IT used to be said that Gordon Brown could lighten a room just by leaving it. I imagine he must be even better now at emptying them. His rejection of socialism and hatred of Scottish self-determination informs his latest call for another part of devolution to be reversed ("Ex-PM Brown calls for Holyrood and Westminster co-operation on poverty", The Herald, August 24).

His claim that money would be saved by abolishing Social Security Scotland is perfectly correct. Money would be saved but for what: "wealth creator" tax cuts? And how? Through the economies of scale or something wicked? We know how. Since Brown, Tory governments have saved at least £20 billion by Universal Credit caps and sanctions; the replacement of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) with Personal Independence Payment (PIP); the bedroom tax and the removal of Child Benefit from a third child, unless the father is a rapist.

The cost of these savings have also been calculated. A Glasgow University team estimated that between 2012 and 2017 Tory/DWP austerity caused 335,000 excess deaths. What is beyond compute is the immoral cost of misery, fear, indebtedness, health breakdowns and hopelessness.

Social Security Scotland’s devolved 15% could hardly operate more differently from the DWP. It is based upon the humane principles of "Dignity, Fairness and Respect". The legislation came from the conclusions of inclusive Scottish Government Experience Panels. A Social Security Charter makes social security a legal right. One of the legislation’s greatest reforms was ending hostile work assessments by incentivised private foreign companies like Atos.

Any doubt is dispelled by watching Scottish Government Minister Jeane Freeman introduce her Social Security Scotland Bill in December 2017; a clip can be found on Facebook.

Jimmy Reid wrote this: “Without social security society is a jungle. Yet these two words have become dirty in Britain; equated with ne’er-do-wells and scroungers. To me social security is to be secure in your home, on the street, in the community, in and out of employment, in old age, in sickness and health. It means, for example, parents of handicapped children living secure in the knowledge that when they die society will look after their children with tender respect. Such social securities are things of beauty. Priceless rather than costly. They make us truly civilised.”

Fraser McAllister, Musselburgh.

Read more: Gordon Brown calls for Holyrood and Westminster co-operation

Holyrood is a trap

ELECTIONS and referendums in the UK have always been, with a single exception, decided by 50%+1 (Letters, August 22, 23, 24 & 25). The exception was Scotland (in 1979), but I’m sure you guessed. It is claimed it would be wrong for 49% of Scots to be discounted, but only on one side; if you are a pro-independence 49%, then tough.

But all this is irrelevant, as the leaders of the Westminster parties (all English) have instituted an unsurpassable veto on Scotland having any say in its own future. Power devolved is power retained. I hope Scots start to see through the constitutional trap that Holyrood demonstrates: it has zero political or fiscal autonomy and the Scottish Office suzerain can override any Holyrood legislation passed, with the languorous flick of his pen.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.

Footnote on the SNP accounts

IT is pleasing to see that the SNP’s accounts for the year to December 31, 2022 correctly describe the motorhome as a motor vehicle in the notes to the accounts rather than as “office/computer equipment” as happened in the 2021 accounts ("SNP blames cost of living as finances hit the red", The Herald, August 25). However, what is concerning is the fact that the new auditors found it necessary to issue a qualified report on the 2022 accounts because they could not satisfy themselves that all of the income from membership, raffles, and donations for both 2022 and 2021 had been properly accounted for as a result of proper records not being kept. One has to ask the question as to why the previous auditors did not pick up on this in earlier years.

Alan McGibbon, Paisley.

Trading insults

IAN McConnell ("Things are just not adding up, Ms Badenoch. Do you need a calculator?", The Herald, August 25) has misunderstood the oft-quoted statement from Michael Gove that "people in this country have had enough of experts". What Mr Gove actually meant was "people in this country have had enough of exports".

Andy Mitchell, Prestwick.

Onus on GPs on prostate tests

I NOTE a fine article from Rosemary Goring about prostate cancer (“The 15-minute test that could save so many men’s lives”, The Herald, August 24). I’m sorry to hear that Ms Goring’s husband is one of the 52,000 men in the UK diagnosed last year with this stealthy disease.

I was struck by her comment that “a friend in his early 60s, who summoned the courage to ask his GP for a PSA test, was refused”. That’s exactly what happened to my son when he asked his GP in Edinburgh for a PSA test. And that was despite the fact that his uncle and I both have prostate cancer, and my consultant at Forth Valley Hospital had advised me to tell my son to get tested when he reached age 40.

