Readers' Letters: There should be no need for assisted dying

Thank goodness that high-profile and respected politicians (Murdo Fraser, Scotsman, 8 February) and church leaders, including Rev Dr Iain Greenshields, Moderator of the General Assembly, have spoken out in opposition to the Assisted Dying Bill proposed by Liam McArthur MSP.

The media overall and a well-funded advertising campaign by supporters of the Bill such as Dignitas have emotional and no doubt well-meaning horror stories of dying loved ones to persuade us that “death on demand” is morally right and should be legally recognised.

It disturbs me, and many fellow nurses and doctors, that there are caring, experienced professionals who have a sense of foreboding if this Bill is passed.

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As a retired nurse with years of experience in caring for the dying and later as a health visitor who has seen how manipulative families can be to vulnerable members of their families, there can be no safeguards that would be effectively sound.

Palliative care should be improved before we consider assisted dying, a reader saysPalliative care should be improved before we consider assisted dying, a reader says
Palliative care should be improved before we consider assisted dying, a reader says

I urge doctors and nurses who are reluctant to speak out publicly about their deep concerns regarding the Assisted Dying Bill, to take courage and make their voices heard before it is too late. Politicians who need to hear the facts need only be advised to follow the example of Canada and many other European countries to hear the horror stories of ever-expanding criteria of suitable applicants for assisted death.

I know that compassionate assisted dying takes place in hospitals and in the community without recourse to a change in the law. Two attempts have been made in the past few years in the Scottish Parliament to change the law to allow assisted suicide and both have failed. I sincerely hope that the third attempt will also fail and that palliative care will be fully funded, resourced, and available to all who need it. In this way, the law need not be changed.

Pamala McDougall, Inverkeilor, Angus

Rugby rules

The recent international against England made me realise how important our foreign players are to Scotland’s success.

It got me thinking why just because a player does not have a parent or grandparent who was born in Scotland, they must be a resident in Scotland for five years before they can play for Scotland.

Surely it is time for the SRU to improve the system and become a world leader on rugby rights (as we are apparently in so many other fields) and to stop excluding these unfortunate players, who through no fault of their own, have been born abroad and to simplify and improve the process to get foreign players into our international team.

Can I suggest all foreign players over say the age of 16 once they have lived in Scotland for at least six months should simply be allowed to declare they want to play for Scotland and promise they will not play for the country they were born in.

I am sure the other nations would not block such a progressive change in the rules.

Alan Black, Edinburgh

What’s in a name?

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We are always being told that the surname McGregor was proscribed in Scotland in the 18th century (“Clan battle remembered 420 years on”, Scotsman, 7 February).

Yet a quick check on Scotlandspeople, the genealogical website administered by the staff of Register House in Edinburgh, shows that between 1700 and 1800 no fewer than 2,679 McGregor and 3,188 McGrigor births were registered in Scotland.

And that’s only the proud parents who took the trouble to register the birth of a child, something that did not become compulsory in Scotland until 1855.

Harry D Watson, Edinburgh

Energy betrayal

In the good old days of public ownership, we had a gas board and electricity and coal boards. Their task was to keep the power coming, so they planned ahead and built new power stations as they were needed, and the government simply paid the bill. Everything was fine.

Then Margaret Thatcher thought government could do it cheaper, and that’s when it all started to go wrong, as ministers who didn’t have a clue wouldn’t spend money on energy, and just kicked it down the road until they moved on, and another minister took over, and so on and so on. Nothing got done and then it was privatised, and shareholders and expensive executives ravaged it, until we ended up where we are now. Relying on the weather for our energy. You simply could not make it up.

Malcolm Parkin, Kinnesswood, Perth & Kinross

Wind power blow

The SNP government has adopted a manifesto promise of the Green Party. The Greens got eight per cent of the vote. The effects are happening already with numerous applications on the way to doubling Scotland’s wind farms. Only two National Parks and National Landscape areas are to be protected. Public servants are powerless to protect the countryside.

