Readers' Letters: Only a turkey would do trade deal with Brazil

As readers will know, Boris Johnson made an impassioned plea at the UN General Assembly for all countries to take action to reduce carbon emissions to save the planet from any further global warming (your report, 24 September).

Suspicions that the Prime Minister is on a mission to import Christmas turkey from Brazil have not been confirmed by Downing St (Picture: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Suspicions that the Prime Minister is on a mission to import Christmas turkey from Brazil have not been confirmed by Downing St (Picture: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Quite rightly, in an editorial of the same day, The Scotsman said the Prime Minister's words were a clarion call for all countries to take global warming seriously now, and to act accordingly. The following day, you reported that Brazil's president, Jair Bolsonaro, had announced that our PM had asked for "an emergency food deal" with Brazil about an unnamed product – thought to be turkey meat – for Christmas consumers here.

Has anyone else noticed the discrepancy between our PM's fine words about the urgent need to reduce the emissions of C02 with the land policies of Bolsonaro, a powerful man who is a climate change denier? This is the man who encourages people to burn unimaginably vast swathes of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil – vital for the absorption of C02 across the globe – for the short term gain of growing soya beans for cattle food (See also Philip Lymbery's piece in Perspective yesterday ).

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Yet our PM is apparently begging for a food deal with Brazil. What on earth are we thinking of? Do we have to go half way round the world, thinking of transport emissions and costs as well the procurement of meat, from birds which we rear at home and in Europe? And from a country with policies which contribute on a major scale to the potential destruction of life for many species including ourselves, for even shorter-sighted gain of keeping consumers happy at Christmas here?

I hope others will join me to lobby for this trade deal to be called off.

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R Macrae, St Andrews, Fife

Respect workers

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Some years ago, when I was working, I felt that looking after your people was important. Not just the dozen or so whom I line managed, but others in the organisation whose efforts directly impacted on the work of our group. This seems to be what Brian Monteith is saying – we have not looked after our lorry drivers and now there are not enough of them (Perspective, yesterday).

Ever since the early 1980s when Margaret Thatcher defeated the miners in a protracted contest, vividly recalled and trumpeted by Archie Burleigh (Letters, 25 September) and subsequently went on to defeat any group of workers who dared stand up for their own interest, the norm has been to look after yourself and those very close to you and never mind the rest of society.

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If, as Brian Monteith states, Brexit has put power back in the hands of the ordinary British worker, can we expect a sea change in the way workers are treated in the UK?

Benedict Bate, Edinburgh

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Read More
The real shortage we face is political honesty - Brian Monteith

Airy tales

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Mary Thomas blames Brexit for supply chain disruption (Letters, 24 September) . There is actually a shortage of HGV drivers throughout much of the EU, caused mainly by haulage workers returning to their home countries in central Europe due to improved wages and conditions there.

It's a bit rich for Ms Thomas to boast of Scotland's gas resources when the Holyrood Cabbage Coalition appears hell bent on shutting down North Sea production. And of course, the Green Socialist Scottish Republic would close Torness and Dounreay as well, leaving no carbon-neutral nuclear option.

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As for all these food and drink exports mentioned in the letter, which country does its author think our biggest market is? Does she really want a hard paperwork border impeding this trade?

Separatists are incapable of accepting that you can't run an economy on wind, whisky and welfare.

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Martin O’Gorman, Edinburgh

Short on facts?

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Oh, dear! John V Lloyd describes the shortage of HGV drivers in the UK as being due to Brexit, but shhh, the media “cannot afford to antagonise their paymasters, the UK Government” (27 September). This came as news to me as the BBC in Scotland seems to me to act as the propaganda wing of the SNP with their daily broadcasts for and by Nicola Sturgeon. Indeed, the political slant of the Beeb is definitely not pro-UK Government, so quite where Mr Lloyds gets his facts, heaven alone knows.

However, it is worthy of note that the UK does, indeed, have a shortage of HGV drivers. There was a shortage of around 60,000 in 2019, a year before Brexit. Estimates suggest that there are about 19,000 fewer EU HGV drivers in the UK now, but also that 25,000 fewer are to be found because those who would have qualified to become HGV-qualified were unable to be tested due to Covid. I assume Mr Lloyd was aware of Covid?

