DOUGLAS Ross, Scottish Conservative Party Leader, has come in for some criticism from within his own party around his call for tactical voting to remove the SNP ("Ross to change tack on issue of tactical voting in address to the party faithful", The Herald April 28). This criticism is unfair.

When one casts one’s vote in whatever direction, that is the will of the individual. Should I decide, as an individual, that a tactical vote could result in the removal of this hapless and shameful cabal of incompetents known as the SNP then so be it. I have only myself to blame as to the consequences of where my X goes on the ballot paper.

Fundamentally there are occasions when one will decide to vote “against” a party (tactical) rather than voting “for” a party. It is called democracy.

Richard Allison, Edinburgh.

• THERE is an ongoing debate on the subject of tactical voting by Conservative and Labour supporters with a view to defeating the SNP. At the Hamilton by-election in 1967 more than half of the Conservatives voted tactically for the SNP with a view to ousting Labour. It worked, with Winnie Ewing winning a stunning victory.

I wonder if these Conservatives, if indeed they are extant, regret their decision.

How times change.

David SW Williamson, Kelso.

Holyrood is not fit for purpose

YOU report that the Auditor General, Stephen Boyle, has expressed doubts about the long-term future of Ferguson Marine, the taxpayer-funded shipbuilding company, because the company lacks a business plan ("Warning of doubts on future for troubled ferries shipyard", The Herald, April 28). It is bad enough that this is the case. What is worse is that this highlights how Mr Boyle, clearly a diligent public servant, performs what should be a valuable function in scrutinising the activities and performance of public institutions. He has warned previously of a lack of transparency in government and of an absence of coordination across public bodies within the same area.

The problem, however, is that he has no genuine authority. He can "make recommendations to audited bodies, including the Scottish Government" and he "reports to the Scottish Parliament". I have found no mention of these bodies being obliged to follow, or even consider, his recommendations.

This is yet another example of how the Holyrood system is completely lacking in accountability. There are none of the checks and balances that are evident at Westminster. It is high time that the entire Holyrood system was overhauled to ensure proper scrutiny and accountability. The current regime is not fit for purpose.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh.

Overspend is par for the course

I NOTE that a planned new "correctional facility" to be built in Glasgow as a replacement for Barlinnie Prison is estimated to have run up a £300 million overspend – and the first brick hasn’t been laid yet ("Probe into overspend of £300m on new Barlinnie", The Herald, April 28). Paying vastly inflated sums of money for projects appears to be one of the very few things the SNP Government has excelled at.

But the building of this new luxury hotel for lawbreakers raises two points: 1, with the renowned soft-touch justice system in Scotland where the SNP is trying hard not to lock up criminals, who will be the residents? 2, hopefully it will not be built on flood danger areas since a few weeks of rain may have it floating before the two ferries at Ferguson Marine.

Ian Balloch, Grangemouth.

Read more: Humza Yousaf to probe £300m extra costs in replacing Barlinnie

NHS staff deserve much more

I NOTE the experience of George Allan (Letters, April 26), and his reference to the Golden Jubilee Hospital and respectfully suggest his situation is administrative and is in no way reflective of the abilities of that excellent institution and also Glasgow Royal Infirmary (GRI).

On Tuesday afternoon of this week, I visited the A&E department of the GRI with what I thought was a strongish indigestion pain. I was attended to quickly and efficiently by a professional admittance team and it was discovered fairly early on that I had experienced a heart attack.

At around 5pm I was then admitted to Coronary Care Ward number 43 for further investigation.

Throughout this process the expertise of all concerned was astonishing, from porters to doctors, nurses, scanners, X-ray technicians, ambulance staff, administrators and all concerned.

On Wednesday morning after a consultation with a cardiologist I was advised that I would be transferred to the Golden Jubilee within the next couple of days for an angiogram. At 4pm the same day I was picked up by ambulance, and ferried to the Jubilee and after a procedure starting around 6pm I had two stents inserted.

This is Friday morning (April 28) and I am now in the comfort of my own home and wish to sincerely thank all the staff in both Hospitals for the first-class service and attention that I received.

How privileged we are to have the facilities, expertise and outstanding interpersonal skills of the staff of our wonderful NHS.

Surely some day all NHS staff will receive the appropriate rewards for their labours?

Paul Crilley, Torrance.

Weasel words from BBC chair

THE expression "weasel words" was, my trusty Brewer tells me, coined by the American writer Stewart Chaplin in 1900. The latest evocation seems to be in the "non-apology resignation", as most recently employed by the departing Chairman of the BBC, Richard Sharp ("BBC chair resigns over Boris Johnson loan", heraldscotland, April 28), but done almost to death by many others recently.

