AS the gloves come off in the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election campaign ("Voters sack MP Ferrier as crucial by-election looms", The Herald, August 2), what should voters be asking?

The cost of living crisis, fuel costs, mortgage payments, general inflation and welfare should be high on the agenda. They are issues that matter to us all.

This is only the second by-election in Scotland (after Airdrie & Shotts) in this current Westminster Parliament. I would suggest a strong message of rejection to the party in control at Westminster would be a good start. But this by-election really does not feature for the Conservatives, it is a straight battle between the SNP and Labour.

Labour in recent times has adopted Conservative policies – policies that ditch the founding principles of the Labour Party and should worry anyone considering voting for it.

Let’s take the two-child benefit cap, costing some households up to £3,000 annually. Labour would retain this cruel Conservative cap on families. In complete contrast the SNP is opposed to it and has demonstrated its commitment to fighting child poverty by introducing the Scottish Child Payment, £25 a week to every eligible child.

And what about Brexit, something Scotland did not vote for? Sir Keir Starmer embraces it. This is quite breathtaking and something voters need to take into consideration.

The date of the by-election is awaited, but there is lots to play for and lots at stake.

Catriona C Clark, Falkirk.

Politicians need to reflect

SHOULD anyone wish to understand why politics and politicians are held in such low regard, then look no further than Margaret Ferrier, now ex-SNP MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton. Her obstinate refusal to resign and stand down as an MP following her conviction in court and a 30-day Parliamentary suspension for breaking Covid rules simply demonstrate in the clearest way possible how many of our political representatives do not follow the principles of honesty and integrity in discharging their representative duties.

These representatives need to reflect on what it means when they are referred to as “Honourable Members” in Parliament. It will be a long road back before trust in politicians is restored.

Richard Allison, Edinburgh.

Ferrier was hung out to dry

MARGARET Ferrier has lost her seat, no doubt to the satisfaction of many. She was simply hung out to dry. The worst thing she did was to travel from London to Glasgow in an empty first-class train compartment. It is suggested by some that she did this to avoid self-isolating in a London hotel. I wonder which hotel would have accepted her?

When compared with the shenanigans of Downing Street it all seems somewhat disproportionate. She has paid a heavy price.

David Pirrett, Strathaven.

Read more: SNP and the Greens need a dose of realism for all our sakes

Unionist parties all the same

NEIL Mackay writes another juicy verbose commentary on the forthcoming by-election in Rutherglen ("Ferrier by-election will expose fetid fault lines in our politics", The Herald, August 1); but why?

Yes, he is paid to do so but has he ever asked himself why we bother to make a fuss and connive a fierce debate when "they" are all fundamentally the same fish supper?

Labour/Tory/Liberalism is essentially a single book offering the same throughline because the objective is the same. UK plc must thrive while the toilers are permitted to survive.

In particular, why does the SNP seek membership of a foreign parliament, a House in which its subordinate status is forcibly displayed almost daily?

Let the unionist troika play out their by-election fringe theatre. The SNP and Greens have more vital roles to play.

Thom Cross, Carluke.

The Blairite tribute act

I WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree with Dr Hamish McLaren's assertion (Letters, August 2) that it is the people, the healthcare, education, retail and other public sector workers who run the country and the politicians who think that they do, need to remember they are temporarily elected to serve the people.

He castigates Rishi Sunak for the incessant use of the word "deliver" but doesn't mention the people who introduced this meaningless drivel into British politics: "New" Labour' in the personage of T Blair. Even Patricia Hewitt, one of his Cabinet members, famously said: "We should stop using the term delivery, it makes it sound like we are serving pizza." The dumbing-down of the lexicon may be the least of the sins committed by that administration – I for one am sad that we will never see them tried at The Hague. Still, it is highly likely that the Blairite tribute act will form the next UK Government so we can anticipate more managerial technospeak, privatisation and Anglo-American military adventurism, all the more reason for the Scottish people to reclaim their sovereignty and break free.

Marjorie Ellis Thompson, Edinburgh.

A tale of two visits

CERTAIN sections of the media and a number of individuals expressed faux outrage over a recent official trip to London by our First Minister where I understand the flight cost around £500 and the accommodation was around £700 per night for two nights.

Then buried under the headlines we hear that the Prime Minister’s trip to Scotland earlier this week in a private jet cost around £50,000. And hardly a murmur.

Rishi Sunak arrives and bleats about the A9. This is a gent who takes government limousines within Greater London, private helicopters for shorter trips and private jets for slightly longer trips.

He’s clearly not going to be on an A9 road trip any time soon.

The PM deemed it necessary to be in Scotland when he announced the Government’s intention to issue 100 gas and oil exploration licences. But wait a minute, was Scotland not told in 2014 – at the time of the referendum – that there was no oil and gas left in the North Sea? What’s the hidden agenda? Bleed Scotland dry of its natural resources and then allow a second referendum?

In case you’ve missed it, the Foreign Secretary is currently gadding about the Caribbean in a private jet costing you and me £10,000 per hour. It seems the working people are the only ones who are expected to save the planet.

Stewart Falconer, Alyth.

Read more: Ferrier by-election will expose every fetid fault line in our politics

The SWOT debate

PETER A Russell (Letters, August 2) seems to think that you can make a complete science of independence or not by means of business tools. One can't. There will be risks either way, some of which cannot be foreseen.

It would be highly subjective anyway. For example, let's take the case of nuclear weapons on Scottish soil. That could be a strength or a weakness on any list, depending on whether one thinks that nuclear weapons will keep the peace forever or that there will inevitably be a nuclear war at some time.

I've thought of SWOT ("Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats") analyses for both the Union and independence, and concluded that the odds are a little bit in favour of independence.

Iain Cope, Glasgow.

• REFERRING to your photograph of 1960 Glasgow ("Danger, children at play", The Herald, August 2), I do hope that you are not suggesting that there was ever child poverty, bad housing, deprivation, or any drug and alcohol problem that could not be blamed on the SNP.

Peter Dryburgh, Edinburgh.

Let's embrace the new-tech options

I HEARD Lord Haughey give his opinions on heat pumps on Radio 4’s PM programme on Monday. The following day, his views were widely scorned and dismissed, so as this is an important issue, I am disappointed that you should further propagate Lord Haughey’s viewpoint without wider expert opinion to inform us of the facts ("Haughey: Heat pumps ‘flawed’", The Herald, August 2).

Countries in Europe with far colder winter climates than Scotland have expanding markets for these products. Two-thirds of all households in Norway and Switzerland use this technology, which accounts for almost all new heating systems in 2022; Finnish sales have doubled, and usage has greatly expanded right across Europe.

Why? Because heat pumps save energy and money, giving three to five times more heat energy than the electrical energy consumed (the ratio of electric boilers would be 1-1). Perhaps new developments could use small district heating systems with a ground source borehole rather than individual air heat units for efficiency. We do have a particular Scottish problem with old stone houses (mine), but new-tech heating solutions should not be dismissed through ignorance.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.