I’VE been reading with interest the scathing comments from Calum Steele, the General Secretary of the Scottish Police Federation, on behalf of the rank and file officers with regard to the latest pay offer ("Police group hits out at ‘spin’ after ‘derisory’ £565 pay rise is rejected", The Herald, June 14).

When the relevant parties make totally different public statements, then it’s clear that the negotiations have broken down irrevocably and trust between the parties has been lost. A group of workers who cannot join a union and who would be breaking the law if they took industrial action must have confidence in their negotiating machinery.

It’s not difficult to get a sense of the anger and frustration felt by Mr Steele and his members. They are being offered an increase of around two per cent or £11 per week (gross). If we take away income tax, National Insurance and police pension contributions (one of the highest in the country), then the net figure will probably be around £6 per week.

The increase is around a quarter of that recently given on the nod to MPs at Westminster. It is not a lot for key workers who have risked their lives and that of their families by continuing to work throughout Covid. Many other groups of workers will say that they have done the same. How many of them work around the clock with no additional shift allowance, are prevented by law from taking industrial action or joining a union and are subject to an almost draconian discipline code?

Surely it’s not beyond the wit of the decision makers at a local and national level in Scotland to resolve this.

First, they must carry out robust comparison studies to ensure that Scottish police pay is currently set at the correct level.

Then, all parties should agree an index which is fair and equitable. There are numerous indices – CPI, RPI, median of manual workers, median of non-manual workers etc; perhaps an average of several indices would be appropriate. The important point is that all parties must have confidence in the index.

Once the index is agreed, then this should simply be ratified on the nod every year without negotiation or dissent. Then every five years or so agreed benchmarking checks could be made to ensure Scottish police pay is comparable and compatible with the appropriate and relevant groups of workers.

Stewart Falconer, Alyth.


FOR how much longer can Ukraine hold out against Russia?

Shortage of ammunition, the fatigue of being ever-present on the front line and the whittling down of its fighting force via the daily casualties and deaths all imperil the prospect of facing down this challenge to the country's independence.

President Zelenskyy's armed forces are on their own while Nato sits on the sidelines as constrained spectators, fearful of putting a foot on Ukrainian soil in case it triggers a broader and wider conflict. Does this mean then that we are going to be forced to watch the gradual demolition of the country's infrastructure and the grinding down of its will to fight as it reluctantly comes to terms with being on its own in a war where the Russian weaponry outweighs what it can retaliate with?

If this trend continues, the prospect of further incursions elsewhere grows, not only in Russia's former satellite states but also against Taiwan by China with its preparations already quietly made for the big push, its confidence building as it observes the pusillanimity of the West. Every delay in confronting the Russian menace contributes to the likelihood of a move by China to integrate Taiwan with mainland China.

Is Nato now being seen as a paper tiger? If so,we must prepare for the worst.

Do we no longer have the stomach for standing up against those determined to destroy us?

Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.


I REMEMBER, as a young boy, holidaying with my family on a farm in Donegal in the mid 1950s. Late at night, I could see from my bedroom window, black cars appearing in the farm's courtyard and contraband would be passed from the boot of one car to another. It would be naive to expect that there will not be criminal factions that will seek to exploit the opportunities that the amending of the Northern Ireland Protocol will present ("PM warned ‘illegal and reckless’ Northern Ireland Protocol plan risks trade war", The Herald, June 14).

David G Will, Milngavie.


IN response to Lesley Quinn's article ("How can we build a future with more female leaders?", The Herald, June 13), as founders and at that time owners of Dumbreck Decorators in Glasgow, my wife Roz encouraged me to take on our first female apprentice around 1989. My reservations were based on our ability as a company to provide all the necessary facilities "out on site". Roz assured me that girls would "work it out" and indeed they did.

The presence of young women engendered an improvement in behaviour, language and even timekeeping within the workforce.

Although now retired, I am delighted to say that the current owners still have the same attitude to equal opportunities.

Incidentally, Roz went on to become President of the Scottish Decorators Federation, in fact the first female to head up any construction federation in Britain.

Brendan Keenan, Glasgow.


THANKS to the erudite Robin Dow (Letters, June 14). My McGonagallisms are indeed pastiches.

Bang go the only two party pieces in my locker.

David Miller, Milngavie.

* SORRY, Robin Dow: your McGonagall quote is in my view infinitely more deserving of the title than your Erasmus Darwin one.

Mary Duncan, East Kilbride.


IN General Practice for 35 years never once did I consider trying Shakespeare’s Witches’ hell-broth even when conventional medicine proved disappointing: “Fillet of a fenny snake, Eye of newt and toe of frog, Wool of bat and tongue of dog, Adder’ fork and blind-worm’s sting, Lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing”.

Now I read that a medical system used for thousands of years in many South Asian countries, including India, has proven benefits ("New role for ancient medicines", The Herald, June 13), and I wonder: “What if?”.

But I would have drawn the line at tongue of dog.

R Russell Smith, Largs.