Is this common with GPs? I understand the dangers of over-testing, where false positives can induce a period of anxiety until further tests are carried out; though better a few months of worry than being told years down the line that, yes, it is cancer and it’s now past the treatable stage. My own GP was shocked that my son’s GP wouldn’t authorise this simple blood test, despite the recommendation of an experienced consultant.

The survival rate for prostate cancer is very good. It would be even higher if more cases were picked up in the early stages and only by testing is that going to happen. So I hope Ms Goring’s vision of a 15-minute test comes to fruition, and I hope that the few recalcitrant GPs will recognise their role in early detection.

Doug Maughan, Dunblane.

The Herald: Are GPs too reticent on PSA tests for prostate cancer?Are GPs too reticent on PSA tests for prostate cancer? (Image: Getty)

Why are there no baby Nessies?

ST Columba's encounter with the Loch Ness monster occurred on August 22, 565 AD, or so the first recorded story goes. Since then such sightings have entertained visitors and provided a living for some who have capitalised upon this myth.

Every so often investigations take place which generally come up with nothing more substantive than inexplicable movements through the waters of this storied loch while more scientific observations never seem to confirm its existence. Rather recently another finding about the loch is that it has an underwater network of caves which could well harbour creatures which are responsible for the sightings claimed by tourists et al, but nothing tangible has ever been produced as proof.

This mysterious phenomenon surrounds the loch with an air of romance and lends itself to the imagination, attracting tourists from far and wide.

I hate to be a killjoy and I would love the stories to be true to allow the loch to enjoy the lustre arising therefrom but I do have to pour cold water on what is now no more than a mere myth. If there were a colony of mysterious mammals resident in the loch there would surely have been many more clear sightings of more than one creature gambolling in the waters of this vast expanse of water.

All we ever hear about is one solitary creature, which is generally taken as fully grown. Reproduction is the cycle of life and without any evidence of a colony to sustain the continued existence of our lovable Loch Ness monster, then we can dismiss its existence but continue to enjoy the attraction it has in people's imaginations.

Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.

Read more: UK's heartless policies are root cause of our drugs problem

Scary memories

"LIFE'S a scream," writes Neil Mackay about Scotland being the natural home of horror ("Life’s a scream: Scotland is the natural home of horror", The Herald, August 22). My childhood scarer was invoked by my Welsh Nain (grandmother) every Sunday as my sister and I ate our meals with her. This horrible what-ever-it-was would come down the Rediffusion cable, enter the house by a hole drilled into the window frame above the dining-table and do whatever nasty things it did to naughty little children who left some of their food. The "thing" was known to us as Bran. But Bran appears to have been a rather nice mixture of things from Welsh folk-tales. Was my Nain telling whoppers?

I thought that I saw the ghost of the previous dead owner of our second marital home in 1973. She was standing at the top of the staircase by the lovely window with leaded lights. Rhoda was her name and the sight of her caused me to drop my basket of clothes for ironing. I had been told by my new neighbour that Rhoda had been a lovely person so I forgave her for having to do the ironing all over again.

Living on Skye for 30 years I sometimes used to reach a place on the very bending Waternish road where the sight of oncoming car headlights in the distance would have me pull into a passing place to wait for the oncoming vehicle to approach. It never did, so what caused the headlight effect? There was nowhere for a vehicle to leave the single-track road there. I had heard one or two odd tales about things happening at Fairy Bridge in the past but ignored them. There was a cat involved with one of the tales.

Ah ... forget it ... and all old wives' tales like the one about that Welsh horror Bran; but thankfully there are no Redifusion cables coming though my window frames these days.

Thelma Edwards, Kelso.

Unsung hero of Taggart

STEWART Daniels (Letters, August 24) was spot on. Strathclyde Police did keep us right on Taggart, and looked after us too. Mr didn’t mention our mentor, the late Angus Kennedy, whose communication skills were on ample display at the time of the horror of Lockerbie, and who would say no to certain procedural things in our scripts, but could always gauge when to allow us dramatic licence.

I was honoured to attend Angus’s retirement party on behalf of the show. We all have good memories of the way Strathclyde Police supported us in making the series as authentic as possible.

Robert Love, Glasgow.

Whisky sour

SHOCK, horror. I've just realised that a litre of my "fire water" now costs £25, an increase of 25%. How can Westminster impose this additional tax, when the Scottish Government has its own pricing policy in the form of the minimum price of 50p per unit? It is also rumoured that said minimum price may increase to 80p per unit, making a litre £32. My goodness, it would drive you to drink (if you could afford it).

Derek B Petrie, Milngavie.