RATHER than throwing mud around and hoping some will stick, opposition MSPs should be apologising for insisting that Nicola Sturgeon and Jeane Freeman followed Boris Johnson’s Covid strategy, which was being prepared to let the elderly die and let Covid run riot through the population ("Covid inquiry told Johnson was ‘ready to let elderly die’", The Herald, November 1). It was UK Public Health advice to move people from hospitals into care homes provided they had suitable safety measures in place.

The UK Covid Inquiry has revealed that the Tory Government disrespected the devolved administrations and felt they couldn’t tell the truth at joint meetings and it turns out that Nicola Sturgeon prompted Boris Johnson into a lockdown earlier than he intended.

As an island the UK should have closed its borders in early February 2020 and had Scotland been independent, we can safely assume Nicola Sturgeon would have done so. It was only after the Scottish Government diverged from the dysfunctional UK Covid strategy that we got on top of the pandemic and ended up with fever deaths, fewer Covid cases and fewer care home deaths per head of population than in England or Wales.

It is clear that the Scottish Government did not use WhatsApp for Covid decision-making and messages deemed to be specifically created in order to conduct government business were uploaded to the eRDM (Electronic Records and Doc Management System); 13,000 of these were supplied to the UK inquiry, which only requested additional WhatsApp messages in September 2023.

Fraser Grant, Edinburgh.

• FOR those of a certain age, the term “expletive deleted” became familiar due to the release of White House tapes during the Nixon years - something, in our naivety, we thought could never happen here. Haud the bus though, as we now listen to the Covid Inquiry being live-streamed into our living rooms with expletives and curses undeleted, allegations of incompetence (and worse) of top politicians and all sprinkled with the stardust of misogyny. This from the innermost sanctums of the British state.

BBC Scotland appears fixated on alleged SNP WhatsApp badness, rather than the astonishing exclusion by the UK Government of devolved authorities from decision-making or consultation during a serious emergency. Those who endlessly bleat about “governments working together” should explain this discrepancy.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.

Why Tories have lost my vote

IT has come to pass that we have learned from documents lodged with the UK Covid Inquiry that Boris Johnson was of the view that Covid was "just nature’s way of dealing with old people" and that nature should just be allowed to get on with it. The then Prime Minister also reportedly asked the question: "Why are we destroying the economy for people who will die soon anyway?". Mr Johnson appears to be of the school of thought which would categorise many of the elderly as "coffin dodgers".

I did wonder what I would learn from the release of the content of private messages exchanged by ministers and officials during that pandemic. Based on what has been revealed so far in London, I have reached one conclusion as a long-standing member of that apparently-expendable group regarded as "the elderly": any chances of the Conservatives securing my vote in future elections have gone seriously downhill.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.

Read more: Covid Inquiry WhatsApp messages: Give Jason Leitch a break

A lesson for our politicians

THE Covid WhatsApp revelations to date are shocking, revealing not only the total ineptitude of Boris Johnson and the Tory Government of the UK but also the hubris and utterly toxic secrecy of Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP Government in Scotland.

Since the 2014 and 2016 referenda there have been systematic and systemic attacks on the rule of law and hence on democracy by both UK and Scottish governments whose primary sworn function is to uphold the rule of law.

Tories refused initially but were subsequently forced by order of the court to hand over their WhatsApps. I trust that the inquiry judge will take the same robust action against the SNP.

Mr Johnson was a clown figure, partially mitigated only by his brush with death and almost certainly suffering long Covid. But it now appears he let himself be kept in the dark by civil servants about many things including inter alia the arranging of parties.

Ms Sturgeon by comparison was the Joker - in total ruthless control, revelling in her power, scheming and deliberate in her dissembling and deception.

If nothing else, the UK and Scottish inquiries will hopefully force politicians to learn a very hard lesson that they are not omnipotent, notwithstanding the hubristic self-delusions of some, and that they serve at our pleasure.

Alasdair Sampson, Stewarton.

Economical with the truth

IT seems that all past and present Scottish Government officials are adamant that they shall pass on any documents and electronic messages that they hold to the UK and Scottish Covid inquiries. What is even more important is where are the documents and electronic messages that they held?

It seems they are being economical with the truth and continue to believe that we, the ordinary people on the street, are zipped up the back of the head.

The volume of missing records that have evaporated under this Government is staggering and it is high time that a judge-led inquiry is undertaken to investigate what are the legal requirements.

Peter Wright, West Kilbride.

Starmer's surrender

IN Enemy of the People, a play which examined moral and political dilemmas, Henrik Ibsen created a character called Mr Aslaksen, who confronted the central economic, social and environmental crisis with “moderation”; always determined to identify, even invent, the “majority opinion” and then follow it, absolutely, mindlessly, and very dangerously.

Ibsen wrote this play 150 years ago but his Mr Aslaksen is nevertheless an uncanny, unnerving prediction of Sir Keir Starmer’s behaviour as Labour Party leader: he appears to have no policies until he finds out what is acceptable in a particular constituency.

His behaviour after the Uxbridge by-election defeat, condemning the Mayor of London’s Ulez initiative as a “vote-loser”, was a striking, despicable example of such “politics by market research”: the Labour Party appears to be prostituting itself in Conservative constituencies, begging permission to be in government, abandoning policies and principles on the way.

Now, driven no doubt by other pressures, Sir Keir’s abject, politically-paralysed surrender to the current slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza ("Yousaf: Starmer 'lacks moral courage' over Gaza ceasefire", heraldscotland, October 31), his refusal to call for a ceasefire, his intolerance and silencing of other opinions within the party, have taken Labour to a new low. He has also removed choice and representation from the electorate.

That’s when, as Ibsen warned, with awful consequences, democracy fails.

Frances McKie, Evanton.

Read more: Just what does Ash Regan stand for?

What do Greens stand for?

ROBERT Menzies (Letters, November 1) asks what Ash Regan stands for. The bigger question is what do the Greens stand for?

I note that having latched themselves on to the SNP Government and not being particularly happy with it Lorna Slater has now suggested she would align herself to Scottish Labour and their policies even though they are completely alien to the SNP's.

Methinks that she and the Greens in coalition with Scottish Labour would oust the SNP.

As for Patrick Harvie, his main focus is getting rid of gas boilers and building cycle paths which no one uses.

Those unfortunates who give their vote to the Greens must be totally confused.

Neil Stewart, Balfron.

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A clear case of us and them

NOTHING captures the chasm between “us and them” more than the iniquitous Acceptance in Lieu scheme. Most of us pay our taxes in hard cash earned through blood sweat and tears; the Acceptance in Lieu scheme allows the rich to avoid doing so. Your article today recounts the transfer of items from one part of the Establishment, the Earls of Dalhousie, to another part, the National Museums of Scotland, instead of paying what they owe in hard cash ("Rare 16th-century silver-gilt treasures go on display at National Museum of Scotland after inheritance deal", The Herald, November 1).

At a point in time when the majority of citizens are experiencing financial hardship, tax revenue that could be put to good use has not been collected and gee gaws with a subjective value and which the vast majority of us taxpayers will never clap eyes on will move from one cabinet to another. It doesn’t matter how shiny, old or unique the items are, the estate could have sold them and paid their dues just like the rest of us are compelled to do. Despite my advanced age and being retired I am still forced to pay my dues in cash. Why the difference?

David J Crawford, Glasgow.