Readers' letters: Prices were rising before invasion of Ukraine

While Tory and now Labour politicians cynically seek to deny the enormous economic cost of Brexit in order to selfishly further their own political ambitions, most who do the weekly shopping, especially the poorest amongst us, know that shop shelves were emptying and prices were rising long before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on 24 February.

According to ONS figures the UK Consumer Price Index (CPI) remained roughly stable from 2014 to 2016 but since the Brexit referendum through to the end of the first quarter of 2022 (beginning of invasion) the CPI increase was 17 per cent. Since that time through to the end of third quarter 2022 the CPI has climbed a further seven per cent to 24 per cent above the 2016 level.

However, not all of this further increase (representing less than one-third of the total increase) is due to the war in Ukraine as the impact of Brexit is still unfolding and will probably not “stabilise” until after the full trade conditions agreed by the UK Government are enforced.

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Of course other domestic and global factors, including the UK Government’s response to the pandemic, will also have influenced the CPI numbers but clearly it is highly misleading to "blame” the war in Ukraine for the UK’s current economic plight and cost-of-living crisis without, at the very least, mentioning Brexit.

A woman hugs a Ukrainian officer as they celebrate the recapture of Kherson from Russian forces
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In the meantime not only will shoppers and the general public likely suffer the harsh consequences of further price inflation, many more small enterprises, such as Scottish companies previously exporting significant amounts of their goods to Europe, will regrettably go out of business, even after peace returns to our continent (which hopefully, especially for the brave people of Ukraine, will come soon).

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry, East Lothian

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War is about food

Following reports coming out of the Unites States regarding peace talks, isn't it time we acknowledged the war in Ukraine is about food?

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There are too many humans alive today and we are directly causing a mass extinction event. The governments of the world say there are 7.9 billion humans alive today. The reality is we have probably already nine billion people today on the planet.

At the end of World War II there were one billion. When I was born there were two billion people on the planet. That is now the population of China alone.

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President Obama began to raise this issue at the 2021 Glasgow conference but no one else would respond in any way to his remarks about the growth in human population. We need to have this discussion if we as a species are going to survive.

Nigel Boddy, Darlington

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Kipling was right

Himar rockets costing $100 000 each have succeeded in the Ukrainian war where Russia's much vaunted hypersonic missiles costing $100 million have failed – just as simple rockets from RAF fighters determined the outcome of World War II seventy seven years ago where Hitler’s guided missiles and bombs did not.

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Kipling’s warning in 1885’s Arithmetic On The Frontier" remains eternal: “Strike hard who cares – shoot straight who can. The odds are on the cheaper man.”

Mark Boyle Johnstone, Renfrewshire

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Bill of Rights

You report that MSP Shona Robison claims that the new Bill of Rights will “ensure the Westminster Parliament has the last word on the laws of this land” (11 November).

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I checked the draft Bill but could not find that intention. Indeed it emphasises that the UK Supreme Court has the last word on law. Predictably and regrettably it removes any involvement of the European Court of Human Rights.Parliaments make laws but they do not interpret them.

Steuart Campbell, Edinburgh

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Barnett benefit

Fraser Grant (Letters,11 November) is right to point out that the Barnett Formula isn’t based on Scottish needs; for many decades its use has been to adjust the grant to Scotland in response to changes in expenditure in England.

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In practice it generates a substantial subsidy to Scotland, significantly helped by slower population growth in Scotland than in England, and any thoughts about getting rid of it have been rapidly kicked into touch (except in Wales,which sees itself as underfunded) because of the catastrophic reduction in the Scottish budget that would come from its abandonment.

According to Mr Grant, Scotland’s offshore energy potential makes us “a global leader in renewables, unlike any other country in Europe”. Windiness alone won't be enough to bring this to pass. And the windmills I regularly see in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire were built by the world-leading Danish and German companies Vestas and Siemens. Surely, they are European?

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Hugh Pennington, Aberdeen

Sheer hypocrisy

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It is sheer hypocrisy of Tory MPs to be complaining at Matt Hancock being in the jungle on I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! – especially as 150 Conservative MPs, unnecessarily, have second or third jobs. Nadine Dorries and Kezia Dugdale and Lembit Opik all found they could appeal to younger voters with little interest in politics.

Hancock will have no problem communicating with his constituents because, remarkably, Australia has technologically advanced communications. This is not 1922!

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John V Lloyd, Inverkeithing, Fife

Dutch lesson

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Cameron Wyllie (Scotsman, 10 November) advocates “a radical overhaul of the whole schooling process” in the current national study on the future of Scottish education. It might benefit from detailed comparisons with other countries’ systems.

My wife’s Dutch nephew, in the second-highest state-school stream in the Netherlands, studies Dutch, French, Information Science (wider than IT), Citizenship and Music – all taught in Dutch, unsurprisingly. All primary pupils learn how to read musical notation whether or not they have any playing ability.

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He also studies English, History, Geography, Mathematics, European International Orientation, Religion, and Art & Design – all taught in English. He is 12 years old.

Of course I appreciate that all Dutch children, after cycling out of their mother’s womb, then learn basic English almost immediately from many of their TV cartoons and other programmes.

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But I also recall my own criticism 65 years ago at a respected Edinburgh private school of how foreign language teaching gave far too much emphasis to correct grammar rather than to basic conversational skills; and the UK has clearly gone downhill since then.

John Birkett, St Andrews, Fife

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Political divorce

I have to agree with Jill Stephenson (Letters, 12 November) when she points out that Scottish secession is a matter for the whole UK. If you are divorcing your partner, the partner has a say in proceedings.

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William Ballantine, Bo’ness, West Lothian

Valid question

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As both a key worker who delivers groceries for a living and someone who makes no apology for stating that I voted for Scottish independence in 2014, I find some of Jill Stephenson’s letters quite incredible.

While I do not think we should necessarily have a referendum at the moment I think asking for either a border poll in Ireland or an independence referendum quite reasonable demands.

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My eldest daughter Bethany was eight years old when the Scottish independence referendum was held in 2014 and now gets to vote in Scottish elections but not the General Election. Why?

She was born in Peterhead, a town twinned with Aalesund in Norway, a country with a trillion dollar oil fund. The leaders at Westminster have never even put their mind to having such a fund. Why?

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The Prime Minister, the fifth since the Scottish independence referendum, has kept Alister Jack in post as Secretary of State for Scotland – someone who is supposed to represent all people in Scotland, including key workers and independence voters of 2014, in cabinet. How is this possible when he backed Boris Johnson, then Liz Truss, then wanted Boris Johnson back as PM?

While key workers such as nurses, doctors, Royal Mail delivery staff, supermarket workers and council staff were hard at work the person he wanted back as Prime Minister was having parties and could not tell the difference between a work event and a party. Why? Does he secretly want Scottish independence?

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Yes the First Minister needs to meet Westminster halfway, but in the last eight years of Tory government no attempt has been made to get rid of first-past-the-post and replace it with a proportional system, the House of Lords has not been reformed or abolished and no attempt has been made at a federal system or setting up an investment fund to make the most of our oil revenues.

Peter Ovenstone, Peterhead, Aberdeenshire

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Titanic failure

Yesterday I was privileged to watch an excellent and, as far as I can tell, faithfully transparent documentary film about the building of the Titanic and her sister ship the Olympic in Belfast in the second decade of the 20th century.

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These were the largest passenger ships ever conceived and built at the time. They took just over three years to construct, despite many technical problems.

This roughly equates to the delay time involved in producing on the Clyde what, by comparison, are two rowing boats, around 100 years later. So much for progress.

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Dr SR Wild, Edinburgh

Write to The Scotsman

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