JOHN Birkett (Letters, November 3) writes of the consequences of “herd immunity [from Covid], whose effects might well have been positive or little different from allowing the old to die sooner”. However, the Covid statistics show that the greater your age, the older you were, the more likely you were to die.

The greatest toll from Covid was on elderly people: across the UK since the start of the pandemic more than seven in 10 registered deaths were among those aged 75 or older. Meanwhile, deaths among those aged 44 or younger made up under 2% of the total. Admittedly the proportion of the dead accounted for by the elderly declined during the course of the pandemic, but only from 75% of over-75s in the first wave to 59% when the Delta variant was dominant, due mainly to vaccination.

Therefore the idea that the economy or the young were sacrificed for the elderly simply is not consistent with events.

Some may consider Mr Birkett’s "nostra culpa" to have some nobility as he accepts that his (and my own) generation “has enjoyed a better and more predictable peaceful life than its predecessors had or our children or grandchildren will probably experience”. Tragically, I suspect he is probably right about the coming generation (he is certainly right about previous generations), but rather than look out the hair shirt and apologise that we “never had it so good”, we should instead apologise for not handing on to our children as good a world as we inherited.

Why not? Thomas Piketty points out that while income inequality fell significantly during the Second World War as well as after the war, since 1980 the share of overall income going to the wealthiest one per cent has increased back to pre-war levels in all industrialised countries, but particularly in the United States.

In short, therefore, the nostra culpa of our generation was not that we did prioritise the elderly over the young during Covid, but in the current decade to not only allow the world to revert to the distribution of income of the 1920s but to have competed with each other to do so.

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.

Read more: Sturgeon was a hero during Covid. How can they turn on her?

Hypocrisy from the opposition

THERE is a stench around the Holyrood Parliament and it is the obnoxious pong of hypocrisy emanating from the opposition benches.

While the holier-than-thou words of Jackie Baillie and Craig Hoy echo the politically-contrived comments of their superficial leaders, Anas Sarwar and Douglas Ross, both selectively choose to ignore the actions of their own parties. If Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP Scottish Government had been intent on hiding information relating to decisions around combating the Covid pandemic from the people of Scotland they would have adopted the same approach as the Labour Party in Wales and would not have set up a separate public inquiry in addition to the UK Covid Inquiry. If Scotland had been an independent country it would not have been compelled to act within a structure and policies dictated by a grossly negligent Tory UK Government that had run down the NHS in the ideological pursuit of privatisation.

When Anas Sarwar finally decided to speak out against the Sunak-Starmer political axis in calling for an Israel-Palestine ceasefire, it was only after he made the opportunist calculation that sufficient numbers of activists, councillors and mayors (including Sadiq Khan and Andy Burnham) had either resigned or spoken out, to avoid direct confrontation with his boss. This cynical politics which sees the party in Scotland overwhelmingly back Gender Recognition Reform one minute then turn mute the next minute undermines faith in the democratic process which is not progressed when the self-proclaimed “People’s Party” refuses to back the democratic legitimacy of the Scottish Parliament to conduct a referendum in accordance with the right of the people of Scotland to self-determination.

We all want justice for bereaved families whether in Scotland, Israel or Palestine, but duplicitous politicians who quickly abandon their principles when faced with seemingly popular opposition, or with the disapproval of their bosses (perhaps devoid of sincere principles themselves), will eventually betray all of us if we don’t look beyond their words and misleading media headlines.

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry.

Downhill slide under Sturgeon

I AM an admitted unionist who has never supported independence since voting for Winnie Ewing, I think in 1967.

Initially when the SNP got into power I was more against it doctrinally as opposed to anything it had done wrong. In the early days of its reign I even rather took to Alex Salmond, although I didn’t agree with his primary objective.

However, all of that changed when he left government and his successor took up post. Under her governance, in my opinion, the competency, candour and transparency of the Scottish Government fell below acceptable levels. Of course most of us hold fundamental political views from which we are seldom swayed but we mostly respect that there are other opinions. When Nicola Sturgeon was in power that respect was replaced by rancour and division.

To me the most serious of my allegations is the lack of transparency and the recent WhatsApps furore exemplifies the point.

Often partnered with a lack of transparency is control, which the SNP Government has practised by over-centralisation. In recent years there have been many examples of this and the lack of separation of powers that you normally find in democratically run countries.

I strongly believe that even some SNP members must recognise that our country is falling short in many aspects of good government and that change is necessary, which of course can only come through the ballot box.

W MacIntyre, East Kilbride.

Read more: Israel-Gaza: Why is Labour picking a fight with itself?

This is ethnic cleansing

ANDY Maciver's column ("Why on earth is Labour picking a fight with itself?", The Herald November 3) is so one-sided it's outrageous, extremely disappointing and infuriating.

It's not the divide within the party that concerns me, but your writer's interpretation of the Israel-Gaza war.

UK Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer joined Tory Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and US President Joe Biden in refusing to call for a ceasefire. Mr Maciver says that's a "correct" decision and Labour's Scottish leader Anas Sarwar, the United Nations and others, are "wrong" to want one.

That's an opinion. Everyone can have one, even if it's wrong.

But then he falls into a familiar trap: believing what the media pounced on immediately after the Hamas attacks on Israel on October 7 to make blood-curdling headlines. He repeats the claims that Hamas "slit the throats of babies" though Mr Biden and even Israel have pulled back from those reports after failing to find evidence.

A ceasefire suggestion is "an impossible delusion in the case of Hamas," he writes, but fails to mention Israel has stated it doesn't want one anyway.

He also says Hamas doesn't want a two-state solution... but "wants Israel gone and Jews dead". However, he fails to report similar rhetoric regarding the Palestinians from Israel's leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who want Gaza cleared.

That's why they are ordering families in the north to move south, where it's safer, but they are still likely to be bombed, and sending back the Palestinians who work in Israel, despite the possibility their homes have already been destroyed.

Now the Israeli Defense Force is being aided by Jewish settlers in occupied territories who feel free to attack and kill Palestinians at will.

In any language other than that of politicians in the UK and US that is ethnic cleansing and would be considered anywhere else in the world a war crime.

Why can't Mr Starmer, Mr Sunak and Mr Biden understand that? Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and Scotland's First Minister Humza Yousaf do.

Andy Stenton, Glasgow.

Trans op idea is shocking

ALAN Fitzpatrick (Letters, November 3) is right to say that it is no surprise that the Court of Session ruled as it did in the recent case on the meaning of legal gender recognition. The law on this has been clear and unchanged for two decades.

But his suggestion that trans people should be required to have surgery (presumably he means genital surgery), as a condition of gender recognition, is shocking.

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that to require such surgery as a condition of legal gender recognition would be a breach of a person's fundamental rights to private life and to physical integrity.

Mr Fitzpatrick suggests that requiring surgery would protect others. But from whom? He is proposing that an extreme measure of compelled major surgery be applied to potentially thousands of trans people who have done nothing wrong, but who just want to get on with their lives in peace.

Tim Hopkins, Director, Equality Network, Edinburgh.