AS an experienced GP and Forensic Physician I am truly horrified with what I am witnessing in terms of the government response to the Covid-19 Pandemic both north and south of the border.

In particular, I have a problem with schools being closed, especially primary schools.

Nicola Sturgeon’s essentially unopposed SNP government say that they recognise the damage this is doing and so are starting back P1’s to P3’s on February 22.

But what about the remaining primary school children, and those families, like mine, who have two or three children at different stages of primary school?

How are parents supposed to home-school some of their kids whilst ferrying the others back and forward to actual school, often simultaneously trying to work from home?

Leaving aside the inconvenience for working parents, the more important reasons why the government have got this wrong and need to show courage and leadership include the ever-increasing body of evidence from countries like Scotland and Norway, that transmission between primary -aged children (or from child to teacher) simply does not occur.

The evidence also shows that children are at exceedingly low risk of harm from Covid (they are statistically more likely to choke to death on their food for example), and that teachers are demonstrably not at increased risk of Covid-19 infection, hospitalisation or death, whatever the teachers’ unions may say.

More importantly still, we know the harms associated with children missing out on their face-to-face teaching, education and social interaction, as well as the safety net that a school provides for vulnerable children.

A large part of my job involves child protection and I feel extremely passionately that in this debate you are either on the side of children or you aren’t.

There is also the very real risk that the attainment gap will be widened by the status quo and that many children may never catch up with their peers or even their own pre-Covid trajectory in terms of educational and social development.

This half-hearted, ‘halfway house’ decision by the Scottish Government smacks of indecision and appeasement and I urge them to expedite the return of all primary school pupils immediately lest they find themselves on the wrong side of history.

Dr K Lynch GP, Stirling.


SANDY Brindley of Rape Crisis Scotland says Scottish Parliamentary committee members investigating how their government dealt with allegations against Alex Salmond should “take a long hard look at themselves” if political point-scoring has been behind their conduct.

It always has been. At a time when Lady Dorrian’s legal decision on February 11 has opened the door to the women making allegations against Mr Salmond – of which he was cleared – becoming identifiable (a momentous decision for them and future women), I for one am disgusted with the positions taken by Tory, Labour and Liberal Democrat MSPs, on the committee and beyond it.

Many people will share my dismay that key issues – about harassment, safety, power and protection at work – raised as a result of the original case have increasingly disappeared.

How often does this seem to happen? And how often do we find that hey presto! It’s women who are on trial now.

Nothing reveals more clearly that opposition parties simply want to bring Sturgeon down than the fact that any argument, line or evidence will apparently do.

To those members of the committee: Please do what Sandy says, take a hard look at your ethics.

You cannot say the right words against sexual violence, abuse or harassment on other occasions – some of you have even done excellent work against abuse – yet be shamelessly opportunistic on this one.

Tory, Labour and Liberal Democrat members must know this whole drawn-out committee drama is primarily about bitter personal revenge, and that you are colluding with the relentless pursuit of revenge for your own party purposes.

Sarah Nelson, Newport on Tay.


YOUR correspondent H .Buchanan (“Can we now move on from Salmond?”, February 10) states that the general public are concerned at the amount of taxpayers’ money being spent on the Holyrood inquiry into matters pertaining to the former First Minister, and suggests that this money could be spent on needier causes.

The vast majority of those involved in this inquiry are MSPs and civil servants. The taxpayer already meets the costs of their remuneration and, at its most basic, they are doing precisely what we employ them to do; that is, to convene and participate in meetings.

No significant additional cost is incurred through their involvement in these specific meetings.

Perhaps the more important consideration is if this is the best use of their time or if they should they be giving greater priority to other meetings about different things.

It seems to me that there can be little more important than to address the matter of integrity at the heart of government and to assess the character of those who are appointed as national leaders.

Based on the work of the committee to date, there is no clear outcome on either of these issues.

George Rennie, Inverness.

Four-day week and care homes

Perhaps Catriona Clark (letters, February 10) has never worked in a care home, judging by her opinion that the five-day working week should be cut to four days.

