Readers' Letters: Braverman's views on homeless spotlight Tory Government 'vileness'

In 1971, the Education Secretary in Edward Heath’s Tory Government, a certain Margaret Thatcher, prompted the playground taunt “Thatcher, Thatcher, milk snatcher”, as she stopped the provision of milk for junior school pupils.
On Britain's streets, homeless people sleep in tents, something Suella Braverman says is a 'lifestyle choice'On Britain's streets, homeless people sleep in tents, something Suella Braverman says is a 'lifestyle choice'
On Britain's streets, homeless people sleep in tents, something Suella Braverman says is a 'lifestyle choice'

Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s reported call in the King’s Speech that homeless people should have their tents removed does not quite have the same ring but demonstrates a similar lack of empathy for many of those forced into such dire straits by the actions of her government. In addition, she is reported to be looking to fine charities found to have given tents to rough sleepers.

To rub salt further into the wounds and demonstrate to what extent both her and her government have totally lost the plot, according to Ms Braverman many of those taking up residence in tents are doing so, apparently, as a “lifestyle choice”. So, as we approach winter, people are apparently deciding that this is the life they want to lead.

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People don’t choose to be homeless, in the same way people don’t choose to be poor. And in a cost-of-living crisis, to look to take away the tents of people, many of whom have been left in such conditions due to Tory policies, demonstrates how vile this government truly is.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh

Gaza solutions

Why are the millions of pro-Palestinian supporters not denouncing Hamas and campaigning for their removal from government of the Gaza Strip?

At the same time, campaign for their terrorist supporters to free the 240 Israeli captives.

That is what civilised people would be looking to achieve as those are the solutions to their troubles in Gaza.

Michael Officer, Perthshire, Bridge of Earn

Children first

If you were about to start a war (as Hamas knew they would with Israel) would you not evacuate the vulnerable and children out of harm's way before you invaded your neighbour ? They built tunnels for armaments and supplies, they could have done the same for their children. Hamas spent years preparing for war without one thought for their own children.

Stan Hogarth, Strathaven, South Lanarkshire

Border nonsense

The latest tax revenue-devouring glossy booklet from the SNP on a separated Scotland has been published. I have not read it, life is too short, but if it is anything like those that preceded it I can make a fair guess at the deluded fantasy it will contain. It has been reported, however, that in the SNP’s Scottish Utopia, the plan in the latest version is to have a points system for those trying to come in. Fair enough. But there is also the assertion that there will be an open border of some kind with England and the rest of the UK. And therein lies the rub.

Have the others been consulted? Would the countries with which they have just severed a centuries’ long amalgamation with a 60 million-plus population meekly bow their heads and accept a separated Scotland’s declarations? England is more than ten times larger and has a serious problem with unofficial and undocumented migrants on its south coast. Does even the most starry-eyed nationalist think they would just say “it is now an open border” and the English and others would just bow low and rush to comply. A border has two sides. England will do as it sees fit. After that preposterous declaration, I did not read any more.

Are they unaware the vast majority of incomers to the UK could get in through Scotland and then walk through the open border to the part of England where most of their wider families are located? Most are in England.

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Instead of producing these fantasy documents and opening pretend embassies and arranging jaunts overseas, why not spend this mountain of cash they are expending on matters of importance, for example the health and welfare of Scots? Thankfully, not much longer to suffer from these absurdities.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

Hanging in there

Your correspondent Ken Currie needs to get out more! He says he has never met a Scots speaker, and dismisses the "small number of Gaelic speakers” (Letters, 6 November). Although I regularly visited Scotland for work and the occasional holiday over the past 40 years I have only lived here for 21 months, yet in that time I have had the privilege of meeting Professor David Purdie, editor of the Burns Journal and co-editor of the Walter Scott Journal. On several occasions I have attended events in which he has spoken fluently in Scots. Despite being both a monarchist and a unionist he has travelled the world imparting his knowledge, as well as taking part in many events within Britain, often accompanied by a Gaelic speaking musician who plays beautiful Scots music.

My 92-year-old downstairs neighbour, Mrs Grace Smith, who in her day was the star of the Edinburgh University Dramatic Society and whose daughter has recently retired as UK Ambassador to Greece – also demonstrating her unionist credentials with a picture above her fireplace of her daughter escorting the King when he was Prince of Wales – regularly lapses into Scots and speaks it on the phone with her Yorkshire-based older brother.

Finally, it wasn't until I met my dear friend Mrs Liz Condie from Leith, formerly a production secretary on Take the High Road, that I was able to fathom what my own great aunt (from Minnesota) was talking about 40 years ago when she quoted her own Scots grandmother (from Kircudbright.

All of these wonderful people are in their eighties and nineties. When Scotland loses them it will lose something integral to its distinctive identity and heritage. The Welsh people fought hard to rescue and maintain their language with great success. In fact, Dafydd Iwan, one of their most popular musicians, has seen one of his songs, Yma yr Hyd, cross over to English-speaking Welsh football fans. As the song says, “Despite everyone and everything we're still here”.

Marjorie Ellis Thompson, Edinburgh

Signs of times

Ken Currie makes a good point about the usefulness of Gaelic, which should be preserved, but not inflicted on us in situations that cause confusion, such as on A9 road signs. I am told that those are an invented Gaelic, akin to the Parliamo Glasgow of Stanley Baxter. Certainly they cause confusion and danger for drivers as they take time to decipher. With tourism as Scotland’s main industry, surely French or German would have been a more sensible choice.

Malcolm Parkin, Kinnesswood, Perth and Kinross

Low interest

Susan Dalgety’s fine article (Scotsman, 6 November) reaches a pessimistic conclusion about Holyrood, which many of us now share. But this is not quite the contrast with the “brave new world” view of Holyrood which she portrays by saying “The Scottish people said an overwhelming ‘yes’ ” to devolution in 1997.

It is true that the vote in the 1997 referendum returned 74.3 per cent support for a Scottish parliament, as against 25.7 per cent opposition. Yet the most striking figure is that for the turnout: of eligible registered voters, only 60.18 per cent bothered to vote. Therefore only 44.7 per cent of those eligible to vote supported the creation of the parliament. It is, of course, a much higher share than the 15.4 per cent who opposed it.

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This does not suggest that interest in the creation of a parliament was, even after a much publicised campaign, of “overwhelming” interest to Scottish voters. The result was that a minority of those entitled to vote supported it. Whether more have been converted to supporting it in the last quarter of a century is moot. The dire record of the parliament, especially in the SNP years, suggests that is unlikely.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh

Details please

Marjorie Ellis Thompson is perplexed: “I really can’t figure out why [Jill] Stephenson wouldn’t want to live in an independent Scotland where people would be warm and have enough to eat, and like Ireland were free to take a stance in favour of humanity in the international arena” (Letters, 4 November).

But could Ms Ellis Thompson explain how this generous universal provision of affordable heating and food (among other promises) would be funded in a separatist Scotland?

Holyrood already runs a double digit budget deficit, for starters. Liberated from Barnett subsidies, borrowing money for ambitious social welfare wouldn’t happen because bankrupt states with radical governments and no lender of last resort are seen as serious default risks. Inevitable further tax increases should finish the job of scaring off most remaining investors and vital high-earning professionals.

What about keeping everyone warm? Well, the Green/SNP gang are itching to shut down both oilfields and nuclear energy, leaving us dependent on intermittent wind power and expensive imported electricity.

Unlike the Irish, Scots apparently aren’t allowed to voice their opinions “in favour of humanity” on the world stage. So it’s understandable why Eire’s state-controlled public broadcasting seems an attractive alternative model.

Martin O’Gorman, Edinburgh

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