IT'S a great pity and an embarrassment for Scotland that the accounts of the abuse heaped upon BBC reporter James Cook and others outside the Tory leadership hustings in Perth should have reached the world stage. James Cook is a good, objective journalist and I am sure that he didn't suffer the level of verbal abuse during his stint as BBC reporter in Los Angeles that he received in his native Scotland.

It's right that Nicola Sturgeon and Ian Blackford should have condemned the conduct of the individuals responsible for Cook's unacceptable treatment, but why didn't they go further and criticise any type of political action which fosters intolerance and strikes against the freedom of expression?

Politicians should ask themselves whether their actions or words in the past have contributed to such unseemly incidents, which are too widespread throughout our society and go against acceptable standards of decency, tolerance and respect. In some cases one could justifiably argue that the behaviour of politicians and police inaction have been contributory factors and it doesn't bode well for the future if youngsters see adults behaving aggressively towards others and accept it as the norm.

Bob MacDougall, Kippen.


ALLAN Sutherland (Letters, August 14) suggests that there should be a "worked-out plan agreed with the UK and other stakeholders" prior to any referendum on separation from the UK. This would be fine if this detailed agreement could somehow be magicked into existence.

A plan that "resolves major issues like pensions, currency, debt, transition timescale and cost, borders and trade", to name just a few of the issues, would require negotiations more complex and costly than the Brexit negotiations that distracted our politicians and civil servants for so long. To inflict this on the entire population of the UK at the behest of less than 50 per cent of Scotland's adult population would be a fine example of a "democratic deficit" – a term often used by the grievance-seeking SNP.

Mr Sutherland is right to highlight the fact that a referendum without the voters knowing exactly what it is that they are voting for is farcical. Six years after the Brexit referendum, many who voted to leave the EU are disappointed to find that it has not turned out quite as they hoped – with many issues still unresolved.

There are far more pressing problems that we need our politicians to be focused on without creating another. Perhaps the suggestion of a need for a Clarity Act to be included in all party manifestos might at least help people to realise the complexity and risks associated with separation – especially if accompanied by an exhaustive list of issues that would need to be negotiated.

Mark Openshaw, Aberdeen.


I NOTE Iain Macwhirter's article ("Has energy crisis finally convinced Scots to go it alone?", August 14), and wish to make the following points:

It is not true there will "have to be a hard border with England" in the event of independence. There are many examples otherwise, including the arrangement between the mainland and Northern Ireland.

There is no detail of what monies exactly Mr Macwhirter refers to in putting forward "20% more spending per head" and spending is not the same as money received. He fails to indicate that Scotland pays more to the Westminster Treasury than it receives back and monies it pays are spent on projects like Crossrail or HS2. He fails to list the gradual cutting of the devolved budget by Westminster.

The Scottish Government has to reconcile its books and does so. Mr Macwhirter fails to discuss the "deficit" he mentionsm which is not Scotland's, but the UK's.

He also fails to detail accurately where energy from the Berwick wind farm will go.

Pol Yates, Edinburgh.


IT was bad enough when Boris Johnson refused us our referendum and then Liz Truss described our esteemed leader as an attention seeker, but the latest diatribe of abuse directed by one of our own against our creature cousins, cuilcoides impunctatus or midgies, goes too far (“Vicious little beasties that bite you in the Cairngorms”, Rab McNeil, August 14). However, I have room here to report only a few of the many good things about midgies.

1. Impunctatus, like the miner’s canary, are true friends to humanity by virtue of defining areas of safe air quality. One whiff of man’s pollution and these wee chaps are offski. There are none of them to be found under the Hielanders’ Umbrella in Glasgow. Their presence is a welcome confirmation of environmental purity. Impunctatus should not only be permitted, they should be compulsory.

2. It is nowadays quite simply wrong, reprehensible and unacceptable at every level to define “keeping the English south of the Border” as a positive societal objective, but it was okay in 1314 and that was a great year for our nation. Let us just say that impunctatus tends to ensure that those who choose to make a second or subsequent visit to Scotland are of suitable character.