I have previously worked in a care home, and I am close to someone who still works in one and has accumulated nine years’ service.

Already care homes have problems recruiting good full-time staff, and Ms Clark’s idea, which would effectively result in an instant cut of 20 per cent in staff numbers, could be catastrophic.

Geoff Moore, Alness.


THE words accompanying the photograph of young Glasgow pupils sitting in classroom at school suggested that it might recall for “the older readers” their time at primary school (‘Class of ‘49’, January 11). Well, it certainly did for me.

I remembered my first day at school. It was momentous because I was being left on my own with a group of strangers for the first time.

The desks had inkwells, which often became a bit messy when used with basic pens. Every morning we received a small bottle of milk (a third of a pint). The milk-bottle tops were often kept and used to play with. There was the long walk from school, from time to time, to the local swimming baths for lessons and the much-looked-forward to stop on the way back at a local bakery to buy buns.

One of the main roles of your teacher was to make her (the ladies taught most classes) children as proficient as possible in ‘the three Rs; , which led up to the sitting of the eleven plus exam.

For children being educated in the public sector, ‘pass’ meant going on to a senior secondary, and ‘fail’ meant attendance at a junior secondary. The results of such tests determined in many respects, somewhat arbitrarily, the nature of the life’s journey ahead for the children.

Then the time came for you to move on and become one of the new kids on the block at secondary school to face fresh challenges.

At this time of pandemic and lockdown, and the uncertainty thrown over the operation of our schools, we would do well to keep in mind the words of Diogenes – “The foundation of every state is the education of its youth”.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.


THE Black Lives Matter movement is important and must continue by ‘taking the knee’ or by any other form of recognition that supports the value of all lives regardless of ethnicity.

I was in Uganda in 1994 just at the start of what was to be the Rwandan calamity, for want of a better word.

Did the Hutu people think that Tutsi lives mattered back then, when hundreds of thousands were massacred? And this barbarity still goes on today in many nations.

When will the mantra ‘All Lives Matter’ become the norm with everyone taking the knee for that fact? And how will the causes of killing due to ethnicity and belief be resolved?

Perhaps Robert Burns’s observation that ‘We are all Jock Tamson’s bairns’ should be given as a starting point.

Ian Gray, Croftamie.


I SALUTE Thelma Edwards and her many cures for boredom (letters, February 10) and likewise share similar pleasures, which in addition include my trusty keyboard with its many rhythms; and, aware of George Bernard Shaw’s stricture that “Hell is full of amateur musicians”, its headphones, necessary for domestic bliss.

At the risk of being seen as a philistine, which I guess is not far off the mark, I also pay tribute to my domestic holy grail, the remote control.

“I’ve got a great ambition to die of exhaustion rather than boredom”, Thomas Carlyle, 1795-1881).

R Russell Smith, Largs.


UP at 7 am for my wee coffee buzz, then the front door – and there, as always, it’s on the mat. Back to my cosy little bed for a good read.

Can I give a great big thanks to the publishing workers and staff, the distribution workers, my wee corner shop, and the indefatigable delivery girls and boys who in all weathers still manage to deliver the Glasgow Herald to their readers early in the morning?

Well done!

Alan Stephen, Glasgow.


YOUR “Remember when” feature (‘Fire destroys city venue’, The Herald, February 10) shows the disastrous fire at the much-loved St Andrew’s Halls, in October 1962.

Within around six months, the city would lose yet another much-loved venue: the final curtain fell at the old Empire Theatre, March 31, 1963.

To lose two major palaces of entertainment in so short a period was terrible.

The 1960s were not kind to the city.

The old Metropole had already succumbed to fire in 1961 (strangely enough, also in October); and the show-piece Alhambra would host its final performance, in 1969.

A sobering decade for the city, indeed; and all sad losses for lovers of “Old Glasgow”.

Brian D Henderson, President,

Old Glasgow Club, Glasgow.