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He may be interested to know that Germany is currently short of 60,000 HGV drivers, as is is Spain, France is short by over 40,000 and the Netherlands is short by 123,000!

It’s best to have facts at your fingertips before jumping on the Brexit bandwagon.

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Andrew HN Gray, Edinburgh

Music to my ears

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So music is to be returned to schools (your report, yesterday). How many children have been deprived in the recent past? Music is a wonderful way of communicating and giving pleasure. Many is the response of life and animation from the unresponsive, including speech from the silent. Edinburgh is known for its choirs and singers. VIPs come from London and other places down south for the pleasure of conducting choirs just for the sheer joy.

It makes you wonder how the large the gap will be between now and the future, with children who have never enjoyed the joy of singing or playing with others. It has been a blessing to "Zoom" with others even when you do not hear them. Look at the response to the Proms. It is also possible to sing, wearing masks, as churches have found.

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Let's hope it is not too long till choirs and orchestras can get together.

Martha Dickson, Edinburgh

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A million times

It is baffling how in these days of cameras that record numbers with startling accuracy, Scotland’s only slavishly pro-SNP newspaper can think it can get away with claiming there were ‘’5,000 marchers’’ at Saturday’s All Under One Banner Walk in Holyrood Park. The surely most accurate number from a neutral source puts it at under 900.

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Why must these devotees to nationalism exaggerate in this manner? Who are they trying to convince? Themselves? There is something far wrong with a cause when it requires lies to make its point.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

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Gutter talk

Labour's UK deputy leader, Angela Rayner, may feel she looks gutsy in standing by her abusive comments about Boris Johnson but, in so doing, she displays a worrying naivety.It's unlikely Labour will win another UK general election without acquiring more than a few more additional Scottish seats. Labour needs to win back disenfranchised floating Scottish voters who have deserted the party for the SNP, Greens and Tories. I'm no fan of Boris Johnson, but unapologetically using the gutter language won't help Labour secure the numerous Scottish seats it so desperately needs. Own goal, Ms Rayner?Martin Redfern, Melrose, Roxburghshire

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Energy challenge

The excellent article by Brian Wilson on energy policy should not only be read, but understood, by every politician in Britain ( Perspective, 25 September ) .

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In his closing paragraph he says, “At UK and Scottish levels, we need a realistic appraisal of how to achieve the holy grail of secure supply, affordability and net zero targets". This holy grail could be within our grasp if politicians establish a national energy authority, a statutory body comprising expert engineers, responsible to parliament. For this to succeed will require politicians to put aside their entrenched ideologies for the public good. Energy infrastructure investment would be provided by the Treasury at low borrowing rates, which is essential to keeping the price of electricity as low as possible. This body will plan, build and commission all new generating plants and either operate themselves or franchise the operation and maintenance of these plants to established energy firms .

The national energy authority should decide on what generating plants are needed to achieve Net Zero by 2050 in the energy sector. It has now been established, by engineers, that a substantial increase in nuclear energy capacity will be required in the next 20 years and nuclear generating plants are the only form of dispatchable power available with near-zero carbon emissions and therefore must have a major role to play in our energy supply. The question is, will politicians accept to Brian Wilson's analysis and and listen to the engineering profession?

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Not to accept the establishment of a national energy authority as proposed will almost certainly mean that the Great Britain power grid will not, in the coming years, have security of supply, the price of electricity will be very high and the country will fail to achieve its Net Zero Targets.

C Scott, Edinburgh

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Working together

As usual, an excellent Saturday Magazine on 25 September! A broad selection of subjects while including a great deal of detail. One article in the Arts section was particularly pleasing: in Poem of the Week spot we were treated to a bilingual copy of Wigtown Book Festival winner Gillebrìde MacMillan's poem “Washing”. Two beautiful languages side by side. This format is a boon to learners of the Gaelic language as well as a great accolade for the Uist and University of Glasgow poet!

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Margot Kerr, Inverness

Write to The Scotsman

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