Scotland on Sunday letters, 07/07/2015

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I WAS delighted to see the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Sport, Shona Robison MSP, write in last week’s paper about the need to ensure that everyone should receive high quality palliative care (Insight, 31 May).

Minister embraces vital role for palliative care

A palliative approach is often recommended for people living with a terminal illness. It includes pain and symptom management, as well as physical, emotional and spiritual support. It has proven to benefit people with many different illnesses including dementia, motor neurone disease, cancer and heart failure.

Marie Curie recently published research which suggests that nearly 11,000 people living with a terminal illness in Scotland who would benefit from palliative care are not currently receiving it. This is far too many. With our ageing population the number of people dying each year is due to increase significantly, so we need to address this problem now.

The Scottish Government is to be commended for its commitment to palliative care, particularly over the past 12 months. Firstly with its promise to deliver a new strategic framework for action on palliative and end-of-life care, and secondly by making it a priority for the new joint health and social care boards.

We only get one chance to get someone’s care at the end of life right. Marie Curie looks forward to working with the Government and other partners to make sure we meet the Cabinet Secretary’s ambition of high quality palliative care for all who need it.

Richard Meade, head of policy and public affairs Scotland, 
Marie Curie, Edinburgh

Size matters in local government

AS A rule I find the column by Andrew Wilson very insightful in terms of political and social issues. However, the column of 31 May on local government gave me cause for concern.

Andrew appears to be arguing for smaller local councils. In my view, to further reduce the size of councils would be a disastrous move for local government jobs and services.

I spent over 30 years as a local government officer and I saw at first hand the impact of local government reorganisation in 1996. This reorganisation foisted on Scotland by the Tories abolished large authorities such as Strathclyde and Lothian regions and replaced them with 32 smaller single-tier authorities.

Unfortunately this move to smaller councils has been ­accompanied by various squeezes on local authority budgets. These cuts have been exacerbated by councils which are too small to partly mitigate their effects through economies of scale or strategic ­planning. It is important to ­remember that when we talk and think about local government that small is not always beautiful.

Arthur West, Irvine

Who will speak for silent Scots?

JOHN Swinney’s spokesman stated last week that, as the sole Tory MP in Scotland, ­David Mundell has “no ­mandate” north of the Border and is “in absolutely no ­position to… challenge the Scottish Government on more powers” (News, 24 May). On this basis, neither Ian Murray (Lab) or Alistair Carmichael (Lib Dem) have a mandate to challenge the Scottish Government. We also heard repeatedly from the newly emboldened SNP that the Smith Commission (to which they signed up) must be the “floor” to more power in Scotland and not the “ceiling”. Their justification is the decisive shift in Scottish opinion since the referendum, as shown by the general election result.

Putting facts before rhetoric tells a different story. In the Scottish referendum, the Yes response secured 1,617,989 votes (45 per cent) and in the general election, the SNP secured 1,454,436 votes (50 per cent). So the decisive shift in opinion is a 5 per cent increase in SNP vote share in the general election, but 163,553 fewer votes for the SNP in the general election. This does not represent a decisive shift in Scottish opinion, although from their 50 per cent share of the vote, the SNP did manage to secure an impressive 95 per cent of the Westminster seats.

With the loud voice of the SNP claiming to speak for Scotland and shouting down anyone who dares to dispute their viewpoint, who has a mandate to speak for the quiet 50 per cent of the electorate who voted against the SNP?

Andrew Jennings, Milngavie

Liberal legacy of Kennedy lives on

CHARLES Kennedy was part of the DNA of the Liberal Democrats. He was a man of my time, our time, who has now sadly departed aged only 55.

Charles will be greatly missed by many. However, like DNA can be replicated ad infinitum, I’m sure his liberal beliefs will continue to be replicated, as well as amplified, for a very long time to come.

Galen Milne, Dunblane

Worrying ban on public criticism

I UNDERSTAND that the SNP are to introduce a disciplinary code that SNP MPs must “accept that no Member shall, within or outwith Parliament, publicly criticise a Group decision, policy or another member of the Group”.

How will this square with democratic discussions in Parliament and in particular the Holyrood committee system which is currently dominated by SNP MSPs? Already the seats behind the First Minister are filled with nodding heads and the Scottish committees are no more than electioneering forums and fail in their purpose of impartial scrutiny.

Add to this a central ID database, a centralised police force, named persons for all children and local authorities told how much they have to spend and where it must be spent, I fear that the Scottish electorate are sleepwalking into a centralist, controlling state where even constructive criticism is suppressed.

Paul Lewis, Edinburgh

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