Readers' letters: An economic tsunami is about to engulf us
August Graham and Benjamin Cooper’s recent article “Household fuels bill to stay two and a half times pre-crisis levels” (Scotsman, 3 August) is the clearest attempt I have seen to try to bring home the reality of the tsunami of power price increases about to engulf us.
I will go further and quote my reality. I am a retired engineer approaching 80 with a reasonable hodgepodge of pensions. Most of these were index-linked, which does not actually mean they keep up with inflation but is better than fixed income. I pay tax of £2,000 per annum.
My dual fuel bill in the last year on a fixed-price contract was £1,333. My proposed replacement plan is £6,696. I am not going to starve. I am not going to spend. If I come unstuck and turn the heating off I will end up in hospital.
The economy is going to go down the tubes. All non-essential goods and services will disappear. The hospitals will be full as will the pockets of the energy-producing companies, such as those which own wind farms, which have no extra costs on last year. Their pockets will be full to overflowing.
The answer is to cap the charges of the wind farms etc, not give random one-off payments to those guessed to be in need. There are a great many needy people, the food banks are already struggling. People will starve as they did in America during the 1930s recession. The health service can hardly cope now – how will starving nurses work even harder?
We live in and age of lying, obscuring the truth, putting a gloss on every news item. If a hundred people are starving there will be a cat saved somewhere. Bury bad news in a hotter war.
You might think a lifetime of living with stupid politicians pursuing wild dreams, of the few billionaires making excessive prots at the expense of the many, has made me a cynic – surely not. We will all pay the price for these lies and deceptions, for greed, for war.
The economic tsunami is coming. Do what you can to save yourselves and your families, and save others as you can.
Ken Carew, Dumfries, Dumfries & Galloway
Out of touch
BC Radio 4’s Broadcasting House programme on Sunday featured questions to Tory members at a tea party in West Sussex. A “beautiful spread” awaited 30 of the 160,000 mainly white, elderly, middle-class members who will decide the future direction of our country. Are they really qualified to decide the future of the majority struggling with the cost-of-iving crisis?
We might expect this group be animated about the Tory leadership election. Many, however, gave one-sentence answers for how they intend to vote and why, with some not having a clue who to vote for. One simply wished Boris Johnson could have continued, but as she said “we all make mistakes”.
Maybe their reticence is understandable as for many the outcome does not unduly affect them. Is it too much to ask, however, to comment on Rish Sunak’s strategy of controlling inflation before tax cuts and targeting help to where it is needed most or Liz Truss’ “unfunded” £30bn tax hand-out disproportionately favouring well-off workers, with no apparent help to everyone else?
It seems that those deciding our future are completely out of touch with a country crying out for someone to quell fears of how to feed their families or of pensioners trying to stay alive amidst crippling energy costs. It’s a farcical fact that when a PM leaves office mid-term there is no democratic process to choose their successor. In the absence of this it is imperative that whoever wins seeks a general election immediately.
Neil Anderson, Edinburgh
In Elizabeth Scott’s letter (6 August), it is difficult to tell whether she is alluding to 121 George Street or a specific church when she refers to “my church”. If the former, she must be aware that 121 is merely the administrative hub of the Church of Scotland and an unlikely location for a food bank or a free meals service. The real action is to be found in the hundreds of churches across Scotland.
The church of which I am a member donates weekly to two different food banks, as do many others across the country, including two others that I occasionally attend situated in affluent localities where food banks are not necessary.
The Church’s monthly magazine (Life and Work) frequently reports examples of the many ways in which individual churches offer help to their communities, especially during the recent lockdowns. The most recent issue reports that St Andrew’s and St George’s West In Edinburgh raised £108,000 for Christian Aid during its book sale. The same edition records members’ legacies totally over £655,520. A substantial amount of these are ring-fenced to support the work of Crossreach, the social work arm of the Church of Scotland, which does so much good for people of all ages. My own church has raised significant amounts over the years for children in Malawi and rises to the occasion for special disaster fund appeals.
