Readers' Letters: How Nicola Sturgeon helped me pick holiday

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Nicola Sturgeon for deciding where my family holiday will be in the upcoming October school holidays.

Edinburgh's Portobello beach is back to peak popularity but one correspondent won't be rushing there (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

As a proud Scot who has a love for the scenery and all the wonderful staycations we have had in the past around this great country, I am compelled to take my family to England.

I shall leave other pertinent comments out as to why, but suffice to say, as a family we wanted a location where we will not be troubled by face coverings.

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I’m sure Visit Scotland (and all associated industries) will despair that this was our salient reason, but it is the truth.

Trying my best to keep the elephant out of the room and not make things “political”, Scotland has horrendous rates of Covid transmission with face coverings mandatory while England has far lower rates at present without face covering needs.

My family has had enough. So we are going where we can be “free”, where we are treated as adults (and “youngsters”). On the same island, the “borders” for which a virus cannot differentiate.

I wish to thank Ms Sturgeon for guiding me as to where to take my money. Alas, it is not to the benefit of Scottish tourism and our economy. She has driven me elsewhere.

Andy May, Edinburgh

Healthy state

Brian Monteith claims spending on the NHS in England has increased at a greater rate than in Scotland (Perspective, 13 September) but they still have a long way to go to catch up with the much better-performing NHS Scotland.

Health spending per head in Scotland is £7,612, which is around 27 per cent higher than the £5,971 in England. This is because the SNP government has mounted a strong defence of public health spending while the Tory government imposed a decade of austerity.

A modicum of research by Brian Monteith would reveal that Scotland has more GPs, dentists, hospital doctors, nurses and beds per head of population than England. Despite much higher attendance at A&E departments, Scotland is performing better and this is also the case with NHS waiting times, ambulance call-outs and virtually every measurement you can think of.

Since the SNP came to power more than 11,000 extra NHS staff have been recruited but Brexit continues to have an adverse effect on care home staffing and other areas.

Despite the current high number of Covid-19 cases, cumulatively Scotland still has fewer cases per head of population than in England or Wales, as well as fewer deaths, and has higher vaccination rates.

Vaccination passports are the norm in many Western European nations for access to clubs and football grounds. Allocating entrance time slots, as was the case in the recent European Championship, would get around the spurious objections raised by Neil Doncaster of the SPFL, the SFA and nightclub owners.

Fraser Grant, Edinburgh

Frankly better

As the SNP are apparently becoming hesitant over introducing “vaccine passports” yet are still keen to rejoin Europe, perhaps they could look at our near-neighbours in France, where the rate of Covid infection is steadily declining, in spite of restrictions being lifted long ago. The “pass sanitaire” is quickly and easily scanned (even the Scottish QR code!) and restaurants and cafes, where it is obligatory, are full. I read that many people aren’t wearing masks on Calmac services. On Brittany Ferries they are compulsory, wearing is enforced, and if, for health reasons, you can’t wear one, you are required to notify the company in advance and then stay in your cabin. Not that difficult surely?It all makes for a safer, more confident society, where consideration of others is still foremost. Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité!

Sally Cheseldine, Balerno, Edinburgh

Bring on report

We hear that Nicola Sturgeon is advocating greater cooperation between the SNP and UK Government in the matter of an independence referendum.

If that is truly the policy then her first action should be to get rid of the SNP leader at Westminster, whose theatrical performances are both divisive and embarrassing.

We are also being promised a factual report on the benefits of independence.

I can hardly wait to see how this will outline the beneficial impact of independence on the lives of the people of Scotland, and how having to comply with EU economic and governing policy will justify the independence obsession.

Derek Farmer, Anstruther, Fife

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Doing down nation

As the UK suffers under the worst government in generations, Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross keeps talking down Scotland, while the imposed Brexit wreaks havoc, secret trade deals promise to demolish our food standards and bankrupt our farmers, the Tory “chumocracy” loots the land, and the Home Secretary seems ready to declare war on France.

