ABERDEEN FC were the last team to win the Scottish League, outwith the Old Firm, in 1985, 37 long years ago. Scottish football is in desperate need of a root and branch reform. The 0-9 scoreline last Sunday at Tannadice was the perfect illustration of that. This is no criticism of the Celtic players, who did not showboat. It is, though, bred in them to win at all costs and, instinctively, they went after the Dundee United players with all the humanity of English foxhounds scenting their prey. How many Scottish football fans watched, horrified, thinking: "There but for the grace of God..."?

Back in 1989 there was much talk about forming a Scottish Super League.This would have entailed the big well-supported clubs being members. It was rejected but the arguments still hold good. Last Saturday Dunfermline Athletic played before 4,400 fans in League 1. Queens Park,who replaced them in the Championship, attracted 10 per cent of that. Dundee, Falkirk and Partick Thistle should not be outwith the top tier in our little country.

Complain about the lack of investment in Scottish football and you meet with crocodile tears. The SPFL has commissioned Deloitte to conduct an independent review, as well it might. Even the new highly vaunted Sky TV deal is for only £30 million per annum, far less than the counterparts of Neil Doncaster and Ian Maxwell have attracted in comparable Belgium, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Last season Sky did not even take up its full quota of games yet these broadcasters' contracts are the convenient excuse for blocking clubs streaming their games live on a Saturday.

One would think the Scottish Government would welcome thousands of fans watching on an iPad and not criss-crossing the country on a match day when Covid has not gone away. Only those living abroad can pay to watch their team now. Yet, while I am not willing to travel 155 miles to watch the Pars play at Peterhead, I would gladly fill the Blue Toon coffers with £12 twice a year. During the pandemic some smaller clubs doubled their gate income virtually. It is also a benefit for the hospitalised, infirm, ill, and fair-weather fans. Criticisms of lunchtime kick-offs, plastic pitches, the demand for a reserve league and disquiet at the reluctance to adopt strict liability are swept away.

There are many of us who would welcome Celtic and Rangers (like the Welsh giants), joining the English League. Scotland would witness a football renaissance with, for example, Aberdeen, Hearts, Hibs, and Dundee United battling for the League and the major provincial clubs winning the cups and playing in Europe. The Old Firm have an effective veto in the Premiership with smaller clubs reluctant to forego the Old Firm gates. The disparity in income and wealth has now become grotesque and the wretched status quo was all too vividly illustrated last Sunday.

John V Lloyd, Inverkeithing.


AS someone who studied politics at Edinburgh University, 1970-3, I would tend to agree with Professor James Mitchell’s diagnosis ("Scotland’s top political scientist diagnoses our democracy. The verdict? The patient is in serious trouble ...", August 28). But dissecting constitutions gets us nowhere. The Scottish Parliament was set up by the UK one, which is even more flawed than its creation. Not least because of Brexit Boris the Proroguer, now on his farewell tour. Events in Washington DC in January 2021 show that Donald Trump doesn’t believe in constitutions.

I’m not a fan of Nicola Sturgeon. Even less of Liz Truss. My sympathies lie completely with those Scottish voters under 23 years old who have yet to be consulted on whether the 2016 referendum was a "pochle". To save innocent readers time: it was.

You won’t find the “Mother of Parliaments” at a postcode in London either. A better model might be what a bunch of Icelanders got up to on a hillside in 930AD, without even a roof over their heads.

Whoever becomes the next tenant of 10 Downing Street, an overvalued piece of real estate, next week would be well advised to introduce a bit of glasnost and perestroika there, as the late, great Mikhail Gorbachev would no doubt have advised.

Norrie Forrest, Kincardine.

• I HAD to agree with much of what Neil Mackay had to say regarding the SNP’s approach to lack of innovation and leadership in the current times. The Tory leadership election of the Tory Party would be a gift to a real UK opposition party, never mind Scottish contingents. Instead, we have no strong leadership in Holyrood willing to put forward radical and clear policies.

As a previous supporter of SNP my allegiances have turned to listening to the Alba Party. Alex Salmond, much maligned in the infamous trials, is still a formidable force, all be it ignored by the general media. My faith in Nicola Sturgeon has been destroyed by this and I now see her as a career politician, not a natural successor to her former mentor, Mr Salmond.

