THE excellent article by Kathleen Nutt ("Is the SNP now set for imminent implosion?", January 11) and several other recent contributions from your columnists prompt me to introduce a new mnemonic to the text speak lexicon. I can’t claim to have invented it, but it is “LOMF” and stands for Lack of Moral Fibre and it seems that the higher you climb the less there is. Encounters with morality just become clearer and the questions more serious.

Recent examples of LOMF are obvious and include the Michael Mathieson debacle, "Clown” Boris in all his doings, Baroness Mone and a general lack of transparency or accountability in government. The contagion has been around for a while, however, from illegal wars, politicians’ expenses scandal, bankers’ greed and back scratching cronyism.

It is said that fish rot from the head down and so it can be seen that LOMF has permeated all areas of society with personal responsibility having been replaced by a victim and blame culture.

This state of affairs has led inevitably to the disappearance of genuine conviction in any political party and a troubling gap between the magnitude of the challenges we face and the smallness of our politics: the ease with which we are distracted by the petty and trivial, our chronic avoidance of tough decisions and our seeming inability to build a working consensus to tackle any big problems.

So, with the crumbling and near collapse of the three pillars of society, being health, education and criminal Justice (including an adequate police force) we focus on banning vapes,and laughing gas, fox hunting, greyhound racing, singing at football matches, tarriffs on alcohol sales, "dangerous” dogs and so on and so on ... all delivered in sound bites and accompanied by grandiose but empty rhetoric. In other words, there is much in the window but nothing in the room.

Sadly, we seem to be stuck here, rather like Hotel California, where you can check out any time you like but you can never leave.

Keith Swinley, Ayr.

Firm action needed on NHS

WITH an ageing population, reports that the numbers of people applying for nursing courses have fallen for a third year in a row must raise serious concerns about the future of proper patient care.

Since Nicola Sturgeon famously cut the number of nursing training places while Health Secretary, this essential element of the patient care package has been neglected by government. Whenever any criticism of the operation of the NHS is made, a Scottish Government "official spokesperson" is trotted out to say that more money than ever is being pumped into healthcare, but if that is the case it's clearly not working.

Nurses and doctors need to be valued more so that there is an excess of people wanting to join these noble professions rather than running a staffing deficit which puts pressure and stress on those in post. Successive Health Secretaries have failed to improve our health and care systems and without change and adequate funding Neil Gray is going to struggle to make the necessary impact.

Bob MacDougall, Kippen.

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Fix rail ticket problem

THE Fair Fares Review due at the end of December 2023 is delayed by approximately seven weeks. Please stand by for further announcements.

Whether it is the ticket machines which scandalously rip-off customers by selling the cheapest ticket but not the cheapest fare; part-time workers unable to commute their irregular timetable into a season-ticket; or the convoluted Delay Repay scheme which has been clearly designed to discourage passengers from claiming a refund, there is a crying need for a ScotRail ticketing system that serves those that fund it.

Perhaps the problem here is that there's no opportunity here for playing the victim, no spanner to throw into the constitutional works, no platform for preaching foreign policy. All that is required is some competence and some hard work to solve some real problems in the real world. Is that too much to ask? I suspect that it probably is.

I've seen the delay. I've said there's a delay. It's time for the Transport Secretary to sort it.

Graeme Arnott, Stewarton.

The Herald: Neil Gray has a big job on his handsNeil Gray has a big job on his hands (Image: PA)

Ditch alcohol funding policy

PUBLIC Health Scotland is under pressure from the BMA and charities like Alcohol Focus to increase minimum alcohol pricing to 65p a unit; the new policy begins in September.

Minimum alcohol pricing in Scotland has been an abject failure. Specific alcohol deaths have increased 2% since its introduction.

The time has come to abandon this ineffective policy. Why should sensible, moderate, social drinkers be inconvenienced having to switch from cider (cider sales are down 22% since 2018); have to pay more for alcohol, and purchase it after 10am?- Consumers have paid an additional £270m in four years and for what?

