So, Nicola Sturgeon’s latest idea is a four-day week in Scotland. Meanwhile, in China, they know the way to get back to normality, make up lost time and satisfy demand is to work extra hard for a while. And when the customer phones a Scottish company on a Friday they will likely get an answerphone message saying, “Please phone back on Monday, when someone will be able to take your order” but when they phone a company in China they will get a person answering saying, “We can take your order today and deliver to you by tomorrow”. With the SNP in charge, our Scottish businesses have one arm tied behind their backs.
Roddy MacLeod, Windsor Place, Edinburgh
“We’ve got to also take care not to simply slip back into old and bad ways of doing things,” Ms Sturgeon told MSPs, “There are opportunities for change here.” A four-day working week was Labour policy at the last election. Now the SNP is pushing it as a response to coronavirus. Note that Nicola Sturgeon has been explicit that she intends to use the crisis to make reforms and that her goal is not just to get back to normal, but to make permanent changes to society.
At least she is honest about it.
So, the SNP proposes a four-day working week and part-time school attendance. Let’s imagine how that will play out for parents of children. A lot more childcare will be needed. Let’s say dad wants to work full time and mum three days – eight days total. Not possible. Dad can only work for four days, so mum will have to work four days as well. Hey presto! ‘Equality’ achieved. Family squeezed into the mould of SNP feminist theory. Women liberated from and men forced into domestic duties. OK, it might wreck the economy by imposing inefficiencies on businesses, but so what – it’s in a pretty bad way already. Is that what they’re thinking?
Always remember, with the SNP, ideology comes first, families’ preferences come second. And the opposition parties? They all seem to agree with the SNP’s philosophy.
And how does a four-day week help suppress coronavirus? Surely it will result in a business previously needing four staff in the office suddenly needing five – all interacting with each other on different days. But, as the First Minister states, this is about more than tackling coronavirus.
Richard Lucas, Leader, Scottish Family Party, Bath Street, Glasgow
The coronavirus lockdown has spawned a number of other problems, one of which is an increase in domestic abuse, and we are told this is caused by violent men, not Covid. The usual solution is to “educate boys and young men that violence against women is never acceptable”, which of course could take some time.
Well, in France where domestic abuse was endemic they have come up with a solution. They did not educate boys and young men, or change the law; they used their brains. Anyone accused of domestic violence is arrested and detained in the cells overnight – no criminal charge.
Domestic abuse in France has fallen by 50 per cent.
Is it possible that we could get our justice system to follow another country’s proven procedures and forget about the old adage of not invented here.
James Macintyre, Clarendon Road. Linlithgow
Archie Finlayson (Letters, 22 May) states that “employers must provide a safe workplace no matter the costs involved” as a reason for stalling Scotland’s economy further. The Health and Safety at Work Act does indeed require employers to provide a safe working environment, but there are practical limitations to this. I do hope that Mr Finlayson hasn’t required the services of supermarket/supply-chain staff to deliver his shopping during lockdown. Nor the services provided by NHS personnel, emergency services workers, garage or breakdown recovery operatives and tradesmen, to name just a few of the people apparently working in unsafe environments.
Apparently it’s OK for some people to “risk their lives” in order to provide the wider public with the services and creature comforts they are used to, but when it comes to the wider public’s time to get back to work and get the economy moving again, it appears that many in Scotland would rather stay in the comfort of their own homes, wrapped up in the Westminster-provided cotton-wool comfort blanket.
Nationalists like to argue that Scotland is not subsidised by England, but when many wish to remain under lockdown while England goes back to work to generate taxes, that is exactly what is happening. The expression “don’t bite the hand that feeds” has never been more true.
Paul Dick, Wakefield Avenue, Edinburgh
By stating that she is following WHO guidelines on lockdown, I cannot help but wonder if Nicola Sturgeon is implying that leaders of the rest of the UK are ignoring these, as Scotland remains in this state ever longer.
Jocelyn Ness, Carfrae Gardens, Edinburgh
Take a chance
It is clear that a substantial number of readers think that it is quite reasonable for everyone, including children to stay at home for the foreseeable future and await a cure for the coronavirus.
However, the increased volume of traffic shows that many businesses are back to work already, in spite of Nicola Sturgeon’s grandstanding pronouncements, such as that ‘phase 4’ of her plan will only kick in when the virus “has ceased to be a significant issue” “and/or we have an effective treatment available”.
There is no guarantee that a cure will ever be found, any more than there is a cure for the common cold or HIV. We could wait until we die of old age. Anyone who cares about the future will not wish to have our industries and employers go bust while we wait for a vaccine. Since it has been shown by the Royal College of Paediatrics that children under ten do not infect adults, why are they not back in school now? Builders have been working on the Western General but have been prevented elsewhere in Scotland for weeks. Why? They – and all of us – must realise that the virus is here to stay and we have to cope with and live or die with it, as we did with the flu in 1968 that killed 80,000.
If we do not get back to work now, the only economy in the world that will be left will be China’s. Do we want to be dominated by a totalitarian state?
Peter Hopkins, Morningside Road, Edinburgh
Who should pay?
Universities minister Richard Lochhead has told MSPs Scotland’s universities will take up to five years to recover from the financial crisis caused by Covid-19 (your report, 21 May). He estimates they could lose £380-£650 million in 2020-21. He also said that the Scottish government may end the ‘free’ places for EU students which costs Scottish taxpayers £97m every year.
It was only last year that SNP ministers, with an eye on joining the EU some time in the future, announced that EU students would continue to get free education until at least 2024. Richard Lochhead has now called for “considerable fiscal intervention” from the UK government to help Scotland’s universities.
Ever since the SNP came to power they have demanded independence, demanded devolution and relentlessly blamed Westminster at every opportunity. The favourite phrase is ‘It’s all Westminster’s fault’. Universities are under Scottish control so why should English taxpayers bail out Scottish universities?
Clark Cross, Springfield Road, Linlithgow
John Peter lists a number of matters which would have to be addressed should independence materialise (Letters, 22 May). They are largely pertinent but I see two problems in trying to answer them.
First, no party or administration has the power or right to commit any future government of an independent Scotland to any particular course of action. The whole point of independence is that governments then elected have sovereign powers.
Second, there is no knowing what the relevant circumstances will be at that future date. The longer term effects of the current emergency may well be much less than some speculate but there will be some. Climate change could have an enormous effect or be a damp squib (like the millennium bug –remember that?). More likely to be relevant are the terms on which the UK leaves the EU – assuming it does so before independence.
Many of the matters raised would have to be resolved by discussion with the Westminster government and its attitude could well be influenced by its position vis a vis Europe.
As regards the more technical financial matters, all one can reasonably say at the moment is that the many states which have come into existence since the middle of the last century have cobbled something together.
Finally, Mr Peter seems to assume, as many do, that the present economy of the UK, which seems to depend on the City of London propping us all up, will continue for all eternity, or at least until the end of the century. I fear this may be a very dangerous assumption.
S Beck, Craigleith Drive, Edinburgh
Why is it the same people complaining we went into lockdown too late all for the sake of protecting the economy are now the same ones demanding we leave lockdown too early all for the sake of the economy?
Mark Boyle, Linn Park Gardens, Johnstone, Renfrewshire
Like Cameron Wylie, (Perspective, 22 May), I am a retired teacher but if I were working and asked to return on 11 August, I’d need to know pupils’ toilets were hygienic, ie that they all had soap and towels to allow the hand washing required for safety purposes.
I might also ask if there were enough toilets to cope with safe distancing, since at break and lunch there is always a rush to the loo. Would this mean extended break times?
Lovina Roe, Glasgow Road, Perth
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