Veronica Nelson, Edinburgh.


WHILE we must ensure, urgently, effective relief for those facing destitution this winter, we must also undertake some progressive thinking as to how our economic, social and financial systems can be made to work for the benefit of all members of society.

Such thinking as that undertaken by the Progressive Economy Forum, the aim of which is to achieve “a stable, equitable, green, sustainable economy free of poverty”.

Robert Reich in his 2012 book Beyond Outrage argued that Anglo-American capitalism was working “for the benefit of an ever-fewer privileged and powerful people” and suggested that “rather than just complain about it or give up on the system, we must join together and make it work for all of us”. Things have, of course, continued to deteriorate under the relentless pursuit by the Conservatives of a laissez-faire economic orthodoxy.

Furthermore, the current leadership of the SNP has shown no inclination to so much as suggest that an independent Scotland could move on from such conventional thinking.

Given that such a ground-breaking strategy seems to be beyond the imagination and courage of too many of our liberal/left elected representatives, north and south of the Border, is it realistic to envisage the people (see Reich above) acting as "citizens" as opposed to mere "voters" far less "subjects", being in the vanguard of a recognition of the need for radical change?

John Milne, Uddingston.


AS I’m being quoted in Martin Williams’s article on Kingspan K15 insulation ("Flammable Grenfell material remains at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital", August 28) perhaps I might be permitted to clarify a few points.

First, the argument being advanced by the Scottish Government and NHS Greater Clasgow & Clyde (NHSGG&C) that the insulation is only now being checked in the light of new regulations is incorrect. The contract was awarded to Brookfield in 2009. Paragraph 2.7.2 of the 2009 Technical Standards refers to stand-alone insulation panels in the facades of buildings over 18m in height and states categorically that they must be non-combustible. Kingspan’s own literature at the time stated that K15 Kooltherm was combustible, so it was non-compliant before work even started on site.

Secondly, even if the insulation was deemed to be part of an integrated external facade system (as opposed to stand-alone) then it would need to be "low risk" and meet a European Class B standard as per Section 2E in the Standards. However, Kingspan Kooltherm 15 has a Class C classification whilst the Alucobond PE used in front of it is Class D. On that measure they were both illegal.

If it was to meet the alternative British Standard it would have needed a fire test certificate. Kingspan told me in 2019 that it had not supplied any material to the QEUH project for testing of the facade arrangement, whilst Brookfield’s fire engineer refused to confirm if a fire test had indeed been carried out. So again, a complete absence of evidence showing compliance with the building regulations.

Furthermore, Brookfield stated in its bid documentation that “the external wall cladding will be constructed from materials with a reaction to fire classification of B-s3-d2 or better” (Multiplex Bid Vol.2 section 2.10 page 36). The "or better" indicates it had accepted that the insulation would be meeting the higher Class A (non-combustible) specification and that this would be regardless of the height of the building. It was awarded the contract on that basis – only to then install cheaper alternative products which were not permitted.

The assurances that it subsequently gave to the NHSGG&C board in 2017 that the insulation was fully compliant with the applicable regulations at the time was therefore gross misinformation irrespective of whichever way you analyse it. It was also a clear breach of its contractual obligations as cited above.

The concerns that I had regarding the insulation were relayed to the board chairman and chief executive in a12-page letter dated December 28, 2019. The chairman declined to reply, whilst the chief executive said she would wait for the outcome of the public inquiry before doing anything. Yet we now find that the board is saying it is taking action before the inquiry is finished and “in the light of recent evidence”. This despite the fact it has been sitting on the above evidence for the best part of three years. I’m lost for words.

Robert Menzies, Falkirk.


WHAT baffles those who could accept that the end of the world is nigh if we do not stop CO2 emissions is the refusal of the climate people to adopt nuclear power as a carbon-free producer of endless electricity.

Logic says that they should welcome it to save the world, and then – if nuclear waste is their problem – there will be time to develop a plan to deal with that.

But perhaps the green people do not really believe things are as serious as they say?

Malcolm Parkin, Kinross.