IS our Scottish Government really in control? Right now we have our First Minister off in Denmark to open a pretend embassy ("FM Nordic trip blasted", The Herald, August 26), fresh from her fourth of five appearances at the Edinburgh Festival and still in the midst of her pretend referendum call.

We have her deputy, John Swinney, admitting there is nothing he can do about the rubbish piling up on our streets.

We have a health service on an emergency footing most of the time and an education system that is not what it should be. Transport is chaotic and ferries non-existent. All this in the middle of an energy and cost of living crisis. Ms Sturgeon ought to be in post working on solutions day and night. The fact she isn't is a sorry statement about the claimed priority of our current Government to put Scotland first.

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow.

• LABOUR and Tory MSPs attack the First Minister for “going abroad” during an industrial dispute which is entirely within the remit of Cosla to resolve – unless they want central government to run local government. They had nothing to say when their respective political parties forced Cosla to offer a miserly 3.5% offer to the council workforce. They had nothing to say about a Prime Minister repeatedly holidaying abroad. They had nothing to say about an opposition leader being invisible during the summer of discontent.

I can only hope the trade unions involved in these strikes have funding put aside to protect their members when mortgages become due, or when new school clothing is needed, or food or when heating bills drop through the front door. I have been on a long strike, and it is a desperate times for families, with trade union bosses still getting their salaries, and the Labour Party still getting its bung. The whole thing reeks of hypocrisy on stilts.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.


I NOTE Scott Wright's Comment piece ("Time is running out to save firms from collapse as cost of doing business spirals", The Herald August 25) quotes respected hospitality professional Stephen Leckie of Crieff Hydro, who outlined the ever-increasing cost pressure his business faces, a "cost of doing business crisis" which he expects to cause the closure of many businesses. It really did hit home with me.

As the second-generation owner of a family business I feel a responsibility towards both my staff and my customers who have been with me through good times and bad, however having paid more in the past two months for electricity than I paid in the whole of last year I, like many business owners, feel cast adrift by government, both in Westminster and Holyrood, who seem to care very little for the small and medium employers who generate revenue, pay taxes and employ local people.

Billy Gold, Hielan Jessie bar, Glasgow.


I, ALONG with millions of other households, have been inundated by a Government-sponsored, hugely expensive campaign to switch my home energy to a smart meter. It is impossible to instal one of these devices in my home but still they mail, text and call.

I now know why. Should I fail to fund the usury and gouging of the energy exploiters they have to apply for a warrant to enter my home, bring along a few policemen with nothing more important to do and physically disconnect my supply. Since there are likely to be millions of similar households, this may prove a step too far even for the unscrupulous power barons.

Should you have a smart meter, though, your power can be cut at the touch of a button. Remotely. Since my supplier is Royal Dutch Shell – let's make sure we give it its proper name – that button may well be in Amsterdam.

Smart meters aren't for the consumer's benefit. Only the utility giants stand to benefit – again.

Steve Brennan, Coatbridge.


AS we struggle with the rising cost of living, percentage wage rises are clearly unfair.

While we know that many of the highest earners receive the largest percentage increases, even an equal percentage rise for all still increases the earnings gap.

An increase of 5% of £100,000 has a totally different meaning to 5% of £10,000, and continuing this policy makes our society more unequal.

The introduction of a sliding scale of pay rises would be more equitable: thus those below the average wage would have a greater percentage increase, while those above would be offered a lesser percentage.

This could be fairly easily applied in the public sector. In the private sector, increases which exceeded an agreed statutory scaled level could be taxed at 100%.

We need to abandon the fallacious policy that enormous salaries are essential for the retention of talent in our country and its institutions.

I expect howls of anguish from the better-paid at such a suggestion, but we are in a very serious crisis, and those most privileged should be prepared to share with those in greater need.

I am aware that this is a simplistic suggestion, but if the principle could be developed and applied by those with economic expertise, it might assist in the attempt to work toward a fairer society.

Alistair Macleod, Elie.


I HAVE just retired after 30 wonderful years as a secondary school teacher in the state sector and I feel that this a final opportunity for me to comment on three areas which matter to me before heading off into the wide blue yonder.