We were assured there would be fewer alcohol specific deaths but the death rate is the highest since 2011. They said there would be fewer A&E admissions but A&E departments report no discernible difference. They were sure there would be a decline in alcohol consumption. There wasn't; but heavy drinkers moved from the likes of cider to stronger spirits (notably vodka). Ironically, one of the culprits, Buckfast fortified wine, was unaffected. Scots drink 9.4 litres of pure alcohol a year but England 9 litres.

Public Health Scotland has reported that alcohol-related deaths are five times more likely in areas of deprivation. Heavy drinkers were cutting back on food, utility bill payments and family necessities to fund their addiction. Yes it is an addiction, and this was never going to be a silver bullet given the withdrawal symptoms they would have encountered.

There was a frankly naïve, false assumption that heavy drinkers are more responsive to price rises yet there has been no lack of research since 1995 to refute that.

Did it really demand expensive, academic research to learn that heavy drinkers would do anything to fund their habit? This patronising, regressive, policy should be ditched.

John V Lloyd, Inverkeithing.

Read more: The nationalist rage against anything British is truly worrying

Where is our backbone?

I DO not believe that Foreign Secretary David Cameron is a stupid man, but surely now he and other British politicians must realise that Israel is hell-bent on removing all Palestinians from Gaza.

The despots involved in the Israeli Government have no intention of listening to anyone; that has been clear for some time now to anyone who has been following this disaster where thousands of innocent children have been killed alongside their parents and grandparents whose only crime according to Israel seems to be that they are Palestinian.

When will we see the British Government standing up for a people who have been treated with contempt for decades just because of who they are? Where is the moral backbone which seems to have been replaced by cowardice?

This situation has long stopped being a war as described by the Israelis. Every country has the right to defend itself , but never by the deliberate and premeditated massacring of innocent people.

Michael Tolland, Glasgow.

The history of Beauly

YOU say that the name of the village of Beauly means "the beautiful place" ("Power to the people", February 11). In fact the name of the comes from its original Gaelic name, Bealaidh, meaning Broomfield, that being the site of the original village around the present day railway station, where broom still grows (or at least where it grew when I grew up in the area in the 1950s). It was Mary, Queen of Scots who first linked the name to the French for beautiful place when she stayed at the Priory.

Beauly was pivotal in ridiculing the myth that there was a "Jacobite" Rising in 1745, as pointed out in an earlier letter from the Duke of Argyll to Prime Minister Walpole. In it he made the point that the so-called Jacobites were merely men who had sworn an oath to the prevailing king in their day, just as he had to the prevailing king in his day. He advised getting them released from their oaths to ensure there would be no rising, but Walpole ignored him. Thus, the 90 or so Jacobite broadswords recovered at Culloden are not trophies, but tributes to men who would not have died had the Duke's advice been followed.

I have always been a believer in evidence, and the evidence behind this is that in 1733, when he was Campbell of Mamore, he arranged for his daughter Primrose to be escorted to Beauly to marry Simon Fraser, Lord of Lovat (before the title was changed to Lord Lovat). Care of Primrose's life was entrusted to none other than Alasdair MacDonald, chief of the Keppoch MacDonnells, one of the most prominent figures among the so-called Jacobites. Keppoch provided his own bodyguard, consisting of my ancestor and his close family. That is how I came to be born in Beauly 220 years later and end up with the car number plate B34ULY.

George F Campbell, Glasgow.

The power of prayer

REFERRING to comments around Professor Jason Leitch’s participation in a prayer meeting in the early stage of the Covid pandemic, Bob Scott (Letters, February 11) asks for convincing evidence that prayer would make any difference to the impact of an infectious disease.

This question demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of Christian prayer. If prayer was simply an incantation leading to specific results, then God would not be sovereign but subject to human demands.

The good news of the Christian gospel is that God is sovereign, just, loving and full of grace. As a result of this grace, those who put their faith in Christ are relieved of the obligation to earn their own salvation by, for example, undertaking religious rituals or following a particular practice in prayer.

A Christian's prayer may result in healing - there is plenty of evidence of that happening - but, more importantly, it strengthens believers in their understanding that, despite their inability to control the circumstances they face, they can accept their own mortality and have confidence in their eternal security.

George Rennie, Inverness.