IN terms of our understanding of how the world works we are all products of the society we are born into and that is always changing. When I was born officially there was only heterosexuality and everything other than that was abnormal and illegal. I now live in an LGBTQI+ world which has an ever-increasing number of alternative versions of normality. Things change; I’m a dinosaur, I admit it, but I go with the flow.

In the latest Census, 95 per cent of Scots stated that they are heterosexual and only 1.6% said they were LGB. I can’t easily find recent accurate data as to how many Scots consider themselves to be trans-sexual but the number of juveniles referred to specialist services would appear to be roughly in the order of 200 per year.

Scotland is not short of problems that need to be attended to. For example, more than 700,000 Scots are currently on NHS waiting lists for treatment or specialist diagnosis; 200,000 of our fellow Scots are regularly forced to use charity food banks to survive; 14.7% of the workforce are paid less than the living wage and rely on benefits to survive; more juveniles are serving sentences in Scottish jails than are presently referred to trans-sexual services, roughly 8,000 Scottish children are currently homeless and more than 13,000 children are in long-term care; fuel poverty is becoming the norm; five times more people sleep rough every night than are referred to trans-sexual services in a year.

The media and Holyrood appear obsessed with “trans rights” when that community has always had exactly the same rights as all the rest of us. I wish Holyrood and our paid representatives who perform there in their own wee surreal environment were just as vociferous and industrious at dealing with the important issues such as the ones I mentioned that are relevant to all Scots, not just a few.

David J Crawford, Glasgow.


YOU recently (December 16) published my letter relating to the poor in society and their importance. Perhaps my little calculation on electricity charges will emphasise the points that I made further. I keep records of my supplier's price increases and compared them from April 2021 to what they will be in January 2023, a 20-month time span.

The "Day" rate will have increased by 86%. The "Night" rate by 112% and the daily standing charge by also 112%.

In 2022 the state pension increased by 3.1% and due to the energy price direction of travel those on pensions and benefits are receiving Government help which will finish in March 23, just in time for the next increase to kick-in. But the new state pension will also increase by 10.1%. Will this be enough with inflation affecting every other aspect of living, like food, transport and whatever local authorities choose to do with council tax now that they have been given free rein?

Returning to my last letter, I remarked on the apparent attitude of big business, the financial services sector and the Government and for me it is clear that their lobbying of government led to the financial crash in 2008/9. Like thousands of others my private pension was negatively affected and today it is still less than had been anticipated.

Putting all of this together and thinking about Jeremy Hunt's recent relaxation of rules relating to bankers and how they can run their operations and not forgetting their bonuses, are we seeing the formalisation of a stealth cull of the poorest in society? Did the lessons learned by those in power when the death rate of elderly people in care due to Covid became somehow acceptable collateral damage? Coupled with my previously-mentioned thousands of avoidable and excess deaths due to austerity, is it a case of counting the savings made to the Exchequer by allowing people to just die off?

Does any organisation in authority, excluding all of those in the NHS, supporting services and charities, actually care and if they do what will they do?

Ian Gray, Croftamie.


I VERY much enjoyed Ian McConnell's recent article ("So who is afraid of dire warnings about the big, bad Scottish tax bogeyman?", The Herald, December 21). It took me back to my days as a financial adviser more than 20 years ago in the run-up to the first Scottish Parliament elections in 1999. To my surprise, one of my clients said that he was planning to leave Scotland soon because of his belief that tax in Scotland would inevitably be higher than in the rest of the UK. To the best of my recollection he was still in Scotland when I retired years later.

Afterwards I used to advise clients: "don't let the tax-planning tail wag the dog of common sense."

Mr McConnell lists many of the financial advantages which accrue from the Scottish tax system, but he omits what to my mind is one other very important advantage, and that is quality of life.

Admittedly not everything in Scotland is perfect, but I would suggest that for many people in Scotland the quality of life is an intangible benefit to be thrown into the balance in favour of "the dog of common sense".

Stewart Noble, Helensburgh.

• THE Scottish Government says it has no more money with which to pay nurses a fair wage (“Nurses told: There is no more cash for rises, as strike looms”, The Herald December 22). The answer is simple. It should revisit the Budget, add another 1p across the board to all income tax levels, pay the nurses what they deserve and use what is left over to assist local authorities to try to maintain public services.

David Mumford (The Rev), Innerwick, Dunbar.


IT is just as well that Willie Maclean starts his letter (December 23) with a big "if". To give any binding credence or legal effect to an attempt to have a General Election treated as something very different such as a referendum runs the risk of presaging the transition of Scotland from a democracy to an autocracy.

In the case in point, the First Minister set this particular hare running with her announcement that she will treat the next General Election as a single-issue de facto referendum on independence. My immediate reaction to her announcement was “So what?" as her personal attitude can itself have no binding or legal effect, unless she has assumed some supreme powers which I must have missed. I for one hereby announce that I don’t agree with her and I shall treat any General Election as just that.

So where does that leave us, or is this a case of some being more equal than others with my announcement carrying less democratic weight than hers?

Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop.


THIS year for many has been one filled with doom and gloom. War in the Ukraine and the cost of living crisis have dominated news headlines.

However, while the negatives tend to drive the media agenda, we must remember that there were many positives to look back on.

For example, while the list of endangered species continued to grow at an alarming rate, some creatures bounced back from the brink in 2022, proving that extinction is not inevitable. Beavers, bison and pelicans were among the species identified as having bucked the trend by the Wildlife Comeback Report, published in September. Most are the subject of reintroduction programmes, including the bison, which is roaming England again for the first time in thousands of years.

There’s also cautious optimism that the civil war in Ethiopia could finally be over, after the warring sides agreed to permanently end hostilities in November.

New fronts in the fight against cancer opened up this year, with scientists developing better tools for detecting and treating the disease. Tests were developed that appear to be able to diagnose cervical cancer, prostate cancer and other forms of the diseases. Experimental treatments also provided some good news. In December, a teenager who had been diagnosed with “incurable” leukaemia was cured, thanks to what scientists say is the most sophisticated cell engineering to date.

This year also witnessed more progress in tackling discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community, although there is still much work to be done. Greece and Israel for example became the latest countries to ban conversion therapy, and Slovenia ruled that its ban on same-sex marriages was unconstitutional.

So, when one reflects on the year, let us not forget that among the doom and gloom, there were many positive stories to reflect on.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh.