ARE those in the SNP who have attacked Kate Forbes for her religious beliefs, which she applies to her personal life and has not sought to impose on others, aware of the damage they are doing to the party as a whole ("‘Heartsore’ Forbes pulls ahead in first leadership contest poll", The Herald, February 24)? Is it sensible to attack one person and alienate many thousands?

Kate Forbes, a Christian, and Humza Yousaf, a Muslim, have been government ministers. In neither case will anyone find a trace in their conduct of public business any evidence that they have skewed their actions to fit their personal beliefs. Ms Forbes, in allocating funds to the NHS, did not differentiate between babies born to a married mother and babies born out of wedlock. Mr Yousaf as justice minister did not seek to incorporate Sharia law’s inheritance code into Scots law. Both are a credit to their religions, and a credit to their recognition of their responsibilities to the general public good.

It is time to tell Neil Gray and others to desist from their perilous venture into theology, something they are manifestly unfit for. Let us now have a concentration on what really matters in this internal party election – the positions of each candidate on the secular issues of the economy, education, NHS, the A9, eradicating poverty, care of the elderly, and how the party can build a solid incontestable majority for independence.

Jim Sillars, Edinburgh.


WHAT seems to be overlooked in the increasingly-fevered debate around Kate Forbes' views, one that is generating more heat than light, is the fact that her views are not religious views but social views. They may spring from, and be rooted in, a religious faith, but they are views which pertain to social questions and questions on which many people have strongly-held views, including the nature of marriage and parenthood. Ms Forbes is entitled to be questioned about her views whatever their intellectual, social or religious origins. The fact she has a religious faith does not exempt her from this scrutiny. She is a candidate for First Minister of Scotland, she is not applying for a part-time job at Asda.

Professor Joseph Farrell (Letters, February 24) is shocked at hearing a Green spokesperson saying they could not support anyone with Ms Forbes' views. This is a basic political point, 10-a-penny in an open and, thankfully, secular society. This is a bit like expressing shock on hearing that Douglas Ross could not support Nicola Sturgeon on the question of Scottish independence. It is nonetheless typical of how this debate has got out of proportion, as are claims that "freedom of worship is under threat".

It always strikes me as strange that when questions of faith and religion are aired they are almost always accompanied by talk of morality, as if there can be no morality without religion. I am not a religious person, one reason being I have read some history about the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition and 17th century Scotland. Talk about intolerance.

Brian Harvey, Hamilton.


I STRONGLY advocate that John Swinney, Nicola Sturgeon, Humza Yousaf, Patrick Harvie and other MSPs who have spoken out against Kate Forbes, be asked in a public interview this simple question: "Has Kate Forbes ever, at any time or in any way, treated you personally with anything other than respect and courtesy, despite your contrary views on same-sex marriage?" I believe the answer in every case would be "No; never". And that says a lot.

Perhaps a second question could be "Has Kate Forbes ever indicated publicly that you are not an appropriate person to hold the MSP post you hold, because of your personal stance on moral issues?"

These politicians have acted shamefully towards a colleague who has displayed considerable integrity and courage in these last days. Their conduct has been exactly the opposite ... cowardly and lacking in integrity.

Alasdair HB Fyfe, Carmunnock.

• IT is a crying shame that one of the most talented candidates for First Minister is being pilloried for her Christian views. Although I am an agnostic, I feel she should be entitled to speak out on various issues she considers are against her Christian principles. She has also made it quite clear that, as a candidate, she would uphold the law of the land regardless of her Christian beliefs. Her honesty is more likely to be problematic for her and maybe that should preclude her from running.

It looks like the SNP members will have some soul-searching to do as Nicola Sturgeon, whether you liked her or not, was a canny politician.

Ian Smith, Symington.


AFTER Kate Forbes' personal views on gay marriage, of which she made no secret, were under much public scrutiny in recent days, it now seems that the religious background of First Minister hopeful Humza Yousaf is also in the spotlight. According to former SNP minister Alex Neil, Mr Yousaf arranged in advance a ministerial meeting to have an excuse for not voting on gay marriage legislation at Holyrood because of “pressure from the mosque“ ("Yousaf ‘asked to skip’ key same-sex marriage vote", The Herald, February 24).

If true, it means that a religious institution had direct influence on the vote count of a bill debated and voted on by elected members of the Scottish Parliament. This has no place in a secular democracy.

Regina Erich, Stonehaven.


RECENT coverage of the SNP leadership debate has focused on the candidates' records on marriage equality – or, to use the term preferred by outlets including The Herald, "gay marriage".

