WHETHER or not Murdo Fraser’s original comment justified being recorded as a hate crime, it certainly does deserve to be recorded as an example of why he is unfit to hold public office ("MSP threatens Police Scotland with legal action over 'hate' tweet", The Herald, March 26).

The stupidity of the remark, presumably intended to introduce misplaced humour into what otherwise would have been an unremarkable statement, is not even original. It has become common currency amongst those who wish to ridicule non-binary individuals. As such it clearly constitutes a slur, and exemplifies the “it was just banter, for goodness sake” attitude towards minorities in general still prevalent amongst the more extreme members of his support base.

His carefully crafted legal letter to Police Scotland smacks of a desire to polarise the debate rather than to clarify the law, and simply draws further attention to the crassness of the original post.

Cameron Crawford, Rothesay.

Emulating the old GDR

NEXT week, the new Hate Crime Act comes into force in Scotland. Anyone deemed to have spoken "hatefully" about a person’s characteristics - for example, sexuality, religion - can have the police at their door, even if the incident occurred at their own dining table, or even in their own bed. If their "offence" is not deemed "criminal", they may still have a National Crime Hate Incident registered on their record. Police Scotland is appointing 500 "hate crime champions" to investigate allegations reported by members of the public.

That may not seem unreasonable to some. After all, hateful comments should be discouraged. Yet the new law goes beyond that, to the extent of being Orwellian. If you have a "hate incident" registered on your record, you may not be told. Les francs juges - the Judges of the Secret Court in medieval Germany - are alive and well in SNP Scotland. The accusers, who remain anonymous, may make their complaint at "third party reporting centres", and complaints may include issues that are material for playwrights or comedians in public performance.

I doubt that many of us thought there was much that was admirable about the now-extinct German Democratic Republic. Why then do our SNP/Green rulers want to emulate them and other unsavoury regimes from the 20th century?

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh.

• THE Hate Crime Bill is far too niche for the deep social problems affecting the world today. The concept needs to be expanded to cover outrage, disapproval, loathing, disgust, distaste, and dislike.

The slightly miffed should also be considered in the interests of inclusivity.

Don Ferguson, Kirkintilloch.

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Holyrood has let us down

PERHAPS with some notable exceptions, entirely the wrong type of person seems to have been attracted to politics in Scotland since devolution and unfortunately we are now all paying the price.

Take the SNP's Hate Crime Act as a prime example. But before that there was the ludicrous Named Person, the ill-fated Deposit Return Scheme and most notably the Gender Recognition Reform Bill, which was laughed out of every court in which was it was mentioned. It all indicates the limited intellectual capabilities of those who would try to make these monstrosities the law of the land. Across the world there has been condemnation and even lampooning of the Hate Crime Bill and Elon Musk claimed the SNP's new law is the perfect example of why freedom of speech is so important. It has made Scotland a laughing stock and demeaned in countries that value freedom of speech.

Serious matters are clearly light years beyond those at present running domestic affairs in Scotland. They do not have the ability to rise above the pettiest of party advantages, as they see it, and struggle with anything more than the trivialities of the naming of restaurants around Edinburgh Castle and labelling and flags put on teacakes and any other passing grievance that catches the eye.

With a few outstanding exceptions, since devolution entirely the wrong type of person seems to have been attracted to politics in Scotland and now we are paying the price.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.

Politicians should carry ferries can

ANOTHER one bites the dust, as they say. The latest chief executive of Ferguson Marine, David Tydeman, has been sacked ("Ferguson Marine: Ferry fiasco firm chief sacked amidst new delays", heraldscotland, March 26). He is just the latest in a long line to be held accountable for delays and rising costs regarding the two ferries. Mairi McAllan, the Economy Secretary said she was focusing on getting the ferries finished and driving down costs. A bit late for driving down costs when one ferry alone now has a price tag of almost £150m (at time of writing; by the time this is printed, who knows?).

The problem is that those ultimately responsible are the likes of Keith Brown, the then Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities, who is still sitting in Holyrood drawing a taxpayer-funded salary and Nicola Sturgeon and Humza Yousaf, who as First Ministers allowed this sorry saga to drag on and on. They should be held to account and be forced to resign for their part in this debacle.

The then Economy Secretary Neil Gray had an opportunity last year to stop the work on Ferry 802 following a value for money assessment. He admitted that it would be cheaper to buy a new ferry elsewhere but carried on regardless, wasting taxpayers’ money.

The plug should have been pulled on this years ago. More and more good money is being thrown after bad to try to save face. I hope those mentioned above hang their heads in shame if the ferries ever do start taking passengers. They have wasted so much money and time on a doomed project rather than making the right decisions at the time to build ferries suitable to the routes and with finalised plans.

Jane Lax, Aberlour.

The Herald: David TydemanDavid Tydeman (Image: Newsquest)

• THE United States names its massively expensive new warships after its recent political leaders. Should Scotland not do this with the Glen Sannox?

There is still time to rename her the "Nicola Sturgeon".

Would this not be an appropriate gesture?

James Murray, Glasgow.

Who watches NHS watchdog?

SO the "watchdog" Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) has again ignored clinicians’ treatment concerns (“NHS Watchdog apologises over handling of safety concerns” The Herald, March 26). Tayside oncologists changed chemotherapy because they were concerned about its excess toxicity. Adjusting treatment is what oncologists have trained for years to be able to do. In 2019, HIS intervened and as a direct result the local NHS management (who, like the visiting HIS panel, were not trained oncologists) mandated that this same toxic drug combination was then offered to all eligible patients.

Ironically, this written mandate was in place while other Scottish oncologists were quietly altering the same chemotherapy. Ultimately every Scottish centre stopped using it routinely. Clearly, other clinicians also had concerns about this particular chemotherapy but HIS ignored these. If there had been no concerns about its inferiority, this chemotherapy would still be in widespread use around Scotland.

The question therefore now has to be asked: who watches HIS, this "watchdog" that costs Scotland more than £40 million a year?

Douglas JA Adamson (Dr), retired consultant clinical oncologist, Dundee.

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Apology is not enough

IT was concerning to read that 29 consultant medical staff at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital who raised concerns with Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) about overcrowding and staff shortages resulting in "seriously compromised" patient care received an apology from the Chief Executive of HIS because of the watchdogs shortcomings in investigating their concerns .

As a former inspector with over 12 years' experience in inspection and regulation of both public and private heath and social care, one of the fundamental principles is to never ignore concerns raised by senior staff looking after vulnerable people and to first meet with them, discuss their concerns and gather evidence to support or refute their concerns as quickly as possible. Only by a rigorous investigation and review leaving no stone unturned can the public, patients and relatives get assurance that the watchdog is providing a thorough review and ensuring action is taken to address any valid concerns to improve patient care At no point did the chief executive of HIS in his apology state what action he was taking to address the shortcomings in their processes to allay public anxiety and provide assurance about patient safety at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.

Susan Brimelow, Milngavie.