ACCORDING to the STUC General Secretary Roz Foyer, "workers are united across borders" ("SNP was serious about Covid fight", The Herald, January 15). Yet she espouses nationalism, mentioning something ludicrous called "Scottish exceptionalism".

She also says that it was farcical during the pandemic to call for a central response, rather than have the devolved nations do their own thing. She is wrong there, because the virus caused the same issues throughout the United Kingdom, and therefore a single unitary decision maker would have concentrated resources, avoided wasteful duplication, and avoided the politicisation of the virus which Nicola Sturgeon did on a daily basis with her pre-empting UK Government action and grandstanding daily on television.

Furthermore, leaving the EU enabled the UK Government to pursue its own strategy on vaccine procurement free from EU rules - a strategy which saved thousands of lives. As of January 27, 2021 the UK had vaccinated 7.6 million people, Germany two million, and France 1.4m and the UK was vaccinating 2.5m people every week. Thanks to the UK Government supporting the boffins at Oxford University Astra Zeneca was able to scale up production and give millions of Scots protection against the deadly virus.

Yes, there were mistakes made. The biggest mistake of all was to lock down the whole country instead of adopting the Swedish model which did the opposite. Sweden's excess death rate during the pandemic was 5.6% compared with 10% in the UK, and excess deaths here are still abnormal. Moreover, while the UK economy plunged by 11% in 2020, Sweden's economy actually grew during Covid, by 0.4%.

Instead of monstering the UK Government, Ms Foyer should be scrutinising the globalisation of healthcare by the World Health Organization. This body, which approved China's draconian lockdown strategy, is well on the way to taking total control of national governments' responses to the next pandemic, including control over information placed in the public domain. The NHS and every health care provider will take its orders from the WHO unless national parliaments decide otherwise, which many are not doing.

William Loneskie, Lauder.

Read more: Assisted dying: let's hope MSPs agree with the voters

Don't penalise retirees

THE history of second homes in Scotland seems misunderstood. Driven by poverty and lack of local employment, Scots moved from Highland, island and countryside to cities for work. Compelled to leave home, many long to return in retirement. They may inherit a family home before retirement, and retire when opportunity arises. Why should they be penalised? Many of these properties need upgrading and are not suitable for a first-time buyer or a mortgage.

There is an assumption that all second home owners are well enough off that they are able to pay double council tax for no extra benefit (“Don’t hit second home owners”, The Herald, January 11, and Letters, January 12). The expensive ones attract retirees or potential retirees with a view to establishing themselves in a community before retiring to it, a wise move for them and the community.

Charging double council tax is laid bare as a fund-raising exercise.

If a business can with complete impunity buy up ex-council houses and new starter homes built precisely to fill that much-needed market, and be allowed to flourish by sub-letting as holiday homes, Scotland has a problem.

The Highlands, islands and countryside alike are being denuded of their starter built homes in just such a manner.

CWH White, Bearsden.

Get the Letter of the Day directly to your inbox.

Arise, Sir Ronnie

RONNIE O’Sullivan’s extraordinary sporting achievements are long overdue for proper recognition. It was a disgrace that he was ignored recently as a candidate for the award of BBC Sports Personality of 2023, which in my view he would have won easily in a less than remarkable field. He has dominated the sport of snooker for years, and in addition to accumulating seven World Championships, to rub it in he has just added his eighth Masters title ("O'Sullivan fights back to thwart Carter and claim eighth Masters title", Herald Sport, January 15), feats unlikely to be repeated.

At the ripe old age for a top snooker player of 48, he is to some a bit of a Marmite character because he is prone to the occasional sweary outburst. That is understandable in top sporting personalities having regard to the immense pressure under which they all compete, but like him or not it is surely time for a knighthood to be added to his OBE. Apart from anything else, that would go some way to restoring a little belief in the honours system which some surprising awards over recent years have devalued to the point of ridicule.

Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop.

The Herald: Ronnie O'Sullivan after winning his eighth UK Masters snooker title on SundayRonnie O'Sullivan after winning his eighth UK Masters snooker title on Sunday (Image: PA)

On the death of road maintenance

ON the subject of potholes at this time of year ("Pothole-related breakdowns hit a five-year high amid calls for effective repairs", The Herald, January 15), I turn to Robert Burns and his Epigram On Rough Roads:

"I'm now arrived - thanks to the gods!

Thro' pathways rough and muddy,

A certain sign that makin roads

Is no this people's study:

' I'm no' wi' Scripture cram'd,

I'm sure the Bible says

That heedless sinners shall be damn'd,

Unless they mend their ways."

It would make a good subject for The Immortal Memory at the Holyrood Burns Supper.

Peter Wright, West Kilbride.

Read more: Letters: It is vital that access to cash is retained

Knife's out

WEARING my pedant’s hat with pride, I would like to congratulate you and your contributors for exhibiting the correct usage of the English language today (January 16). The first example raised an amused chuckle when reader Nigel Robinson contributed his “apostrophe catastrophe” showing the labelling of a cutlery drawer with knife’s (sic), fork’s and spoon’s in The Diary. My only hope is that said drawer was not located in a school refectory.

The second example drew my attention in a letter headed "Happy smiley memories". Being a retired dentist I was intrigued but when I read on, your correspondent P Dunbar restored my faith in the Scottish educational system, writing “we could not wait to get home to practise brushing our teeth" and later "to continue the good practice learned in class". Oh joy! The correct use of both words in the same letter. I know I am sad but I am sure Mr Ronnie Renton, my fine English teacher, will have a quiet smile to himself to know that his efforts were not in vain.

Now don’t get me started on imply and infer.

Alasdair Buchanan, West Kilbride.