THE fact that British ministers have refused to join the US in suspending arms sales to Saudi Arabia for use in war-torn Yemen is shameful and shows just how far the UK has morally sunk.

The US President, Joe Biden, announced the suspension last week, meeting a longstanding campaign pledge, and this decision casts an uncomfortable spotlight on the UK Government.

The UK Government has licensed the sale of at least £5.3 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia since the war began in March 2015, as well as providing training and technical support.

The irony of all this is that the UK is the “penholder” on Yemen at the UN security council, which means it has the power to draft resolutions to support efforts to end the conflict. It therefore has a special responsibility to do all it can to advance the peace process.

However, while calling for an end to violence, it is simultaneously supplying the weapons necessary to prolong the conflict.

The shameful neglect of this leadership role and continued licensing of arms to facilitate Saudi-led offensives is unsustainable.

It is a stance that leaves the UK increasingly isolated on the global stage, with countries including Germany, Italy and the Netherlands already banning the export of arms to Saudi Arabia.

The UK Government now faces a choice: to join Biden and live up to its obligations as UN penholder by ending the UK’s involvement in the Saudi campaign, or to continue to act as both peacekeeper and warmonger, undermining any moral leadership it might claim.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh.





I REFER to the photograph of the Queen visiting the Gorbals in 1961 (Remember when ... The Herald, February 9).

Here we have the Queen, whose accession to the throne took place in 1952, visiting the Gorbals, which at the time was undergoing wholesale redevelopment.

She continued to reign in a world which had, in a number of places, disposed of monarchy in one way or another.

Clearly, in the photograph, she is engaged in conversation with Jean Roberts, appointed the city’s first female Lord Provost in 1960, who had been born in Springburn. She worked as a primary school teacher before entering politics. She became a Dame in 1962.

There are those who may consider that the photograph could be fittingly entitled “The odd couple”.

However, it is, I believe, significant in being an illustration of why politics in the UK will continue to be a process of evolution rather than revolution.

We have the Queen, hereditary monarch and head of state, engaged, in what was once a slum area, with a member of the Independent Labour party, who had once observed that she had “lived through lockouts, strikes, and unemployment”.

Today, all these years on from the Glasgow of 1961, it looks as though the majority of the population remain satisfied with the Queen and the style of monarchy which she has continued to represent.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.





THE government is, rightly, encouraging everyone to get their Covid vaccination as soon as it is offered.

However, it would help immensely if they could manage to be a bit more upbeat about its efficiency, as at the moment they seem to be intent on confusing us much in the same way as they did with lockdown rules.

We seem to be being advised to get the vaccine but we’ll maybe have to still stay at home until the second dose is available – then perhaps stay at home until a new vaccine is developed in case of mutant variations etc, etc.

At this rate we’ll be staying at home forever.

Hardly the good news we we’re promised when the vaccination programme began.

Dave Henderson, Glasgow.

YOUR headline (February 9) for all people over 70 to contact the helpline is great but for the fact that I have been phoning them for the last week (including this morning) to be told my name is not on the system.

I was given a number to phone at the health board, which turned out to be an unmanned desk. So no further forward in getting an appointment.

What good is a helpline if they cannot help? I am 74 years old and ageing even faster with worry.

Ian Watters, Elderslie.




I AM not entirely convinced that the “woke” brigade enjoys the fact that we live in a free country where we can exercise our democratic rights, including whether we “take the knee”, as it is described in protest against racism.

The amount of press coverage and television time spent on commenting on whether the Scottish and indeed the English rugby players should have “taken the knee” before Saturday’s Six Nations match at Twickenham is frankly ridiculous but regretfully sums up the sort of climate and culture in which we live.

My understanding of the country I live in is that we have the fundamental choice to make our personal decisions and I, for example, can express my anti-racism views in any way I choose without “instruction” from anyone else.

I noted that John Beattie, BBC Radio Scotland host and a former Scotland rugby internationalist, wondered “what the players had been advised to do”?

The only advice that should have been proffered to the players was that they make their own individual choice.

While we are currently being told how to live our lives during this pandemic, we certainly do not need to be told how to express our personal opinions.

Richard Allison, Edinburgh.