Readers' Letters: Stop carping about vaccine rollout

Do politicians, who say they want to see the Covid vaccination programme succeed, but give the impression that their preference is to home in on flaws and errors in order to attack the government, ever give a thought to how dispiriting it can be to the thousands of health professionals working extremely hard administering a hugely complicated logistical operation to be faced with carping criticism? Do they think these folk don't read the papers or listen to the news broadcasts?

The Covid vaccine programme is being rolled out across Scotland

An example of this is Colin Hamilton (Letters, January 14) who complains that mass vaccination centres will not be set up until mid-February, but looking at the government's published strategy, it seems pretty obvious that their priority was to establish a network of 1,100 centres where people could be invited to attend for vaccinations and to take the programme to the most vulnerable who can't travel to mass vaccination centres.

People like residents of care homes, where more than 80 per cent of residents have now been vaccinated.

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It's also worth noting that mass centres without supplies of vaccine are pointless – no pun intended.The daily figures on vaccination reported that as of Thursday January 14, 208,207 people had received their first dose of the vaccine.

This seems to indicate that the system is working and ramping up quite quickly. We can only assume that is the result of some "proactive" strategy planning by the government and the various branches of the Health Services.

Gill Turner, Derby Street, Edinburgh

Tell the truth

The SNP's ploys in the aftermath of their handling of complaints against Alex Salmond become ever murkier. A Freedom of Information request reveals that the SNP spent £55,000 to "prepare" civil servants about to give evidence to the enquiry! I could have saved the taxpayer £55,000 by giving them the simple instruction: tell the truth.

In the event, several of these witnesses refused to answer questions, gave incomplete or misleading information or claimed they "forgot". I wonder how much was spent on coaching Nicola Sturgeon?

It begs the question as to the lengths to which this party will go in order to prevent the simple, unadulterated facts from reaching the light of day. The longer this goes on the clearer it becomes that the order of the day is "obstruction and obfuscation". And these are not my words but those of the chair of the Salmond inquiry – an SNP MSP.

Colin Hamilton, Braid Hills Avenue, Edinburgh

Halcyon daze

So Nicola Sturgeon has refused to explain why £55,000 of taxpayer cash was used to tutor civil servants on how best to answer questions at the Alex Salmond inquiry. Remember those pre-SNP halcyon days when the civil service was neither politicised nor seemingly employed as a pawn in internal SNP power feuds?

Martin Redfern, Melrose, Roxburghshire

Beg pardon

Surely the inauguration of the new president isn’t the moment for gloating and revenge. In 1974 President Ford pardoned his predecessor Richard Nixon, a move much derided at the time but in hindsight an action of wisdom and courage which spared America the consequences of a lengthy impeachment and trial.

If Joe Biden did the same it would be a quantum leap in the healing of the nation. One cannot pardon the innocent so Trump’s guilt in Washington riot would be implicit. If the lunatic fringe of the Democratic Party still wants blood it should be reminded by saner colleagues that the noblest form of revenge is to forgive.

(Rev) Dr John Cameron, Howard Place, St Andrews

Ups and downs

It was recently announced that we have had one of the hottest years ever and the hottest decade ever, and these press releases seem to be a regular occurrence every mid-January. However, this is contradicted by recent scientific papers.

In January 2020 C Martin was lead author in a team of ten which gives data analysis from two temperature proxies, including pollen in Western Europe. They say: “They both show an early Holocene temperature maximum and a subsequent cooling until present.”

In October H Singh was lead author in an Antarctic study which states “The Antarctic continent has not warmed in the last seven decades, despite a monotonic increase in the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases”.

Also in 2020 K. Weckstrom led a team of nine which used diatom species as proxies for reconstructing sea surface temperatures and sea ice concentrations near Greenland.

They plotted graphs showing sea ice cover on an upward trend since 1940 and sea temperatures on a downward trend.

