THERE are at least three things we can take offence at regarding Nicola Sturgeon’s series of chat shows at the Edinburgh Fringe, in particular her indulgent nationalist back-slapping with Brian Cox ("Cox: Class-ridden and feudal UK is why I want Scotland to be independent", The Herald, August 27, and Letters, August 31).

One of course is the rubbish piling up outside, which you might think would be her priority consideration given the impression it gives people of our capital. She appears not to be interested.

The second is the suggestion by Brian Cox that people in Scotland are culturally different from others in the UK, by which he means England. Ms Sturgeon was nodding away in the background. I consulted my atlas of Scottish surnames, and Cox does not figure at all. An online search tells me it is mostly English or Welsh in origin, but that it could be Irish or Scottish that has been anglicised. Ironically for a political activist like Mr Cox, the first record of the name was in the 1500s at Westminster in London. It is also the 69th most common surname in the UK, so culturally, it seems Mr Cox has more in common than he might like to admit to with those people he wants to distance himself from. Did I mention he is already 3,000 miles distant living in the US, the Scottish climate not suiting him?

We already knew about Nicola Sturgeon’s granny coming from the north-east of England, but apparently Sturgeon is a Norman name, the first mention of which is as Lords of the Manor of Whepstead in Suffolk, a title given to her ancestor Ralph after 1066. So, not just English, but thoroughly aristocratic and establishment in the south of England, and with the Battle of Hastings featuring more prominently than Bannockburn. One can speculate that the Sturgeons may well have been on the English side at Bannockburn. Herein lies the danger of talking about cultural differences whilst lacking in self-awareness about such possibilities.

The final point made was that, apparently, we are lacking the confidence to be independent in Scotland. There is a back history to this. In the 1990s, Jim Sillars called us “90-minute patriots”, essentially a calculated insult borne out of frustration at their political failures at the time. Then we have the “too wee, too poor, too stupid” line, supposedly coined by that nice Mr Swinney. This is another insult, essentially meaning “Are you too wee and stupid to accept our political analysis?” The “lack of confidence” comment suggests to me that they feel their cause is going nowhere again, and that they are striking out in frustration.

There is much speculation at present about Ms Sturgeon’s future, but like Alex Salmond, that future seems simply to be reciting their old lines to the small proportion of the faithful who will pay to listen. You can't make progress with the wider population by insulting people.

Victor Clements, Aberfeldy.


JILL Stephenson (Letters, August 31) rails against Brian Cox "living in the US, preaching to those of us who live in SNP Scotland".

Ms Stephenson also informs us that the UK is one of the freest countries in the world, and that we have been "conditioned" by a barrage of dishonest SNP propaganda.

Brian Cox appears to be an intelligent and well-informed person, who is able to make judgments and opinions based upon his own experiences, both from his time living here and from paying attention to what is going on in the world at large. I'm sure America has the internet and online news channels, much like the UK.

Ms Stephenson, on the other hand, seems to have an obsession with the very concept of Scottish self-governance, to the extent that her vitriolic letters have little but contempt for the very idea that Scotland can function as a nation. This is insulting to say the very least.

Let's not forget Britain's most prominent recent achievements... Boris Johnson, Brexit, austerity, illegal wars, more billionaire tax evaders than ever, Trident, and the crushing of the NHS.

Kevin Orr, Bishopbriggs.

• WHATEVER happened in this free country to “I may not agree with what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it?”

Alan Carmichael, Glasgow.


DAVID Bone (Letters, August 31) describes a scene of neglect in his home town of Girvan and states that it sums up Scotland under the SNP. Perhaps he could direct some of his criticism to the body responsible for litter collection in the town. South Ayrshire Council is, of course, under the control of the Conservative and Unionist party.

Gregor Clark, Irvine.


P DAVIDSON (Letters, August 31) tells us that the Vow signed in 2014 by Messrs Cameron and Clegg as PM and Deputy PM and Ed Miliband as Leader of the Opposition promised Scotland a new shipbuilding hall at BAe Systems and a certain number of ship orders. This is certainly not the case, and nor cannot be, as the Vow in question was confined to three commitments: statutory protection of the Scottish Parliament, preservation of the Barnett Formula and that more powers would be devolved to Holyrood. All of these were duly delivered.

The plain truth is that the Vow did not mention, imply or hint at shipbuilding in any way – in the same way that it did not mention the European Union or federalism either. As has been said before, if Scottish nationalism is such a good idea, why does it need so many falsehoods to make its case?

Peter A Russell, Glasgow.


THE Scottish Fiscal Commission forecasts that the Scottish economy will grow less quickly than the UK economy ("Scots economy to grow slower than UK in next 50 years, says budget watchdog", The Herald, August 31). Just like it has in every decade over the last century and more, as decisions made in London determines to a large extent what happens here ("London catches a cold" syndrome). That will not change unless Scotland decides to take control of its own assets of plentiful energy, water, land and an educated workforce.

The commission also forecasts a population decline of 900,000 over the next 50 years. This is an obvious nonsense, as predicted climate change (and rising sea levels) will make Scotland a much more desirable place for humans to live than many parts of southern Europe, for example. Sometimes with “expert” opinion, divination by reading chicken bones will give an equally accurate result.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.


I HAVE just read your article on rising food prices (“Food prices rising at fastest rates since financial crash”, The Herald, August 31) and am surprised that no mention of Brexit appears. This is not unique to this report as more and more we are being advised that the situation in Ukraine is to blame for all that is not well in the UK and that Brexit has no bearing on the situation.

Brexit aside, the article advises us that bread, cereals, milk, cheese and eggs rose the fastest in July. Now, excluding cereals I cannot see how the situation in Ukraine has any bearing on the others.

I have no doubt that there are many genuine price rises born of necessity but I also believe there are many situations where opportunities are being taken to maximise profits at the consumer's cost.

Bill McKenzie, Cumnock.


IT is acknowledged that there is a shortage of affordable housing in Scotland and obtaining funding is challenging for the local authorities. In South Ayrshire the council is developing a former school site to provide a 160-mix of flats, bungalows, semi-detached and detached houses. The total cost of the development provided by HubSW makes the average cost of building each unit at £230,000.

If you look at the price of property in the area – for example, a two-bed detached bungalow for sale for £170,000 – why does South Ayrshire not buy up such properties which are cheaper like other councils have done?

I would be interested to know why it costs so much to build affordable housing when the land is already owned by the council, although I appreciate there are demolition costs. As an outsider it looks as if there is a lack of financial control as it not "their" money.

Richard Wiggins, Prestwick.

Read more: These 'pretendy embassies' are nothing new and they do Scotland a power of good