EVIDENCE given at the UK Covid Inquiry on Monday gives us clear insight to the perception of devolution at Westminster ("Johnson thought it would be ‘wrong’ to meet with Sturgeon during Covid", The Herald, October 12).

Boris Johnson feared working closely with first ministers could make the UK look like a "mini-EU of four nations", though this was not, in his view, “how devolution is supposed to work”. Specifically, it was “optically wrong …. for the UK prime minister to hold regular meetings with other DA first ministers, as though the UK were a kind of mini-EU of four nations and we were meeting as a 'council' in a federal structure.”

OK, we know the UK is not a federal state, which some in Mr Johnson’s circle feared was the first ministers’ aim even though setting this up would be difficult, given the size disparity of one of the four states. However, within the context of devolution, the difficulty with Mr Johnson’s stance on Covid is that, being a health issue, it is a matter devolved to the Devolved Administrations (DAs) long ago. Thus, allowing the DAs to take their own decisions required no one’s approval, legally it was their right. However, according to the BBC, “ministers were concerned that regular meetings would not necessarily mean that the devolved administrations would agree with their approach to Covid".

So, there we have the Westminster approach to devolution: it’s fine as long as the DAs agree with Westminster. This is further demonstrated by Mr Johnson’s regret not to have used civil contingencies legislation. This would have allowed the UK to centralise control of the pandemic response, since civil contingencies were a retained matter, excluding the DAs. But this would have been done not for health-related reasons, but to maintain political control.

Nor if a Labour government is elected next year is there much assurance of change, as Labour has been quite clear it would continue to use the Scotland Act’s S35 to overrule a Scottish Government proposing to act in a way Westminster disagreed with, irrespective of any majority at Holyrood. It would also continue direct spending from Westminster even on devolved areas.

Clearly at Westminster devolution has few friends, whichever party of the Union we turn to.

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.

• HEALTH is supposedly devolved and we have been repeatedly told by Tory politicians that our “two governments should work together”.

Yet, when a global pandemic struck these islands, critical decisions on health were made by the UK Government without even speaking with the Scottish Government (or any of the other devolved governments). From what has already been revealed through the UK Covid Inquiry, the decisions of Boris Johnson and Alister Jack appear to have resulted in critical health information not being shared. Furthermore, those decisions would seem to have been in contravention of the Scotland Act, as well as the spirit of devolution, and they clearly show any boast of a “partnership of nations” to be a lie.

The anachronistic and essentially undemocratic first-past-the-post electoral system (which elsewhere in Europe only persists in Belarus) only still pertains in the UK because the two dominant political parties do not wish to change a system that favours them over other parties.

The only realistic hope of significantly improving democratic representation and governance within the UK is to bring about the constitutional change that will be effected through Scottish independence.

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry.

Read more: Johnson thought it would be 'wrong' to meet with Sturgeon during Covid

How red is Labour?

AS a former member of the Labour Party, I watched Comrade Keir denounce privilege and entitlement during the recent Labour conference. Hear, hear, I said. But wait, was it not at the same gathering last year when SIR Keir led the massed ranks in a spirited rendition of a song exhorting a deity to grant longevity to a geezer who occupies the absolute apex of the privilege/entitlement pyramid?

Are they one and the same? As they say in Private Eye, I think we should be told.

Or maybe it’s just time for a rewrite of the anthem that was sung back in my day to something like this: “Oh the people’s flag is deepest pink It’s not as red as some folk think.”

John Boyle, Ardrossan.

Cameron should be congratulated

EVEN to an non-SNP supporter the treatment of MP Dr Lisa Cameron appears politically ill-advised, professionally baffling and personally inhumane ("SNP MP Lisa Cameron defects to the Conservatives", heraldscotland, October 12).

For an MP to raise what appear to be very justifiable concerns about the unacceptable behaviour of a colleague takes more than backbone and she should be congratulated and supported for her actions, not vilified for speaking out.

Independence has been the mantra for the SNP for some time; it’s a pity that it doesn’t appear to permit independence of thought.

W Macintyre, East Kilbride.

How wide is the Clyde?

BRIAN Wilson’s column ("Labour has a chance to redraw the dividing lines of Scottish politics", The Herald October 10) as ever makes a good deal of sense but has one minor flaw. This is the imprecision of his description of the gap between the SNP’s rhetoric and delivery as being “as wide as the Clyde”. Does he mean the Clyde at Elvanfoot or Dumbarton? Given the gap, he probably means the Firth of Clyde south of Arran.

Size comparators, or whatever you should call them, are useful but should be clearly defined. We often describe areas in numbers of football pitches. South of the Border, they use cricket pitches and Nelson’s Columns to describe lengths and heights. Football pitches may not all be exactly the same area, but the variations are minor compared to the variations in the width of the Clyde.

As the Scotland Act does not reserve the regulation of size comparators to Westminster, this is clearly a matter for Holyrood to take up. Maybe they could issue a list of permissible length comparators, for example: the width of the Clyde at the Broomielaw, the length of Aberdeen’s Union Street and the distance from Muckle Flugga to the South Fair Isle Light? And perhaps they could offer acceptable Scottish alternatives to cricket pitches and Nelson’s Columns?

However, it would be best if they did not stray into the fourth dimension: time. At least not until we have an actual definition for “the time to build and deliver two ferries for Arran”.

Alistair Easton, Edinburgh.

Read more: Palestinians will continue to suffer under the rule of Hamas

Green Brigade harming Celtic

WHO would have dreamed that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would have serious repercussions in our national sport?

When fans enter their team's stadium or go to away games, they are off to watch football and should park their political opinions outside the grounds and leave them at home.

Celtic Football Club now finds itself immersed in worry over its exciting young player, Liel Abada,who, it appears, has been advised by outsiders to find another club over the actions of a segment of the Celtic support ("Celtic condemn Green Brigade displays", Herald Sport, October 10).

For some years now, there has been a simmering discontent over the Green Brigade's conduct amongst the general support and now it looks as though it has added to that discontent with its failure to appreciate that politics and football are two separate entities which must be kept apart.

I am personally sympathetic to the Palestinian cause but I abhor and reject the atrocities committed by Hamas, a group whose sole interest appears to be the extermination of the state of Israel.

We have all been horrified by the cruel violence inflicted upon vulnerable Israeli civilians by those who dare to speak for the Palestinians. We have also been shocked by the extreme measures of retaliation adopted by the Israeli state against the civilian population in the Gaza Strip in much the same way that we have been aghast at the destruction of Ukraine's infrastructure from the unprovoked attacks by the Russians.

Neither should be condoned. Neither should be lauded by anyone who believes in the process of law and the settlement of disputes by jaw, jaw rather than war, war.

The Green Brigade should reflect upon its actions which have led to Celtic having to pay fines for the contravention of Uefa rules and now it could well have on its conscience that it might drive out a young exciting player who has promised much and delivered in his career at Celtic.

There could well be other players who will give Celtic a bodyswerve over the the political activities of the Green Brigade within the confines of Parkhead.

Most Celtic supporters will no doubt declare that what the Green Brigade does politically is not in their name.

Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.