Perhaps part of the problem is our founder’s warning against boasting about our offerings or assistance given to others. The casual stroller along George Street may hardly notice 121 in the passing but its branch offices, the churches across the country, are still busy giving such help as they can. Despite your headline, the Church is “out of its bunker and helping the poor”.
Bill Greenock, Netherlee, East Renfrewshire
As a member of the Church of Scotland, I find the letter from Elizabeth Scott to be not only inaccurate but also offensive. The Kirk is by no means “sitting in its bunker” but is carrying out all the work detailed by Ms Scott on a daily basis.
Not only are individual congregations and their members involved but CrossReach, operated by the Social Care Council, is undertaking a huge range of work right across the social care sector and also provides specialist resources to further the caring work of the Church to people in challenging circumstances. I would suggest that Ms Scott has a look at the CrossReach website where its work and long history is fully detailed.
Parishioners throughout Scotland are contributing towards the work of CrossReach and it is most certainly “worth the candle”. Perhaps Ms Scott may wish to add her contribution.
JW Simpson, Lower Largo, Fife
Ross Ewing’s article “Grouse shooting sector is good for biodiversity as well as the economy” (Scotsman, 4 August) highlights “four acute challenges” that grouse face, and states that “being a grouse is no easy gig”. That's quite an understatement!
The article conveniently forgets to mention the fifth, and hugely significant challenge, that grouse face, and that's that they are blasted out of the sky for fun for four months of every year.
In addition to this, to suggest that the mass killing of wildlife, mass chemical medication and the burning of our moorland to ensure there are more grouse to shoot is somehow a good thing is wildly misguided and illustrates a very serious problem with how huge swathes of Scotland are being managed.
Max Wiszniewski, Campaign Manager, REVIVE Coalition
I had a really wonderful night at the performance of Macro (Scotsman, 6 August) but it was really sad to see so many empty free seats. When we booked there were no seats available on the Murrayfield pitch in front of the stage but we managed to get in the stand. However, on the night on the pitch and in the stand there were many empty seats.
Why do people book free seats that many others would have liked to book but then not attend? Pitchside empty seats would be disappointing for the performers who had to see that it was not a full house.
Some selfish people should think twice about taking up free seats and not turning up.
G Cornelius, Edinburgh
David Pollock’s interesting feature (“I just had to say Bruno Walter was coming...”, Festival supplement, 6 August) quotes Kathleen Ferrier’s remark that the “greatest compliment she had ever received” was the request to sing, with Bruno Walter conducting, at the first Edinburgh Festivals in 1947 and 1949; and after her tragic death at 41 in 1953 his comment that “she is one of the few irreplaceable artists”.
Moreover, despite his close association with and mentorship by Mahler, Walter also paid her the ultimate tribute that “the greatest thing in music in my life has been to know Kathleen Ferrier and Gustav Mahler – in that order”.
Her succumbing to the emotion of the final movement of Das Lied von der Erde had similarities to the three singers at Richard Strauss’s memorial service in 1949, all of whom broke down in tears while singing the final trio from his Rosenkavalier, but "recovered themselves and we all ended together” in the words of Georg Solti, who was conducting. Sadly, there is no recording of that service.
John Birkett, St Andrews, Fife
The Scottish Borders 20mph speed limit in all of its towns and villages will soon have been in place for a year. Its purpose is to improve road safety and there’s no arguing against that.
However, all rural single-track roads in the Borders are still covered by a 60mph limit, which makes no sense at all. These roads date from the days of the horse and cart and feature blind bends, poor visibility, narrow verges, overgrown vegetation, and broken and patched surfaces, and are often used by pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders.
Scottish Borders Council should follow the example of Surrey Council which is introducing a 20mph limit in rural lanes in parts of the county, and reduce the speed limit on these roads if not to 20mph then to 30mph.
William Loneskie, Lauder, Scottish Borders
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