IT is a very dark day in Scotland, on this Winter Solstice ("Gender reforms set for final hurdle after marathon debate", The Herald December 21).

This Gender Recognition Reform Bill is endangering women and girls in a way that we have not seen for decades. All the work of the feminist movement has been undone by the many MSPs in Holyrood who have failed to pass the motions by Russell Findlay (Conservative) and Michelle Thomson (SNP). They proposed amendments that would have prevented men on the sex offenders register from obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate and prevented a man who was facing trial for a sexual offence from being allowed to obtain one until after the outcome of any trial.

These to the majority of the electorate would be reasonable measures to keep women safe from men who may choose to abuse a bill which was intended for other purposes. No one is saying that transgender people are going to endanger women. It is the unintended consequences of poor legislation which will enable men with sinister motives to enter women-only spaces, for example changing rooms, toilets, single sex hospital wards and more.

I cannot imagine why the many MSPs chose to ignore these potential consequences. The safety of the electorate should be at the heart of any bills passed in parliament. Any woman or child hurt as a result of this decision is one person too many.
Jane Lax, Aberlour

A new low for Holyrood

THE shameful scenes in the Scottish Parliament during the debate on the hugely controversial Gender Recognition Bill are likely to be remembered for a very long time and for all the wrong reasons.

When MSPs voted down an amendment on the Gender Recognition Bill to exclude sex offenders from self-identifying to gain a gender recognition certificate, this became a moment when the Parliament itself and its MSPs reached a new low in their priorities and their representation of the people they serve.

This bill is clearly a personal mission for the First Minister, ignoring public opinion polls and attempting to shut down all criticism of it, describing such criticisms as “not valid”. However, one needs to think a little more as to her real intentions. It is abundantly clear that she wishes to curry favour with 16-18-year-olds at every opportunity, a cohort she believes is “independence-positive”. Hence the further “bait” cast out recently that 16-year-olds should be able to stand for election to the Scottish Parliament. Ms Sturgeon’s hidden agenda has been uncovered, showing that nothing, nobody and their safety is off limits in her destructive drive for independence.
Richard Allison, Edinburgh

FM should be held to account

WITH regard to the large missing sum at Ferguson's ("Ferguson boss pressed to account for ‘missing’ £128", The Herald December 20), surely Derek Mackay and Nicola Sturgeon should be recalled to the Public Audit Committee to explain.

When they nationalised the yard in 2019 they should have completed due diligence and ought therefore to know the whereabouts of the missing £128m. It's inconceivable that any accountant doing due diligence could miss such a sum. If Mr Mackay and Ms Sturgeon cannot explain they stand accused of gross financial incompetence.

Given that no public servant has been disciplined it can only be assumed that they were directed by their political masters, who must be held to account.
Ian McNair, Cellardyke

Train companies bring us misery

I READ your article about the train strikes with interest ("Strikes to derail festive travel plans", The Herald, December 21). As usual with articles about the recent rash of strikes it talks in hyperbole: words such as “misery” and “disruption” being used.

As a regular rail user, both to get to work and to travel south of the Border, my experience is that “misery” and “disruption” are more often associated with the train companies than with the current strikes. Avanti West Coast and TransPennine Express seem well able to deliver misery and disruption on a regular basis with sudden cancellations, timetables that are often works of fantasy and grossly overcrowded trains (generally caused by earlier cancellations).

Even with no strikes I doubt if Christmas travel would be straightforward, given the recent record of these companies. Indeed, only today TransPennine announced that a third of its services were to be cancelled and advised people not to travel.

Yes, strikes bring disruption. However, they also provide a degree of certainty: at least you know there will be no trains. The current train companies’ record means that travellers, especially to England from the West of Scotland, must travel literally in hope rather than any certainty that the advertised trains will run.

So, let’s not fall into the trap of linking travel chaos solely to the current strikes. The rail operating system has needed serious review and reform for several years. The current strikes are just the latest indication of this. Even if they were settled before Christmas I doubt that there would be trouble-free travel.
Keith Hayton, Glasgow

Why I wear shorts in winter

MAY I, as a 73-year-old shorts wearer, enlighten Mike Wilson (Letters, December 21) on the benefits of wearing shorts throughout the year?

First, at least in my experience, legs don't seem to radiate much body heat. Secondly, warm, waterproof upper-body clothing with a bunnet or woolly hat will do the trick. Thirdly, legs, when they get wet quickly dry, unlike trousers. Fourthly, legs, even in the middle of winter, will retain enough pigmentation to avoid that horror of horrors the peely-wally leg – well known to Scottish womanhood when eventually exposed sometime in June.

I remember, very many years ago, my then-girlfriend watching me at a football match, complimenting me on having "a good leg". This may well have been in comparison to the rest of me, and my abilities as a footballer of course, but nonetheless I treasure the memory.
John Jamieson, Ayr

Shouldn't they reflect?

MIKE Wilson's excellent letter about the phenomenon of Scotsmen going about their daily business in shorts omits only one question: do they look at themselves in the mirror before venturing forth?
David Miller, Milngavie


Letters should not exceed 500 words. We reserve the right to edit submissions.