Readers' letters: Focus on end-of-life care, not assisted dying

The report from Marie Curie headed “Terminally ill dying in pain out of hours” (Scotsman, 29 November) highlights the urgent need for a fully resourced palliative care system with appropriately trained staff and not legislation for assisted death.

Compassionate assisted dying goes on every day in our hospitals, care homes, and in the community, but could be delivered more efficiently and appropriately if there was a fully funded palliative care system in place. If there was, Liam McArthur’s Bill on Assisted Dying would not be needed.

What a dreadful mistake it would be if legalising assisted death (not dying) were to succeed while experience in many other countries was ignored.

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There have been many reports from Canada and other European countries of increasingly easing the conditions to carry out legally assisted death. Is this what Scotland really wants? Surely it would be better to offer appropriate end-of-life care as the doctors, especially palliative care doctors, nurses, and care staff have made clear in hundreds, if not thousands, of letters to the press and MSPs.

Liam McArthur’s Bill on Assisted Dying is proving controversial

As a retired nurse with over 50 years of experience, including end-of-life care, I oppose the proposed Bill on professional, personal, ethical, spiritual, and moral grounds. I implore MSPs to review their stance whatever it has been and not support the Bill.

Pamala McDougall, Inverkeilor, Angus

Care or careless?

Discussion of the Assisted Dying Bill could well do without the superstitious input of CARE for Scotland (Friends of the Scotsman, 2 December).

Mr Veitch devoted about one-third of his column to rehearsing ancient Biblical texts about the sanctity of human life, apparently by a divine hand but in fact the scribbling of ancient Jewish scribes who thought they knew their god’s thinking. These texts have absolutely no relevance to modern secular society, nor to the Assisted Dying Bill.

CARE may be a “Friend of The Scotsman” but they are no friend of Scotland.

Steuart Campbell, Edinburgh

Arrogant anthem

The use of God Save The King as the boring national anthem for a boring England football team, that has played in the most no-scoring draws in World Cup history, is typical of the metropolitan arrogance, including the BBC, that regularly thinks England is Britain (Letters, 2 December).

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Not even the North Korean anthem glorifies its head of state and certainly doesn’t evoke the crushing of one constitute part of the country. The archaic British monarchy is only supported by a minority in Scotland and as an institution is badly in need of modernisation.

Fraser Grant, Edinburgh

Vaping cure

I have just recovered from the shock of reading Dr Richard Dixon’s article “Dark cloud thinking” (Scotsman, 1 December).

For the first time ever I agreed with him and his attack on disposable vapes. Smoking vapes is anti-social as those puffing clouds of unpleasant air have no regard for other pedestrians as they stand outside pubs and eating places.

Dr Dixon is correct to point out that lithium batteries vapes contain are a fire risk. London Transport has banned e-scooters from its rail and transport network. Some towns in Germany have banned electric cars from underground parking..

The Scottish Government is forcing through an unpopular and unnecessary bottle return scheme so why not charge a £1 deposit on every vape? Buying ten with a deposit of £10 would stop them littering the streets and ending up in landfill.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow, West Lothian

Energy folly

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It’s hard to imagine a worse government than the UK’s. Crumbling public services, soaring interest rates, a new round of austerity, rising poverty, record inflation, fuel and food insecurity, a disastrous Brexit, falling life expectancy…

This staggering incompetence is most evident in the Tory destruction of the UK energy sector. Selling off a nation’s energy assets to private corporations who don’t care about long-term stability or energy security is criminal. Every citizen is being held hostage by private energy company profiteering. This winter, millions will be cold, hungry and thousands will die.

Six companies control over three-quarters of the UK household energy market. Three are controlled from France (EDF), Germany (EON, npower) and Spain (ScottishPower). Over the last decade, these six companies have paid £23 billion in dividends. Billions of pounds have gone abroad that would have stayed here had these companies remained in public ownership.

