I was pleased to see Kevin McKenna (“Sturgeon has a real brass neck criticising councils” The Herald, July 4) articulate the shortcomings of the “Promise” in resolving the profound and enduring problems within the care system. Many of the concerns he raises were highlighted in our 2021 paper The Empty Promise? There are, however, several other critical factors that underlie the Scottish Government’s failure to achieve positive change.

Firstly, there is a wealth of research evidence, some of many decades’ standing, which clearly identifies concerningly divergent life outcomes for people who had been placed in public care. This knowledge could have, and should have, been acted on years ago. Instead of this we have had more costly reviews, reports, strategies, projects and consultants re-inventing the wheel.

At the same time there has been sustained and systematic disinvestment in the very services that are needed to support children in care and families that are struggling and where children are being put at risk – local authority social work, community learning and accessible local support. Mr McKenna quite rightly notes the inadequacy of approaches to addressing family poverty – the care system is almost entirely populated by the children of the poorest families – but the problems strongly associated with poverty, such as poor mental health, addictions and violence leading to ineffective parenting must be tackled simultaneously.

It is hard to see the “Promise” as anything other than a window-dressing distraction from the real and fundamental challenges faced by our public services and the children and families who depend on them.

Marion Macleod, Common Weal Care Reform Group

Virtue signalling on drugs law

If the SNP has succeeded at anything and it has not succeeded in much, it’s virtue signalling: the ability to make grand statements with no follow-up. Time and time again Nicola Sturgeon, now Humza Yousaf and their teams feel it right to make grand pronouncements. And today another: decriminalise drugs for personal use with users to be treated and supported.

Scotland has witnessed 1,330 drug deaths in the last year, the highest in Europe yet again. In decriminalising drugs for personal use how in heaven’s name does this utterly incompetent and failing regime hope to cope with, treat and support lawful drug abuse when it is totally incapable of addressing the current situation? Just more virtue signalling and fine words. And true to form, who will they blame if nothing comes of it?

Douglas Cowe, Newmachar, Aberdeenshire

Greens prove the system is working

Michael Watson (Letters, July 7) seems to suggest that the Green Party has no democratic right to have any say in the Scottish Government because they only won 6.6% of the vote at the last election. The Scottish Parliament is elected using a form of proportional representation making it very difficult for any one party to win an outright majority which is why the two independence-supporting parties are working together.

With 6.6%, the Greens should have won eight of the 129 seats; in fact they have seven, proving that PR works. Of the 43 countries in Europe, only Belarus, France and the UK use a winner-takes-all system, the rest use various forms of PR. Is Mr Watson suggesting that 40 European countries are not democratic?

Jim MacRitchie, Paisley

“Free” really means higher taxes

I note Alex Orr’s attempts to argue that higher council tax levels will not necessarily lead to those paying the increased tax either leaving Scotland or not being attracted to move here (Letters, July 6).

Unfortunately Mr Orr tries to negate this increase by falling into the trap that most separatists fall into when comparing Scotland to the dastardly England by raising the old chestnut of "free" tuition for students and "free" prescriptions for all, when in fact everyone knows that both examples are paid for out of our taxes which of course are the highest in the UK. They will never learn.

James Martin, Glasgow

Right, and wrong, way to deal with protest

Compare the completely contrasting leadership skills, or lack of them, of Humza Yousaf and Sir Keir Starmer when confronted with protesters or hecklers.

The First Minister quickly calmed the situation when a woman interrupted proceedings at a recent independence convention in Dundee. Mr Yousaf left the stage to talk directly to the distressed woman at her seat.

Sir Keir, when confronted with two polite pupils at a school in Kent accusing him of U-turns on the environment, basically told them to shut up, he'd "already dealt with that" in his last speech. He was speaking now about Labour's education plans.

Security then escorted the children off the stage with Starmer repeatedly saying "Thank you very much."

I suspect his thanks were directed at the security staff not the bright pupils who could see through the Labour leader's empty promises.

Andy Stenton, Glasgow

Trans rights not a threat to child protection

Kevin McKenna’s profile of LGB (but not T) rights activist Malcolm Clark makes disappointing, indeed depressing, reading (“Gay pioneer: ‘It’s depressing a lot of our good work is being trashed’”, The Herald, July 8).

LGBT+ rights have long been attacked as inherently dangerous to children, sometimes explicitly, sometimes by way of dog whistle “save our children” political rhetoric. Some of the “highlights” of this are Anita Bryant’s “Save Our Children” campaign in Florida and Ian Paisley’s “Save Ulster from Sodomy” campaigns in the 1970s, Thatcher’s demonisation of lesbian and gay parents as forming “pretended families” by way of Section 28 in 1988 and then Keep the Clause’s campaign against repeal of Section 28 in Scotland in 2000. Today that slur continues to be used by the likes of extreme right-wing Republicans such as Marjorie Taylor Green and reactionary nationalist leaders such as Putin, Orban and Trump.

The harm that such demonisation causes to both adults and children is well known within LGBT+ communities. The effects of such demonisation were clearly seen in Scottish caselaw at least into the 1990s as lesbian or gay parents had their parental responsibilities curtailed. Perhaps the worse example of this was the case of Early, heard just one year after Section 28 was passed, in which an eight-year-old child was removed from the care of his mother, in large part because his mother was in a relationship with another woman, despite having lived with her his entire life.

Children should be protected from abuse from family members and others by way of the law, properly resourced schools with robust policies and also education of children as to their rights. Respect for the rights of trans people, trans parents, trans teachers and most importantly trans children is not a threat to child protection today any more than was respect for all LGBT+ people in the past.

Brian Dempsey, lecturer in law, Dundee University

SNP really is brimming with confidence

William Durward should have read my letter more carefully; I did not say that "the Caird Hall was brimming", I said that the SNP members who were at the convention were "brimming with determination"; but regarding his claim that the hall was "half empty", I was there and it wasn't, and while he may choose to believe that the hall was "half empty" I can assure him that the main downstairs hall was well-filled and there were also people sitting upstairs on the balcony.

Mr Durward complains that I haven't provided the number of new members who have joined the SNP over recent months and demands figures and sources. The deputy leader of the SNP confirmed that 738 new members joined the SNP between March 24 and April 21 this year, and my own branch has welcomed several new members in the past few weeks alone.

I pay tribute to them all; it is easy to join a political party when everything is rosy, not so easy when there are challenges, and nobody disputes that this has been a difficult year for the SNP. Mr Durward is clearly not disposed to take my word on anything, but I hope that the questions he raises about the SNP he will also raise with the Unionist parties. All I can do as an SNP foot soldier is to assure him that the party is in good heart and spirits, and increasing membership numbers are getting behind our inspirational new leader.

Ruth Marr, Stirling