BRIAN Wilson ("The year of scandal: what more proof do we need of the mood for change?", The Herald, December 26) has great fun with the travails of Nicola Sturgeon and Michelle Mone in suggesting that they be nominated for Personality of the Year. Fair enough, as they have both "generated many headlines" and "impacted upon public consciousness" - if this is what constitutes "personality" these days. Mr Wilson's column becomes somewhat laughable, however, when he suggests that, first, Michelle Mone's misdemeanours could offer significant weight to the ongoing argument about the abolition or revision of the undemocratic House of Lords, and second, that Ms Sturgeon and Lady Mone's activities have fed a "cynicism about politics in general".

It is a bit rich to find an ex-Labour minister agitating for House of Lords reform when nearly a quarter of its bloated membership are Labour supporters; perhaps he should be addressing them on Labour/socialist values? But I guess that once you get on the gravy train, it's hard to get off. How many scandals do we need anyway, for real change to take place? No doubt all this will be another fence for Keir Starmer to sit on.

As for the notion of "feeding cynicism about politics" we need look no further than the Blair government of which Mr Wilson was a member. The numerous lies and obfuscation about the imaginary weapons of mass destruction prior to the invasion of Iraq laid the ground for a massive erosion of trust in politicians, of whatever stripe, and that insidious process has accelerated ever since.

For these reasons, I hereby propose a new award of Brass Neck of the Year. And I know where my vote would go...

Dr Angus Macmillan, Dumfries.

Read more: Michelle Mone proves how much we need political change

Dim prospects for Scotland

I NOTE with interest Kathleen Nutt's review of the political year for Labour ("Conservative strife and a troubled year for the once untouchable SNP help spark Labour turnaround", The Herald, December 28). Ms Nutt alluded to some differences between Scottish Labour and UK Labour, but overlooked one of the main ones, the two-child benefit cap.

So what has Labour got to offer Scotland? We know that should Labour obtain the keys to No 10, democracy for Scotland will be well down the list of priorities as the party has already made clear that there will be no future independence referendum. And Labour was heard only last week condemning the Scottish Budget proposals, subsequently opposing an increase to the Scottish Child Payment of 7% in 2024 and of course Labour is opposed to the system of progressive taxation here in Scotland.

We have witnessed many U-turns from Sir Keir Starmer. He has recently embraced Brexit, something that has had a huge economic impact on Scotland. And we should not forget his instruction to his shadow cabinet not to join the picket lines of striking rail workers; a clear indication that Labour no long stands shoulder to shoulder with the trade unions.

No matter how many Scottish Labour MPs are elected at the next General Election, Scottish Labour will always be subservient to its masters in UK Labour. It's not a great prospect for democracy in Scotland.

Catriona C Clark, Falkirk.

Cruelty of the Tories

MY local food bank is now issuing blankets to users who can eat or heat but not both. The Scottish Ambulance Service says it is rescuing people with hypothermia - not from mountain tops but from their living rooms. These facts make the latest stats from the NRS (National Records of Scotland) easier to grasp: more people died last winter than in the previous 33.

People are not coping and are mistakenly blaming themselves for their poverty, their distress, debt and inability to pay for life’s essentials. East Lothian piloted Universal Credit, the harshest UK social security system ever devised. Officers reported advising residents who were hungry or getting into rent arrears for the first time. In 2018 BBC TV interviewed a quiet, respectable, disabled man in the Highlands about the changes. He softly explained that when he had no money and no food by the fourth week he drank gallons of water and went to bed to keep warm. Really ?

This year a Glasgow University research team proved the austerity programme of David Cameron (net wealth £40 million) caused 335,000 excess deaths across the UK between 2012 and 2019. The UN called Personal Independence Payments (PIP) to disabled people a violation of human rights, branding them "cruel, inhuman and ideological). It has yet to comment on Rishi Sunak (net wealth £730m) and his "Back to Work" plan which cuts benefits for the long-term sick and disabled until they become productive. Inequality is a political choice. For our weak and "undeserving" the decision is destitution and early death.

Anyone unconvinced of the natural cruelty of this smiling, plutocratic mob maybe missed the remarks caught by the Covid Inquiry: "just let people die" and "let the bodies pile up". Scotland had the chance to escape their sadism in 2014. Yes posters spelt it out in capital letters: "END TORY RULE - FOREVER".We blew it.

Fraser McAllister, Musselburgh.

Exports: it's not so bad

YOUR Boxing Day report on Scottish exports ("Scots exports to EU slumped 25% in two years after Brexit", The Herald, December 16) appears to be at odds with the Scottish Government’s report on Scotland’s goods data from the latest release of HMRC's Regional Trade Statistics (RTS).

Here we are told that the value of Scotland’s goods exports to EU countries increased by almost a quarter (24.2 per cent, up £4.2 billion) in the year ending June 2023 compared with the year ending June 2019. This was greater than the 14.1% increase experienced by the UK and was larger than the increase for any of the other UK nations. When oil and gas are excluded, the value of Scotland’s international goods exports to EU countries increased by 22.1% in the year ending June 2023 compared with the year ending June 2019, which is still greater than the 8.7% increase experienced by the UK excluding oil and gas.

William Douglas, Balfron.

Read more: NHS is in dire straits, but SNP hasn't the courage to face it

Invest in resilience

A SCOTTISH Government report states that Scotland causes only 0.01% of global warming, But, as we saw again this week, we suffer the full impact: flooded roads and homes, power cuts and infrastructure damage, and experts say this will get much worse.

So instead of shutting down the oil industry, shackling our mobility with LEZs and blowing £33 billion on “green heating” that might have microscopic impact on global warming, why don’t the SNP/Greens invest now in “resilience”?

This means improving drainage on our roads and fields, issuing “at risk” homes with free or subsidised floodgates on doors (as they do in Morayshire, cost £500 each), and identifying and strengthening bridges, roads and coastlines that need strengthening.

This would cost a lot less than £33bn and create safety, security jobs and skills for now and the future.

Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven.

The Herald: A Palestinian wounded in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip is brought to the hospital in Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, on WednesdayA Palestinian wounded in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip is brought to the hospital in Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, on Wednesday (Image: PA)

All we can do is weep

CHRISTMAS is supposed to be a time of peace and goodwill to all, but the Israeli Defence (sic) Force clearly hasn’t got the message. You report today (“Israel launches heavy strikes across Gaza in another ‘night of hell’”, The Herald, December 28) that another 200 Palestinians have been killed in a 24-hour period. It’s likely that 60 or 70 of those will be children; that’s four Dunblanes in one day, and we’ve now witnessed 70 days of this slaughter.

Duncan McFarlane (Letters, December 28) rightly lambasts our political leaders for their doublespeak and woolly words. They don’t appear to understand that young children aren’t terrorists, though they may grow up to be such if they’re given sufficient provocation while young. That’s assuming the IDF allows them to grow up.

While the political leadership in the US and UK give Israel their full support, there’s little we can do except think of the children of Gaza and weep.

Doug Maughan, Dunblane.

• I AM quite sure that if there was a vote in Britain regarding the Israel-Hamas war the majority would vote for an immediate ceasefire. The only politician I am aware of continually speaking out for a ceasefire is the French President, Emmanuel Macron. From our own leaders, complete silence. Does this surprise you?

John Connor, Dunfermline.