Geoff Moore, Alness, Highland

Suicide gene

Judging by straw polls on social media Jackie Baillie and Iain Gray are way ahead of Anas Sarwar and Monica Lennon in the popular choice for Scottish Labour leader. Their election might take pave the way for the reinstatement of nine Aberdeen councillors suspended for the heinous crime of forming an effective, successful coalition with the Conservative.

But no doubt the electoral suicide gene that drives the party these days will force the latter pair on us underwhelmed voters. Along with appeasement of, and annihilation by, the SNP.

Allan Sutherland, Willow Row, Stonehaven

Case notes

Fraser Grant claims that Scotland has half the cases of England and fewer deaths (Letters, January 14). It is true we have fewer cases just now – but beware the four-week lag behind London – but as far as deaths are concerned the difference is minimal.

National Records of Scotland give the figure of 7, 074 deaths where Covid is mentioned on the death certificate in a population of 5.4 million – 1,310 per million (January 10 2021). The equivalent figure for England is 75,782 deaths in a population of 55.98 million – 1,354 per million.

So fewer cases but almost the same death rate – this is a cause for great concern and does not reflect well as it means many more in Scotland are dying after being infected than in England.Scotland should, in any case, be faring much better than England regardless of government policies: population density in England is 275 per square km, inScotland, 65 per square km – so we start with a great natural advantage as far as transmission is concerned.

John Scarlett, Kirkhill Gardens, Near Gorebridge

Fair and clear

Is William Gray Muir of the Royal High School Preservation Trust’s (RHSPT) “commentary” on our appeal for “fairness” designed to obscure inconvenient truths? (Letters, January 14)

He asserts “the idea that their proposal was better for the building is risible”, yet the reporters clearly do not agree with RHSPT on the preservation of the building. The Scottish Government Reporters literally state: “In terms of the preservation of the listed building itself, the appeal proposal would better preserve the building”. They say on the RHSPT proposal: “…includes extensive new building, major excavation and radical intervention into the existing fabric.”

Our conservation experts were so concerned with RHSPT’s fast-tracked planning and listed building consent, we commissioned our own professional report which raises very serious engineering issues about the RHSPT proposals, removing rock from under the existing building as well as permanent loss of extensive original heritage fabric. We think it is reasonable that elected members have access to the facts before they make an important decision. Extreme cost and timing overrun risks are familiar to cultural projects in Edinburgh, quite apart from the preservation loss resulting from the RHSPT proposals.

We have been trying for some years to fulfil the contractual objectives required of us by the City of Edinburgh Council (CEC). We should be allowed to complete the task we were set, including, uniquely, daily public access for citizens as well as visitors, accessing the view from the plinth.

After a two-year wait for the weighty judgement in the Scottish Government reports, there is clarity; we will reduce scale to protect the setting. Reporters recognise benefits of hotel use and many of our conservation benefits, including accessibility and proper exposure of the Belvedere.

By reducing room numbers required by CEC, we can deliver accessibility and preservation of the Royal High School in a post-Covid world.

Our appeal is for fairness, now we have clarity.

David Orr, Urbanist Hotels, Earls Court, London

Grid news

I refer to your feature “Fame at last!” (January 15) about the intrepid Scotsman reader and crossword addict Margaret McKie, lauded by The Scotsman on her 100th birthday.I too am a regular reader and am addicted to The Scotsman’s cryptic crosswords; my son organised delivery of the newspaper during both lockdowns and Mrs McKie will be with me when I say there is no happier antidote to a time of seclusion/lockdown than whiling away a morning with The Scotsman and it’s crosswords.

Please congratulate the setters; their contribution to mental health is no less significant than that of frontline health workers. Thank you!

Joyce Gunn Cairns, Edinburgh

Clued up

What a joy to see the story on Page 3 of Thursday’s Scotsman about Margaret McKie and her enthusiasm for the cryptic crossword. Well done for the dedication on Wednesday’s crossword. In these days it’s really refreshing to have an article that’s not full of doom and gloom.

Andy Cowe, Ashkirk, Scottish Borders

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