IT is sad to see that it’s taken an intervention by Gordon Brown to prod the Labour Party into putting forward some proposals to tackle the energy and cost of living crisis that is upon us (“Brown forces Labour to act”, The Herald, August 12). Caution has been the mark of Labour since Sir Keir Starmer became leader; the party seem to think that, if they do nothing and say nothing remotely contentious, then power will fall into their lap as the Tories tear themselves apart.

The current crisis ("Breaking point", the Herald, August 12) is too severe for that. Labour has a clear duty to put forward suggestions on how the state can intervene to ameliorate the impact of this unprecedented surge in energy prices, and it has to do so now, before winter is upon us. As Sandy Farr (Letters, August 11) pointed out, the UK is almost self-sufficient in energy and the cost of producing that energy hasn’t changed. So why are the producers charging a multiple of what they were charging before?

This is capitalism at its purest and cruellest, bearing down on the poorest and weakest in our society. We know the Tories have a Thatcherite belief that there is no such thing as society, but surely Labour should be contesting that view. If they can’t or won’t, then what is the point of them being in Westminster, on either side of the aisle? It’s time for them to be bold, with some practical ideas of how the state can stop this great energy rip-off that is hurting so many of our citizens.

Doug Maughan, Dunblane.


IAIN Macwhirter ("Should we all refuse to pay our fuel bills?", The Herald, August 12) does not seem to get it when it comes to the fuel bill crisis. Its really about can’t pay rather than don't pay. He says it himself when it comes to bills – he has the means, "most will not". An admission that the situation is impossible.

Why then spend so much time in the rest of the column attacking the only organised resistance to the assault by energy companies on workers and the poor that has thus far emerged?

The Don't Pay UK campaign recognises that millions can't pay and we recognise that debt is inevitable. But we don’t want people to be passive victims. That’s why we argue for cancellation of direct debits so that people take back control. Unless you are someone fortunate enough to be able to pay you are going into debt or you are going to be very cold.

It is not the Don’t Pay campaign causing the debt. It is poverty, low wages, one of the lowest pensions in Europe, and a miserly benefits system colliding head-on with an avaricious, parasitic fossil fuel industry. All overseen by a Government that is morally and politically bankrupt.

Mr Macwhirter cannot help himself with the usual rhetorical tic – "middle class radicals". This is a tiresome trope he employs repeatedly to attack the left. I’ve been on the radical left for 50 years. Most of my friends and comrades fall into the can't pay camp. Many are poor or just getting by. But, unlike Mr Macwhirter, they know how to fight and resist.

It is not "wiser to wait" as he advises. Mass campaigns force the issue. They put the social weight of millions on the scales. No longer victims but political actors.

Alex Porter, Stirling.


THE UK Government is fiddling while Rome burns.

Some say the current situation is the worst since the Second World War and the crisis is getting worse literally by the day. Significant double-digit inflation and rising; energy and fuel bills through the roof; food banks struggling to cope with exceptional demand; numerous strikes looming.

In addition, numerous supply chain issues covering a variety of perishable and non-perishable goods are being caused by the elephant in the room, namely Brexit. This will never be officially admitted.

People are having to choose between heating or eating. Even those with limited savings are withdrawing money simply to get by. That money will never be replaced.

The Government response? Daily strategic meetings.

The man who is currently in post has been enjoying a five-star holiday. Fair enough, people are entitled to a holiday. However, he has publicly stated he will not “interfere” with this crisis, and any action will be taken by his successor. There is therefore no prospect of anyone taking major strategic decisions for at least three to four weeks.

The Prime Minister’s two possible replacements, meanwhile, are swanning about the country telling us what they would do if elected.

We have had a Tory Government for 12 years and Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss have been an integral part of it, so why should we expect anything different?

The problem is that the United Kingdom Cabinet has for too long been run by posh, Eton-educated multi-millionaires who quite frankly couldn’t run a tap far less run a country.

Scotland –wake up, and smell the coffee.

Stewart Falconer, Alyth.


AS the general cost of living and energy crises deepen Nicola Sturgeon is again reaching out to Westminster for extra aid. So what would or could an independent Scotland be doing to help right now?

The SNP's proposed own national energy company to deliver cheaper fuel on a not-for-profit basis vanished a while back as it was unviable. Many of the recent price rises are international in origin. Where would a nascent independent Scotland find the money to deal with these new disasters coming hard on the heels of the recent Covid pandemic? Who is actually going to lend it? These are the real problems facing the nationalist movement.

