I AM much indebted to your correspondent Dave Biggart (letters, December 15) for pointing me to Guy Stenhouse’s excoriating evisceration (“Wrongs of the £500 reward for NHS and care workers”, December 14) of Nicola Sturgeon’s blatantly populist election bribe: the great £500 NHS giveaway. I had somehow missed it on Monday.

Mr Biggart speculates that £500 would not mean much to Mr Stenhouse. Maybe not, but equally it probably won’t mean much to the significant number of highly-paid doctors, consultants and managers who will also enjoy this windfall.

I know personally some in the nursing profession who are embarrassed by this bung. After all, they have friends in the private sector who are losing their jobs, their businesses and sometimes their homes, whilst they, sometimes working almost to the point of exhaustion, are at least financially secure.

When we pay our many and various taxes to government we do so in the solemn belief that they will spend our money wisely. We trust that they will not squander our hard-earned cash. We hope that they will not waste it on grandiose schemes. We hope it will be spent with impartiality to benefit the whole of society. We certainly would never expect them to betray our trust by using it for narrow political advantage.

But that is precisely what Nicola Sturgeon has done. It is a betrayal of trust. It is tawdry and ill-befitting of someone who was beginning to look statesmanlike.

Perhaps also Mr Biggart, when he next sees a homeless person sleeping in a doorway, or hears of another family heading for the foodbank, will wonder whether this £100 million might have been better spent.

Jim Meikle, Killearn.



London won’t silence Scotland

WESTMINSTER will not succeed in silencing Scotland. Scotland’s devolved powers must not be eroded by a clawback by Westminster on the back of Brexit.

This was the case being made in the Commons by SNP MP Drew Hendry, who in clearly demonstrating democracy and making Scotland’s case during the Internal Market Bill debate, got rather heated and was subsequently suspended.

Westminster will never silence Scotland: it will only succeed in making Scotland more determined to have its voice heard.

Catriona C Clark, Banknock, Falkirk.



SNP manifesto done and dusted

SO, an SNP MP tried to steal a symbol of royal authority, caused a ruckus in Westminster, protested against Brexit, blamed the Tories and their “Labour bedfellows” of not caring about Scotland, and was accused of holding another “boring stunt” in what can only be seen as a show of exuberant and hollow identity politics meant for a minority of the “domestic” audience in Scotland.

Looks like the next SNP manifesto has written itself this time.

David Bone, Girvan, South Ayrshire.



The Conservatives lording it over us

NEIL Mackay’s utter demolition of the Tory Party (“Brexit speaks of the death rattle of English nationalism”, The Herald, December 15) made joyous reading, only marred by the realisation that he had hit the target full square.

Then there was the further realisation that Scottish Tory apologists for “something ugly and cruel, stupid and mean, vindictive and dangerous”, including Michael Gove and Ruth Davidson, appear utterly unaware of the revulsion that so many of us feel for their bosses.

Might this have something to do with elevation to the anachronism that is the House of Lords, where Ms Davidson will shortly rub shoulders with the unelected unacceptable face of capitalism?

Gove himself surely can’t be long in pulling on the ermine for such sterling service to the nation.

I wonder where that erstwhile knight of the land, Fred Goodwin, is these days.

Thankfully Sir Philip Green is truly English. Living in Monaco. Can’t think why.

You couldn’t make it up.

Steve Brennan, Coatbridge.



Socialists aboard the gravy train

ALEXANDER McKay (letters, December 16) refers to Lord Foulkes’ claim that Nicola Sturgeon uses her daily briefings to “expound her political views” as the “understatement of the century”.

Foulkes’ attempt to involve Ofcom is portrayed, with astonishing hyperbole, as an attempt to “defend democracy in Scotland”.

Leaving aside his blinkered view of what these briefings actually consist of, Mr McKay clearly sees no irony in hitching his argument to the be-ermined Lord’s coat-tails – a “socialist” who had no qualms in joining the queue of Labour colleagues happy to join the gravy-train of the unelected House of Lords.

If Mr McKay is genuinely interested in advancing democracy – instead of airing his visceral and Pavlovian hatred of the SNP – he might profitably examine the extent to which the abandonment of socialist principles by Labour politicians has served to limit democratic choices in Scotland.

Dr Angus Macmillan, Dumfries.



Reading the FM’s ‘devious’ mind

LORD Foulkes has always been a loose cannon and his aim is well off the mark with his complaint to Ofcom.

Both he and your correspondent, Alexander McKay, must be reading hidden messages during the First Minister’s daily briefings.

Unlike Boris Johnson, the First Minister normally speaks in plain English and, to a simple soul like myself, these messages are not obvious.

In fact, I often hear her fending off attempts from the media to take her down the political route.

It never ceases to amaze me as to how your unionist contributors have the ability to read Nicola Sturgeon’s devious mind. I prefer to judge her on what she actually says but I am not afflicted by a hatred of Scottish independence,

Lastly, Mr McKay asks who could possibly argue with claims from the Scottish Tories regarding her use of these briefings to promote SNP policy. I for one, Mr McKay.

Gordon Evans, Rutherglen.



Unite to beat the nationalists

IT is now less than five months until the Holyrood election in May. It is beyond time for the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats in Scotland to put their differences aside for the duration of the campaign.

Standing separate candidates in constituencies is a recipe for failure, and for massive harm to their own parties.

They need to agree on the candidate best placed to defeat the SNP in each constituency, and support that candidate.

Three pro-union parties standing against one separatist party is nonsense.

We have seen recently how these parties can co-operate, with the sterling work done by Jackie Baillie, Alex Cole-Hamilton and Murdo Fraser on the Salmond inquiry.

Why is it so difficult to replicate this for an election which risks seeing the SNP and its incompetent regime entrenched for another parliamentary term?

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh.



Worrying gap in green legislation

THE Scottish Government has made a commitment to “protect and maintain environmental standards” once the UK leaves the EU.

The EU Continuity Bill, currently being debated by the Scottish Parliament, will establish a new environment watchdog, Environmental Standards Scotland, to uphold environmental protections from January 2021.

We strongly commend this commitment and the measures in the bill.

However, a major gap in the legislation will leave Scotland’s people and nature with weaker environmental safeguards after Brexit.

For decades, citizens have had the right to raise an official complaint with the European Commission about damage to their local environment, on land or at sea, and request an investigation.

If the complaint is upheld, the relevant authority can be held accountable and must ensure that nature is being effectively protected in line with the law.

People in Scotland are at risk of losing this important recourse to environmental justice.

Scotland’s new environment watchdog, unlike its counterpart in England, will not have the power to take action on complaints from citizens about individual cases of environmental damage, other than through costly and time-consuming judicial review.

By omitting this power, the Scottish Government is cherry-picking the rights and protections it chooses to uphold after Brexit.

As organisations concerned about Scotland’s ability to uphold a range of environmental and social rights after the UK leaves the EU, we are asking the Scottish Government to urgently correct this weakness in the legislation and ensure that citizens’ rights are upheld.

Deborah Long, Chief Officer, Scottish Environment LINK, Perth