Readers' Letters: Partygate played a role in lifting of Covid restrictions

I laughed as BBC Radio’s Now Show opened with the news that easyJet cancelled hundreds of flights due to Covid staff sickness while lifting mask wearing on their flights. Covid, however, is not a laughing matter here in Scotland as the NHS remains in crisis with near record hospitalisations and A&E waiting times, something potentially affecting us all.

Was it politically expedient for Boris Johnson to push for the lifting of face mask restrictions?
Was it politically expedient for Boris Johnson to push for the lifting of face mask restrictions?

It’s unclear why the simple act of mask wearing, a proven protection against Covid, has been so trivialised by politicians such as Douglas Ross and Boris Johnson at a time when many are still in favour of this form of protection. Recent UK polling by Sevanta ComRes concludes that mask wearing is “significantly higher when people are mandated to wear them” and that people feel more confident with shops and brands that mandate customers to wear them.

Perhaps, however, it’s no coincidence that restrictions ended in England in January during the Partygate scandal, with the Scottish Government under pressure to follow.

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History will tell us that political pressures influenced restrictions to be lifted far too early and that has left us with the Omicron variant for far longer than was necessary. South Africa, for example, saw Omicron hospitalisations peak at the end of January followed by a sharp drop-off, all under restrictions which only recently have been lifted, and without experiencing a healthcare crisis.

While the Omicron variant has now seemingly peaked in Scotland under now more limited restrictions, it lingers on for longer in England where all restrictions ended over two months ago. One can’t help conclude that the premature lifting of these, driven by a “don’t do as I do, do as I tell you” UK government under pressure to act as a result of Partygate, has been to the overall detriment of public health across the UK.

Neil Anderson, Edinburgh

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Boris Johnson's lies over Brexit, Partygate and the rest are on collision course...

Wrong priorities

During Boris Johnson's visit to Ukraine Andriy Sybiha, deputy head of the Ukrainian president's office, said: "The UK is the leader in defence support for Ukraine. The leader in the anti-war coalition. The leader in sanctions against the Russian aggressor."

And back home they want to sack him for Partygate. Really?

Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

Red alert

Does Boris Johnson realise that visiting Kyiv and declaring military support for Russia’s enemy is as good as declaring war on Russia. We must now surely expect some retaliation.

Malcolm Parkin, Kinnesswood, Perth and Kinross

Putin’s objectives

Having failed in his attempt to emulate the success of the German Blitzkrieg of 1940 using combined air power and tanks in his co-ordinated attack on the Ukraine, Putin now hopes to copy the Red Army's successes against the Germans in 1943.

Field Marshall von Paulus surrendered when his army was surrounded at Stalingrad, which the Russians have admitted is their aim against the Ukrainians in the Donbas. The second stage of Putin's attack will aim to emulate the immense tank battle at Kursk which ended Hitler's attempt to conquer the Soviet Union. This will have many resonances for Putin's "anti-Nazi" campaign.

If he succeeds, this would open up the huge agricultural resources of Ukraine to Russia, which would then have a grip on a hefty proportion of the world's grain supplies, as well as oil and gas. It is for precisely that reason, not to mention blatant imperialism, that Putin must fail.

His generals have filled his head with lies about the preparedness of his forces for an offensive war in the 2020s. Just as English archers defeated the cream of French chivalry at Crecy and Agincourt, the hand-held anti-tank, anti-aircraft and anti-ship technology we are giving Ukraine will leave his dreams in columns of burned-out armour, crashed jets, destroyed artillery and sunk ships.

It will also leave both the mothers of Ukraine and Russia in mourning for the unnecessary loss of life for which Putin alone is to blame.

Andrew HN Gray, Edinburgh

Massive own goal

There have been few benefits from the ghastly Covid pandemic experience but, for Scottish football, there has definitely been one which stands out. That is the ability to watch one's football club on pay-per-view online. I am not going to travel 141 miles to Inverness with all the travel costs and inconvenience but will gladly pay Inverness CT for the privilege of watching from my home.

The experiment has been a huge success. A number of League 1 and 2 clubs made more income during lockdown than they did with a live attendance!