3. Impunctatus has the potential to save us from ourselves. During their seasons, the only outdoor relief from their affectionate attention is achieved by maintaining a land speed of 4/5 mph, sufficient to ward off the modern plague of obesity.

4). Impunctatus may be crucial to the defence of the realm. Nobody who has navigated the Larig Ghru on a balmy summer evening can doubt the true fate of the Ninth Legion in that Ghru and the part played by impunctatus. It is difficult to translate that defence strategy into the context of 21st century warfare but, perhaps, not beyond the ingenuity of a small nation who overcame a European superpower by the simple process of standing around in circles and poking the enemy with pointy sticks (schiltrons, 1314). The Swiss, who have never suffered military defeat, may have their Swiss Army knives but even these are worse than useless against impunctatus.

5. Those who have had to share a continental bedroom, caravan or tent with even only one horrific continental mosquito must have longed for the relatively soothing balm of 1,000 midgie bites. If you have impunctatus for company then you do not have the company of mosquitoes or the various agonising, life-changing and sometimes terminal conditions which these monsters bring.

The list of good things about midgies goes on and on but, I suspect, more so than the Editor’s word limit shall permit.

Michael Sheridan, Glasgow.

• LIKE Rab McNeil, I don't like midges, but I love swallows. They are beautiful, and their spirit and energy touch my soul. They seem to enjoy human company and nest in close proximity, often discharging their poo in annoying locations, which tends not to endear them to the tidy-minded. My farming neighbour's machinery shed is a favourite roost and the expensive contents thereof are frequent recipients of their outgoings, about which he was complaining bitterly recently.

I sympathised, but then I remarked that at this time of the year in Argyll, Swallow poo consists mostly of puréed midge. The statistics are very impressive indeed. At this, he put his head on one side, smiled slowly and replied: "Oh aye – aye, there is that." Furthermore, some people think that it is good luck to be pooed on by swallows, and that it improves one's financial prospects. At least knowing this might make cleaning up after them a more cheerful experience.

John Gosling, Barcaldine.


FLAT caps, forelock-tugging, and watches on fob chains have all passed into history. So have vinyl records and VHS cassettes. Really it should be the same with striking.

Striking belongs in a time when some thought the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 and the Soviet Union represented the way forward for humanity. It was a reasonable thing to do in a time before health and safety and before modern employment law.

Today strikes are largely confined to the public sector and large quasi-public sector concerns, such as the railways. The employees of these organisations usually already have better pay and conditions than equivalent roles in the private sector.

Because these organisations are effectively monopolies, these strikes are simply a form of legalised extortion.

Also, in the private sector when times are hard, businesses can’t always afford to give employees a rise even if the cost of living is going up. By contrast, in the public sector, the state of the economy is just plain ignored.

Rather than striking, our bin men should make common cause with local councils which are being starved of funds by the SNP Government.

NHS workers, bin men and train drivers should remember that they have a duty to do their job, as the public rely on them.

Otto Inglis, Crossgates, Fife.


RE your article on the NHS dentist crisis ("‘It’s no wonder that dentists are cashing in as model is geared towards statistics’", August 14): when I saw my dentist pull up in his new Porsche – after I had paid a hefty bill – you will understand my cynicism about the complaint of not being able to cope with current patient demands.

I’m sure there are many dedicated dentists out there, but I don’t know of any poor ones. This is yet another subtle attempt to convince us all to pay unregulated costs for private treatments.

Veronica Nelson, Edinburgh.


DRAX burns wood pellets to produce electricity but it is not green electricity. The pellets come from 27 million trees from forests in the US and Canada which are then shipped 4,500 miles to Immingham, creating 1.5 million tons of CO2 every year. It will take 50 years for new trees to suck up the CO2 created.

Drax is only 38 per cent efficient, so for every 10 trees burnt only four produce electricity. Taxpayers subsidise Drax by £839 million a year. Since Drax supplies six per cent of UK electricity these "inconvenient truths" will be ignored.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow.