Readers' Letters: Gaelic won’t help Scotland in modern world

Why can the Scottish Government not get its head around the obvious? It should be promoting the teaching and learning of modern European languages not Gaelic, which is not suitable for formal communication in the present age.

Can Gaelic seriously be called a 'vital part of Scotland's cultural identity' - as claimed by the Scottish Government - when only a tiny amount of people use it? (Picture; Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty Images)

Even Chinese would be more useful than Gaelic. Leave the latter to interested scholars and put the public purse to a more rewarding project. How can Gaelic be “a vital part of Scotland’s cultural identity” when only 1.7 per cent of the population comprehend it?

(Dr) RJM Wilson, Edinburgh

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Waste of money

How many votes will the SNP gain by squandering money on a dying language? Having seen the headline in yesterday’s Scotsman I did wonder if April Fool’s Day had come round again. Why should our taxes be wasted preserving a language used by fewer than two per cent of the population, when so many other areas of our national life have been so badly served by the Scottish Executive under the SNP?

I wait with bated breath for Gill Turner and Mary Thomas and all the other SNP apologists to enlighten us.

Pauline Carruthers, Dormont, Dumfriesshire

No transparency

Rather than “bending the truth” as alleged by Gill Turner (Letters, 16 July) I base my statements on the evidence in full. Ms Turner's position relies on a statement by ministers that they "accepted the decision on release [of data on care home deaths] was a matter for National Records of Scotland (NRS)". She ignores the evidence, however, of an e-mail from the NRS chief executive asking “if ministers are still looking at options as to how such a release of data should be avoided”. How does Ms Turner interpret this? Is this an agency operating “independently of ministers” as was claimed by Nicola Sturgeon?

NRS officials informed ministers they had “given in” in blocking a Scotsman Freedom of Information request and would make the data available early in February, as required by the Scottish Information Commissioner (SIC). After suggestions by the Cabinet Secretary, they changed their minds and the data was kept secret until May at which point the SIC duly criticised the NRS for “speculative” arguments and for acting unlawfully. Did the SNP minister's intervention have no bearing on the decision to continue with proceedings the NRS officials themselves had stated were “highly unlikely” to succeed? Or was she “still looking at options as to how the release of the data should be avoided”?

Coincidentally, the same issue carries the front page headline “Salmond case ‘secrecy’ risks court action for Sturgeon”. Yet again the SNP are taken to task by the SIC after attempting “to claim a report into [Alex Salmond's] alleged improper behaviour did not exist”. The commissioner labelled their arguments overly “pedantic” and “legalistic” and required ministers to comply with his ruling by 12 July, which they failed to do. Yet more evidence that the SNP's failure of transparency is endemic.

Colin Hamilton, Edinburgh

For the record

Further to your powerful exposé of the circumstances surrounding the delay to the publication of the number of care home Covid deaths until after the Scottish elections (7 July), I am puzzled by the role of National Records of Scotland.

For many good reasons, there are rules governing the timing of the release of statistics, especially with regard to the advance notice that governments receive. What is news to me is that the subjects of the data (in this case, the care homes) are being consulted prior to the release of data. How would we feel if traffic accident statistics were held up because car manufacturers are being consulted?

Being independent from government, and being seen to be independent, is vital for the reputation of the National Records of Scotland and our trust in its demographic statistics and forecasts. I would feel a lot more comfortable if National Records of Scotland referred itself to the UK Statistics Authority to investigate whether this independence has been put under undue institutional or personal pressure in this case.

Harald Tobermann, Edinburgh

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Neverending

David Millar (Letters, 14 July) is mistaken – England is Europe’s Covid capital and the 19 July "Freedom to Infect Everyone Day” will ensure it remains in first place. As of this week, England’s Covid infections were 43 per cent higher than Scotland’s and it’s certain they will continue to escalate after 19 July. Scotland has fully vaccinated 71.15 per cent of its population compared with England’s 68.53 per cent. Over the course of this ongoing pandemic – no, it’s not ending, Boris Johnson – Scotland has had 141.9 deaths per 100,000 compared to 200.5 in England.

The UK government is encouraging mass infection in England because herd immunity through infection has always been its goal. It welcomed the Delta variant into the country via 1.5 million overseas arrivals from January to April. With infections out of control, Johnson and Sajid Javid are washing their hands of any responsibility, placing it firmly on individuals and businesses to “do the right thing” – but no one is sure what that is.

Mr Johnson is undermining the only thing he says is the best way to fight Covid – vaccinations. When we are so close to achieving immunity from vaccines, why is he choosing infections, instead, with the certainty of more deaths and long Covid? When Mr Javid casually says we can expect 100,000 daily infections, he’s telling the population “don’t get vaccinated – it doesn’t matter”. Mutations will emerge, spawning more dangerous variants, further undermining the vaccination programme. But hey, Big Pharma will grow richer making vaccines to fight the neverending cycle of variants.

The Scottish Government is maintaining sensible mitigation including face masks and social distancing. It recognises that minimising infection and reopening the economy go hand in hand. The tragedy is that while we are trapped in this Union, we’ll suffer the effects of the Tory criminal cabal that dares to call itself a government.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh

Misunderstood

Joyce McMillan's latest article is yet another bare-faced nationalist attack on a UK government whose policy priorities are so obviously either misunderstood, or misrepresented by Ms McMillan (Perspective, 16 July).

I wonder if she might hazard a guess at how many lives would be lost in Scotland were the UK economy to tank, with much reduced financial support coming to Scotland.

Who would then be investing in the NHS, the medical research labs and the vaccine procurement that together have saved so many UK lives?

Derek Farmer, Anstruther, Fife

Prison tragedy

I read Linda Allan’s article about her daughter Katie’s suicide whilst in prison with sadness and anger (Perspective, 14 July). It highlights the public’s ignorance about the traumatic life experiences of so many young offenders, who have been locked up out of sight of the public as punishment for their crimes.

I can’t imagine the pain that her parents must feel, and I applaud her mother’s determination to get a full account of the circumstances leading to her daughter’s sad, lonely death – in a place where she should have been safe from harm, and been seen as a troubled young woman who could not cope with being incarcerated with highly disturbed women.

We should be ashamed of this situation. If we read about it happening in other countries, we would be quick to condemn the authorities and to demand change. Linda Allan deserves to be listened to by all who think that our treatment of young offenders is beyond reproach, when it’s glaringly obvious that it’s not.

Carolyn Taylor, Broughty Ferry, Dundee

Global duty

Yesterday’s Scotsman gave front page coverage to the unprecedented, and fatal, floods in Germany and Belgium.Any criticism of attempts to combat climate change in the same edition might reasonably be expected to offer an alternative prescription, but Charles Wardrop fails to acknowledge the enormity of the problem.Instead, he suggests that the UK’s carbon dioxide production is so insignificant that the country should somehow be excused worldwide efforts to control the pace of meteorological change.Yet even a government as nationalistic as the UK’s recognises that the growing instability of weather systems must be dealt with internationally.That’s why the UK is hosting this year’s COP, in Glasgow this November, and not “copping out" in the belief our contribution might prove to be like our CO2 output, negligibly small.On this question at least, we are neither too wee, nor too poor, to be exempted from responsibility, not just to our own community, but those across the planet.

Anthony O’Donnell, Edinburgh

Better late...

Dr Richard Dixon – in his article “Backward move hampers target” (Perspective, 15 July) – rather missed the important point when he berated the UK Government for considering oil production in the Cambo field. He forgot to explain how we would manage to keep the lights on in the future without oil and gas when wind over five days – last Thursday lunch to early Tuesday this week – managed to produce around 0.50 GW of electricity on average from 24 GW installed capacity in the whole of the UK. As usual, gas and nuclear were the main contributors. On several days coal almost doubled the wind contribution. Maybe next week he will provide an explanation. Better late than never.

John Peter, Airdrie, North Lanarkshire

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