Consider my region of Dumfries and Galloway. The distance between Stranraer in the West and Langholm in the East is 112 miles by car. The distance between Kirkcudbright in the south and Kirkconnel in the north is 55 miles.
While it is 72 miles by car from Stranraer to the county town Dumfries it is only 56 miles to Ayr or two hours on the ferry to Belfast. Langholm is 39 miles from Dumfries but only 21 miles from Carlisle.
Treating all of Dumfries and Galloway with its low population density of 66 persons per square mile as one unit for Covid-19 purposes is ridiculous. There was one outbreak in Annan where our council did provide more specific information but that information was not kept updated and became misleading.
Other Scottish regions will have similar circumstances.
It would be far better if information were tabulated by each individual town, particularly in sparsely populated regions. If such information were readily available then people in say Stranraer could look at the covid-19 statistics for Ayr, Dumfries and Belfast and make informed choices.
Small shops which are essential in small towns like Kirkcudbright or Castle Douglas could remain open relatively safely while others are closed elsewhere.
We are bombarded by information which is not designed to help but rather to make one party or another look good. This virus is not going away by Christmas but many small businesses will be.
Every person in Scotland is surely entitled to readily available and current information which will keep them safe and preserve as many jobs as possible. We needs must be wise.
Minden Crescent, Dumfries
I am not convinced by the case which Lesley Riddoch is tying to make in The Scotsman about our senior public servants (“Time to stop demonising Scottish leaders speaking vital home truths”, 26 October).
I am sure that the National Clinical Director, Jason Leitch does have a very demanding position which requires commitment and hard work for which he is eminently qualified. I am, however, becoming increasingly alarmed about the stridency and frequency of the pronouncements of senior civil servants and other advisors who presently command media attention and their often conflicting advice which confuses members of the public greatly at this time of national anxiety.
Last week Professor Leitch stated on Good Morning Scotland prior to the First Minister making her statement at the lunchtime press call that hopes of a normal Christmas were "fictional" and that we should prepare for a "digital" one. This was crassly insensitive. Many older people may be forced to spend Christmas alone this year as a result of restrictions and have no access to digital technology. This is equally so for poorer members in our community.,
At the press call later the First Minister, in almost direct contradiction to Prof Leitch, stated: “It does depend upon people doing the right thing now so by Christmas we can ease up a bit."
It is important to bear in mind that members of the civil service have no democratic legitimacy since they do not speak as elected members of our democratic institutions. We live in a Parliamentary democracy – not a "Scientocracy. This is all the more poignant since this pandemic has witnessed the biggest erosion of our personal liberties this century whether in peace or war.
Springwell Place, Edinburgh
As we brace ourselves for a ‘digital Christmas’, I wonder if this year’s festive meal will be reduced to fish fingers with all the trimmings (or doigts de poisson en grande pompe to add a touch of class to the occasion). If so, my advice is to stock up quickly before the panic buying kicks in and we find ourselves resorting to a simple finger buffet instead.
St Andrews Road, Peebles
I was amazed to see the First Minister saying that she cannot guarantee that all students would be able to spend Christmas in their own homes.
I know she possesses awesome powers but how does she think she will prevent them from being with their families on Christmas Day.
Maybe she will resurrect the magnificent Named Person Bill and assign each student a personal guard to ensure compliance. Will student halls be shrouded in barbed wire?
Or as I suspect every single student will be exactly where they wish to be on that day and the First Minister will claim this as yet another triumph for her administration.
The greatest trick in politics is to lower expectations to such an extent that to barely exceed them is then claimed as a major achievement.
Hailes Avenue, Edinburgh
I find it very strange that we are being told to limit our time spent in shops during the Covid outbreak yet when I was in Sainsbury’s last week a lot of the stock on the shelves had been moved around to different aisles. This made the time spent shopping longe
When I asked a store worker why, he said it was a directive from head office. He was as bewildered as me.
Drylaw Crescent, Edinburgh
Red card for Ross
Telling his Tory MPs to stop voting on English-only legislation (Scotsman, 27 October) does not get Douglas Ross out of the free school meals’ black hole as this has financial implications for Scotland under Barnet consequentials. It was the Tories that imposed EVEL on Scottish MPs yet under the UK Internal Market Bill English Tory MPs can effectively overrule decisions of our Scottish Parliament on devolved matters.
Douglas Ross can’t escape from decisions taken by the UK Government. For example, on 24 June he voted against routine weekly Covid testing of NHS and care home staff.
He was also part of the UK Government when Boris Johnson ignored public health warnings and dithered for nine days before bringing in the lockdown and during this critical time the number of infections had rocketed from an estimated 200,000 to 1.5 million. This is the main reason the UK has one of the worst Covid records in Europe and suffering the worst economic fallout.
At Holyrood, Douglas Ross’s Tories, having opposed the extension of the Furlough Scheme, have now got themselves into the position of opposing calls for businesses in Scotland to get the same funding guarantees as businesses south of the border.
Watson Crescent, Edinburgh
Christine Jardine is clearly bedazzled by the charity work now being carried out by RBS, and uses it as another stick with which to beat the Covid-beset UK government (Scotsman, 26 October)
While she glows with admiration of the reborn bank, she seems to have forgotten it only got here thanks to the same UK Government bailing it out with £45 billion of taxpayers’ money – cash that might well have helped reduce poverty in the population in the first place. The bank bailout helped bring about the austerity which crippled our welfare resources.
Some acts of penance are to be welcomed but this bank surely needs to go much further than distributing some food hampers to the people it helped impoverish..
Abbotsford Grove, Kelso
Kit Fraser (Letters, 26 October) will be aware that BBC regional radio news has been severely pruned in recent years. After a long struggle to co-exist with the First Minister’s coronavirus updates at 12.30 we are now completely denied any lunchtime bulletin. It has not been explained why these bulletins could not have been moved back to their previous slot at 12.54.
On BBC1, commentary on the Covid update is now truncated at 12.57 in favour of trailers for future entertainment programmes bursting in at greatly increased decibels. Recent BBC staff restructuring suggests that news and informed comment is likely to suffer even more. The hand on the tiller now seems unable to steer a calm course across from Pacific Quay!
Drumdevan Road, Inverness
Malcolm Bruce (Scotsman, 27) October, talks about the UK Government abandoning or accepting constructive amendments to the Internal Market Bill, which with "goodwill" will enable devolved competences to be respected.
While he has some laudable objectives surely he must be aware that there is no prospect whatsoever that these will be achieved under our present constitutional set-up, exactly because of the lack of goodwill and respect which has become increasingly apparent since the Brexit referendum.
Ironically, goodwill and respectful collaboration tend to prosper better when both parties have their own sovereign powers and can negotiate in their own interests, and that is the direction in which Scotland must go now.
Murieston Road, Livingston
A Scottish giant
In his interesting obituary on David Scarth Ritchie, Alastair Ritchie describes James Clerk Maxwell as “one of Scotland’s most eminent physicists” (Scotsman, 27 October).
As Einstein kept a photo of Clerk Maxwell on his study wall, and when asked if he himself stood on the shoulders of Sir Isaac Newton, replied “No, I stand on the shoulders of James Clerk Maxwell”, maybe the inclusion of “one of” hardly does justice to JCM!
Horseleys Park,St Andrews, Fife