YOU report (HeraldScotland, May 5) that Professor Neil Ferguson, one of the UK government’s key advisers on the current lockdown restrictions, has resigned after breaching the government (and his own) strong advice on the need for social distancing.

The rules are written by an elite, many of whom are little affected by the current crisis. They have secure and well-paid jobs; they probably live in decent housing, perhaps with a garden, not in an inner-city tower block; they have plenty of activity to keep them occupied.

It appears that some of them feel they have the option of bending the rules when it suits them.

Compare and contrast the situation of many others. Millions face losing their jobs; hundreds of thousands of businesses face going bust; our schoolchildren and students are seeing their hopes and ambitions evaporate; many thousands are having their lives shortened because they are not getting the health care they need.

Boris Johnson is fond of his classical allusions, so I’m sure he’s familiar with the words Roman historian Tacitus put in the mouth of Celtic chief Calgacus, before the battle of Mons Graupius in Aberdeenshire.

Calgacus described Roman strategy as “creating a desert and calling it peace”. There’s a danger we could do the same, emerging from Covid-19 with almost no economy and little tax revenue – so, a shrunken NHS, and a much diminished education system, except for the wealthy few.

We need to start moving steadily towards the two-track approach you described on yesterday’s front page (“Two-track lockdown would protect those most at risk”).

We should be shielding those at highest risk from Covid-19, most obviously those in care homes. The rest of us need to start getting back to something much nearer normal.

Doug Maughan, Dunblane.

PROFESSOR Neil Ferguson has resigned for a breach of social-distancing regulations.

Following the instance of Dr Catherine Calderwood, who breached the same regulations earlier in the lockdown by travelling twice to her holiday home in Fife, it appears to be a case of one rule for them and one for the rest of society.

Given the loss of so many loved ones caused by the pandemic, together with continuing damage caused to the socio-economic fabric of our society, the arrogance of these two scientists is appalling.

Would The Herald be prepared to compose an editorial to focus our leaders’ minds on a sensible, qualitative easing of the lockdown, thus preventing a general unease about the Scottish and UK governments’ message being ignored, or the scientific guidance being at least diluted?

Daniel Higgins, Glasgow.

IN his measured and thoughtful article (“Far from bringing UK together, coronavirus is pushing it apart”, The Herald, May 6), Iain Macwhirter rightly highlights the scandal that during weeks of lockdown thousands of people from other countries have been allowed to enter Scotland, and the Scottish Government has no power to stop that from happening.

As Mr Macwhirter points out, many of the world’s small nations have indeed shone in this pandemic crisis and a common denominator is that they are independent countries and have control of their borders; Scotland is not, and therefore does not.

As Mr Macwhirter writes, “Suddenly people have realised why there are borders and what governments are there for; it is to look after their own”.

I have disagreed with the content of some of Mr Macwhirter’s recent articles, however this latest contribution is first class, and I thank him for it.

Ruth Marr, Stirling.

IT is comforting to find that we live in a world seemingly bereft of problems. Some 30 years ago, a colleague arrived from a management seminar and informed us that there was no such thing as a problem; it was either a challenge or an opportunity.

Today’s politicians, of whatever political persuasion, tell us on television of the challenging situations in which they and we find ourselves, and of the challenging decisions with which they are faced.

I would add that the next time that I hear of “ the new normal” , I shall feel like climbing the proverbial wall. Fortunately, age will prohibit any such attempt.

David Miller, Milngavie.

PART of the “new normal” involves admitting that human exploitation of animals caused the coronavirus pandemic.

Global outbreaks of swine flu and bird flu and, more recently, the emergence of new zoonotic coronaviruses – including those that cause SARS, MERS, and Covid-19 – are hard lessons to have to learn. However, we must acknowledge that even worse outbreaks could happen if we don’t learn from our mistakes.

Human demand for animal flesh means that animals on factory farms are routinely dosed with vast quantities of antibiotics in order to keep them alive in filthy, output-obsessed, intensive systems that would otherwise kill them.

Because of this rampant use of antibiotics, certain bacteria have become resistant to even the most powerful ones, contributing to the emergence of “superbugs” – new, aggressive pathogens that are resistant to antibiotics.

In 2017, antimicrobial resistance made it onto the National Risk Register of the most serious threats that could cause a civil emergency in the UK.

The director-general of the World Health Organization has warned that without effective antibiotics, even simple surgery and once-minor infections could be fatal. Other experts predict that by 2050, more people will die of diseases caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria than of cancer – the current trajectory is 10 million deaths per year if no action is taken.

We all need to do our bit and #StayAtHome, but to save even more lives – human and animal – and prevent future pandemics, we must also #GoVegan.

Dr Julia Baines, Science Policy Adviser, PETA Foundation, London.

I WRITE, as much in disappointment as in anger, at Neil Mackay’s article, “Johnson? Sturgeon? When it comes to coronavirus, they are both the same”, (Herald, 5th May).

It is not only inaccurate and unfair, but also what is generally called a cheap shot and he’s better, more insightful journalist than that.

He writes that, apart from presentation, he struggles to find “any real distinction when it comes to the way they’ve tackled the outbreak”.

But, although health is devolved to Scotland, the Westminster government appointed itself to lead – and I use the term loosely – on Covid-19, availing itself of the supposedly all-pervading expertise of Public Health England (PHE), an organisation I predict history will ultimately judge very harshly.

Only yesterday, the Scottish government was unable to elicit any meaningful information from an instinctively secretive, self-protective Tory government on the app it is developing – the cornerstone of a Test, Trace and Isolate programme Scotland is expected to fall into line with.

Yes, perhaps the differences between Mr Johnson and Ms Sturgeon are not as pronounced over Covid-19 as they were, and remain, over Brexit, but as she recognises, collaboration and cohesion are considerably more effective than discord and division.

When it comes to coronavirus, Johnson’s hapless and complacent government controls the meaningful levers of power. One can only speculate as to how Ms Sturgeon might have fared had she presided over all - rather than a largely cosmetic few – of the tools required to bring about the end of the beginning of this unprecedented public health emergency.

But, on a wider front, for Neil Mackay to seek to compare Johnson and Sturgeon isn’t so much a case of Apples and pears, as measuring organic vegetables against nuclear weapons.

Unlike Johnson, Ms Sturgeon may not be show-business, but she is calm, rational, sincere, open, relatively honest, straightforward, collaborative, trustful and widely trusted, the classic safe pair of hands Covid-19 calls for.

To even suggest that they are both the same, and to compare Sturgeon with a loose cannon, a feckless, reckless, self-promoting, proven serial-philanderer, devalues the reputation for strong, well-balanced polemical journalism Neil Mackay has rightly earned for himself.

Mike Wilson,


AT her daily TV briefings, Nicola Sturgeon either reiterates, anticipates or cosmetically reconfigures the UK government’s coronavirus strategy and tactics. In so doing, she has been praised - and, by some in Scotland, more so than her Downing Street counterparts. Why?

This is no gruesome competition. Death tolls in all settings across the entire UK are tragically high, and sadly it’s not over yet.

The telegenic Ms Sturgeon is, however, a seasoned TV performer and her daily appearances play to her strengths. So, while she delivers very similar daily messages as messrs. Hancock, Gove and Raab, do, consequentially, some Scots bizarrely find style more important than substance?

Looking ahead, and with Alex Salmond’s new book expected to focus on the SNP administration’s role in allegedly plotting against him, if the First Minister loses out in any forthcoming SNP leadership struggle, who knows what sparkling TV career awaits Ms Sturgeon?

Lorraine Kelly: watch out!

Martin Redfern,