I CANNOT recall Scotland ever being so badly administered in all my many decades of observing politics in this country. It is lamentable, shameful in fact, to see how we are run.

The First Minister has committed some serious howlers since assuming office. His position as leader looked decidedly shaky in any case, but your revelation that he invited the Turkish President to visit Scotland during their unscheduled meeting at COP28, which Mr Yousaf attended uninvited ("FM under pressure on invitation to Turkey’s president", The Herald, January 19) really transcends them all.

This is a man clearly out of control, making decisions on the hoof, the implications and consequences of which he appears to know nothing about. So desperate was he to be seen with a ''world leader'' at COP28, all rational thinking appears to have been abandoned. Is no-one advising this loose cannon? A man with his ability should never have got within a mile of high office. It would seem human rights violations against the minority Kurds in Turkey are fine and it is only Israel that is to be condemned.

Scotland has never been in a worse state.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.

National embarrassment

BACK in 2017, the then First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, claimed that she was embarrassed by the “National” part of the SNP’s name. Roll on six years, the current FM has now said he is not "comfortable" with the word "national" in his party's name.

I really can’t understand why they are uncomfortable with reality. The SNP politicians are nationalists. They are members of a party that is advocating national independence. They and their supporters strongly identify with Scotland and vigorously support its interests (apparently) to the exclusion or detriment of others.

They claim, erroneously it has to be said, that Scotland subsidises the rest of the UK. By this argument, they would happily take Scotland and its wealth and not share it with the rest of the UK, leaving them worse off. That is the very essence of nationalism. They could change the name of the party but it wouldn’t change what they are.

Jane Lax, Aberlour.

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SNP broadcast beggared belief

WITH its usual emphasis on "taking people out of poverty", the SNP's latest party political broadcast (January 18) listed the freebies and giveaways it has bestowed upon the population. These range from baby boxes and bus passes through prescriptions and period products to personal care and tuition fees.

Whilst I'm sure that all of these are very much appreciated by the recipients, they are not in themselves a solution. Putting a £10 note in a beggar's collection bowl would be equally appreciated, but it only alleviates their immediate need and does not lift them out of poverty.

If Humza Yousaf really ran a "government that cares", then instead of "building a country that looks after you" he should be concentrating on building a country where people are well able to look after themselves. This requires effort to build an economy that allows and encourages people to work and earn enough to provide for themselves and their families, eventually contributing to the taxation system. The broadcast contained nothing to demonstrate that the SNP has any idea of how to do this.

He concludes by asking us to vote SNP. A clear case of buying votes with taxpayers' money.

Mark Openshaw, Aberdeen.

Does PM think law doesn't matter?

THE takeaway from your article "PM says Tories are united on Rwanda" (The Herald, January 19), is that the PM’s idea of united is somewhat different from most people's.

Rishi Sunak this week saw the largest rebellion under his premiership, backbench resignations and rebellions by the bucketload while he buries his head in the sand. The Conservatives' persistence on their Rwanda bill has been ongoing for around two years and is still not over the line.

The PM claims "the treaty with Rwanda is signed and the legislation which deems Rwanda a safe country has been passed un-amended in our elected chamber". However, he omitted to mention the decision of the Supreme Court which ruled against the Rwanda scheme in 2023. Do the PM and the Conservative Party consider themselves above the law and will the unelected House of Lords go against the Supreme Court?

Catriona C Clark, Falkirk.

Covid and excess deaths

ROGER Graham (Letters, January 19)) says Scotland performed much better than England during the pandemic. According to a BBC report this week the difference was very small: Scotland had 0.2% fewer excess deaths than England over the whole pandemic.

It should have performed better because of Scotland's geography. Like the Scandinavian countries who performed much better than Scotland, we have a low population density: 70 people per square kilometre compared with 434 for England. The figures of excess deaths over the whole pandemic for the four nations according to the same BBC report are 3.2% more excess deaths above average in England, 3% in Scotland, 2.1% in Wales and 1.7% in Northern Ireland. And remember, the NHS was delaying treatment for many illnesses which would have resulted in excess deaths. There was also the high death rate of care home residents in Scotland to consider.

I repeat my assertion that in a future pandemic there should be a single unitary authority, because viruses do not recognise borders, to avoid wasteful duplication of resources, to avoid mixed messaging and to avoid the ill-informed grandstanding of people like Nicola Sturgeon who actually wanted to "eliminate" the virus. I also question whether locking down the whole country rather than shielding the vulnerable was the best way to go.

Michael Luck (Letters, January 19) says that I am wrong to say that Brexit helped deliver faster vaccination. The New York Times of March 1, 2021 stated that the UK's vaccine programme was "an early windfall from Brexit. Britain’s divorce from the European Union helped give it the political leeway to authorize multiple vaccines before the bloc and to swiftly lock up its own production of the vaccine from AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford".

