Readers Letters: Don't relax Covid rules for Christmas

It is becoming more and more evident that a large body of politicians, media people and vocal members of the chattering classes are at variance with those in the medical/scientific community who are advising extreme caution on any relaxation of Covid protection measures over the Christmas period.

Santa, pictured on Aviemore in 1966, doesn't care what tier you're in

One epidemiologist on BBC Radio 4 yesterday warned that any such relaxation or pause could be seen as a policy amounting to “give your granny Covid for Christmas.” Surely the prime lesson of the last eight months must be that following the scientific advice is the only way forward and that delays in implementation of such advice or tempering it for economic, social or populist political reasons results in greater incidence and higher sickness and mortality rates

So could I appeal to our political leaders to adhere strictly to the body of scientific opinion when advising the public or legislating on Covid measures over the festive period?

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Further, on vaccinations could I make a plea to those holding anti-vaccine views to consider a world riven with polio and measles-damaged children, not to mention the enormous mortality rates we would have experienced if medical science had not developed vaccination.

Graham Hammond, Hog Hill Court, East Calder, West Lothian

Greatest gift

It was good to read in your report (November 19) that the First Minister says she is at last going to “treat people like grown-ups” over Christmas.

I hope she makes this change in attitude a one-off gift to a grateful nation and quickly starts to treat us like children again before the New Year celebrations get underway. Despite the clear medical risks, getting to be with family or allowing those on their own to see a friend at Christmas is probably a necessity for our mental health. But given our culture of excessive drinking at Hogmanay there is no justification for taking additional risks over the New Year.

Alan Black, Camus Avenue, Edinburgh

Poor show

An opinion poll yesterday suggests that significantly more Scots think Nicola Sturgeon has handled the Covid pandemic better than Boris Johnson. It is a pity that the poll did not ask about Nicola Sturgeon’s performance compared with those of similarly sized European countries of 5 million. Sadly, Scotland’s death rate from Covid is significantly higher than four European countries with such populations, ie Denmark, Finland, Slovakia and Norway. Indeed, Scotland’s death rate is 10 times worse than Norway. With Scotland’s geography and population density, Scotland should at least be doing as well as these countries but it has contrived to do worse, eg by sending elderly people, sick with Covid, back to care homes.

The myth about Nicola Sturgeon’s Covid performance needs to be exposed. Failure to do so will assuredly add to Scots mistaken belief that it would be better if Scotland were independent from the rest of the UK.

Tim Jackson, Whim Road, Gullane, East Lothian

No myrhh heroes

Nicola Sturgeon's suggestion for a Christmas social “bauble” is a reasonable one,. But let me frankincense with her, I'm tired of being gold what to do and I want no myrrh lockdowns after this one.

David Bone, Hamilton Street, Girvan, South Ayrshire

Sheltered lives

The fears keeping Scots awake at night include jobs, health (especially if they have elderly relatives in care homes) and their children's education. Low down on the list of priorities for most will be another divisive referendum or, at the start of our long northern winter, the "threat" of global warming.

As most Scottish politicians have never had a real job, one shouldn't expect them to share all our concerns. Despite Covid transmission rates being high enough in the SNP heartlands to justify a full lockdown, the sole focus of the First Minister's daily "Bute House Blues" show is breaking up Britain. But without the UK Treasury, she couldn't help anyone and after 13 years of nationalist rule, poverty in East Glasgow is unmatched in Europe, while male longevity is on a par with sub Saharan Africa. The only sensible goal is to try to steer us out of this Covid mess and to kick-start the economy.

(Rev) Dr John Cameron, Howard Place, St Andrews

Decision needed

No democrat should lightly call for the postponement of a scheduled general election. I note the comments of Graeme Dey – Holyrood's parliamentary business manager – that arrangements are well in hand to cover a number of eventualities in relation to next May's Scottish parliament elections (your report, 17 November).

With the current restrictions causing all sorts of frustrations throughout the land, it does seem prudent that a decision about whether the vote should be put off, say, to next October, should be made soon.

