NOT everyone in Edinburgh is looking forward to the festival season that is now getting underway. In a recent interview with the Herald's Kevin McKenna, the author Irvine Welsh spoke of his appreciation of Glasgow during the festival. It’s brilliant, he said: it becomes a haven, because as the Edinburgh festivals have become bigger they have grown worse.

Not everyone in the capital shares Welsh's robust sentiments, even if he also made the point that the festivals that came after Edinburgh all follow the same model of getting tourists and businesses into city centres and shutting out working-class people.

Irvine Welsh: I'll be seeking refuge in Glasgow during Edinburgh fest

The various festivals that make Edinburgh memorably alive every August bring in crowds, of course. Huge sums of money, too: their economic impact in Edinburgh last year was £407 million, and £367 million in Scotland. City residents have been known to grumble about outlandish queues for buses and the difficulty of booking restaurant tables, such is the immense press of visitors on every street. But none of them would, you imagine, want to lose the festivals.

Complaints have been detected in Glasgow and elsewhere as the UCI World Cycling Championships began this week. The list of street closures is necessarily a lengthy one - it could hardly be otherwise, given that this is a road event - but such closures are purely temporary.

People have groused about disruption and diversions, the inconvenience to businesses, the rash of pavement signs advertising the championships. Others have raised more valid questions relating to the closures' impact on emergency services, taxi-drivers, people who drive to work and parents who ferry their children to school.

Some disruption is inevitable, particularly when busy city-centre streets are cordoned off. But it will not last forever, and in any case it has to be balanced against the prestige that the cycling championships - the biggest in the world, after all - bring with them, and against the revenue, and the unmatchable exposure, that will result.

Will UCI Championships bring change for Glasgow cyclists?

Glasgow has a solid track record in staging major sports events: the 2014 Commonwealth Games, the 2015 World Gymnastics Championships, and (with Berlin as co-host) the multi-sport European Championships, at the Hydro, in 2018. That latter event brought Glasgow the kind of international exposure that PR people can only dream of. The European Athletics Indoor Championships were held in Glasgow in 2019. Next March, the Emirates Arena stages the World Athletics Indoor Championships.

As with the festivals and Edinburgh, so too with Glasgow and its sports events. The festivals and the sundry championships are major forces for good in Scotland's two largest cities. The capital would surely be impoverished without its annual, riotous cultural celebrations, which bring in people from across the globe; Glasgow, despite its problems, some of which were articulated here last week, has become a key city on the European and world sports stages, with their international cast-list of athletes and broadcasters. No mean feat for a city as relatively small as Glasgow.

Herald View: It's time to unleash Glasgow's considerable potential

The cycling championships - 13 world titles across seven disciplines, taking place in Glasgow and elsewhere in Scotland - are hugely welcome. As Sir Chris Hoy, who knows a thing or two about cycling, says, the thought that Scotland would one day have the first-ever combined world championships - road cycling, BMX, mountain biking, track - is "absolutely fantastic".

A final word about Edinburgh. Nicola Benedetti, the first Scot to be appointed as artistic director of the international festival, has come up with a diverse and intriguing programme in her first year. She has the compelling vision to take the international festival forward.


Worrying news from America

It is hard to conceive of a mainstream British politician not only surviving a welter of serious legal problems, but relishing the attention they bring and using them to feed an unhinged fantasy of a witch-hunt, to the baying approval of his rabid supporters.

Yet this is where America, deeply and irredeemably polarised, now is. The latest charges against Donald Trump, relating to his attempts to overturn the outcome of the 2020 election, are serious, alleging, amongst other things, conspiracies to defraud the US and obstruct an official government proceeding. He has pleaded not guilty, and characteristically claims that he is being persecuted.

None of the new charges - nor, indeed, previous court cases involving him - have dented his popularity with his followers. He remains on course to win the Republican nomination and to challenge the Democratic candidate in 2024. Considerable groundwork has been done by America First populists and think-tanks to ensure a disciplined but radical programme for a second Trump presidency. His supporters have for good measure long controlled the Republican National Committee. Many Republican lawmakers are fastidiously loyal to him.

The next presidential election is a long way off, and much might happen between now and then. But for those who believe that Trump represents a real threat to democracy, his continuing popularity is deeply worrying.