Ofgem’s weak regulation has encouraged profiteering and underinvestment. As a result, the UK has insufficient electricity generation capacity and must rely on imports, making it hugely vulnerable to price shocks.

It’s insane that energy-rich Scotland is paying some of the highest electricity prices in the world. Donald Dewar foresaw the disastrous consequences of privatising Scotland’s electricity industry: “Privatisation of electricity is no more than asset-stripping. The (UK) Government are living like spendthrifts, selling the future to finance today’s expenditure.”

The UK is a political, not a territorial union. Westminster has plundered resources belonging to the Scottish people who should be warm, well-fed and secure. The fact they aren’t is why this Union must end.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh

Time wa sters

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I’ve just seen Holyrood’s Presiding Officer say at the close of FMQs that there was no time for supplementary questions because of the lengthy responses already given.

Apart from pointing out that the PO has the authority to demand brevity and chivvy things along, could I suggest a time limit of, say, two minutes for questions and three for responses?

In fact, if the First Minister and her planted question acolytes were to be banned from mentioning England, Westminster and Wales that would free up a fair bit of time off for a start.

Andrew Kemp, Rosyth, Fife​​​​​

Stand corrected

May I respectfully correct your article “How SNP picks Westminster leader” (2 December).

In all matters, the SNP conducts decision-making processes using the “one member one vote” system. There is no need to say who that one member is.

Alan Dickson, Edinburgh

Diddy jump?

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I suspect that there are some who will not miss the performances of Ian Blackwood as SNP Leader in the Commons chamber, but I for one will.

His impressions of a Ken Dodd Diddy Man, doing a caricature of a demented Scotsman with a grievance, were a joy to behold. I wish him and the sheep on his croft a happy retirement.

Fraser MacGregor, Edinburgh

Healthy sceptic

Far be it for me to argue with Professor Hugh Pennington, but he is talking drivel about Enoch Powell (Letters, 2 December).

Firstly, Powell was not one of the longest Health Ministers as claimed – he was in the role for three years, the standard tenure (Nye Bevin, Norman Fowler and Jeremy Hunt all did six).

Secondly, Powell ended the pre-1960s wholesale dumping by all strata of British society of its mentally ill in “loony bins” as if they were rubbish because it was evil, not to cut costs.

Again contrary to the myth, he voraciously opposed Margaret Thatcher’s “Care In The Community” and pointed out his solution would cost the Treasury more in the short term, less in the long as thousands of mentally ill people would regain their lives. Suffice to say, Powell’s plans went down like a lead brick.

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Thirdly, the disingenuous attempts to paint Powell as an advocate for a two-tier NHS are so outrageous, a heat pump sunk next to the great man's grave would solve Britain's energy issues in an instant from his spinning like a top at the suggestion. Au contraire Prof Pennington, Enoch Powell warned – and was ignored – what was happening to the NHS and the sinister "market forces" contriving to undermine it.

His potent 1966 book A New Look At Medicine And Politics saw him warn “The unnerving discovery every Minister of Health makes... is that the only subject he is ever destined to discuss with the medical profession is money”, and that those whose sole interest in health was profit undermined health ministers and NHS staff alike at every turn by hissing lies to the Treasury about “savings” which to little surprise prove the contrary when applied.

All warned of by Powell in 1966 – all still true in 2022.

Mark Boyle, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

Secular power

The Office for National Statistics census data for England and Wales revealed that less than half of the population (46.2 per cent) described themselves as Christian.

By far the biggest factor in the long-term decline of organised religion in western Europe has been the rise of moral autonomy.

Attitudes to same-sex marriage, homosexuality, women’s rights, abortion and assisted suicide have shifted in a generation. There has been a groundswell of public opinion in favour of more liberal approaches towards the rights and freedoms of the individual.

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The idea that morality flows from religion has received a major set-back in the public perception in recent years with the well-documented incidence of paedophilia among the clergy. Christianity should have its privileged position in our schools and the House of Lords removed.

Doug Clark, Currie, Edinburgh

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