PETER A Russell (Letters, April 19) makes an interesting point in calling attention to the intellectual background of the political philosophies of the Conservative and Labour parties. He neglects to mention, though, that all the distinguished thinkers he mentions had their floruits in the 19th or the early to mid-20th centuries. Who, in either of those parties today, is intellectually fit to clean the boots of Tony Benn or Robin Cook, never mind Disraeli?

“Ludicrous” would be too weak a word for the idea of measuring the brainpower of Rishi Sunak or Keir Starmer, or any member of their governments or shadow cabinets, against those predecessors: Mr Russell’s letter indeed serves to highlight the pathetic standard of Westminster politics and politicians in our time.

In honesty, I can’t seriously argue that the present SNP abounds in brilliant thinkers either; though in John MacCormick, Robert McIntyre, Douglas Young, Hamish Henderson, Paul Scott and (perhaps above all) John MacLean, among others, Scottish nationalism has had advocates fully capable of intellectually matching those cited by Mr Russell. But to put the argument at its very lowest, I would rather be governed by mediocrities in Holyrood than by duds in Westminster.

Derrick McClure, Aberdeen.

Time for change in both parliaments

THE recent YouGov polls of Scottish voting intentions is hopefully an accurate indicator of things to come.

If the ineptitude of the UK Conservative Party deserves to lead to change at the upcoming General Election, then the litany of broken promises, failed policies, botched delivery and incompetent government in Scotland merits the same.

Independence at all costs cannot be a fig leaf for a failing SNP Government which has steered the country on to the rocks.

Instead of a relentless focus on fixing the crises in health, education, housing and infrastructure, crises which follow 17 years of SNP government, the people watch on helplessly as critical services flounder. All the while, precious resource, time and money is squandered on the likes of the Gender Recognition Reform Bill, the hate crime bill, the named persons scheme, the Deposit Return Scheme and independence papers. Fiddling while Rome burns was never more apt.

We desperately need a far better, more transparent government in Scotland, one which also pursues a constructive, rather than destructive, relationship with the UK Government.

There comes a time when the performance of the incumbent is so demonstrably poor that change is essential and the opposition deserves the opportunity to do better.

That time for change has come at Westminster. It has equally come in Edinburgh.

Steven Clark, Edinburgh.

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Women left unprotected

DURING First Minister's Questions last Thursday, Humza Yousaf was challenged about the use of police resources in the wake of thousands of hate crime reports being made in the first two weeks since the implementation of the Hate Crime Act. In his response Mr Yousaf made the point that almost a quarter of police officers are also victims of such incidents and that some of the abuse is motivated by prejudice towards sexual orientation or race.

Mr Yousaf will be well aware that a significant part of the police force is female. Police women will also suffer abuse simply because they are women. Does Mr Yousaf acknowledge that these female police officers are not protected by the Hate Crime Act because he and his party stubbornly refuse to include the sex of a person as a protected characteristic?

Moreover Scottish police women, as well as every other woman and girl in this country, will be left unprotected against sexist hate crimes until we’ll finally have the long-awaited law against such offences (which may take years) or the Hate Crime Act is repealed or amended (which may never happen).

Thanks for nothing, Mr Yousaf.

Regina Erich, Stonehaven.

• I NOTE that the First Minister recently openly referred to biological women as "cis". With all the implications inherent in his remarks, I find this disturbing.

This abhorrent, male-imposed sub-division of women, endorsed by the leader of the minority coalition administering Scotland's affairs at present, perhaps says more than anything else about our country and its values and the direction in which it is going in 2024.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.

An ode to CalMac

MY creative side took over on reading of the Scottish Government's intention to inflict its continuing misery upon the islanders and their businesses by awarding a perpetual contract to CalMac ("Storm at move to hand ferry service to Calmac ‘forever’", The Herald, April 19):

Oh!, I'm, catching an island ferry, She's one of the oldest ever seen.

Her lums they are a rosy red, An' built in nineteen seventeen.

When they try to start the engines, there smoke an' oil an' hiss,

Oh, she'll wriggle and giggle and twist and twiggle

And then you'll hear her captain shouting this:

Will you stop yer teckaling, Jock! Oh, stop yer teckaling, Jock!

Dinna mak' me red an' angry, Or you'll mak me choke

 Oh, I wish you'd stop yer nonsense,just look at all the abandoned folk.

Will you stop yer teck-al-ing, teck-al-eck-al-eckal ing? Stop yer teckaling, Jock.

(With apologies to Sir Harry Lauder, whose model seems chosen by the Scottish Government and the board of CMAL to run this hapless business.)

Peter Wright, West Kilbride.

Keep religion out of schools

LAST week saw a high court judge uphold the ban on prayer rituals at Michaela community school in Brent, dismissing a challenge by a Muslim pupil who claimed it was discriminatory and breached her right to religious freedom ("Muslim pupil loses legal case against school prayer refusal", The Herald, April 17).

Ofsted has warned that schools are covering too many religions in RE classes. Having observed what religion had done for Europe it was almost inevitable that the First Amendment of the US Constitution would forbid Congress making any law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. If the four principle branches of Christianity, Catholic, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox, cannot agree on fundamentals, what chance has a multi-faith (mainly secular) society like ours got? Why not follow France and defenestrate religion from our schools and enable those people of faith to carry out their RE on Saturday mornings?

Doug Clark, Currie.

Committee must be representative

DR Gordon MacDonald of Care not Killing wants to exclude from the Holyrood committee handling the Assisted Dying Bill any MSP who has expressed support for the bill ("Assisted dying opponents say specialist committee should scrutinise bill", The Herald, September 19). He complains that around half of the Health Committee, which is set to take a lead on the scrutiny of the bill, have already expressed support for the Bill.

Surely the important issue is that the committee should be as representative as possible of Scottish opinion? Opinion polls have consistently shown substantial majority support for assisted dying. Yet Dr MacDonald wants a committee that excludes MSPs who share this view.

As it will be up to all MSPs in the Stage 1 and Stage 3 plenary sessions to vote on the bill, denying supporting MSPs a place on the committee scrutinising the bill should not affect the bill’s ultimate outcome. But it would protect people like Dr MacDonald, when giving evidence to the committee, from having to answer tough questions. Questions such as what right the state has to deny anyone of sound mind, facing a distressing and possibly painful slow death, the option of a dignified assisted death. The fact that this is currently the case, forcing many to suffer appalling deaths and forcing their families to watch them suffer, is not an answer. The bill, if passed, will right a very serious wrong.

Alistair Easton, Edinburgh.

The Herald: An RAF Typhoon fighterAn RAF Typhoon fighter (Image: PA)

Send Typhoon fighters to Ukraine

THE swift negative response by the UK and other governments to queries about why Nato can apparently defend Israel against heavy drone attack but cannot do the same for Ukraine begs more questions than it answers.

In 1940 the US government financed a private air force to defend China against Japanese imperialist aggression. I see no reason why a Flying Tigers for the 21st century cannot be armed with aircraft sufficiently modern to do a similar job and without the risk of starting World War Three.

The RAF has more than 50 redundant tranche 1 Typhoon fighters; upgrading them is more expensive than buying new aircraft so they will feasibly be scrapped despite being capable of years' more service. No buyers have yet stepped forward. They were expressly built to defend against Russian imperialist aggression; Russia has invaded Ukraine so the moral case for putting these aircraft to the work they were built for is compelling to me, even if it isn't to the Government.

David Bradshaw, Helensburgh.