The 2008 financial crash was the first warning. Climate change is the next one. If Scotland were as wealthy as claimed then why are so many children living in poverty, the attainment gap widening and why is the Scottish Government relatively unable to afford to help right now?

Currently, Holyrood is struggling to cope with the many everyday problems in health, education, transport and the economy. Adding in international ones would be catastrophic. Consequently, Scottish independence is now increasingly looking like a positive danger to Scotland, not the solution.

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow.


WHAT a remarkable contrast on page 14 of Wednesday’s Herald (August 10), with the pieces by Adam Tomkins ("There’s a way to beat nationalists – but it’s not by ignoring them"), and Guy Stenhouse ("From ferries to universities, SNP is sowing seeds of decline).

Professor Tomkins' sensible "voice of reason" approach contrasted with the name-calling vitriol-laden opinions from Guy Stenhouse.

Prof Tomkins is a very able and impressive politician, though not in power at present, and he is the type of person I think would flourish in an independent Scotland. Indeed it’s likely that the Conservative Party would flourish in an independent Scotland.

In an article on July 27 ("Truss will be a PM on strings pulled by the lunatic fringe"), Prof Tomkins says that it’s likely that Scottish Tories will be “unable to influence anything, and a million miles from power”. Well, in an independent Scotland the Conservatives would almost certainly flourish and prosper. Much like Scotland would.

George Archibald, West Linton.


OH dear; how I would like to be a fly on the wall at JB Drummond’s next frosty family get-together (Letters, August 12). Despite having limited financial resources, my late mother-in-law provided all manner of support, advice and help to my wife and myself over many years. Just like Westminster.

Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop.


I REFER to the letter (August 11) from Neil Barbour of the Edinburgh Secular Society in which he questions the need for God and asks if the Kirk, in a period of decline and plunging membership, is still the country's national church.

It is indeed true that the Church of Scotland is going through a period of challenge and change (we have been there before), but as a church which is committed to continual reform – Ecclesia reformata semper reformanda –we must go forward in faith to a better future.

Our belief in something beyond this life is a matter of faith even if Mr Barbour describes our gospel commitment as "promoting

unscientific beliefs". His secular views in some respects are also a matter of faith (many scientists accept the beliefs of the Christian faith).

Even if we accept that for the moment Scotland is no longer a Christian nation, at a world level Christianity is thriving in Africa, Asia, and South America. It was so good to see your picture (August 11) of the Soweto Gospel Choir who are at the Edinburgh Festival.

So the Church of Scotland as but one Christian denomination must go forward to tell Scotland the good news of the Gospel story.

Ron Lavalette, Ardrossan.


The Soweto Gospel Choir are performing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

The Soweto Gospel Choir are performing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe



EVE Muirhead’s retirement ("A new broom for curling as Eve Muirhead retires at the very top", The Herald, August 12) sees the end of an elite athlete’s career which ranks alongside those of the greatest Scottish sports women and men of all time.

From her early days in the World Junior Championships, where in 2009 she won her third consecutive world title, through to her Olympic gold medal in 2022, she has been competing and winning at European and World levels. She joins a small group of Scottish sportspeople who have competed at the highest level over a prolonged period. This group includes Jackie Stewart, Colin Montgomery, Eilidh Doyle, Liz McColgan, Hannah Miley, Duncan Scott, Stephen Hendry, Sir Chris Hoy, Sir Andy Murray and Dame Katherine Granger.

Like the leaders in all team sports, Eve acknowledges that she has had the support of the many girls and women who have contributed to her achievements.

The reason she has not received greater recognition is that curling is a minority sport.

Ian Watson, Pitlochry.


AS the captain and only surviving member of the Scottish Labour MPs' five-a-side football team of 1985 pictured in Thursday's Herald (August 11), I must take issue with your headline: "Labour MPs proved that sport and politics don't mix".

Although we did not win the five-a-side tournament, which was part of Labour's International Festival of Socialism, it is worth recalling the international Olympian spirit that the most important thing is not to win but to take part.

Today's Labour Party would never dream of organising an International Festival of Socialism and today's Scottish Group of Labour MPs,with only one member, could not even organise a team to take part in a five-a-side tournament.

Changed days.

Dennis Canavan, Bannockburn.

Read more: This is no time to be appeasing Nicola Sturgeon