UNLIKE Steve Brennan and Peter Wright (Letters, July 21), I am delighted that Scotland's First Minister is exploring the possibility that Scotland could once again host the Commonwealth Games, perhaps in co-operation with other countries. It would be a great pity if the "friendly games" which sees Scotland compete as a nation, had to be cancelled, and yes, time is short, but we have a proud history of hosting these Games in our beautiful, elegant capital city, and in 2014, in welcoming, big-hearted Glasgow.

You report that tourist spending in Scotland in the first three months of this year was 70 per cent higher than pre-pandemic levels ("Visitors spending more than before the pandemic", The Herald, July 21). A major sporting event such as the Commonwealth Games could only further boost these figures, so let's hope that a way can be found by Humza Yousaf, who has shown commendable ambition for Scotland, to once again extend the hand of friendship to the Commonwealth and welcome the friendly Games to friendly Scotland, which with good reason has been called the most beautiful country in the world.

Ruth Marr, Stirling.

• MARTIN Hannan's article on Scotland's possible hosting of the next Commonwealth Games ("How Glasgow and Edinburgh can step in to save the 2026 Games", Herald Sport, July 19) makes a personal recommendation on a Glasgow bowls venue.

The Kelvingrove greens in Glasgow are not a world-class venue but an underused white elephant and a Glasgow City Council vanity project; there are much better bowling facilities across Scotland.

But we shouldn't spend a penny on this irrelevant event.

Allan McDougall, Neilston.

Read more: Won't someone give Humza Yousaf a lesson on priorities?

More bad news for the SNP

WHILE naturally the SNP wasn't competing in Thursday's by-elections, nevertheless, the results spell bad news for the SNP.

A significant swing to Labour in a Tory North Yorkshire stronghold highlights that a raft of SNP constituencies with very much smaller majorities are vulnerable to Sir Keir Starmer's resurgent party. After so long in power, more than a few voters are tired of both Westminster's Tories and Holyrood's SNP. Yes, constitutional obsessions create differences in political loyalty north and south of the jurisdictional border, yet recent Scottish opinion polls suggest many realise that, even if you back separatism, voting SNP in a General Election is a waste of time – Labour is a major force in Westminster and the SNP an irrelevant side-show.

True, the Tories' six Scottish Westminster seats may be vulnerable at the next General Election, but their relentlessly strong opposition to independence may mean more of these can be held than Thursday's results indicate.

Humza Yousaf has been bigging up his party holding the balance of power in a new Westminster Parliament, thereby "forcing" Sir Keir to grant Indyref2. Yet invigorated LibDems, even before the Somerton and Frome result, appeared (in the unlikely event Labour were to need another party to achieve a working majority) to be a more viable partner than the SNP – particularly since a LibDem tie-up doesn't come with constitutional demands.

As if Mr Yousaf didn't already have enough to worry about.

Martin Redfern, Melrose.

Next election is far from done

SIR Keir Starmer may have a warm feeling after the by-election results – perhaps because he needed to say very little about very little. Within the year, the General Election will be called and he and his policies will come under close scrutiny and he will then have to put some meat on the bones of what he believes in and his policy manifesto. I have an inkling that the electorate will not like what they hear.

The next election is far from a done deal.

Richard Allison, Edinburgh.

The disaster that is Brexit

A RECENT report from the National Bureau of Economic Research has highlighted the fact that Brexit is estimated to have reduced the UK’s economic output (GDP) by between 6% and 11%, more than the 4% estimated by the Office for Budget Responsibility.

This is a loss of £2,000 to £3,500 per person per year. To put this in context, the UK spent £3,477 on the NHS per person in 2021.

If we did not have Brexit, we could have used this extra growth to double expenditure in the NHS, raising the salaries of doctors and nurses, expanding the capacity to reduce waiting times, and to purchase more drugs and equipment.

Every day we hear about the crisis in the NHS. Those who actively promoted Brexit with the promise of "sunny uplands" should be held to account for the economic disaster our withdrawal from the EU has created.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh.

The Herald: Should we be worried about the judgment of Tobias Ellwood?Should we be worried about the judgment of Tobias Ellwood? (Image: Newsquest)

Ellwood is a real worry

I DON’T know which I find more horrifying, that the Chairman of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee praised the Taliban or that a reserve lieutenant colonel did so. If Tobias Ellwood, a leading MP and reserve army officer, cannot understand that the Taliban are our implacable enemies and are fundamentally opposed to everything that we in the West stand for then he is not fit for either role ("Tory MP Tobias Ellwood deletes video ‘lauding’ Taliban in Afghanistan", heraldscotland, July 20).

