Having enjoyed a billion pound bonanza (as widely reported) as the locusts cleared their shelves during the first fortnight, supermarkets have proved themselves incapable of dealing with the new reality. It is scary even to contemplate how much of this food will end up in the bin.
In “peace time”, supermarkets with their highly sophisticated marketing and computer systems do their best to extract every last pound from your weekly shop. Their “loyalty” and “advantage” cards are there solely to monitor and analyse your every purchase so you can be targeted with specific promotions. These systems have obviously proved inadequate to cope with the current situation.
I have personally logged up more hours than I would have thought possible, trying and failing to add our name to various online shopping sites. A ten year old could have predicted the mass panic to stock up yet it took over a fortnight for the stores to start limiting the number of items per shopping basket. A cynic might be excused for thinking that they dragged their heels.
It is obviously unrealistic to think that home deliveries could ever be extended to all households but would it be too much to ask the young and fit to hand back their slots so that the old, infirm and vulnerable can stand a better chance of coming through this pandemic? Another possibility would be ready-packed shopping bags providing the basics such as milk, eggs, bread etc which could be quickly accessed without the need to queue, hopefully helping to achieve the social distancing, which must be hard to achieve in the aisles of a supermarket, but which is proving to be such a critical element in combating this virus.
Park Terrace, Stirling
Some more equal
Boris Johnson’s cry of “we are all in this together” is evidently not the case. In response to his developing symptoms of the coronavirus he was rapidly tested, whilst in general frontline NHS staff who are putting their lives on the line daily do not have access to such testing. Similarly, when Prince Charles started to feel under the weather, testing was available immediately. This is reminiscent of the adage “all men are equal but some are more equal than others”.
(Dr) A E A Porter
Rutherford Court, Bridge of Allan. Stirling
Soldier on, sir
I am sad, appalled and angry that Charles and Camilla have been tested for coronavirus, whilst not hospitalised, and staff on the frontline are not tested. As someone the same age as Charles, I have underlying issues, as have many others, yet we will not be tested unless hospitalised, a policy with which I agree.
As someone reared in a family where duty came first, thanks to Dad in the Fleet Air Arm, it saddens me that Charles and Camilla have not done the same. It smacks of Marie Antoinette and “Let them eat cake”.
My duty, along with everyone else’s during this unprecedented worldwide pandemic, is to follow advice, take responsibility for our own health and protect the health of family, community and country and support our Health Service.
I do not think Prince Charles has stepped up to the plate at this momentous time, and question if he is fit to take on the mantle of future sovereign.
Bad, bad PR taking the test! Soldier on like the rest of us!
Brook Street Broughty Ferry, Dundee
As millions of us across the UK join together to applaud the NHS, SNP MP, Angus MacNeil chooses to focus on “correcting” STV’s tweet about this collective gesture of NHS support in Scotland by tweeting “it is NHS Scotland”. So we all know the NHS has been devolved here for over 20 years. But Angus, how about you focus on the fantastic work being carried out by health and care workers and keep your petty nonsense to yourself?
Woodcroft Road, Edinburgh
Bug vs breeze
We are being asked to keep at least two metres away from other people. This is not a magic formula, and should be the start of thought, not the end of it. The bug is not a super-flea that can jump 1.9 metres, but a virus – a string of RNA, a molecule. It cannot move by itself, but is spread on contaminated surfaces and by coughs and sneezes.
The risk is greatest indoors with no ventilation. One is much safer outside. Face to face, a good Scottish breeze from the side will carry the bug away, but if you are downwind of someone who sneezes, then two metres is not enough. Passing others on a narrow path or pavement seems to panic some people, but is low risk. To judge two metres, imagine falling towards the other person without moving your feet. If you would hit the ground without hitting them, you’re at the prescribed distance. Less-tall people could perhaps add a few inches.
Comely Bank Avenue, Edinburgh
George S Gordon writes an interesting What if? letter (27 March), “Independent Scotland could follow Denmark’s example in supporting workers”. In the real world Scotland is not a state, able to act like Denmark. It is worth noting that the Danish National Bank has currency reserves of over £55 billion to support the economy. The 2019 GDP per capita figures from OECD show Denmark at US $52,848 and the UK at US $44,207, showing a gap of $ 8,641, indicating that a Danish worker is almost 20 per cent more productive. Furthermore, to highlight the difference between the two economies, it is worth noting that per Statista, Scotland had a 2018 trade deficit of more than £9 billion whereas Denmark had a surplus of over US$ 7 billion (Santandertrade). It is not enough to be “independent” in name.
There is also a need to have a strong economy to be able to “splash out the money”. Whatever the arguments against the Union, the facts remain that Scotland has the benefits of low interest rates and the support of the Barnett formula consequentials regardless of the oil price, and a great degree of control over the economy through agencies such as Scottish Enterprise. None of the initiatives by the Scottish Government so far has been able to raise the Scottish GDP much above the UK average.
Unlike Denmark, Scotland has not been able to develop and sustain a substantial number of global companies such as Novo Nordisk (pharmaceuticals), LEGO (toys), Danfoss (thermostats), Velux (windows), Oticon/Widex (hearing aids) and Maersk (shipping), to mention but a few. There is no point in going on about what Scotland could do if it were independent without starting from where the country is now and detailing a realistic step-by-step guide to where the proponents would like it to be, based on quantifiable evidence.
Monks Road Airdrie, Lanarkshire
The bright side
It seems strange but walking through the woods today, we are fortunate – our experience as “older buddies” was that our life now is like a cruise holiday: relaxing, fulfilling except (i) negatively – no one presents a meal each night (the home cook is pretty good, however) and there are no buffets to gorge ourselves upon; but (ii) positively – we are not going to be “locked in” in some strange port and we have a superior cabin – our own home – to return to each night.
The phrase “count your blessings” comes to mind; though we do appreciate that for some there is fear and distress.
Randolph Crescent Dunbar, East Lothian
Share the pain
The seriousness of the current crisis and people unable to work through no fault of their own surely means that in all fairness, as Ireland did in the 2008 financial crash, the civil and public services should also have their pay cut to 80 per cent and share the pain of the rest of society.
Kirkhill Road, Penicuik
Greed still good
For the second time in 12 years Capitalism is under threat of collapse due to the weight of its own contradictions. Yet again the powers that be are turning to Socialism to save it.
The US Congress and the Trump regime have agreed a multi-trillion dollar bailout. Trump wants to rescue the airline industry, cruise ships, weapons manufacturers, the oil and gas lobby, big banks and the hotel industry, which will massively benefit him personally.
Of course, none of this money will go to the people who really need it (the workers). It will be used by the fat cats to gorge themselves in the never-ending trough.
If it was truly a “free-market” as preached by the bought and paid-for economists, “thinktanks” and other professional liars, then the banks would have collapsed. The sacred dogma of the Invisible Hand would have made the current neo-liberal system extinct. All the industries previously listed would have collapsed, too.
As with the previous bailouts the people paying for it (the taxpayer) will get little or nothing.
Dominic Cummings basically summed up the position of the ruling financial aristocracy: kill off the elderly in order to protect the economy (the vast fortune of the global robber barons). The “greed is good” ethos of Gordon Gekko is still the unacknowledged policy of the corrupt banks.
Gillespie Terrace, Dundee
Time to go
It’ll be a real pleasure not to see Jeremy Corbyn’s sour face on the Opposition front bench in future.
His hard-faced and ungracious attitude will, it is to be hoped, be replaced by the gentlemanly demeanour and more flexible approach of Keir Starmer.
Aithernie Court Leven, Fife