Admittedly the experience cannot match the real thing but the elderly, disabled and vulnerable can choose to watch from home while ex-pats tune in around the world. Some fans may buy on impulse on the day. The Scottish Government does not welcome thousands travelling across the country when Covid has not gone away and, in the Championship, Kilmarnock, Dunfermline and Partick have away supports the equal of half the Premiership.

There is a concern that the SPFL could bring this to an end because clubs do miss out on ancillary income – for example, the programme, raffle, car park, pie, hospitality and merchandise. However, committed fans still travel to many games, as the 5,200 crowd midweek at East End Park in torrential rain showed. It is all found income for the clubs outwith the Premiership as the volunteers and equipment come at no charge . The outlay is minimal.

The service is still the Wild West – for example, the SPFL needs to stamp down on pirate streams linked to gambling sites. The variation in charges from economic Queen of the South at £10 to a reasonable £13 at Kilmarnock, to the slick professional £14 at Raith Rovers, to £18 at Ayr should be regulated. Every penny is a prisoner in Scottish football and this will get some clubs out of jail.

John V Lloyd, Inverkeithing, Fife

Tartan deckchairs

Why are the Scottish Greens caught up in the SNP campaign for independence? The environmental crisis which confronts us demands a united response from all the countries of the UK and will not be helped by creating a border across this island. When the ship of state is in danger of hitting an iceberg, it is not the time to be demanding tartan deckchairs.

No doubt splitting off from the UK appeals to some because they hope to strut around on an independent stage, no matter how small, but such motivations are despicable when they hamper a united response to the threat of climate chaos.

The economic consequences of splitting off from the UK would be devastating. The balance sheet for the Scottish economy is massively in the red. We spend far, far more than we raise in tax. The latest figures show a deficit of 22 per cent of GDP. To put that in context, the EU normally requires new members to have a deficit of no more than three per cent of GDP. Independence with a huge current account deficit like that would mean either massive cuts to welfare and public services, or a massive increase in taxes. The sudden drop in living standards would most likely result in social upheaval, as has been seen in similar situations across the globe.

Economic distress and social upheaval are the last things we want when we are trying to take tough action to deal with the most important issue of all – the looming threat of climate chaos. We must get our priorities right.

Les Reid, Edinburgh

Hot air

As with onshore turbines, Boris Johnson’s plans for giant offshore wind farms in the Irish Sea are a con, devoid of value to anyone except virtue signallers and foreign manufacturers.

The climate cannot benefit. With account taken of manufacture demanding fossil fuels, steel, concrete, plastics and lubricating oils, the turbines are anything but “green”.

Installation, maintenance and ultimate disposal cost vast resources for only intermittent electricity generation. Constant fossil-fuelled back-up is essential.

We would meet the costs of subsidies for perhaps the worst scam since the Darien scheme and the South Sea Bubble. Why, then, propose this plan? It can only be to gain votes for politicians from a duped public.

Charles Wardrop, Perth, Perth and Kinross

Nuclear option

Brian Wilson's article (“A predictably-thick headed reaction in Scotland to nuclear power growth”, 9 April ) was an excellent analysis of of what appears to be “a coherent strategy for a balanced energy policy” at long last.

Brian pointed out that SNP Energy Minister Michael Matheson's response to nuclear power was “not here” (Scotsman, 8 April), but he should also have added that Mr Matheson said that nuclear was too expensive. This claim is not true.

Brian suggested that “innumerable schemes could be pulled together into one great national drive”. For this to happen a National Energy Authority needs to be established as a statutory body – an expert task force working in the national interest.

This body would build and own all new nuclear plants with infrastructure investment at government borrowing rates. On this basis the wholesale price of electricity generated by nuclear energy would be much cheaper than the other sources of energy. This will allow electricity prices by 2030 to be similar or less than they are today.

Steuart Campbell’s letter on the same date was also appropriate and concluded that “opposition to nuclear power stems from ignorance and prejudice”. The fact politicians in the Scottish Government cannot understand the science and engineering evidence is of great concern and does not bode well for Scotland’s future.

C Scott, Edinburgh

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