Mr Ross’s basic premise is, as always, that Scotland is too wee, too poor, and too stupid, to flourish without England to manage our affairs for us. What a lot of dross! Sixty-five countries have left the British Empire or the UK over the years, most of them seem to be doing OK, and none have asked to rejoin. Northern European nations of similar size to Scotland outperform the UK on every measure, and are generally lauded for their good governance and quality of life.

Meanwhile, in our glorious union, Boris and his gang undermine our elected Scottish Government, and remove the powers of our devolved parliament, while the rest of the world looks on astonished that a previously stable, generally sensible, country could so quickly fall into such a state of chaos and corruption.

Les Mackay, Dundee

Less power to her

At the 2017 SNP conference to a great fanfare and much applause, Nicola Sturgeon announced that a publicly owned, not-for-profit power company would be set up by 2021 to provide Scottish customers with energy at as close to cost prices as possible.

Fast forward four years and this whole project was quietly abandoned when the new Plan for Government was announced. This was after Ms Sturgeon admitted in Holyrood, when questioned by the Greens’ Lorna Slater, on why the company had not been set up, that she had not done enough.

What she really meant was that she had got the adulation and applause she desired but the SNP had realised that it was a pie in the sky idea that was not achievable and far too complex.

It must have been particularly uncomfortable for Ms Sturgeon to then watch SNP party members vote for the setting up of a state-run energy company, a motion which was overwhelmingly supported.

H ow long will it take for the SNP party members to realise that their esteemed leader makes many promises she doesn’t keep? As Abraham Lincoln said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time”. I think it is time for the SNP members to stop being taken for fools.

Jane Lax, Aberlour

Highly upset

If I were to drive around Edinburgh and surrounding areas in a vehicle that several thousand people could hear at any given time I suspect that the council’s environmental department would be wanting a word with me.

How is it, then, that we allow very noisy, low level sightseeing helicopters to break the peace and quiet of a Sunday stroll around Arthur’s Seat, or even your own back garden? I counted one every 20 minutes on Sunday afternoon and had to curtail my conversation until it was out of earshot every time. I am sure Edinburgh looks lovely from up there, but I feel there should be more consideration for the local population by restricting the number of flights, flying much higher or changing the flight paths on a regular basis.

Why should the relative tranquillity of swathes of Edinburgh be ruined by a tiny minority of thrillseeking sightseers? I realise that there are much bigger problems to address at the moment, but once one becomes aware of it, it is hard to ignore.

Philip Carmichael, Edinburgh

Ballsy theory

I was delighted to learn of those two “mysterious” neolithic carved stone balls that have been saved from the sea on Orkney (“Two mysterious stone balls found buried in 5,500-year-old 'disappearing' tomb in Orkney”, 2 September). As I appear to be the only person in the world to have gathered the measurements of all known specimens and subjected them (and the “mysterious” ring marked stones) to a fierce statistical analysis I am willing to bet that the latest two also share the diameter of circa 69mm.

That that is also three times the mean gap of the thousand or so ring-marked stones I have measured on sites across Britain and Europe is no mere coincidence as 23mm is the mean width of a flattened male thumb. This “rule of thumb” across thousands of miles and years makes good sense as the early male craftsmen, lacking any other standardised measurement, all had thumbs.

It is absurd to say that these balls were weapons – why go to all that bother when any old rock would do for so menial a task? Instead we should regard these arte facts as Scotland’s first works of art. Both the balls and the ring marks were, in my view, apprenticeship tests and proof of skill required for the growing stone masonry business.

Remember, this all happened in the late Stone Age. The metrics are still valid and in use today. For example: 12 flattened thumbs equals the length of our feet and 36 equals our average pace – it all goes to attest to the basis of what we now know as the Imperial Measurement System.

Tim Flinn, Garvald, East Lothian

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