Pamela Nash (“UK response to Covid shows how much Scotland benefits from its broad shoulders”, 8 July) forgets it was Boris Johnson’s poor handling of Covid-19 and failing to lockdown for 14 days after being strongly advised to do so that has devastated thousands of businesses and threatened millions of jobs.
The financial support is welcomed and Scottish taxpayers will pay their share, but this is matched in small independent nations in western Europe, while Spain has extended furlough until December.
Contrary to Pamela Nash’s claims, Scotland has a much better record than England in dealing with Covid, as deaths in England are now over 60 per cent higher per head of population and current Covid cases in England are six times greater. All the failures she attributes to Scotland also applied to the UK and it was only when Scotland diverged from the UK-wide approach that we got on top of the virus.
The Covid pandemic has highlighted why Scotland needs the fiscal powers and border controls of a normal country rather than having to deal with a UK government that has failed to co-operate with or tried to achieve consensus with the devolved administrations before making announcements that affect all four home nations.
The broad shoulders of the UK and London’s control has led to Scotland’s economy being half the value of Norway’s and a third smaller than Denmark’s while considerably narrower than both of them. When you add in the consequences of a Brexit we didn’t vote for, our economic outlook under the UK is already looking bleak.
Mary Thomas, Watson Crescent, Edinburgh
Minding the gap
I wonder if, like me, readers may be at a loss to explain the huge gap between the positive approval ratings for the Scottish Government’s handling of Covid-19 and negative ratings for the UK government?
Scotland has suffered more coronavirus cases per head and nearly the same proportion of deaths as the rest of the UK, so there is no evidence to suggest the Scottish Government have performed better tackling the disease. In fact, it is likely Scotland has performed worse given the significantly less dense population.
The policy response of the Scottish Government also seems to be weak, with the UK government having made the running, providing economic support, imposing lockdown, setting up track and trace and now lifting lockdown. All we have seen from the Scottish Government has been criticism as each measure has been taken and then adoption later with superficial changes.
The consistent refusal to lead by Scottish ministers and constant deflection to blame the UK for failings of their own making seems to me to demonstrate a scandalous lack of thinking or competence. Instead of appearing as a potential government of an independent nation, they look more like a badly run community council.
But the strategy appears to be a triumph of messaging over reality, as clearly my view is in the minority.
Jos Seligman, Achanalt, Ross-Shire
Break the mould
“Nothing is stronger than an idea whose time has come.” Victor Hugo neatly summarises why it would be desirable and necessary to have a new independence-supporting list party.
The upper echelons of the SNP have become complacent and out of touch. There is a group of self-entitled careerists within the SNP. To them, self-enrichment and climbing the greasy pole are more important than delivering indpendence.
They are motivated not along class lines but by the poison ideology of identity politics. This presupposes that the exploitative nature of capitalism will simply disappear as long as more women, ethnic minorities and LGBT people join the boardroom.
The loudest proponents of identity politics are the ones who end up on the boards.
This coterie are obsessed with being “woke”. They have almost become the police force for speech and language, haughtily dictating what is acceptable.
Hamza Yousef’s condemnation of the Keep Covid-19 out of Scotland demo as “racist” was an egregious example of this. It wasn’t true and was similar to when Hillary Clinton dismissed US voters as “a basket of deplorables”. Mr Yousef was simply pandering to the Unionist media. The consequences for this kind of thinking can create the conditions for a backlash. Anyone who doubts hasn’t been paying attention as fascist demigods have been elected all over the world.
It would be churlish to think such a thing could not happen in Scotland. The conditions would be especially ripe if Nicola Sturgeon wins a landslide on the basis of a second independence referendum and the Tories say No. Voters will lose patience.
The top-down thinking of the current SNP leadership means there is no “out of the box” thinking. Everything has to be done though the dead end of constitutional politics.
The new list party lead by Alex Salmond would bring fresh impetus into the independence movement. It would mean a return to citizen-led, participatory politics.
It is a development that should be welcomed by progressive supporters of indpendence.
Alan Hinnrichs, Gillespie Terrace, Dundee
Sally Mannison accuses me of delivering a “mantra” in my recent letter on weather events (7 July). I have never mindlessly repeated anything said by others. I base my opinions on evidence and on the reports from those who have first-hand experience of a situation.
A report released at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco stated that extreme weather events such as heatwaves, droughts and heavy rainfall are becoming increasingly likely to occur because of human-caused climate change.
That said, we don’t need to read scientific papers or reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to raise our awareness of the changes we can see all around us – if we are observant and actually venture into the countryside, or into our own gardens.
Ms Mannison will have to ask the Maldives government why they’re building more runways and hotels despite the climate crisis. I would hazard a guess that they’re in denial, or indifferent. They need the tourist industry in order to survive.
Human influence on the climate has been recorded across the globe. You have to be prepared to read the mounting reports to know what’s happening rather than turning the page or turning off the television.
Carolyn Taylor, Wellbank, Broughty Ferry
The article by Alexander McCall Smith should be made compulsory reading for Scottish politicians and Scotland’s university management and staff (Perspective, “What are our universities for?”, 8 July).
His key comment is: “The first and foremost obligation of a Scottish university is to the people of Scotland.” How true this is. Many people have thought that universities have become cash machines paying out higher and higher salaries paid for by foreign students.
For many years very able and well-qualified students living in Scotland were unable to secure a university place since there had to be a financial cap on the number of free places.
But of course, EU students also did not pay, and recklessly, the Scottish Government said it would fund EU students for four years after the UK leaves the EU at the end of 2020 despite there being no legal requirement.
This should be stopped. The cost of this to taxpayers is £93 million every year for four years. This equates to between 13,000 and 19,000 students denied a free university education. Universities need to downsize and cater firstly for all the well-qualified students from Scotland.
Clark Cross, Springfield Road, Linlithgow
Wind farm costs
BBC Scotland aired an interview with representatives from Scottish Power over the proposed green initiatives in the statement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
However, the BBC did not remind its audience that in 2019 the CEO of the company warned that “renewable energy is too expensive for the consumer hence the government must pass the cost to the taxpayer”.
Has the Economic Secretary at Holyrood reviewed the impact of such a policy on Scots living in fuel poverty ?
A sevenfold increase in wind farm capacity to charge electric vehicles will require hundreds of billions of pounds in infrastructure developments for wind farms over Assynt, Skye and Lochaber.
There would also be the additional cost of underground cables if there are objections to a myriad of pylons across the Monadhliath Mountains and the strath of the River Tay
Would shareholders be happy to invest such capital resources in an independent Scotland when there are only 2.4 million Scots to underpin the repayment bills ?
Ian Moir, Queen Street, Castle Douglas
As an apprentice chartered accountant in 1951 I had to attend Dundee School of Economics, a division of St Andrews University, for two terms to achieve a pass certificate in Statistics and Economics.
This does not make me expert in either subject, but when a lecturer said he could produce statistics to prove men of a certain age were safer at the front line of the Second World War rather than Dundee I had doubts about the value of statistics
However, in what some may think is a clumsy way, I calculate that the number of deaths due to Covid-19 in England and Scotland is respectively 0.0008 per cent and 0.0004 per cent of the population of each country. At the same time, similar figures indicate that non-Covid-19 deaths in England and Scotland were, respectively, 0.27 per cent and 28.7 per cent.
I think this perspective is noteworthy.
AA Bullions, Glencairn Crescent, Leven
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