Readers' Letters: Protecting the NHS is a matter of life and death

Your editorial “General Election is a matter of life and death” (25 May) pointed out that “the way our government can best protect the lives of the people they serve is by finally taking decisive action to end the long running, deep-rooted crisis in the National Health Service.” This crisis started in 2010 when the Lib Dem/Conservative coalition UK government introduced “austerity economics”, the deliberate aim being to reduce public spending, including on the NHS.

This policy has been continued by all UK governments since then, led by parties none of which had a majority of MPs in Scotland.

A Conservative Government would continue the drive to privatisation. If Labour wins the General Election it has indicated that, instead of increasing funding to the NHS, they will pay private health providers to provide some treatments. The frustration is, according to research, that investing public funds in the NHS would actually add more to the economy than it costs. People can be treated well and quickly, suffer less and can work and so contribute more to the country.

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Even if Labour wins this election, history suggests voters, mainly in England, will ensure the UK will soon again elect another Conservative Government and so the decline in the NHS in the UK will continue. Independence is not a diversion but an urgent necessity to prioritise what is most important to the people of Scotland, including properly funding the NHS. Funding that it requires as “a matter of life and death”.

Voters in Scotland must help protect the NHS from further rounds of Tory austerity cuts, says reader (Picture: Marisa Cashill)Voters in Scotland must help protect the NHS from further rounds of Tory austerity cuts, says reader (Picture: Marisa Cashill)
Voters in Scotland must help protect the NHS from further rounds of Tory austerity cuts, says reader (Picture: Marisa Cashill)

Jim Stamper, Bearsden, Glasgow

Reclaim cross

Joyce McMillan’s thoughtful piece “Big question for SNP is how bad election will be and what that will mean” (Perspective, 24 May) touched upon a number of points Scots might consider when the time comes to vote. Independence has always been only a concept; an affair of the heart, never something of substance which might count. Ask a Nationalist to define independence – there is nothing to define.

The grass roots of any thriving nation is its economy. The question, therefore, is how could Scotland survive on its own outwith the Union? It can’t. No amount of emotion or banging the Nationalist drum will ever change that. Look where almost 15 years of independence-seeking government has got a proud, devolved, nation. Scotland can stand alongside England, Wales and Northern Ireland – where, admittedly, politicians are making continually new messes which others will have to clear up, but under new Unionist management, the sky, at least theoretically, should be the limit.

The cross of St Andrew belongs not to the SNP but to the people of Scotland. It’s time to take it back.

Doug Morrison, Tenterden, Kent

Both ways SNP

An interesting article from Joyce McMillan when she calls for caution in interpreting the probable poor election showing for the SNP in the coming General Election as low support for independence.

She may have a point; however, when the SNP did well in the last Holyrood election, put down to the perceived good showing by them over Covid, Nicola Sturgeon was quick to claim this result as support for constitutional change! You can't have it both ways!

William Ballantine, Bo'ness, West Lothian

National growth

When Patrick Harvie says something is “absurd, immoral and desperate” I instinctively think it must be a good thing, for example the Conservative National Service proposal, subject to a Royal Commission and based on the Nordic model also being considered by Germany and France .

Many Baby Boomers like me have never fired a live bullet in their lives. I grew up half expecting to be called up for a war with the Warsaw Pact. My father, who survived six years as a sapper, including one year in Sicily, Monte Cassino and Anzio, told me, “never volunteer, if they want you they'll come and get you”. I was in awe of him, never saw him lose an argument or stuck for a way out of a problem. I put a lot of that down to his army service and I decided the way to gain that maturity and resourcefulness and have the spare cash he never had was to get some peaceful life experience, so from 14 until I graduated I had 19 weekend and holiday jobs in factories, building sites, farming and the NHS in the UK, America, Norway and Europe. This also included hitch hiking alone around 12,000 miles in the UK, US and Europe.

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It was a great experience that set me up for life. The opportunities for, and attitude to, youngsters working and travelling before settling down are vastly diminished these days, one of many reasons we have so many directionless young people. This isn't good for them or the country and I hope the National Service idea doesn't disappear in the fog of election “war”.

The Labour Party should at least get behind the proposal to have a Royal Commission design the scheme.

Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

Do the maths

Ian Murray is the sole Labour MP in Edinburgh, a city where nearly a third of the children attend fee-paying schools. He should rethink Labour's promise of imposing VAT on schools with charitable status. Many of his constituents have chosen to opt out of the state system. In theory, this has saved the City of Edinburgh Council the cost of educating those students, without loss of council tax.

Terrified by rising tax bills, most private schools are responding by paying their staff less than state school teachers, or renegotiating their pension arrangements. The outcome is teachers leaving the fee-paying sector for guaranteed salary increases and an index-linked pension. Their fee-paying clientele grows nervous. But perhaps Labour will do a U-turn – after all, Anas Sarwar, Scottish Labour leader, has kids in private education.

Frances Scott, Edinburgh

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