APART from the happy fun days described by Neil Mackay (“Happy fun days; the 1990s were the last decade of hope”, The Herald, June 8) the 1990s might have been mankind’s last chance of survival.

Now the inventions and potential linkage of nuclear weapons, the internet and artificial intelligence seem to point to an inevitable but logical and negative conclusion. There seems to be decreasing scope for salvation by human intervention.

The world architects of the 1990s appeared to me at the time to be mainly Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev and Margaret Thatcher. There was general agreement that there could be no victory from nuclear warfare and mankind would be hard pressed to survive the ensuing nuclear winter.

The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) entered by the United States and the Soviet Union in 1991 pointed towards a common ultimate objective of the decommissioning of all nuclear weapons. That did not happen and the nuclear arms race appears to have resumed behind a façade of unimplemented treaties.

Mr Mackay’s article raises the questions as to why the common good intentions of the 1990s were lost and what can be done about it.

Neither unilateral nuclear disarmament nor military confrontation are likely to achieve any useful purposes and I wonder whether the horrors foreshadowed by Neil Mackay’s article might prompt the revival of a campaign for multilateral nuclear disarmament which, I think, may have been in vogue in the 1980s.

Michael Sheridan, Glasgow.

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• HAVING retired in the 1990s, which Neil Mackay recalls as his generation’s “age of innocence”, I see little evidence of the downbeat doom and gloom with which he characterises today’s under-20s.

With four grandchildren in their twenties, well-qualified and working full-time, and three in their late teens, I see them and their friends enjoying life to the full, with resources and opportunities which I never had 70 years ago.

Good luck to them.

R Russell Smith, Largs.

Read more: Why the 1990s were history's lost decade of hope

Thatcher put us all in debt

JB Drummond (Letters, June 9) asks what Margaret Thatcher’s real motive was in selling council housing stock. I believe it was pretty straightforward. The massive majority of people who bought were suddenly borrowers at a level they had never experienced. This had a serious effect on the behaviour of employees fighting for pay rises or better conditions.

Previously they were unencumbered by debt and had no chance of being evicted by a council. Mortgages from building societies must be paid, or else.

It also created a huge shift when coupled with the demise of mass employment, steelworks, shipyards, car factories and the like. Suddenly in a very short period of time she had engineered a new sort of lower middle class from the comfortable working class people who lived a good life on weekly wages and little or no debt. It also left millions of tenants stuck in properties that weren’t attractive enough to buy and they were basically left to their own devices.

It was political genius by the Tories but it was, in my opinion the greatest social/financial immoral act of my lifetime, and people are still paying the price.

Mrs Thatcher ensured debt controlled our lives and it still does.

John Gilligan, Ayr.

Cash must still be an option

HAVING been born during the last war, I have seen many changes and innovations after rationing and shortages of luxuries. I remember my first chequebook and later some limitations on withdrawals. Then came credit and debit cards leading to transactions by phone, and now apps. The one reliable constant was cash in shops, entertainment venues and the like.

Covid drastically reduced cash usage and increased card usage and online shopping, but now it's become common for venues tickets to sell tickets only online and only to a smartphone for display at entrances. Some pubs and public car parks demand payment via phone apps.

Once we had high street shopping centres where there was at least one bank in sight. Now, despite such banking adverts that "we're here for you", many banks are a bus ride away.

The world is still full of people who are too poor or old to change their circumstances or health conditions in order to purchase and learn adequate usage of tablets/computers and smartphones. It is essential that these people should not be excluded by IT trends barring them from everyday transactions.

The Government owns our National Mint and makes our cash. Surely it should be legislating that all everyday transactions must have the options of cash or phone/online systems.

There will be younger, au fait people who claim we must move with the times. To them I would point out the frequent number of IT failures and power cuts (not to mention online scams) which cause havoc in business and travel. Any system must have a paper back-up.

I recall a power cut in Tenerife, after the worst of Covid, where a queue built up at a small general store. The people with selected goods had to wait for the cashier to decipher barcodes into values, then use arithmetic to tally up. The power cut lasted a few hours as did the queue of shoppers, as it was lunchtime and all restaurants were closed.

Modern technology and computers are developing to our benefit but we still must insist on safeguards and alternatives which prevent the exclusion of the some of the general public.

JB Drummond, Kilmarnock.

Silence would be golden

MATTHEW Yglesias, writing in the New York Times, says that Joe Biden understands something fundamental about American politics: "It's often better to just shut up."

Over here, we have Rishi Sunak delivering (for Britain, for Scotland), Sir Keir Starmer with his "joined-up" thinking, and Humza Yousaf's "once again turning their back on Scotland".

The media might not be happy, but Attlee's "a period of silence on your part would be welcome", would enhance my life. The Greek philosopher Zeno said: "Better to trip with the feet than with the tongue." But that brings us back to a recent Biden escapade.

David Miller, Milngavie.