Your views: BBC ban on First Minister's briefings is a disgrace

I never thought I would live to see the day when the BBC joined the Conservative Party. I have been around a long time and ever since childhood have been given to understand that the BBC was entirely impartial. It is most essential that our First Minister, in these dangerous times, gives her daily briefings to the nation, informing us of the necessary precautions we need to take.

It is absolutely disgraceful that the BBC are allowing themselves to be dictated to by the Tories. Susan Swain Dunbar

Stand up to EU Michael Barnier has threatened to block British food exports worth GBP5 billion unless Boris Johnson agrees to accept EU trade rules. His threat should be met with a counter threat to ban the import of Mercedes and BMWs.

The thought of German Chancellor Angela Merkel in full attack mode would frighten the life out of pompous Barnier and reduce him to a shivering wreck. Add in the banning of Citroen, Peugeot, Renault and French wines and even the diminutive President Macron would be demanding Barnier be sacked. Clark Cross

Linlithgow Look beyond prison The Westminster PM wants stiffer sentences for those convicted of crime.

While that will play well with the knee jerk law and order brigade, it does not conform with the principles behind imprisonment. Punishment by withdrawal of freedom is an essential part of the code but without the hope which comes from serious attempts to reform the behaviour of those social misfits then prisons become sterile places of despair. Preventative measures have to be taken so that fewer members of society will be drawn into crime as a way to gain kudos and a living.

Outwith prison there must be created living conditions which give people respect and a decent way of living while those already incarcerated need to be prepared properly for a return to a law abiding life outside those bleak walls. Where the 3Rs are the basis of sound education, so the 3Ps should become the foundations for the creation of a society which will have little or no truck with crime. Prevention, punishment and preparation for a return to outside life demand proper funding, if we are to have any success in establishing a culture where crime is not seen to pay psychologically and materially.

Denis Bruce Bishopbriggs Thanks, Ron

I really enjoyed the article by Ron McKay about his trip to Italy. A few years ago, my wife and I stayed in Bergamo and, like Ron, took the train to Lecco on Lake Como. We saw a statue of the great Italian writer Manzoni, author of The Betrothed, whose family hailed from the town.

When Manzoni died in 1873, the composer Verdi, who greatly admired him, wrote a requiem in his memory. Verdi’s Requiem had its first performance on the first anniversary of Manzoni’s death. The operatic composer Donizetti was born in Bergamo itself.

The theatre in the city is named after him. In the 19th Century, Italy was obsessed with all things Scottish due to the works of Sir Walter Scott. Donizetti wrote operas based on two of Scott’s novels, namely Kenilworth and Lucy of Lammermoor, as well as the opera Maria Stuarda based on the life of Mary Queen of Scots.

Hermann Hesse, author of Steppenwolf and The Glass Bead Game visited Bergamo in 1913 and much admired the town, calling the Piazza Vecchia “Italy’s most beautiful corner”. Thanks to Ron for his entertaining diary. I fancy some Parma Ham with a glass or two of Pinot Grigio now.

Brian J Logan Millbrae Road, Glasgow Windfarm white elephant

I have several issues with the double page article on Viking Windfarm (Sunday Herald, 13 Sep), and the main one is that it is “capable of powering 500,000 homes annually”. It is not uncommon during the warmer months from April to September to find many windfarms around the UK becalmed, and during such times Viking will power precisely zero homes. Also there are times when windfarms in the north of Scotland produce too much power due to high wind speeds, and this is exacerbated by a lack of electrical connections with the main markets in the heavily populated central parts of England.

Viking will massively increase this problem, and during such times it will certainly not be powering 500,000 homes. In my view Viking Windfarm and its associated GBP709 million interconnector will be the biggest white elephant in British history. Geoff Moore

Alness Islands are Scottish Alan Sutherland’s letter last week moots the possibility of several different parts of the country refusing to join an independent Scotland.

His evidence though is woefully weak. With regard to Orkney and Shetland there has never been a popular, concerted attempt, or even proposal, to leave Scotland, which they have been part of for more than twice as long Scotland has been part of the UK. Nor would they be leaving for the oil or fish, since as enclaves they would only have a six mile limit according to the UN Law of the Sea.

Edinburgh and East Lothian are so against independence that in December last year they elected four SNP MPs, one Labour and one Liberal Democrat, whereas in 2010 it was five Labour and one Liberal Democrat. His claims about Dumfries & Galloway seem based on their contiguity with the rest of the UK. Yet the same thing could be said of the border areas of most countries (eg France and Belgium).

It’s just a fact of geography, not a justification for the kind of argument Mr Sutherland adduces. Yet his letter contains a warning for an independent Scotland, for if it is simply the UK writ wee, and the Central Belt plays the same role in Scotland as the south east does in the UK, then, quite simply, we have failed. An independent Scotland needs to be aware of and respond sensitively to the differences in lifestyle in different parts of the country.

Life in Dumfries & Galloway, or the Northern Isles (or for that matter the Western Isles) is different from life in Glasgow and Edinburgh. An independent Scotland must not go down the “one size fits all” road that the UK has followed in the recent past. To this end, legislation must consider and take account of local differences.

