WITH the arrogance that we have come to expect from SNP representatives and members, Deirdre Brock, SNP MP, tried to patronise Penny Mordaunt, Leader of the House of Commons: "She might not know that there are… seven countries…in the EU [that] still use their own choice of currency… so it is not quite the “gotcha” unionists thought it was" ("SNP's Deidre Brock insists Scotland can join EU without joining euro", heraldscotland, November 3).

In fact, what pro-Union people have said is that applicants to the EU must undertake to adopt the euro at some point in the future. The SNP now seems to accept that, in spite of Nicola Sturgeon having previously said that the euro was "not the right option for Scotland". The question now is: would an independent Scotland undertake to join the EU without having the slightest intention of doing so? That would accord with the SNP’s loose relationship with truth.

Ms Brock mentioned Sweden and Croatia, in her SNP-approved list of those EU members who are not in the Eurozone. Croatia is due to join the Eurozone in a matter of weeks, on 1, January 2023. Sweden was already an EU member when the euro was introduced in 1999. As in Denmark, a referendum held in Sweden in 2003 rejected euro membership. The official SNP line is that "no country can be forced to join" the Eurozone. "The example of Sweden and others show that." No, it doesn’t. The remaining six EU members outside the Eurozone are making progress towards joining. Sweden, as shown, cannot have euro membership held over it as a condition of admission to the EU.

I do wish the SNP would stop prevaricating. Fat chance of that.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh.


THE Herald’s political sketch can generally be relied upon to give rise to a wry grin, sometimes a quiet chuckle and on rare occasions an undignified guffaw. However, Tom Gordon’s contribution this week ("FMQs sketch", Breaking bad, heraldscotland, November 3) was no laughing matter.

His excoriating analysis of Nicola Sturgeon’s reaction, when presented with the appalling story of 81-year-old Catrina McFarlane’s agonising wait for an ambulance that never came, wiped the smile right off my face. This time it wasn’t funny. On the contrary, the First Minister’s riposte to the grim facts of an elderly lady’s desperate plight was contemptible. Instead of indicating what steps she might take to correct such deficiencies, Ms Sturgeon took refuge in a formulaic routine which focuses on denigrating other political parties before, of course, going on to claim that independence will solve all those faults and failings.

More than 200 years ago the French philosopher Joseph de Maistre wrote that every country has the government it deserves. If he was correct – and the phrase has withstood the test of some considerable time – then where did we go wrong?

Bob Scott, Drymen.


BOB Hamilton (Letters, November 4) points out that at elections (for example, the General Election in 2019), while the SNP won a majority of seats, it has not won the majority of votes required in an independence referendum. However, his comparison is apples and pears. A referendum poses a binary choice, while an election poses a choice between several parties. Drawing any sort of firm conclusion about a referendum from election votes is highly unreliable.

Moreover, Ruth Marr’s letter (November 3) was part of an exchange of views about referendum mandates in Scotland and at Westminster. Her observation about winning the majority of seats is germane, as these majorities are the currency of UK politics. If confirmation were required, in 2019 Boris Johnson won an 80-seat majority at Westminster, to “get Brexit done”, with 43.6% of the vote. For comparison, in 2019 the SNP won 45% of the vote and 47.7% (in the constituency section) in 2021.

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.

• THE letters from Ruth Marr and Gordon Evans (November 3) repeat the mantras that "things have changed since the independence referendum" and that "Scotland does not get the governments it votes for".

This suggests that they respectively believe that Scotland voted in 2014 to stay in the UK in the expectation that nothing would ever change, and that people vote for the SNP in General Elections in the expectation that a party that only contests 59 seats can form a government in the House of Commons. Surely people voted in 2014 in the knowledge that things will inevitably change (indeed, we all voted in the knowledge that a Brexit referendum was possible – it was in the Scottish Government's White Paper). And in General Elections, we know that to get your choice of UK government you have to vote for a party that contests all of the UK mainland seats.

The likes of Ms Marr and Mr Evans obviously think that Scottish voters are that stupid. I am pleased to say that I cannot agree with them.

Peter A Russell, Glasgow.


AS a coalition of organisations that supports children and young people, many of whom have mental health problems, we share the concerns of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland relating to proposed cuts of £38 million to planned mental health spending ("Swinney warns NHS staff he has nothing more to offer to fund a bigger pay rise", The Herald, November 4).

It should be noted that we were already experiencing a mental health emergency in Scotland, even before Covid-19 and the cost of living crisis took hold. These have worsened an already devastating situation for many children and young people, resulting in a perfect storm of challenges.