First, contrary to many commentators I believe that the Curriculum for Excellence is exactly the right way forward for Scottish schools. I accept that delivery has been questionable in the past, but post-lockdown, I agree with the OECD that the emphasis on transferable skills, academic and vocational, is necessary for our young people to cope with the challenges posed in today's rapidly changing world. Alongside this, many schools now have an embedded nurture agenda, which again supports young people, many of whom come from fractured backgrounds to develop socially as well as academically. Clydebank High School, where I taught, is an excellent example of this.

Secondly, for me the charitable status in the independent sector should be binned. Charities exist where there is an unmet need – for example, Water Aid exists to provide clean water where there is none. Every young person in Scotland already has guaranteed access to school so this makes an appeal to charity redundant. The second argument often deployed is that there should be some kind of rebate for independent schools as parents who pay private school fees still have to pay taxes to support the state sector. This again fails because, for example, many people live in private homes but still pay taxes to support local authority accommodation. What makes independent schools special?

Thirdly, I believe in the principle of universality. The public sector, which is funded by all taxpayers, should be accessible to all taxpayers. This currently doesn't apply in Scottish education. Denominational schools are allowed to ring-fence certain posts for members of a particular faith; use taxpayers' money to promote a specific set of beliefs, and provide a biased syllabus, particularly in Religious Education. The place for faith schools should be in the independent sector. I appeal one more time to the major political parties in Scotland and the teaching trade unions to do the right thing and campaign for an end to discrimination and for equal opportunities.

Barry Stansfield, Glasgow.


DOUG Maughan (Letters, August 24) was wrong to say I did not blame Edinburgh City Council for the litter crisis (Letters, August 23). I said I did not blame the council workers and cleansing staff. That is quite a difference. The council should of course be doing more.

But I also can't understand why restaurants, cafes and businesses don't take action themselves to clean up outside their premises. I know many of them are short-staffed because of Brexit but they are making good money from the tourists, so why can't they show a little initiative? Club together and hire a decent-sized dumpster, gather the rubbish and get it taken away. Yes, it's an added cost, but wouldn't it be worth it?

It will be too late when rats as big as cats seize the opportunity to appear as star performers in this year's Festival.

Is that when the Scottish Government calls in the Army and we see soldiers on the streets with brushes, shovels and dustcarts?

Andy Stenton, Glasgow.


I WAS heartened to read your report that Glasgow has signed an agreement that will see it become the first UK museums service to repatriate artefacts to India ("Glasgow agrees to return artefacts", The Herald, August 20).

In that vein, could the city's Mitchell Library transfer to Airdrie's library the Leningrad Album, sent by the people of Leningrad besieged by German forces in 1941? The album was in response to a book containing a collection of signatures expressing support for the beleaguered city from the people of Airdrie and districts.

Astonishingly, despite wartime conditions the Airdrie book made it into Leningrad. The reciprocal album is retained by Glasgow authorities.

I trust Glasgow agrees that there is an overwhelming ethical case for the album to be passed to Airdrie library.

Jim Cook, Airdrie.


I DON’T expect to be the only person to be somewhat surprised to read that the Cape Wrath lighthouse was built by Robert Louis Stevenson ... in between his trips to France, America and the South Seas, and writing his marvellous novels and travel stories ("Dream job as a light of the north", The Herald, August 26).

In fact the lighthouse was built by his grandfather, Robert Stevenson (no middle name). In his letters, RLS writes about being sent to one of the many lighthouses, I believe on the east coast, as a young man, to be part of the building work, and hating it. Roaming the world and writing were much more to his taste, to the regret of his family.

His family was were unhappy about this? Depends on whether you see that family as individuals or a group, of course (Letters, passim).

Ruth Mackay, Kelso.


WHEN I was at Bankhead School in Glasgow, a few years before Murray Watt (Letters, August 24, 25 & 26), if you forgot your pencil you got the belt.

Marion Currie, Largs.


I WELCOME the renewed respect for Scots, Gaelic, and Scottish culture described by Lennie Pennie ("Resurgent Scots tongue is leading us to a post-cringe era", The Herald, August 26 ).

As a regularly-vexed golfer I have been bilingual for many years.

R Russell Smith, Largs.

Read more: When will the SNP fix the basics that affect all our lives?