Readers' Letters: Public should be trusted on Covid future

Joyce McMillan in yesterday’s Perspective makes her usual claims that Left is good, Right is bad, albeit dressed up in other contexts.

Effective washing of hands has been vital during the Covid crisis (Picture: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Effective washing of hands has been vital during the Covid crisis (Picture: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Basically her argument suggests that the extreme right wing Conservatives in Westminster are hellbent on destroying society in the UK to the benefit of the few. Be that as it may, I, as an ordinary person see the argument regarding mask wearing in a simple manner: do we want to live in a society where governments recommend actions that will improve the living conditions for the majority or would we prefer as a society to be told what we should or should not do?The former suggests that a free, well-educated people will generally take actions that are for the betterment of us all, the latter suggests that people are capricious and need to be controlled for their own good. This argument could be addressed as Right wing versus Left wing philosophy dressed up in simplistic terms.The actions of Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggests that he belongs firmly toward the “right” side of the argument whereas First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is very much on the “ left” side.Personally, I will take the actions that I believe are best for my protection I.e. continue to wear a mask in public areas, keep up my hand hygiene and stay clear of crowded areas.

That message has been loud and clear right from the start of the pandemic and it would have been interesting to see how a society that respected these conditions would have fared in the Covid era.Sadly we will not be able to research that particular argument but I believe that Sweden has been the closest to adopting that approach.

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A Lewis, Coylton, Ayrshire

Nothing banned

Like many religious believers, Iain Gill misunderstands Secularism (Letters 8 July). It is not a “belief system” or something you can “practise”. Secularism is a principle of social administration by which religions are entirely free to worship as they see fit but they are not part of the state.

Nothing is being “banned” except the idea that religion should be imposed on everyone through unelected political privileges and statutory Christian events in schools.

Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society

Break time

On the day that the World Health Organisation announces Scotland as the sick man of Europe, with six of the top ten hotspots for Covid, we discover that the First Minister and John Swinney are on holiday and that the Health Secretary is away also, visiting Harry Potter land with his family.

Conspiracy? Coincidence? Perhaps neither, but in the midst of the greatest pandemic of recent times is it a competent decision to allow the three most concerned to go on holiday at the exact same time?

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

Dump dogma

Bob Taylor (Letters, 9 July) is right to criticise James Gillespie's High School for banning Harper Lee’s book To Kill a Mockingbird as it deals with racist concepts. The Bible refers to “The Chosen People” which seems to be a highly racist concept, yet Gillespie's has not banned it.

In 1909 the French mathematician and philosopher of science Henri Poincaré introduced a lecture at a conference on the free inquiry in scientific matters with the following words: “Thinking must never submit itself, neither to a dogma, nor to a party, nor to a passion, nor to an interest, nor to a preconceived idea, nor to whatever it may be, if not to facts themselves, because, for it, to submit would be to cease to be”. In other words, when thinking submits itself to dogma it ceases to be thinking.

It is more than sad that an academic institution should promote the principle that we should stop thinking.

(Dr) Francis Roberts, Edinburgh

Same old

Regarding yesterday’s editorial, we should not be surprised at the lack of permanent jobs for trained teachers, even in the vital STEM subjects.

Was it not Nicola Sturgeon who, in a previous job as Health Secretary from 2007-2012, reduced the number of bursaries for nurses, cutting the number of student nurses, quadrupling the number of unfilled posts, and putting NHS staff under unprecedented pressure?

John Birkett, St Andrews, Fife

Silly statement

I refer to Alexander McKay’s letter in The Scotsman of 8 July: I am quite astounded by the ignorance and stupidity shown by the SNP MP David Linden. What is even more astonishing is that there were sufficient, and presumably equally ignorant people whose votes were enough to give him a parliamentary seat. Lord help us!

Pauline Carruthers, Lockerbie, Dumfries & Galloway

For the records

The article by Conor Matchett on the release of specific information on care home deaths contains a lot of speculation, gleefully misinterpreted by Colin Hamilton (Letters, 8 July). He says that "ministers or officials put pressure on supposedly independent bodies to intervene in the release of data". How does that square with the information noted in the article that one week before the planned publication date of 10 February, "National Records of Scotland (NRS) officials asked the Scottish Government whether ministers would ‘take a public interest stand and tell NRS not to release’ the figures." and were told on 3 February that there was an "acceptance" that any decision on the release was for NRS, not ministers?What doesn't fit with the theme of the article and isn't raised is whether the release would have been damaging for the government?

Mr Hamilton describes this as "issues of life and death", but doesn't seem to understand that this data is not about overall deaths, which were published on a daily basis. It is about the actual number of deaths specific to homes being run by named providers. The fact is, the information was more damaging to the commercial interests or public image of suppliers than to the reputation of the government. In these circumstances, was it unreasonable to suggest that stakeholders were consulted prior to the data release?Mr Hamilton then turns his attention to the OECD report on Scottish education. Again, he seems unaware that this report was an analysis of the operation of the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) carried out by the OECD, commissioned by the Scottish Government. He says it was "highly critical of the SNP". This is untrue, the report doesn't mention the SNP at all. The report is called 'Improving Schools in Scotland: An OECD Perspective'. The report made 12 recommendations which included finding a better balance between the breadth and depth of learning and the need to adapt assessment practices (exams/continuous assessment) and the structure of learning pathways in the senior phase.The Scottish Government accepted all 12 recommendations and along with the critical analysis, the report was highly complimentary about CfE, saying Scotland was seen as a "pioneer" due to the CfE approach.

Gill Turner, Edinburgh

Read More

Read More
Conor Matchett: Care home scandal must get own inquiry

Power down

As I write fossil fuels, mostly gas, are providing 54.9 per cent of our electricity; renewables, mostly wind turbines, are providing 7.9 per cent. No doubt the Green Brigade will say I was selective. However, over the last 59 days between 8am and 10am the averages were: fossil fuel generation 42.2 per cent, renewables 20.5 per cent. Could it be possible that politicians and the Green Brigade do not have a clue that we cannot rely on expensive unreliable renewable electricity? Where will they be hiding from an irate public when the lights go out?

Clark Cross, Linlithgow, West Lothian

Good news

There are a number of activities in Scotland which give me a sense of optimism amid the depressing reports about Covid uncertainties. While most of the UK media tend to underestimate the level of interest in the campaign for Scottish independence, the number of foreign journalists who came to report on the recent Holyrood election was quite instructive.So campaigner Mike Fenwick's petition calling on 100 Scots to sign a new declaration of Scottish sovereignty to be sent to the United Nations seems like a positive idea. His call to independence supporters is a reminder of the Treaty of Arbroath and its declaration of Scottish sovereignty.Dundee academic Dr Elliot Bulmer has put out a call to the SNP leadership to begin to draft a constitution for an independent Scotland. Bob Ingram, Chairman of Constitution for Scotland, and his group have already been doing this for some years and have an accessible website which encourages public participation.Those people in the population who feel that the debates about currency let us us down in the last referendum have also been busy. There have been a number of groups and individuals who have come together in the Scottish Currency Group who have been looking at the issues of the economy and banking system for a prosperous, independent Scotland. These groups are just a few of many who are working and organising for a future referendum.Those in the population who still believe that we are 'too wee and too poor' to become independent are let down by many in the media who do not feel such issues are worth reporting.

Maggie Chetty, Glasgow


I see posties are being told they are no longer merely responsible for delivering the mail, but are also now "brand ambassadors"? Utilising similar corporate psychobabble, will this increase in their responsibilities be reflected in commensurate remuneration?

Mark Boyle, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

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