Certainly this is a digital age; the days of committed footsoldiers, pounding the streets endlessly in support of their cause, may well have had its day. There is still some expectation that public meetings and canvassing on doorsteps should take place. Would that really be possible if the various degrees of lockdown continue well into the new year?

Of course, a much bigger plebiscite has recently taken place in the United States. But it has been controversial in the sense that bitter arguments are ongoing about who should have voted, when and how.

I can't recall any election in this country when someone, somewhere, didn't complain about not getting a polling card or some other discrepancy. There is still a lingering suspicion among many Yes voters in the independence referendum of 2014 that some degree of malpractice took place.

The potential for controversy in the various scenarios Mr Dey has outlined is very high; a full postal ballot or an election paced over several days is riddled with the chance of serious mistakes.

Elections have been put off in the past mainly due to the exigencies of wartime, but more recently the local elections south of the Border last spring, due to the pandemic. A decision about whether next spring's Holyrood vote should go ahead then needs to be made soon if our democracy is to remain credible.

Bob Taylor, Shiel Court, Glenrothes

Shooting fish

I see my old sparring partner and colleague Kenny MacAskill using his column to set loose a shoal of red herrings about my call for a devo max option to be on the ballot paper in any future constitutional referendum (Perspective, November 19). Let me address these one by one. Firstly, Devo max was not on the ballot paper in 2014, I argued that it should have been, but inexplicably, senior people in my party rejected that option. What we do know is that the option that was most definitely on the ballot paper was independence and that was rejected by the voters.

Secondly, The Vow, which was in part drafted by Nicola Sturgeon’s spin doctor Murray Foote when he was editor of the Daily Record, was – according to Mr Foote – delivered in full. Maybe Mr MacAskill can identify for Mr Foote’s benefit which elements of it were not delivered?

Thirdly, I agree that for a fully federal system to be an option we need to see demand for this in England. That demand is now growing, as we can see from the calls from Sadiq Khan, Andy Burnham, Steve Rotherham, other Metro mayors, council leaders and influential regional players for powers to deal with all elements of the Covid crisis. But we cannot wait on England – Scotland can forge ahead and develop a political set-up that meets our needs; if that is in an asymmetrical way, so be it.

Furthermore, in what was cheap shot in an otherwise reasonable article, Mr MacAskill says that Keir Starmer doesn’t seem to want to visit Scotland – there’s been a Covid pandemic on every day since he was elected, Kenny, have you not noticed?

And finally, I would say to Kenny and his chums: you speak regularly of democracy, so why would you want to deny the widening of choice to the Scottish people by including a third option, as called for this week by STUC General Secretary Roz Foyer? Denying more democratic choice strikes me as coming from people who are losing confidence in their case – and with that case be based on the SNP’s dreadful Growth Commission proposal, I can see why.

Neil Findlay, Labour MSP for Lothian region, Holyrood, Edinburgh

Chinese burn

I can't remember exactly what Clark Cross said in his letter, but Carolyn Taylor's assertion that he is seriously telling XR (Extinction Rebellion) to travel to China to protest is not helpful (Lettrs, 19 November).

What XR could easily do, though, is protest outside the embassies of China, the US, India, Germany, Iran and Saudi Arabia, as these countries have CO2 emissions that are several times higher than that of the UK.

Geoff Moore, Alness, Highland

Cats and pigeons

The Prime Minister's announcement that £16 billion will be added to the UK defence budget over the next four years and that the Black Watch is safe are welcome pieces of news.

Scottish Tory Leader Douglas Ross's view that the extra cash will bring about a boost to Scottish shipyards is perhaps a bit premature with "independence” looming on the horizon. It's hard to contemplate Royal Navy warships being built in Scotland if the country votes for independence and becomes a foreign power.

The SNP chickens are coming home to roost should Scots go down the "independence” route and one can see naval shipbuilding in the Clyde and Forth becoming casualties of the split. Perhaps it's Boris Johnson's intention to put the cat among the pigeons and show Scots the possible ramifications of separation.

Bob MacDougall, Oxhill, Kippen, Stirlingshire

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