To attribute one's resignation to a desire not to distract from the work of the organisation tries to import a certain nobility to the action rather than recognising the culpability and ignominy which are more probably the real causes. They really do think we're all daft.

Brian Chrystal, Edinburgh.

NatWest should do the right thing

IT was stunning to learn that a group of RBS pensioners are being given a lower level of pension guarantee than NatWest colleagues who worked for the bank at the same time ("‘Error’ sees RBS bank staff face big hit to pensions", The Herald, April 26).

These RBS pensioners are not fat cat bankers but people who worked to serve many communities in our areas.

In the same week that this discrimination was revealed NatWest reported a profit for the first three months of the year of £1.9 billion. NatWest can afford to do the socially responsible thing and treat all its pensioners equally.

It is time for Dame Alison Rose to show true leadership and ensure that NatWest does the honourable thing and reward these RBS staff in the same way as their NatWest counterparts.

Alan McLaren, Kilwinning.

Demonstrators are bullies

FROM your report ("Yousaf calls for universities to uphold freedom of speech after trans blockade", The Herald, April 28) I gather that a film was prevented from being shown because the University of Edinburgh authorities could not cope with the demonstration against its being shown. That seems like bullying to me. Can’t such demonstrators be charged with breach of the peace?

If you don’t like a film, just don’t go to see it.

John Kelly, Edinburgh.

HeraldScotland: Nicola Benedetti this week unveiled the 2023 Edinburgh International Festival programmeNicola Benedetti this week unveiled the 2023 Edinburgh International Festival programme (Image: PA)

The joy of the Festival

OH the joy of it, the fun of it, even maybe the danger of it as I dropped the heavy box of past programmes onto my feet where thick socks gave protection. My feet were protected but my heart and soul did not want protection ... they just wanted to laugh and smile and feel wonderful. And the cause if it all was the arrival together of the 2023 Edinburgh Festival brochure and The Herald ("Star Benedetti unveils her first Edinburgh Festival programme", The Herald, April 25).

The bright yellow cover of the brochure, as usual, promised good things which were revealed as I wandered amongst the pages. "Where do we go from here?", asked Nicola Benedetti in her walk-through of the delights being offered. Having perused them I got out my large box of previous programmes to see what I had seen and heard from the late 1970s. Carmen; The Marriage of Figaro, and what about Eugene Onegin in 1993? The Fringe performances too ... The Paines Plough theatre company with Music To Murder By ... Gesualdo and Philip Heseltine as we had never seen and heard them before.

Programmes are delights to keep and read through so often but now I cannot go to the Festival but will hear some it broadcast by "Auntie" on Radio 3. Then what about the Lyceum Theatre, and Liz Lochhead's Thon Man Moliere? I went to see that on three successive Saturdays and fell over in Lothian Road after the last one ... in excitement I have to add. I still have that programme too and they make life a bit like returning to a magic place.

I wish the Festival every success and echo Ms Benedetti's words when she says that it is "my vision to provide the deepest possible experience to the broadest possible audience". I wish that I could be one of them, sitting somewhere in row C in the Grand Circle, possibly seat 31 as in past years. Oh the joy of it.

What I am wondering is what is a leaflet advertising "Sea-angling on Mull" (tickets available from Croig Pier) doing in the midst of the Edfest programmes? I will never know. It must also be promising something good.

Thelma Edwards, Kelso.

Read more: Shame on the SNP for caving in to populism on Not Proven

How do you grade the King?

APPARENTLY nearly half of Britons think that The King is "doing a good job" ("Half say Charles is ‘doing a good job'", The Herald, April 26 ).

Even if these people have been brainwashed into believing that a "working royal" is a real thing, unlike most jobs there are no performance standards, assessments or reviews, so how can these people actually tell if he’s doing a good job or not?

Stuart Neville, Clydebank.

The money question

ROBERT Menzies' letter (April 28) regarding the changes to the Not Proven verdict tends to perhaps further confuse the issue. To my mind the possible apocryphal tale of the bank manager in Wigtown before the First World War adequately explains the problem.

He was accused of fraud and theft and was transported to Edinburgh for trial. The verdict of Not Proven was sent by telegraph to Wigtown, where the verdict was greeted with much interest. The question was asked by one worthy: "Does that mean he can keep the money?"

Robin Johnston, Newton Mearns.

• AM I alone in pleading guilty to sometimes thinking that the learned judge’s “The jury have returned a Not Proven verdict, you are free to go”, should have the rider “But don’t do it again”?

R Russell Smith, Largs.