There should be a serious, and creative, reconsideration of the organisation and practice of local government in order to restore the close connection between electors and their local councillor. By implication, councils should be funded, or given adequate means to secure funding, in order to respond effectively to the needs and demands of those they represent. Alasdair Galloway

Dumbarton Leave our island alone The indefatigable Allan Sutherland is tilting at the windmills of Scottish self-determination once more.

Yet again he is on a loser. Perhaps he has never heard of the international Principle of Territorial Integrity, but then he is a supporter of the UK, whose government is losing both trust and friends internationally, by its very lack of integrity. Scotland will leave the Union with England with the same geographic territory as it entered it.

No one in the international community would allow England to breach international law, by the annexation of land from a recognised national entity seeking a return of its sovereignty. Nor would Edinburgh or London have any truck with irredentism. I have long been a supporter of semi or fully autonomous status for Scotland’s fragile island communities.

It is noticeable that the Northern Isles are only ever mentioned by Westminster when Scotland is seeking its own self-government. The only polling I have seen on this issue was one done in 2013. It showed 82% of islanders wanted to remain Scottish while only 8% wished independence.

I doubt the stats have altered much since then. GR Weir Ochiltree

Covid confusion Rev Dr John Cameron suggested last Sunday that the population “will develop personal immunity” if exposed to coronavirus. Science says there is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from Covid-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection.

It may be that the reverend gentleman is appealing to a higher source for his information but in these troubled times, it may be better to rely on current scientific and medical opinion. Duncan Stirling Cardross

Huming With the name change to David Hume Tower, the greatest of the modern philosophers, David Hume, will thankfully no longer be associated with the appalling cultural, civic and historic vandalism wrought by Edinburgh University in the 1960s when they destroyed 18th century George Square. The philosophy of David Hume will continue to inspire humanity, long after the names of his “unco guid” detractors have been forgotten.

Jim Stewart Musselburgh xxxxxxxxxxxxx

Sometimes I get the feeling that the threat of chlorinated chicken has perhaps been mentioned almost to the point where it ceases to have impact. Perhaps a few different examples of the standards that will be demanded of us in a US trade deal could be useful. Being chlorinated is not the only downside to chicken sourced from the US.

Here in Scotland we rightly have fairly high standards of animal welfare. On US farms, chickens are crowded into barns with no room to move, with no infection control, and when the time comes to kill them, all ventilation is shut off and the temperature in the barns raised until all the chickens have suffocated. After that they are chlorinated to remove surface bacteria, but what is done about the other infections caused by the overcrowding?

Nothing. Humane treatment? As regards other foods we might import, there are regulations.

One such relates to pickles, chutneys and other foods in jars, where the number of maggots contained must not exceed ONE! There are even maximum limits for rat droppings in some foods. In Scotland, finding even one “foreign body” would require a whole batch to be recalled by the manufacturer.

No longer, if we adopt US standards. What about our world renowned, high earning Scotch whisky? Currently it is protected by its definition as matured in a barrel in Scotland for a minimum of three years.

Even in the TTIP negotiations with the EU, the US insisted that the definition should be reduced to one year in a barrel anywhere, a demand that the EU rejected on our behalf and one of the conditions that saw the prospective deal rejected by the EU parliament. If the US refuses to budge for 27 EU countries, will they for one, isolated UK? Interestingly, food poisoning in the US averages one in six of the population, whereas in the UK, it is one in twenty-eight.

Are these, therefore, the standards of food safety we want here? Boris and co, however, know that without agreeing to these standards, which Holyrood would inevitably vigorously oppose, there will be no trade deal. So these devolved powers must be taken back.

No-one should become complacent about chlorinated chicken. Much, much more is at stake with the power grab. What the US wants, the US will get.

P. Davidson Falkirk

We need oil Denis Bruce (Letters, September 13) claims that legislation to make Extinction Rebellion subject to organise crime laws is Orwellian and makes the country like a police state. The actuality is that Extinction Rebellion is a disruptive organisation spreading fear, alarm and lies.

Its outrageous demands to leave all coal and oil in the ground and meet zero carbon targets by 2025 would crash the capitalist economy and reduce us to penury. Completely decarbonising our economy would reduce it to medieval levels. Industry cannot function without the hard-working diesel engine – from compressors to container ships.

Every wind machine requires large amounts of gearbox oil. There are 649,000 households in Scotland in fuel poverty including nearly 40% of rural households. Replacing gas and oil with electricity would hugely increase fuel poverty as electric heating is four times more costly than gas.

William Loneskie Lauder Not so harmless

Denis Bruce (Letters) thinks the activities of XR and others are harmless and should be permitted. He has obviously not heard of the ‘broken window’ attitude to stopping crime. You find and punish the window breakers before they graduate to looting or similar.

In any event, the public has no sympathy for disruptive individuals and gangs, who operate under the flimsy pretext of being concerned about the planet.

Malcolm Parkin


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