April 28) is appalling to say the least.

The member is not worthy of being called "Honourable". He should be named, shamed and expelled as an MP as soon as possible.

It would seem that it is common practice to send and receive messages whilst debates take place. It displays a deplorable lack of manners and courtesy to those fellow members who are speaking.

It is high time the Speaker ruled that no smartphones are allowed in the Chamber.

Robin Johnston, Newton Mearns.

* WATCHING Prime Minister’s Questions from the House of Commons, I’ve often wondered why so many MPs, there to represent their constituents, spend the whole time on their mobile phones. At least now we have a clue.

Maybe the latest furore will persuade MPs who have no interest in proceedings to put away their mobiles and at least pretend to be doing their job.

Doug Maughan, Dunblane.

* WATCHING television from the Parliament in London I can’t help noticing that there is a large table separating the two front benches. Why then does a Tory MP accuse Angela Rayner of the Labour front bench of crossing her legs in a provocative manner to distract Boris Johnson, whose view of said appendages is blocked by the table? Perhaps the Tory accuser is the same one who has been caught watching porn on his phone during a debate.

Celia Judge, Ayr.


ANDREW McKie’s suggestion of a simple way for government to tackle the cost-of-living crisis (“There is one simple way for government to tackle this awful cost-of-living crisis”, The Herald, April 26) prompts me to suggest a simple way of vastly reducing energy cost and somewhat reducing global warming both indirectly and directly. The situation would be utterly transformed by the simple expedient of reverting to coal firing for electricity generation.

Apart from the relative cheapness, the use of coal-generated steam for producing baseload would minimise the use of horrendously expensive and polluting diesel and gas-turbine power for rapid-response augmentation. As correspondents who know what they are talking about have repeatedly pointed out, the more reliance there is on wind power for baseload the more acute this problem becomes.

The high visibility of pollution from coal burning obscures the fact that it is less pernicious than invisible diesel and gas pollution, and it is rarely acknowledged that the visible pollution directly inhibits the ingress of solar radiation. However, our western puritanical suspicion of anything that is either convenient or cheap ensures that a solution that would be both isn’t even to be considered.

Robin Dow, Rothesay.


THE very dangerous situation that existed in Ukraine about six weeks ago looks to be a bit safer now, at least for us in this country, if not for those poor people involved in the eastern part of Ukraine in particular and all those who have had to flee and who have relatives fighting to keep the Russians at bay. However, there is still a war going on, the situation is still unpredictable and people are dying, and we don’t know what the final outcome is going to be. If we are not careful, something very bad could still happen.

At the moment, Nato and EU members have a unity and discipline of purpose, and given time, this will hopefully yield the results everyone is looking for. We have to maintain that unity and discipline of purpose, and wait for things to take effect.

In this context, why do we have politicians and various other commentators spewing out inflammatory and bombastic rhetoric about Russia, drawing attention to themselves and giving Vladimir Putin much-needed propaganda material? Do they not realise that he is listening to them too? The other thing I cannot understand is why are we telling the press precisely what type of weaponry we are sending and what training we are giving, as if that won't be useful to Russian intelligence?

We should be doing everything we can do to help the people of the Ukraine, but people need to stop blurting out everything they do, intend to do, or think that they should be doing.

It is time that many of our politicians learned to keep their mouths shut and be a bit more discreet, and stopped poking the bear. That is not going to help the situation, and if it does bite us, then we only have ourselves to blame.

Victor Clements, Aberfeldy.

Read more: If Sarwar wants Labour to win, he must back Indyref2