William Loneskie, Lauder.

Read more: Scotland's Post Office victims have been failed by legal establishment

Sad decline of justice system

TWO of my proudest days were graduating LLB in 1975 and enrolling as a solicitor in 1977. The Scottish justice system was, like the Scots education system, rightly regarded as one of the best in the world.

Brian Wilson ("Scotland has failed its PO victims", The Herald, January 18) asks: “Does the Scottish legal establishment have the stomach” to expedite “due process” by which 54 wrongly convicted postmasters will have their convictions quashed? It’s a rhetorical question.

Little or nothing will really happen in SNP Scotland to redress these miscarriages of justice that holds to account those on high in the Crown Office and Prosecution Service bearing responsibility. Because that might reflect badly on SNP in power since long before doubts about Horizon were first “swirling” before 2013.

COPFS is nominally independent of government whose head, the Lord Advocate, is a minister of the Scottish Government, sits in Cabinet and addresses Parliament. There is at least the appearance that the SNP could exercise direct political influence/control over COPFS. Joanna Cherry is now seeking to amend the law to separate these powers.

I believe that COPFS, just as Police Scotland, is under the SNP’s political thumb.

The Post Office victims have had an apology of sorts, just as medieval witches received a posthumous apology from Nicola Sturgeon, but what actual redress will be made?

Humza Yousaf talks of pardoning the PO convicts, releasing them from the legal consequences of conviction, which he clearly does not know is very different in law from quashing a conviction to annul it.

No-one in COPFS will ever be held responsible for pursuing these wrongful PO prosecutions because no-one in Police Scotland or COPFS has ever been held accountable over the malicious prosecutions of the Rangers’ liquidators.

“Malicious prosecution” means that Police Scotland deliberately and knowingly pursued their investigations and that COPFS deliberately and knowingly authorised charges to be brought and prosecuted in court, all without reasonable cause.

These investigations, charges and prosecutions surely cannot have occurred without people at the top of Police Scotland and COPFS knowing and approving. But not one of them has ever been held to account.

So, if I was a postmaster wrongly convicted in Scotland, I wouldn’t be holding my breath that my wrongful conviction would be annulled any time soon or that those responsible for ruining my personal reputation of trust and honesty in my community, of ruining my business and livelihood, and possibly also of ruining my family life will ever have to account for what they have done.

Not in SNP Scotland.

Nurses, doctors and teachers have all seen the professions they joined made wretched by the SNP and I am sure most of them will understand when I say I am saddened beyond words at what has become of the justice system I was so proud to join almost 50 years ago.

Alasdair Sampson, Stewarton.

Is steel plan a security threat?

I AM no expert in steel-making but am concerned at the decision of Tata, at its Port Talbot plant, to substitute electric arc furnaces for the present blast furnaces ("Thousands of jobs at risk at Tata Steel", The Herald, January 19).

Whilst the forecast of massive job losses looks to repeat there the suffering experienced years ago here in the West of Scotland with the loss of steel making, will there also be serious damage to our strategic defence industries and capabilities if this furnace substitution means the end of the production there of relatively hard (carbon) steel in favour of relatively soft (mild) steel?

If that loss is correct, will we in future have to rely on sourcing from somewhere abroad (India, China, Russia) the carbon steel needed for the production of armoured military vehicles such as tanks, and naval vessels such as frigates? How sensible is that in these times of existing and threatened conflict, or are my concerns unfounded and having a reliable source here of carbon steel is not essential to the national interest?

Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop.

The Herald: Police outside the London Clinic, where the Princess of Wales is recuperatingPolice outside the London Clinic, where the Princess of Wales is recuperating (Image: PA)

How the other half lives

WHILE certainly wishing the Princess of Wales well, her hospital stay in a luxury private room ("Kate, Princess of Wales spends fourth day in hospital", heraldscotland, January 19) is in stark contrast to how folk are treated in NHS hospitals in Glasgow. A hospital stay of that length is very unusual.

I had three hours of major surgery for cancer in my sixties and came out of surgery at 6 pm on the Thursday night. I was sent home on Saturday morning. Yes, it was laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery but still the same procedure.

Three weeks later while still recovering I was sent for chemotherapy and could hardly manage to walk upstairs. I had to return to see the surgeon with postoperative complications.

In my late fifties I had my gall bladder removed and was sent home alone the next day.

How the other half lives. As far as our health is concerned we should all be treated equally. I did have first-class treatment but felt I was thrown out far too early.

Dorothy Connor, Rutherglen.