IS good health a freebie? Is an entitlement to education a freebie? Is monitored eyesight and dental care a freebie, along with social care when you can no longer manage through no fault of your own? I would prefer to live in a country where my taxes are spent on mutual health and wellbeing rather than one that throws my taxes at PPE contracts with mates. I would rather that my country worked industriously with other nations to form beneficial trading relationships than chucked in the European towel without a care for the chaos and poverty that would follow.

In April, MPs were awarded a pay rise of 2.7 per cent, in line with other public sector workers. This will take their annual salary to more than £84,000. Ignore the fact that many of them have second jobs and contrast that with pensioners on a 3.1% increase after the triple lock was broken. At most, they are given £9,600 a year to live on, but many receive less because of their National Insurance record. They need all the freebies they can get, and Scotland has a far more generous nature than rUK.

Boris Johnson’s Government may be summed up by his choice of wallpaper: initially dazzling, expensive but soon decaying and incapable of staying upright.

Frances Scott, Edinburgh.


OUR Finance Secretary must be delighted that, with Aslef settling for a five per cent pay rise ("Ministers braced for backlash as train drivers offered 5% rise", The Herald, June 19), she now has a good idea of the amount of money that will be required to pay the rest of the Scottish public service servants and employees, although it may rise a little more after an agreement is settled with the RMT. She will also have a much better idea of the shortfall in the Scottish Government's finances and how much cutting of jobs and spending will be required in the near future.

I am sure that the hard-working Scottish taxpayers, businessmen and workers will be looking forward to paying for it all.

Peter Wright, West Kilbride.

* HOW predictable that the SNP has capitulated by increasing its previous “final” offer to give Aslef a 5% increase – irrespective of the lower levels of other current pay rises offered and indeed overall affordability.

Equally predictable is that the union waited until ScotRail was under Government “control” before making its demands – in full knowledge that the previous ownership would never have weakly caved in to its demands in such a manner as hasthe SNP.

Robin McNaught, Bridge of Weir.


NICOLA Sturgeon's Government has caved in to a high pay settlement with extras for the train drivers. For years Ms Sturgeon has lambasted opposition politicians calling for more money for services by asking where is this coming from, or what are you willing to cut? The boot is now on the other foot and not only are we in for a wave of high pay claims but there is already a looming budget deficit of around £3.5 billion.

The SNP needs to have some pretty robust and practical ideas about how all this money is to be funded in its upcoming Indyref2 documents or it will fail even before the legal arguments are aired. There is no leeway for raising taxes.

Currently the image of the Scottish Government is one of incomprehensible decisions, huge expenditure on unnecessary "freebies" and expensive failures such as the ferries and census data. It is highly unlikely that Ms Sturgeon and her Cabinet have the ability to change this direction of travel with or without independence.

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow.


THERE’S no doubt David J Crawford (Letters, June 10) has a point when suggesting the PM should go and highlights the problem that only a certain percentage of the population needs to vote in your favour for a party to gain power.

What he seems to be unable to recognise is that the situation here in Scotland is even worse, with a lower number of votes keeping a minority government in power ably assisted by two characters who have fewer votes than almost everyone

We’ll soon have more cycle lanes than proper roads…

John Gilligan, Ayr.

* LEAH Gunn Barrett (Letters, June 10) advises that "Scotland needs to grab the nearest lifeboat". While not disagreeing with her other comments (though the problem of inflation is perhaps more complicated than she seems to suggest), I would be worried about where we might actually find a lifeboat given the SNP's record on shipbuilding.

Brian Chrystal, Edinburgh.


SORRY, but it’s poor taste to conflate shortages of some processed foods in affluent countries with the looming catastrophe created by Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports (“Global food stress begins to bite”, The Herald, June 10).

You report that there’s a shortage of lettuce in Australia, that McDonald’s ran low on chips in Japan in January, and that tomato ketchup production could be affected by declining yields of tomatoes "this century". I hope most of us could survive with less lettuce, fewer chips and a reduced ration of ketchup.

But for many millions around the world, the Russian blockade means that they will fall from hunger into starvation. Russia’s action is brutal and inhumane; it is a war crime committed against the most vulnerable on our planet. If Russia persists, I hope the rest of the nations of the world treat it as the pariah state its action warrants.

Doug Maughan, Dunblane.


WELCOME to Scotland and what some visitors might see as The Great Train Robbery.