It therefore beggars belief that, in the face of a mental health tsunami, the Scottish Government is set to cut the mental health budget. Combined with this, an already tight budget will have to stretch even further to keep pace with soaring inflation.

With the resultant personal cost to those concerned and their families, as well to the economy overall, we need to invest more, not less, in our mental health services. The situation we are currently in could potentially lead to a lost generation of vulnerable children and young people who are missing out on the support they vitally need.

To address this, we must ensure our mental health services are protected and would urge the Scottish Government to reconsider these cuts and commit to increase investment, ensuring that our children and young people receive the high-quality care they need, when they need it.

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition: Kenny Graham, Falkland House School; Lynn Bell, LOVE Learning; Stephen McGhee, Spark of Genius; Niall Kelly, Young Foundations, Edinburgh.


I NOTE with interest your report on the botched Dargavel Primary in Bishopton ("Stooshie in staff room as school bosses bungle building", The Herald, November 4). I write as a long-term resident of Bishopton who has been involved with the development of the old ROF site since its inception in the early 2000s.

The local community council has expressed concern to successive Renfrewshire administrations over the provision of education, health, and leisure facilities due to the massive increase in population due to this development. In a letter to the then Education Director in 2013 the community council questioned the formula they used to determine the school provision to no avail; they consistently insisted that there would only be one child per seven houses.

In 2012 there was a Section 75 agreement between Renfrewshire Council and the developer BAe Systems. In it the people of Bishopton were promised a new school, a new health centre, library, community facilities, floodlit playing fields with pavilions, play parks, and many other “benefits” including 4,000 jobs, as a “sustainable” community.

To date we have seen a new school which is woefully inadequate, the promise of a “satellite” health centre sometime in the future, park and ride car parks, one of which remains unsurfaced, and some small play areas throughout the development. The commercial land which was to provide the 4,000 jobs is now all housing, which has gone from an initial plan for 2,300 houses to more than 4,200.

The residents and newcomers to Bishopton have seen all the grand promises made to gain planning consent whittled away over the years until there is hardly anything left.

The school situation is but the tip of the iceberg.

John Mackintosh, Bishopton.


I NOTE Kevin McKenna’s article concerning Dunoon Grammar, which has been rated the Best School in the World ("The school that kids don’t mind attending", The Herald, November 4). Dunoon, of course, has a link to Robert Burns in that it has a memorial celebrating the life of Highland Mary, with whom Burns had a relationship. Mary came from the nearby village of Auchnamore. The closeness of that relationship is suggested by the words of Burns in the song Highland Mary:

"But oh! fell Death’s untimely frost,

That nipt my Flower sae early!

Now green's the sod, and cauld’s the clay

That wraps my Highland Mary!"

One is tempted to wonder what Burns would have made of this "very special place" in Dunoon in attracting such a prestigious award. The words from The Cotter’s Saturday Night seem fitting:

"From scenes like these, old Scotia’s grandeur springs,

That makes her lov’d at home , rever’d abroad".

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.

Sir Rod Stewart has an interesting Highland clan ancestry Picture: Press Association

Sir Rod Stewart has an interesting Highland clan ancestry Picture: Press Association


ROD Stewart presumably has an affinity for Scotland because of his Stewart name ("Englishman Rod Stewart to be honoured in Scottish Music Awards", heraldscotland, November 3). Apparently, it was originally something like Steward in the Lowlands but a Highland clan was established in the Appin (An Apainn) area of Argyll (Earra-Ghàidheal) called Na Stiùbhartaich (the Stewarts).

Rod, and his sons, should not neglect their Highland clan ancestry. Alexander Stewart of Invernahyle was a client of Sir Walter Scott's father, and his frequent guest in Edinburgh when Scott was a boy. It was from this old Highland warrior that Sir Walter got his earliest lessons in storytelling. His "tales", Sir Walter relates, "were the absolute delight of my childhood. I believe there never was a man who united the ardour of a soldier and tale-teller – a man of 'talk', as they call it in Gaelic – in such an excellent degree, and he was as fond of telling as I was of learning; I became a valiant Jacobite at the age of ten years" (Wikipedia).

Rod should consider learning to sing a Scots Gaelic song suitable for his voice.

Ewan Macintyre, Inverness.


I AM cheered by research which shows that swearing has favourable physiological, cognitive and emotional benefits; and, I guess as many of us know already, even pain-relieving effect ("Issue of the day: The power of swearing", The Herald, November 4 ).

I admit that most of my expletives and maledictions are quietly under my breath. But, what the hell, it still works.

R Russell Smith, Largs.