This fails to reflect the fact that not everyone who enters into a same-sex marriage is gay. Bisexual and pansexual people can and do marry same-sex partners, and this choice of language contributes to the erasure of their identities.

Recent research on behalf of Stonewall suggests that more people identify as bisexual than gay or lesbian. The use of "gay marriage" as a catch-all term is not only inaccurate, it fails to recognise and respect a huge, vibrant and historically under-represented part of the LGBT+ community.

Owen Duffy, Elderslie.


LISTENING to First Minister's Questions February 23), Douglas Ross said that a patient in the Borders had to wait 49 hours for treatment in A&E, according to the response to a Freedom of Information request. I have read this FoI and it clearly states a full and different version of this situation. The quote reads: "The longest wait recorded in the NHS Borders A&E Department in the week ending 25 December 2022 was 49 hours 20 minutes” and the recorded response to this was “Longest wait was seen rapidly in ED and appropriate intensive treatment started. The wait was for a bed in the hospital and appropriate care was provided during the patient’s time in ED.”

I hope the outcome was satisfactory for the patient.

Clearly economical with the facts, Mr Ross; please give the full story when criticising the NHS or the Health Secretary.

John Carmichael, Stewarton.


Police Scotland Chief Constable Sir Iain Livingstone has announced that he is to retire two years earlier than previously expected. Image: PA

olice Scotland Chief Constable Sir Iain Livingstone has announced that he is to retire two years earlier than previously expected



SCOTLAND’S Chief Constable Sir Iain Livingstone has tendered his resignation from Police Scotland ("Police chief to quit early", The Herald, February 24). Sir Iain’s retirement was announced as he and Lynn Brown, chief executive of the SPA, presented a paper to the SPA meeting that warns policing north of the Border is “unsustainable”. Sir Iain also said that “hard choices lie ahead”.

Police Scotland was created as the “brainchild” of the then Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill under the pretence of financial probity and vast savings. It was blatantly obvious that Mr MacAskill’s then party, the SNP, created a national(ist) police force to give total political control over one chief constable.

After three Chief Constables and as many chairs of the SPA, Mr MacAskill’s creation has been an unmitigated disaster. The force has been starved of funds and there is a substantial financial black hole, never any bobbies on the beat, scruffy, untidy officers with little public/community awareness and I understand low morale with considerable retirements this year.

After eight years of this nationalist regime, Police Scotland is another SNP failure and the architects should hang their heads in shame. Just another great Scottish institution trashed on the misguided altar of independence.

Douglas Cowe, Newmachar.


ABORTION stirs up strong opinions for many reasons, not least that ending a human life is extremely grave. I imagine the doctors involved in that would not like to be reminded of it. The reality is that we now know that many women are coerced into having abortions. Those who turn up near to the locations where abortions are carried out, to offer prayer and help, do so with the greatest compassion and sensitivity ("Concerns as 40-day abortion protests begin", The Herald, February 23).

I know Queen Elizabeth University Hospital very well and for anyone to suggest that the location where people stand to pray could in anyway invade someone’s privacy or intimidate anyone, is preposterous. The vigil in Glasgow is many hundreds of yards from any entrance to the buildings and they cannot even see who is entering the hospital building from where they are positioned.

What such vigils do is offer a last glimmer of support for women who need somewhere else to turn when they have otherwise been made to feel abortion is their only option. It is troubling that when it comes to pro-life issues, basic human rights are to be trampled on. The intolerant ideologues pushing for buffer zones seem only to support freedoms for those who agree with them. The efforts in this instance are clearly aimed at removing people’s right to assembly. That is completely at odds with basic civil liberties and is completely neglectful of women who want an alternative to abortion.

Michael Robinson, Executive director, Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, Glasgow.


ROBIN Johnston’s letter about school mottos (February 24) reminds me that the motto of our school, Spier’s School in Beith, Ayrshire, was “Quod verum tutum” (what is true is safe). Those words were almost ubiquitous – on the badges of our blazers and in many places within the building.

Those of us dummies in the “B stream” who were obliged to take woodwork, metal work or domestic science rather than Latin and Greek, which were studied by the brighter pupils such as Robin, had our own translation of the motto. We assumed the motto to mean what the most common sign, forged in cast iron and painted leaf green with white lettering, instructed us to do: “Please keep off the grass”.

Stuart Swanston, Edinburgh.

Read more: Can Forbes defy the new totalitarians in our politics?