A friend from New Zealand bought an off-peak day return ticket from Glasgow to Edinburgh online. His intended outward journey was cancelled, but after a glorious day in the capital and looking forward to an even better one in Glasgow, we stopped off for refreshments in the revamped Ryrie's Bar at Haymarket. I knew off-peak meant we couldn't travel back before 18:15 so we waited for the 19:45.

Shortly before we arrived in Glasgow the train's ticket inspector informed my friend he had actually bought a Super Off Peak return. Wow, I thought, that's better than mine. Unfortunately not. It meant he shouldn't have boarded a train before 20:00.

The electronic barriers at Haymarket hadn't raised the alarm. But there was no reasoning with the inspector. It cost an extra £14, on top of the original £10.40.

Companies like ScotRail can bamboozle and confuse with offers, prices, and tickets. One word can make a super difference in what you end up paying.

Andy Stenton, Glasgow.

* I THINK Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth is being unfairly criticised for suggesting supporters “prefer to walk back to the city centre” after matches at the national stadium ("Minister under fire for telling match fans ‘to walk’ in rail row", The Herald, June 9). In the absence of an adequate supply of trains, a shortage of seaworthy ferries and a history of avalanches on a crumbling and pitted network of public roads, Shanks’s pony is by far the shrewdest option in Scotland.

Duncan Graham, Stirling.


BEITH, an ideal commuter town, lies on the main road from Glasgow to Irvine, and is about to lose all of the bus service on this route.

This has been a much-travelled and excellent route for a public bus service for many years, despite a lot of tinkering finally leaving it currently with a much-diminished service. In part, Covid did leave the service with a severe drop in passengers using the service, as happened all over Scotland. However the service also acts as the link to our nearest train station in Glengarnock, approximately two miles away, not an easy stroll through open countryside in poor weather, water long gone under the bridge; Beith once had two stations.

Our local hospital is Crosshouse just outside Kilmarnock, and there is also an associated unit in Irvine. Transport by bus will be virtually lost to both: Crosshouse is already a difficult journey. I may at this point add that Beith secondary school pupils, who all attend Garnock Campus in Glengarnock, will be obliged to add this two-mile walk on to their school day, as the bus that many use will no longer be an option, unless they coax Maw or Paw to run them there once the bus route has gone. Some parents currently do, as the fenced-off pavement acts as a target for more than a few drivers, going by the many damaged sections of "robust" fencing under constant attack, and subsequent repair.

Does anyone want a soon-to-be-redundant bus pass?

George Dale, Beith.


I REFER to Kara Kennedy's article on Glasgow's lack of jubilee celebrations ("Queen royally snubbed by Glasgow – what a shame", The Herald, June 10).

I reckon I've been contributing, through taxation, to the royal family's opulent lifestyle for about 48 years now; I don't think this is a cause for celebrations.

Allan McDougall, Neilston.

• NEIL Bowman and his claim of “Nazi excess” (Letters, June 7) could not be further from the truth. As one who was there, on the Mall, on June 2, I can testify to Elizabeth Mueller’s cheering crowds (Letters, June 8); what a buzz they provided, too. This was British tradition at its very best.

Brian D Henderson, Glasgow.

Walter McCorrisken enjoyed the soubriquet of “the world’s worst poet”

Walter McCorrisken enjoyed the soubriquet of “the world’s worst poet”


R RUSSELL Smith's contribution on the outpourings of William Topaz Mc Gonagall (Letters, June 10) brought back memories of a lecture by a member of staff of Glasgow's Mitchell Library, who demonstrated that McGonagall wrote on matters rural, too: "As I cam' doon the Dundee Road, I saw a coo, a bull b' Goad", and "Upon a hill I saw a coo, if it was there, it's no there noo".

In the mid-1970s, of course, the Herald Diary, edited by Murray Ritchie, held a bad poetry competition. The winner, Walter McCorrisken, aka the bard of Renfrew, wrote: "Dear Sir/ Never bite your fingernails/It makes your fingers lumpy/Never bite your fingernails/ Yours sincerely/ Stumpy."

McCorrisken duly declared himself to be Scotland's worst poet.

David Miller, Milngavie.

• FURTHER to R Russell Smith's letter, I agree mention should have been made of William McGonagall when "cherishing the glories of Scottish literature".

I have Burns' and McGonagall's books of poetry side by side in my bookcase, and am teaching my grandchildren and great-grandchildren that Scotland has the distinction of producing the best and the worst in the world – no other nation can lay claim to both.

Mary Duncan, East Kilbride.