REGARDING Ruth Marr and her defence of Michael Matheson (Letters, June 1), I wonder what else the SNP can do wrong and deny before she starts to see the light through her blinkered vision.

Michael Matheson did wrong and should be punished. Loss of pay for 54 days and 27 days' suspension from parliament is a very light slap on the wrist for an £11,000 roaming fee which he attempted to claim on expenses.

Operation Branchform has still to be concluded, ferries are still needed to supply our islands, we need decent roads to get to them, our education system is lacking, our health service has long waiting lists for operations, our police service is not up to standard and is choosing whether or not to attend a crime or domestic dispute.

These abject failures, all due to the SNP, are something that we all are asked to brush under the carpet and hope they will go away.

How in the light of all these failures can anybody even think to vote for this party which will not admit failure or wrongdoing?

Ms Marr and others should take off the blinkers and see the SNP for what it is, not for what she and others think it is.

Neil Stewart, Balfron.

• THE rise in my blood pressure caused by Ruth Marr's predictably sycophantic letter about Michael Matheson (what awful thing does an SNP figure have to do to attract straightforward criticism from the SNP claque?) was, I am pleased and relieved to say, balanced by the letter from William Thomson (June 1).

Even as an avowed (but now, he says, reluctant) SNP supporter, he cuts through (please note, Mairi McAllan) by pointing out Mr Matheson's hypocrisy and that fact that he LIED (Mr Thomson's capitals, not mine) to the parliament and the public. Whether or not Mr Matheson is otherwise a decent sort of person became irrelevant when he chose to lie about his possibly-pardonable foolishness and we can't afford that in public life. Nor is it credible to associate harsh but well-founded criticism of Mr Matheson with deflecting attention from the undoubtedly poor record of Westminster, where untruthful Members have at least been forced to step down.

Brian Chrystal, Edinburgh.

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Vote for your national identity

MANY column inches are filled in these Letters Pages by discussion of the international crisis precipitated by the Michael Matheson expenses affair; party leaders in our Scottish Parliament gleefully engage in mutual character assassination.

In the meantime a General Election campaign is going on in the background. Identity with Scottish nationality attracts contemptuous reaction from the major UK parties and we appear to be heading towards government by Keir Starmer's right-wing Labour Party which is clearly a wholly-owned subsidiary of the US/Israel alliance.

The votes of our Scottish nation will play little or no part in this outcome which will be imposed on us by our southern neighbours. I appeal to the people of Scotland to ignore the personality politics and petty squabbling among the parties and make a clear statement of their national identity. I regard myself as Scottish first, European second and would never describe Britain as a nation.

Willie Maclean, Milngavie.

Saluting Alba politicians

NEIL Mackay says that "no doubt Kenny MacAskill and Neale Hanvey will most likely to be turfed out on their ear to the joy of many constituents" and that Ash Regan "snuck across the floor" at Holyrood ("Broadcasters are failing electorate with selective TV coverage", The Herald, June 1).

These claims are outrageous. Kenny MacAskill has single-handedly held the Government to account over Grangemouth as well as raising the issue of energy-rich Scotland subsidising England at a higher cost to Scotland and has repeatedly reflected the views of Scottish people over the Israeli genocide and the complicity of the British state.

Neale Hanvey has obtained hundreds of thousands of pounds for his constituents who have had benefits and compensation held up for at best bureaucratic and occasionally irresponsible and cavalier reasons as well as being a beacon of light for biological women and those parts of the LGBT community who have been sidelined by the gender self-ID fanatics.

At Holyrood Ash Regan has similarly risen above the nodding lapdogs of convention to defend pre-pubescent children, women and others subject to the steamroller of fashionable gender ideology, and been a lone voice questioning the Scottish Government's extraordinary passivity as the UK Government prepares to use taxpayers' money to establish a refinery in Antwerp.

The mind boggles at the cavalier insouciance of politicians and columnists like Mr Mackay.

Independence can't come soon enough.

Marjorie Thompson, Edinburgh.

The problem with the NHS

I AM a strong supporter of the NHS having spent all my working life in it and presently being heavily reliant on the services it provides; I think I have a fair idea of how things were and currently are. The problem as I see it is there’s not enough of anything.

There’s not enough funding, not enough staff and not enough resources. The NHS is “fire-fighting” and collapsing as is staff morale; most I speak to on my frequent hospital visits are unhappy.

One has to ask why successive governments have allowed waiting lists to become normalised when they are simply the product of lack of resources in a public service funded from our taxes and where 70% or so of the cost of the service in Scotland goes on wages which are recycled back into the economy. Why do we not have sufficient staff and facilities to deal with the demand when we are one of the wealthiest countries on the planet? The increasing number of UK billionaires and the fact we have a fiat currency demonstrate that there is and can be no shortage of money.

Given that what Scotland can spend on the NHS is directly controlled via the Holyrood block grant by what Westminster allocates to the English NHS one has to look at the situation there. One finds that English NHS waiting lists currently stand at 7.45 million. Need we be reminded that there have been rolling strikes by junior doctors in England for over a year and one is soon to start? Since the pandemic there has been a 37% increase in individuals opting to pay for treatment in the private sector and last year 1.67m English NHS patients had their treatments performed by the private sector funded out of the NHS budget. So NHS shortages and waiting lists are not an exclusively Scottish phenomenon and unsurprisingly the private sector down south is flourishing.

Meanwhile Keir Starmer promises the English electorate that he will reduce waiting lists by creating 40,000 new appointments each year, implying that some will be carried out by the private sector with no indication as to how NHS resources would be increased to meet this target. It is an interesting exercise to check which MPs have had financial support from companies in the private healthcare sector; I suggest you do it as it is relevant.

David J Crawford, Glasgow.

The Herald: Ash ReganAsh Regan (Image: PA)

The iron dice are irradiated

“US concerns about Ukraine strikes on Russian nuclear radar stations” said the Washington Post headline on Thursday, though it's interesting that it took the BBC until the next day to mention this, buried 487 words into an article headed “Pressure Grows on Biden to let US weapons strike Russia”. Different news outlets, different perspectives and agendas it would seem.

From a Ukrainian perspective it is understandable that they wish to escalate the levels of foreign support to fend off the attack of the Russian Federation on their territory.

It’s a hot war and the iron dice are rolling. However this attack on Russia’s nuclear infrastructure has irradiated the iron dice. This means, unequivocally, that all of us, not just the Ukrainians and the Russians, are on the first rung of nuclear escalation.

Add to that the polarised nature of the political system of the United States. It was last so polarised in the run-up to their civil war in the late 1850s and the early 1860s. However the USA was not at that time the world's military hegemon and of course the “iron dice” were not irradiated as they are now.

For years now British politicians of all stripes have lazily repeated the mantra “we live in a dangerous and uncertain world” when the truth is some parts of the world are more dangerous than others. As I have said before there are some rational reasons why the British Army is quite small as we do not face any threats of an invasion of the armed forces of another state.

We still don’t face that threat of invasion but we sure as hell now face the challenges of a real-life evolving nuclear escalatory ladder, an issue I submit should now have a level of salience in the upcoming UK General election for all parties, not just the SNP of which I am a member.

Bill Ramsay, Glasgow.