Letter of the Day – Scotland should join the Scan clan

John Peter’s reply to my letter on how an independent Scotland could follow Denmark’s example is flawed in several respects (29 March).

How will Rishi Sunak manage the British economy after the coronavirus crisis is over (Picture: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)

He says that Scotland has been unable to raise the Scottish GDP per capita much above the UK average.

Surely it would be somewhat amazing if we had managed to do that, given our lack of macroeconomic policy options. Well, amazingly, our GDP per capita over the last few years has either been close to, or exceeded, that of the rest of the UK.

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He points out that Denmark has a significantly higher GDP per capita than the UK, and that they have a number of globally successful companies like Lego. Does that not suggest that small countries can excel, and that the much larger UK is not so wonderful after all?

Scotland used to have world-leading industries like shipbuilding, which were lost decades ago due to UK incompetence.

As in many things, the Scandinavian countries perform much better – with Norway, for example, having a thriving shipbuilding industry.

He also seems to be concerned about Scotland’s (estimated) trade deficit, but forgets to mention the much larger trade deficit of the rest of the UK.

Finally, Mr Peter seems to have missed the overall point of my letter, which is that taxation does not fund spending. The UK does not need to “right the ship”, as Chancellor Sunak keeps saying, when we finally emerge from the current crisis.

If the UK government increases taxation at that point, the economy will be further depressed.

When the government runs a deficit, the private sector has a surplus. The only deficit the government should be worried about is that of the private sector.

The sad thing is that, given the UK government response after 2007-08, it seems likely that we will be subjected to further, and probably harsher, austerity measures.

George S Gordon

Belmont Road
Juniper Green

Credit Sturgeon

Alan Black (Letters, 30 March) is right in that we should be drawing together in tacking Covid19 but we should not be uncritical of government actions. Particularly as the UK government has ignored WHO advice on testing contacts, failing to check the temperature of those flying in from hotspots or ignoring the EU offer to provide ventilators and protective equipment. The UK government also ignored its own findings to set up an emergency alert messaging system to mobile phones to help the country in times of crisis. The additional financial help recently given to those who have become ill or unemployed or who face loss of earnings is merely matching what has been the norm in Scandinavian countries for many years.

There have been differences between the UK and Scottish Government’s strategy in combating the pandemic and it has emerged that the Prime Minister’s team was said to be furious with the Scottish Government for announcing the closure of schools in Scotland days before Boris Johnson wanted to do so. The Scottish Government was faster off the mark when Nicola Sturgeon took the step to ban gatherings of more than 500 people and indoor meetings of 100 people five days earlier than Johnson. The two governments have also differed in terms of restrictions they wanted to see placed on the construction industry.

It is to Nicola Sturgeon’s credit that she has not criticised the UK government in public.

Mary Thomas

Watson Crescent, Edinburgh

Longer arm?

It’s the job of the police to enforce the law, not to make or extend it. So why were the officious officers in your photographs (front page, 27 March) not doing that rather than accosting law-abiding citizens, apparently going closer to them than two metres, to tell them they shouldn’t be in the streets?

In due course the figures will show that this extraordinary period was one of reduced crime, with so few people out and about, especially at night, and far lower demands on police resources: no large crowds, for example.

Is it too much to expect that our money is used to improve the detection of real crime rather than to indulge the authoritarian predilections of those whose job is to use their powers to assist rather than undermine the rule of law?

Andrew Anderson

Granton Road, Edinburgh

Expert touch

Of all the experts, Chief Medical officers, Prime, First and Health Ministers who have addressed the nation during the coronavirus crisis, I’d say Professor Jason Leitch is the best. Ably assisted by Gordon Brewer’s intelligent questioning on BBC Politics Scotland on Sunday he gave clear and believable advice and explanations on national policy, including a very reassuring rationale for the current testing regime and confidence in our respirator and intensive care capacity.

Not only that, he projects an unaffected common touch and empathy with his audience – not least because he sounds a bit like Rab C 
Nesbitt’s posh cousin.

Allan Sutherland

Willow Row, Stonehaven

Kind of twisted

I’m no apologist for Boris Johnson, but what’s with all these “Let’s hope he dies” comments on social media in response to the news the PM has coronavirus? Goodness me, only last month we were urging one another to “be kind”. Are memories shortened during a pandemic?

Martin Redfern

Woodcroft Road, Edinburgh

A ray of hope

Amidst the justified gloom and doom of the present Covid-19 pandemic, there is at least one ray of hope in prophylaxis and treatment.

Anecdotal reports of clinical benefit from the Chloroquine, the old antimalarial drug, in small numbers of Australian and far-Eastern patients are encouraging. These are being followed up in very urgent international multicentre trials combining Chloroquine with antiviral agents, including those developed against HIV, and antibiotics, in various combinations. The studied drugs’ limited adverse effects are well understood.

It is not so long since bacterial sepsis yielded to antibiotics and tuberculosis to drug combinations pioneered by Crofton and colleagues in Edinburgh.

We can only hope for useful clinical results soon, well-meriting Nobel Prizes in Medicine and international acclaim and gratitude.

Fingers crossed!

Charles Wardrop

Viewlands Road West, Perth

Life goes on

What exactly is the rationale behind Scottish independence? Is it really the case that the SNP believes that Scotland’s economy would flourish if only it could escape English shackles? That is hardly a new argument. The truth is, there is absolutely no logic in the dissolution of the UK. We only have to ask ourselves how well Holyrood would be coping during this horrendous viral epidemic without the massive inputs of Sterling from the Westminster Exchequer. I am sure that we all know the answer to that question.

And furthermore, which of the factions of the SNP is going to decide on its future policies? Will a Salmond/Cherry challenge emerge following the intrigue of the Alex Salmond criminal trial at the High Court in Edinburgh? We understand that the former leader of the SNP at Westminster, Angus Robertson, might be a candidate at the 2021 Holyrood Election in Edinburgh Central constituency? But it also seems that a Cherry challenge for the seat is on the cards.

Perhaps someone should try to persuade Ruth Davidson to stay on for a while to cock a snoot at any such SNP factional argument?

Whatever the result of any such factional squabble, the SNP must be reminded that its current position at Holyrood is that of a minority administration. They simply have no clout without the largely unelceted Greens.

And if, after the recent debacle following the recent High Court case, battle lines are being drawn, then I am sure that the SNP will most probably self-destruct.

Hopefully we will see an effective solution to the dangers posed to us all by the coronavirus, followed by the defeat of the SNP in the 2021 Scottish Parliamentary Elections.

Robert IG Scott

Ceres, Fife

Pigeon post

Coronavirus isolation brings revelations about the environment around us. Every afternoon, at around 4.20pm-4.30pm, a group of four pigeons swoop down onto the back roof of the property adjoining. Twenty to thirty seconds later, two more pigeons fly over to join them, coming from the same north by north east direction. They converge for five minutes before flying on to wherever.

The afternoon of Sunday 29 March has proved no different. Yet the clocks went forward in the early hours. Have pigeons evolved to a state where their bodyclocks synchonise with British Summer Time?

Mark Boyle

Linn Park Gardens
Johnstone, Renfrewshire