Readers' letters: Census prosectuions would focus minds

With most Scottish local authorities approaching around the 90 per cent return rate for the Scottish Census, it is deplorable that the figures for the Glasgow local authority are so low.

I think there is a knee-jerk tendency to point to social deprivation (as we did when the Glasgow figure for Covid jabs was derisory) and, certainly, Professor Lindsay Paterson made that suggestion on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland. However, in England and Wales, where the Census return figure in 2021 was a commendable 97 per cent, it was the poorest areas which had a high return rate.

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Given the Census provides us with a snapshot of what we require regarding schools, hospitals, social care, housing, transport and finance for local authorities – all areas where the people of Glasgow benefit disproportionately – it is even more inexplicable.

The census return rate in Scotland has come in for criticism

What was the difficulty? The Census form was brief and simple and assistance was available in 26 languages including the key ones like Polish, Arabic and Cantonese. Now the Census Coverage Survey is in operation, the Office of National Statistics is quoted as saying the current figures are useless.

Angus Robertson MSP could not understand why some were uninformed given the considerable advertising and media coverage. I would suggest extensive media coverage of the first individuals to be prosecuted, fined and given a criminal record for failing to return the Census may concentrate minds, but I won't hold my breath.

John V Lloyd, Inverkeithing, Fife

Patient records

I was delighted to read that the introduction of a single shared electronic patient record is a key recommendation in the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee’s report on Alternative Pathways to Primary Care, published on Friday. Gillian Martin MSP, convener of the committee, described the need for this as “more urgent than ever”.

Royal Pharmaceutical Society Scotland has been calling for the introduction of a single shared electronic patient record for some time.

At present, health and care information is held in silos: sharing of information relies on manual communication between professionals and there is an enormous duplication of effort as the same information is entered into multiple systems. It also results in a poor patient experience, as patients have to repeat the same information to each professional they meet.

A single shared electronic patient record would allow health professionals in primary and secondary care to have relevant clinical information to enable them to provide safe and effective care for patients, without having to spend time contacting others to source the information they need: something which causes delays for patients and wastes time for all concerned.

It’s hugely encouraging that the Health, Social Care and Sport committee, after thoroughly examining this issue, understands the need for urgent action on this. Perhaps now, this will get the prioritisation it deserves.

Clare Morrison, Royal Pharmaceutical Society director for Scotland, Edinburgh

Croft original

In your article “McCartney on Kintyre idyll” (Scotsman, 18 June) you quote Paul as saying: “John had Scottish relatives and he would go up there and stay in a croft somewhere, and I thought ‘wow, that’s wildly romantic’.”

Would this be the croft his auntie stayed in at 15 Ormidale Terrace in Murrayfield? Handy for the 26 and 31 buses into Princes Street!

Sandy Ross, Edinburgh

Jumping the gun

The media seems to have gone into overdrive over Nicola Sturgeon's new independence referendum attempt.

Speculation over the question to be asked and who will front the Union campaign etc seems rife. Is this not all a bit premature?

Ms Sturgeon has yet to tell Scots just what the foolproof legal route to this "momentous occasion" will be and, if it is an SNP/Green co-production, just how "foolproof" can it really be?

Right now, the announcement that Nicola Sturgeon made last week might just as easily have been that Scotland was about to launch a manned mission to Mars by October 2023, considering the amount of evidence provided.

This whole episode is rapidly descending into farce unless the SNP comes clean with the population of Scotland and lays all its cards on the table right now. If Ms Sturgeon is so sure this is all definitely going to happen in just over a year from now she must already know all the details, or does she?

Gerald Edwards, Glasgow

Sturgeon’s bind

Ms Sturgeon is in a bind of her own making. She has for the last six years promised that a separation referendum was imminent. Now she stands firm on 2023, October 2023, to be precise.

