Has everyone forgotten the vast sums doled out to us to ease the pandemic? The vast sums being piled into the NHS to try to alleviate the backlog. This money doesn't grow on trees and has to be repaid.
I hope Boris grasps the nettle and does try to sort out social care and that we have enough common sense to see that to sort the historic injustices built up over generations has to be paid for. Why not spread the load (to even more howls of broken promises) by (i) Raising National Insurance (the young's contribution – they will benefit in time); (ii) Scrapping the triple lock for two years (the elderly's contribution – they will benefit with peace of mind); (iii) Putting a penny on basic rate tax, 2p on the next band and 5p on the top band (for two years – the money ploughed into the NHS to clear the back-log) and (iv) Raising Corporation Tax by 2p (business's contribution). All unpopular – but the gain in a decent social care – fit for purpose – is surely worth it!
Even better – put together an all-party ad hoc committee to produce, by Christmas, a document setting out the realistic goals to be attained in restructure. Think of it as a 'war' that must be one quickly and desisively.
James Watson, Dunbar, East Lothian
Erring on Eire
I read with interest the letter by Mary Thomas (3 September), a staunch supporter of Scottish Independence, in which she extols the benefits of the Republic of Ireland being independent and a member of the European Union.
She like all SNP supporters including our First Minister take pleasure in listing all the positives of being independent from the United Kingdom but fail to highlight the negatives. According to them, Scotland would be the land of milk and honey should it ever gain independence.
What Mary Thomas fails to mention in her letter is that the Republic of Ireland has a VAT rate of 23 per cent, making everything more expensive than the UK. Excise duty is also higher.
Children’s clothing, books and newspapers are not exempt from VAT as they are in the UK. Parents have to pay for all school books, jotters, pens and pencils for their children’s education. They are not supplied free.
A visit to the GP costs 50 euros and all prescriptions have to be paid for, including those for children, and whilst they have an NHS a number of conditions require treatment in the UK as they do not have the expertise or facilities to carry these out in the Republic.
If these are some of the things Scotland might aspire to by being independent and in the European Union then heaven help us.
W Hope, Longniddry, East Lothian
No English bias
David Walker (Letters, 4 September) says: “When will SNP voters realise that the SNP are not pro-Scottish but are merely anti-English?" I'm sorry to be blunt, but for arrogance and utterly crass ignorance, that comment takes some beating.
It's true that a very small minority of independence supporters tarnish the movement with extreme views, but for SNP members, expressing racist views is a route to a quick exit from the party. And in reality, extremists and blinkered individuals are to be found in every political persuasion.
It seems clear that Mr Walker doesn't know many SNP supporters or he would be aware that the vast majority of us have extended friends and family in England. For myself, I have these connections in Lancashire, Kent, Hampshire, Cambridgeshire, Dorset and London, and I can assure Mr Walker, they are equally as precious to me as my family in Scotland. My own experience is replicated throughout independence supporters I know. Our opposition is to the UK state and not the English people.
A little basic research would reveal the extent of English birth and connections within the Scottish Government, including a First Minister whose grandmother was English in a family hailing from Sunderland.
Gill Turner, Edinburgh
I am reading letters from several correspondents today (4 September) calling out a systemic anti-English hatred from the SNP government and find myself confused.
Their premise seems to be that, because the words Scottish and National appear in the party title, there must be a deliberate and racist antagonism to all things English. To use a word often associated with upper class Englishmen: Poppycock!
Brian Bannatyne Scott, Edinburgh
I see that Angus Robertson believes that devolution is under systemic attack from Westminster (Scotsman, 3 September). Is 3 September the opening of the foot shooting season?
If any systemic attack on devolution has been embarked upon, it is surely by his Nationalist party. Devolution has been devalued by his party's systemic failures, over its lengthy period in office, in education, the health service, the police service, the ferry construction debacle, its incompetence and waste of taxpayers' money in the Salmond saga, the ongoing Prestwick Airport saga, depriving local authorities of adequate funding, its inability to promote and sustain growth in the Scottish economy, the corruption of the definition of democracy by virtue of its unholy alliance with the Greens in order to sustain quasi-totalitarian power and control over Scottish society – to name but a few.
Fraser MacGregor, Edinburgh
No sunlit uplands
The latest statistics indicating that the UK is the only country amongst its close European neighbours to have a negative trade balance on exports since the Brexit vote should hardly come as a surprise as we progress with what is a catastrophic act of national self-harm.
It was what those against Brexit like myself warned about, but were consistently told by those such as Mr Johnson and his Brexiteer cabal that Brexit would in fact boost trade..
The figures from the House of Commons Library show that the UK has seen a 5.5 per cent decrease in its exports since the 2016 referendum when the country voted to leave the European Union. This is estimated to have cut Scotland’s GDP by up to £9 billion by 2030 compared to the considerable advantages of EU membership.
The data shows that Ireland has seen the biggest increase in its export trade balance of almost 50 per cent from 2016 to 2021, while France has recorded a surplus of 6.7 per cent and Germany had a positive trade balance of 9.5 per cent over the same same-year period. When the impact of the Covid-19 is taken into account, and figures compared from 2020, the UK’s accumulated change of -19.3 per cent is the worst when compared to 13 of its close European neighbours.
Data shows that in the first four months after the UK joined the European Economic Community in 1973, the precursor for the European Union, the total value of the country’s goods exports increased by 16 per cent compared to the first four months of the previous year. In the first four months of 2021, the total value of UK goods exports fell by 11 per cent compared to the first four months of 2020.
It appears that the “sunlit uplands” we were promised that Brexit would deliver are maybe not as sunlit as we were led to believe.
Alex Orr, Edinburgh
Last week a friend sent me a photo from a service ship passing through the middle of the East China Sea. It shows the vessel ploughing through an oily slick littered with rubbish and plastic debris. He told me that in the distance glistening highlights on the water all around were reflections off white and clear plastic debris. A 2017 study shows that of the world's ten worst polluting rivers, six are in China. Another study found China is responsible for almost one-third of the total plastic in our oceans.
This pollution is partly a consequence of our purchase of cheap manufactured goods from a country with low wages and minimal environmental standards. While consumers benefit, factories here close, workers lose their jobs, and the planet is damaged. Short-term gain for some, but does this justify the consequences?
Furthermore, the West is concerned about the ascendency of China and wonders what to do about it. The West's current commercial practice is financing this ascendancy. Surely it is time for the West to reduce dependency on China by restoring and supporting manufacturing capacity at home.
Hamish Johnston, Inverness, Highland
As with so many issues concerning climate change they are invariably accompanied by a chain of unintended, or conveniently ignored negative consequences. One such example was highlighted by George Herraghty (Letters, 6 September) concerning the ongoing demise of seabirds (as well as land birds) due to the destructive impact of wind turbine blades. The cruel irony is that wind power is hailed by many environmentalists and politicians as one of the vital keys needed to in order to 'save the planet.'
Over the years we have witnesses a strange transition. Not so long ago the scientific consensus warned us to to prepare for a cooling planet which then switched to global warming and the now familiar, all-encompassing definition of climate change which conveniently covers everything from species extinctions to fire and flood, excessive heat, cold and environmental degradation. In less than 20 years the global population will be close to nine billion, a threefold increase over the past 60 years. That is our biggest insoluble problem.
Neil J Bryce, Kelso, Scottish Borders
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