I READ Kevin McKenna’s article ("It’s not fair to gaslight folk for not caring enough about global warming", The Herald, October 2) and was so impressed by the sound common sense and economic awareness and maturity of the statements of Kate Forbes, particularly those concerning the education attainment gap and the continuing extraction of fossil fuels, that my immediate thought was that, if I were one of her constituents, despite my anti-independence sentiments, I might be persuaded to cast my vote in her direction.

What a trick the SNP missed when party members voted for “the continuity candidate”. Despite the damage being done to the country by the incumbent Government, let’s hope those party members don’t wake up and smell the coffee.

Bob Hamilton, Motherwell.

• KATE Forbes is the gift to satire that keeps on giving. How I love the smell of burning martyr in the morning, a role she takes on often and in great, albeit tedious, detail.

Today, she tells the rest of us we're letting down the Highlands ("Holyrood is letting down the Highlands, says Forbes", The Herald, October 2), because we don't understand its complexity, which is perhaps code for the local popularity of weird religious cults not, mercifully, found elsewhere.

But never mind, moving on seamlessly to a defence of Fergus Ewing, a living legend in the Highlands and Islands apparently, she shows her skill in fashioning a good old mixed metaphor, as in "our parliamentary group is a family and you must have each other’s backs. And when you face difficult circumstances you need your troops around you."

Oh Kate, don't ever change.

Alistair Richardson, Stirling.

Read more: Kate Forbes says Holyrood is letting down the Highlands

Alternatives are dreadful

WHO could disagree with Keith Howell (Letters, October 2)? Of course the Government of Scotland does not reflect or represent the views of every elector: no government has ever done, or ever could. The present Westminster Government does not carry broad support in its own party (five factional Prime Ministers in 10 years), never mind the UK and certainly not Scotland.

The SNP was daft to suspend Fergus Ewing for a week, but look at the other lot. Three prime ministers back, Boris Johnson (channelling his inner grandiosity), expelled 21 senior MPs out of the Tory Party. The previous leader of Labour, Jeremy Corbyn, a popular figure of the young and the left, was suspended and refused readmission to the whip by his then deputy and now leader Sir Keir Starmer. When leader, Mr Corbyn experienced a long campaign of vilification and disloyalty from his own Labour MPs, which together with the endless feuding in the Tory party makes any SNP squabble look like a children’s tea party.

Mr Howell should look at the rotten alternatives in Scotland: the hapless Douglas Ross, just one step ahead of his fractious backbenchers or the wretched Anas Sarwar, eclipsed by the charisma-free pairing of Jackie Bailie and Keir Starmer.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.

Labour will protect workers

I ENJOYED Roz Foyer's article ("Labour must commit to devolving employment law to protect Scottish workers", The Herald, September 29), probably because I loved her argument about trade unions protecting workers from Paisley to Penzance where she argues workers right across the UK can rely on a trade union in their hour of need. Spot on.

Then the wheels come off as Ms Foyer contradicts herself by arguing for devolution of employment rights for our Scottish Parliament. In 2014 I was part of Scottish Labour’s devolution committee and we agreed then that employment law should remain reserved as it was key to the maintenance of the Union.

Nothing has changed. Indeed if you are a worker in Paisley employed by a company in Penzance or vice versa you know that your employment rights are exactly the same across the United Kingdom regardless of where you live or where your employer is located. Is Ms Foyer really advocating that English workers or Scottish workers should have better or worse protections just because they live in Paisley or Penzance? It makes no sense.

I believe that what the electorate are looking for in Scotland is not more devolution on critical reserved legislation but a better government in both Westminster and Holyrood. Ms Foyer's members require proper employment protections and I am confident an incoming Labour government will deliver that without the need for employment law to be devolved. In the unlikely event of a Tory government in Scotland and a Labour government in Westminster the STUC would be screaming for employment rights to be transferred back to London to protect their members from a Tory government. It is not devolution on employment law trade unions require it is a Labour government that protects their members.

Willie Young, Aberdeen.

Party crashers

WHILST watching today's lunchtime news from the Conservative Party Conference (October 2) my eyes became fixed on a trade stand immediately behind reporter Nick Eardley which was rather insensitively emblazoned with the sign "Party Shop". I would imagine there will be many Tory balloons at this stand over the next few days.

David G Will, Milngavie.

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This is so infra dig

THE next politician/political reporter or newsreader who utters the latest cliché, “spades in the ground”, should be taken into a field, given a spade, told to dig a large hole and then told to jump into it.

Mandy Struthers, Uddingston.

Read more: Scottish Highland vaccination programme: What's gone wrong?

Health board fails people of Skye

 HELEN McArdle’s article regarding the failure of the management of NHS Highland (NHSH) to undertake an options appraisal as part of the Vaccine Transformation Programme, and the consequent potential public safety issues ("Questions for Highland health bosses over vaccination programme", The Herald, September 28), highlights again NHSH’s woefully poor management record (Herald, September 25).

NHSH is a city-based health board, and it applies inappropriate city-based health and social care solutions to the whole of its patch, despite Inverness being the only Highland city with the infrastructure to support such solutions and this is especially evident at the periphery of Highland, in Caithness and North Skye.

In recent years the Isle of Skye has seen a dramatic change in the provision of its health services with basic services, including a 24/7 A and E unit in Portree, being closed, and replaced by a centralised unitary community hospital and A&E unit based in Broadford.

This change ignores the fact that Portree is the only township in all of Skye, Lochalsh and South West Ross (SLSWR), it has one of the fastest growing populations in Highland, is the main employment centre and one of the world’s key holiday destinations. It is therefore no surprise that it is the only place in SLSWR that maximises the number of people who can be reached in the critical 30- and 60-minute emergency windows, and by a huge margin.

The resulting public safety issue for locals and visitors alike, that are a corollary of this centralised model, and which is unprecedented in areas with a similar socio demographic, are basic common sense to all who live, work and visit here. Unfortunately, such common sense eludes the city-centric board members of NHSH despite them having a statutory obligation to address such public safety issues along with the other obvious social costs that arise due to Portree being the main transport hub in SLSWR.

In contrast to NHSH’s failure to implement an option appraisal process for vaccination programmes, it recently used such a process to assess community bed provision in the area, one of 15 key mitigatory recommendations in Sir Lewis Ritchie’s report of 2018. This process was abandoned, however, when NHSH realised that the public’s preferred option would be the permanent retention of Portree;s hospital as a fully functional community hospital with 24/7 A&E cover. This zero-outcome options appraisal, which has now been replaced by an alternative sham process, cost around £100k of public money and, additionally, many tens of thousands of pounds of staff and community time.

What we have witnessed regarding NHSH’s behaviour in Skye, and I believe also in Caithness, is a gross abuse of its monopoly power, especially given its public sector remit and represents nothing other than a brutal cost-cutting exercise. Until this monopoly power is broken and replaced with a devolved health board, as the other large Scottish islands have, the residents of Skye and beyond will face inferior health and social care outcomes to other comparable areas and we will continue to face the hugely-damaging implications for the socioeconomic fabric of our fragile rural communities.

Prof Ronald MacDonald, Portree.