This is a regime which will not even allow girls to go to primary school. The Taliban are so extreme that they make Iran, where a woman can be killed for not wearing a headscarf, look positively liberal by comparison.

To make it worse Lieutenant Colonel Ellwood’s role is with the Army’s 77th Brigade, which is responsible for social media and psychological warfare. It doesn’t bear thinking what sort of messages they will be putting out.

Otto Inglis, Crossgates, Fife.

Out of sorts

I POPPED into my local sorting office yesterday afternoon to collect a parcel, only to discover that the office was closed. Apparently the change to opening hours took effect from Monday, July 10 and the new hours are Monday-Friday 8am-10am and Saturday 8am-noon.

When I called back this morning, the member of staff on duty explained that this is Scotland-wide and applies to every sorting office, regardless of how many parcels they process. This seems crazy to me and not at all helpful for people who go out to work and need to be able to collect their post at a convenient time. I do not recall any prior warning that this was going to be sprung upon us.

What further reductions in service are being planned?

Isobel Frize, Glasgow.

Read more: Why should the sensible majority be punished yet again?

Old bangers and oily kisses

IT is good to see from Doug Marr's column ("Buying a car is driving me round the bend", The Herald, July 17) that someone else is being driven round the bend by most things to do with automobiles.

I suppose that I can't really complain about my dear old friend Gwyneth, a wee white Kia Picanto (Gwyn is Welsh for white) as she trundles me around these airts now and again. My biggest problem now is a battery with the proclivity to a state of flatness needing visits by the AA.

My introduction to cars came in 1963 when the late Jim and I took a series of old bangers into our care and Jim the engineer kept them going with me as his assistant shoving things under the car body. We seemed to spend weekends under the cars and their bonnets/hoods, tinkering. It was great fun as lots of oily kisses ensued.

I remember us buying a rather beaten-up old Beetle in a dark street in Liverpool and having to beat out the bonnet after an alsatian dog hurtled at us from a side-street. On Skye, in the 1990s, Jim and pal tootled off for the afternoon and came back with an old Volvo estate car which dear old Jim had bought filled with hay, which we didn't need, so it was donated to some local animals. The hay, not the car.

The problem with cars now is that they are beyond the ken of the average driver so there is no more fun on Saturdays changing cylinder head gaskets, cleaning plugs or replacing sub-frames. No wonder that chaps feel less than astute when it comes to car maintenance.

As for a wife with a "Medusa-like stare" it is much easier to admit total ignorance about the things that lurk in/on/under present day cars and "get a life". At least I can fill the screen-wash thingy and thank my wee car Gwyneth when we safely return from a short outing, so please, Mr Marr, remember to thank your car too. Otherwise, when needing to visit a car showroom, take your dear lady with you, let her flash her Medusa-like smile and always reward her with a kiss – oily or otherwise. And the very best of luck.

Thelma Edwards, Kelso.

An Open question

DEREK B Petrie (Letters, July 19) deduced correctly; my question about the scoring system in tennis (Letters, July 18) was tongue in cheek, but not entirely. I had hoped someone would explain how this nonsensical scoring system came about as tradition must have its origins.

Many years ago when I was studying for my professional qualification I was urged to question matters I didn’t understand rather than simply accepting them “because it was always thus", so here’s another one, staying within the sporting world. Why is the Open, the current golf championship, so called? To be accepted to play in it requires specific qualification. All and sundry can try, but only those suitably qualified can play. In that respect it is as closed as my and other professions. Why then, other than by tradition, is it called The Open?

I am impervious to any attempt by the R & A to cancel me, a la Farage, for daring to question this as I gave up playing golf some while ago when I came to terms with my lack of ability.

Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop.

Let's audition the buskers

I NOTE that Glasgow is to hold a consultation on the future of busking in the city centre ("Glasgow launches consultation to find views on city busking", The Herald, July 21). Apparently there are concerns about volume and closeness of buskers.

Personally, I think good quality busking is an asset not just to be tolerated but encouraged. However, as part of allowing buskers to play, may I suggest a simple audition to assess their competence and musical talent? Some of the singing and off-key bagpipes are really offensive on the ear and do nothing for Glasgow and appear more like a form of begging than street entertainment.

Duncan Sooman, Milngavie.