Ruth Davidson's ban on toxic Tories Boris Johnson, Liam Fox and Michael Gove from attending the Scottish Conservative Conference does not go far enough (Revealed: the Tories too toxic for Scotland, Politics, February 4). Ms Davidson should go the whole hog and extend the ban to include Theresa May, David Mundell and Baroness Mone.

The Sunday Herald reports that "Davidson has imposed the restrictions to distance the Scottish Tories from the UK Party", which is what she did at last year's General Election, when the word "Conservative" was virtually wiped from the Tories' campaign in Scotland. It seems Ms Davidson is ashamed of the Tory Government at Westminster, and with good reason, so the honourable thing for her to do would be to distance them permanently from Scotland. If they are too toxic to attend a conference, they are too toxic to impose their already rejected policies on Scotland.

Ruth Marr


In his critique of Scottish Labour’s position on tax, Iain Macwhirter included a glowing description of Scotland’s First Minister (Leonard should cut the bluster on tax, Comment, February 4). He proclaimed Nicola Sturgeon as the “the most astute Scottish political leader in modern history”. How accurate that ultimately proves to be depends perhaps on how her current tactics on Brexit turn out.

Mr Macwhirter honestly recognised the First Minister’s misjudgement so far over indyref2, for which the SNP paid a heavy price in the last general election. Meanwhile the noise being generated by the SNP in seeking to imagine or exaggerate grounds of grievance over each step of the Brexit process continues to dominate the news agenda in Scotland. It also draws attention away from a potentially bigger miscalculation, namely in assuming that EU referendum Remain voters in Scotland will fall into line with the SNP as it contemplates using its stance on Brexit to trigger a second independence referendum.

Just as many across the political spectrum reacted strongly to their votes in the 2014 independence referendum being ignored by the SNP, the First Minister risks an even more pronounced response as people’s views on the EU and Brexit are taken for granted and misrepresented by a leader pursuing one overriding ambition whatever the cost.

Keith Howell

West Linton


Time and again we hear of the rich getting richer, with fantastic salaries and pay-offs and vast profit-making, while the rest of us try to cope with rising prices, particularly of food. With wages held just below inflation, it is getting more and more difficult just to to “just manage”.

An immediate change that would benefit most of the working population would be to take into public ownership the essential services on which we all rely: electricity, gas and water supplies, the railways, buses and trams. Huge profits are taken from these mainly privately-owned industries. Working people have no choice but to pay the charge demanded to use these services. Taking them into public ownership is a necessary and major change. It can be done if people voice their support.

A Delahoy


Dr Alasdair Graham is correct that local government and some other public bodies have pension funds which are financed by employer and employee contributions (Private school funding ant ‘fat-cat’ public pensions, Letters, Februay 4). The funds are invested and pensions are paid from the fund.

However, government pensions such as the civil service and police do not have a pension fund. Employee contributions go straight to the Exchequer. Governments then have to ensure they raise sufficient taxes to pay pension liabilities. So, in a way, the pensions are taxpayer-funded, but the recipients have paid extra taxes in the past so they are not getting something for nothing.

Government employee pensions are an easy vehicle for governments to raise taxes to fund current activities. Recent increases in contributions and reductions in benefits have nothing to do with fairness and everything to do with increasing the exchequer’s coffers.

Douglas Morton



Your article missed out Karen Matheson (Scotland in Eurovision, Culture, February 4). In 1996 she and Welsh singer Elaine Morgan were vocalists in Dan Ar Braz Et l’Heritage Des Celtes, singing France’s entry – Diwanit Bugale – in Breton. It came 19th. Full marks to France for choosing a Celtic language song. Given the BBC’s comment that as “a member of the the EBU ... we submit a song for the competition as the United Kingdom entry” I take it there’d be very little chance of a song in Gaelic or Welsh ever being submitted by the BBC.

Keith Taylor


Iain Macwhirter refers to the description of the Union Flag as the “Butcher’s Apron” (Right-wing press is the real casualty of flag-gate, comment, February 28). In the 1950s I saw a cartoon reproduced, in a London-based magazine, showing an archetypal “John Bull” outside his butcher’s shop, carver and sharpener in his hands, bulldog at his feet, beef joints in the window. His apron was a Union Flag. The cartoon appears to have been made, with imperial pride, in the days when British Empire red covered a quarter of the world map. Far from a creation of discontented Scots or Irish it seems this description of the flag originates from the imperialists themselves.

David Stevenson, Edinburgh


I read your coverage of the “dirty war” carried out in the name of the British State to protect the “integrity” of the United Kingdom by any and all measures necessary (The Scottish spy chief who masterminded Ulster’s Dirty War, News, February 4). Agreeing with the conclusion that actions such as these must have been sanctioned at the very highest level of government, I am drawn to wonder to what lengths the “British State” went during the Scottish Referendum?

As we all know, the independence movement at no time represented the same physical threat that the IRA posed – despite the unionist press struggling to find a single broken pane of glass throughout the entire campaign. But is it a stretch of anyone’s imagination to believe that the loss of Scotland to the UK would have represented an even greater loss of face for the Westminster Government and that the entire forces of the State, in all its forms, weren’t deployed to make sure that the vote didn’t succeed in its peaceful aims?

Having said that, one name came to mind while pondering the issue, that of Willie Macrae.

Alastair Lauchland

West Kilbride


I was surprised to read your lifestyle feature (Are you ready for this year’s must-eat food trend? Seaweed with everything, Lifestyle, February 4).

Although most of the article was informative, as a registered nutritionist I take issue with the quotes “seaweed acts like a magnet, attracting heavy metals and can help detox from the inside” and “alkalise the body to reduce inflammation”.

These statements have no basis in scientific evidence and perpetuate unfortunate faddy ideas about food and nutrition.

Janis Armstrong