She has backed herself into a corner through her need to appease her devotees who are aching for a vote. The founding of the (ineffectual, as it turns out) Alba Party and the defection of of other SNP members, including one close to me, rings alarm bells. She has given them baby boxes and mitigated the “bedroom tax”, but that is all, and she has made no progress on what her followers want most.

Ms Sturgeon knows that she cannot hold a legal referendum, so is contemplating an unofficial one. Pro-Union forces have long said that they will not vote in such an exercise, and that would mean Ms Sturgeon being left in a failed Catalonia situation, with perhaps 90 per cent of the vote on a turnout of around 40 per cent. She could try to negotiate with Her Majesty’s Government (HMG) on that basis, but she wouldn’t get very far.

Anyway, how does she hold an unofficial referendum when the councils who would be responsible for making the voting arrangements are not dominated by the SNP? Which councils would volunteer to spend money on such an exercise when Kate Forbes is already cutting their revenues yet again?

Yet in some ways, letting Ms Sturgeon negotiate with HMG about the terms of separation might not be a bad thing. It would demonstrate clearly the parlous state in which a new and separate Scotland would find itself. That might be the easiest way of hitting the independence fantasy on the head for good.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh

SNP logic

It is interesting to note the timing of Nicola Sturgeon’s publicly funded, lightly warmed over drive for another referendum. Boris Johnson, her biggest unwitting ally, is on his last Prime Ministerial legs so it’s now or never for another generation, at least.

In any case, despite being an unapologetic Unionist, I might just join Joyce McMillan’s turncoats (Scotsman, 17 June) and vote for isolation if it could be guaranteed that, after securing Scottish independence (their sole reason to exist at all), that the woefully incompetent SNP would thereafter disappear, to misquote Douglas Adams, in a puff of logic. That would be worth a punt.

Alan Bristow, Bo’ness, West Lothian

Hard life

Nicola Sturgeon stated last week: “Independence does not guarantee a better future”. Andrew Wilson has been stating for years that independence will be hard, with no guarantee of success. In 2019 he said: “Independence would mean more not less austerity.”

One question: why do they want to make life “hard” for “the people of Scotland when there in no “guarantee” of a better future ?

Separatists are clearly happy for themselves and future generations to have a very uncertain “hard” future with “no guarantee of success”. The only winners in this are SNP MPs and MSPs who are on a massive gravy train which they don’t want to get off.

Douglas Cowe, Newmachar, Aberdeenshire

Scientific success

Fraser Grant (Letters, 18 June) claims that my paean to UK science refers to a bygone age.

But consider Covid vaccines. Like many millions I have benefited from the Oxford one developed at the beginning of the pandemic.

And count the number of Nobel Prizes for science and medicine won this century; 29 by UK scientists and a total of 13 from all the eight countries (which have the same combined population as the UK) in Nicola Sturgeon's first “Wealthier, Happier, Fairer” document.

Hugh Pennington, Aberdeen

Life everlasting

I always enjoy Steuart Campbell going his dinger about religion (Letters, 18 June). My reading of the Bible assures me that Jesus and the disciples were and remained Jews and thus their heaven is indeed upon an albeit revitalised Earth.

Christianity is largely a Pauline invention (Jesus was never a Christian and is unlikely to be welcome with all his demands in any Christian church); and an invention given its final stamp of authority by Constantine following his banging together of the heads of the proponents of the many versions of Christianity that had arisen (and are still arising) at Nicea.

Steuart declares that survival is life’s categorical imperative but as life is energy and as energy can neither be created nor destroyed, only converted, he might agree that death is merely such a transformation and thus the essential self does indeed have “life everlasting”.

Tim Flinn, Garvald, East Lothian

A hill to die on

Congratulations to the BBC, whom after four weeks of trying have finally come up with a way of changing the way their own music charts are compiled to put Kate Bush's ancient Running Up That Hill at No.1 – the most embarrassingly obvious attempt by Middle England parents to “connect” with their surly Generation Midwich Hivemind brats this summer.

Mark Boyle, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

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