IT is demoralising to see the contenders for next First Minister rattle on, almost identically, about the only thing that bothers them, the break-up of the UK. It is as if our country did not have the highest drug deaths in Europe: or that a cost of living crisis was ravaging the country; or the NHS was its knees; or a killer road that for going on two decades they promised to dual, and never did, was still killing and maiming their fellow Scots. That would be plenty to be getting on with, but none of these truly pressing matters gets so much as a mention.

Instead all available time and effort is being spent on an event that is not going to happen and probably all three contenders know that. Why not tackle the overwhelming problems facing the country and prove themselves doing that and then turn to the electorate and ask for a real mandate?

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.


CAN the SNP/Green coalition actually survive the current leadership contest? It is looking very unlikely without either the new First Minister or the Greens compromising on red lines.

This begs the question as to why Nicola Sturgeon in her resignation speech intimated that now was exactly the right time for her to relinquish power. She has been widely praised as a smart operator so surely she must have seen this coming? It is entirely possible that as a direct result of her move the current Scottish Government will collapse and a new Holyrood election be called. With all the ongoing problems in health, education, the economy and more it is very doubtful that independence will be anything other than a minor issue for the voting public.

Nicola Sturgeon has been voted Politician of the Year in The Herald's awards on several occasions. Is she ever likely to win it again?

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow.


SOME opinion polls suggest SNP members are to elect ultra-conservative Kate Forbes as their leader; others, Humza Yousaf. Ms Forbes is unwaveringly opposed to equal marriage and believes having children outside wedlock is wrong. If she does win, that might be because Mr Yousaf is considered by more than a few to have been incompetent in each ministerial role he's held. The third candidate, Ash Regan, claims to be certain that if more than half of Scottish voters support a nationalist party in any election, Westminster will enter into UK break-up negotiations with her; no problem.

I feel sorry for SNP members.

Martin Redfern, Melrose.


HUMZA Yousaf says he would never use his faith as the basis of legislation.

This isn’t quite true because he is a fervent signaller of fashionable opinion. That’s his guiding light.

That’s why his legislation is junk and his NHS administration a catastrophe costing lives. Everything he touches is painted with toxic conformity and lethal incompetence.

Tim Cox, Bern, Switzerland.


IT was striking to note that heralding the Windsor Framework, Rishi Sunak noted how Northern Ireland was now in an “unbelievably” special position in the world in having access to not just the UK home market, but also the European Union single market.

Ironically, this was the same privileged position that England, Scotland and Wales enjoyed until Brexit, which Mr Sunak supported.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh.

Read more: Now we know: indy doesn't mean a hard border


WHAT have the ravages of Covid, the atrocity of war in Ukraine and the terrible earthquake in Turkey and Syria taught us?

My contention is that they have made us aware of the importance of compassion, care and community.

Those three elements show our species at its best, once we realise we are all in it together.

A proper economic framework would bind that trio together when concern for others, fairness in all dealings and appreciation of our neighbours would then drive society.

All aspects of our lives should interlock in interdependence like a well-made jigsaw to make the picture of a harmonious society.

Unions, business, the financial sector and public services need to co-operate, as not one of them can function satisfactorily without the other cogs in that wheel but to fail to do so fosters inequality and societal conflict.

Capitalism is a framework which can create disharmony or bind communities together.

The choice is then either predatory capitalism, where profits are put before people, avoiding tax is one of its priorities and relaxation of regulations in a downsized state predominates, or responsible capitalism without excessive profits, all sectors contributing their fair share of tax and proper regulation being observed to protect everyone's wellbeing.

Every sector in a responsible capitalism framework would understand that it shares with all others the same goals to maintain social harmony, fairness in all dealings and respect for every individual's human dignity.

With predatory capitalism, the individual comes first, the community taking a very poor second place, with the result that business and unions will always be at loggerheads so that bosses will command extortionate salaries while those at the lower levels have to make do with a pittance for pay.

A framework of responsible capitalism would see business and unions working amicably together for their shared goals of ensuring good conditions of service with just rewards for high levels of sound productivity.

The discrepancies and gross disparities which exist under predatory capitalism would be eliminated by putting in place an acceptable wage ratio of 40:1 so that the highest-paid member of any large concern would not receive more than 40 times the amount of the lowest-paid full-time employee, all other levels in between graduated appropriately.

To maintain those gradations, whenever one level in large concerns received a percentage rise, all other levels would be awarded that same percentage.

As long as we stick with predatory capitalism, no matter how it is camouflaged, with the gross disparities in pay and poor conditions of service, there will always be widespread disillusionment, discontent and disharmony within the community.

Bernie Sanders has recently brought out a book, entitled It's OK to be Angry About Capitalism, where he clearly has predatory capitalism in his sights with all the distortions it incorporates as it runs wild.

I am quite sure he would approve if we could put in place a framework of responsible capitalism as outlined here.

Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.

Read more: how much longer can this tenuous SNP unity endure?


THE right to strike is a fundamental British liberty, but it is under direct attack from the Conservatives' draconian Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill.

The Bill would mean that when workers democratically vote to strike, they could be forced to work and sacked if they don’t comply. The TUC says this is undemocratic, unworkable and almost certainly illegal.

The Government is wasting precious time and energy on this spiteful bill while millions are struggling to heat their homes and put food on the table.

The Bill will do nothing to solve the staffing crisis in our schools and in the NHS. It will only make matters worse.

It’s time our Government got its priorities straight. It should stop attacking the right to strike and give our public sector workers the decent pay rise they are owed.

Thomas McElhinney, Glasgow.


IT has been reported that America’s FBI now believes that a leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology was the probable source of the Covid-19 epidemic. It is remarkable that given enough time and money a vast government agency can come to the same conclusion that a layman armed with common sense and Occam’s razor likely came to two years ago.

Similarly, the High Court and now the Court of Appeal have come to the conclusion that the businessman Aaron Banks was not a conduit for Russian government money but funded the Brexit campaign out of his own pocket, just as he said all along.

Also, we now find from the treasure trove of WhatsApp messages released by the journalist Isabel Oakeshott that during the pandemic, as some of us have long suspected, the Government was making it up as they it along. It even contemplated killing the nation's 11 million cats.

Bearing all these examples in mind, should we not be a little bit more sceptical of the conventional wisdom of the political and media classes?

In particular, should we not ask ourselves whether climate change and the human contribution to it have perhaps been grossly exaggerated, and also whether the extreme actions being urged on us by the great and the good to achieve net zero might perhaps be entirely unjustified?

Otto Inglis, Crossgates, Fife.


THERE are tens of thousands of non-jobs in the UK. We all know of the waste in the public sector with highly-paid diversity, equality and inclusion staff and that failing managers in the NHS are paid more than most NHS staff. However, these are now well outnumbered by those on the Climate Gravy Train.

Every council in the land, and there are 365, has a climate officer and their staff sucking up council taxpayers' money with their salaries, expenses and gold-plated pension contributions. Unfortunately this green virus has spread into the private sector, adding costs which are then passed on by way of price increases.

However, the rest of the world seems to have a cure for this serious malaise and there have been no recorded cases of climate officers appointments breaking out. In fact there is no evidence of climate awareness whatsoever as they burn fossil fuels and use coal to generate their electricity.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow.

Read more: We need a prescriptive curriculum that defines what must be taught