There are many people suffering from illness in Scotland today from Covid and its after-effects, delayed diagnosis and the effects of poverty. I believe there is another new disease: stress from watching one’s country self-harm. I am suffering from it, as are some fellow protectors of the countryside.

Here is just one example of what is happening nationwide. Penicuik Environment Protection Association and the Association to Protect the Environment at Leadburn spent ten years helping Midlothian Council protect the area between the Pentland Hills, Moorfoots and Tweedsmuir from three wind farms. In October 2022, Edinburgh Council voted to bid for the Pentlands to be the new National Park on the strength of this.

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Cloich Forest wind farm on the Edinburgh-Peebles route, in full view from the Pentland Hills on government land, was passed in 2016 after a reduction in the height of turbines from 132 metres to 115 metres, following an objection by Scottish Natural Heritage (now NatureScot). A new application at Cloich with turbines 149.5 metres high is being considered close to the extended Pentlands Special Landscape Area and the defeated Auchencorth wind farm.

There is now a pre-application for 18 turbines 190 metres high above Gladhouse Reservoir, near the site of the defeated Mount Lothian wind farm. There is a scoping opinion application for 13 turbines at Leithenwater, 4.6km west of the tourist town of Peebles, bordering Glentress Forest.

I am in despair to see all this beauty now at risk. I can no longer help. Where is the democratic mandate?

Celia Hobbs, Penicuik, Midlothian

Snail mail

The disruption to mail services in December and slow speed of deliveries resulted in a first-class letter from here to Edinburgh posted at the start of that month arriving five weeks later.

That is topped, however, by an Air Mail Christmas card from Fife to Sydney, Australia posted on 9 December and arriving there on 2February 2023. Just as well that I posted early for (next) Christmas!

Graeme Wilson, Kirkcaldy, Fife

Policy failures

Should there be any doubt as to the litany of domestic policy failures inflicted on the Scottish people, then it should have disappeared after reading just the first few pages of yesterday’s Scotsman.

It is utterly shameful that the long list of failures is being added to with the scrapping of the date promised to the dualling of the dangerous A9 road. This a huge betrayal of those living in the Highlands and the many other users of this road. Further, for Jenny Gilruth to include the disastrous war in Ukraine as part of the reason is a disgrace.

The Scotsman articles include the likely failure of a bottle return deposit scheme which could create unlawful trade barriers, the call by an SNP group for the ill-thought-out and uncosted National Care Service to be paused, the complete shambles that is the Gender Recognition Reform Bill rounded off by SNP MPs and MSPs highlighting the ridiculous idea of a “de facto” referendum at the next election.

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If this ever growing list of policy failures was not so deadly serious it would be almost laughable. Scottish voters must be reminded of the ineffectiveness of this SNP administration from now right through to the next election.

Richard Allison, Edinburgh

Online abuse

Kirsty Wark raises a very important issue about the serious consequences of online abuse, ahead of her BBC Scotland series The Women Who Changed Modern Scotland (Scotsman, 9 February).

She also refers to the lack of women statues in Scotland. So true. There were positive moves during 2022 to have a statue to Dr Elsie Inglis placed in the Royal Mile, with a most successful fundraising campaign and a sculptor commissioned.

The online abuse directed especially at the women concerned in exercising their Trustees’ duties over the choice of sculptor is symptomatic of the whole issue.

That adverse social media campaign has done untold damage and delayed the Elsie Inglis statue even further.

Fiona Garwood, Edinburgh

Lens of history

An interesting article by Kenny MacAskill (Scotsman, 9 February) on Scot James Thompson Bain, who emigrated to South Africa in the late 19th-century, and who by the standards of today would be considered racist.

There is a link here with ex-MP Matthew Parris, who was raised in southern Africa, after the Second World War. In a magazine article discussing the effects of empire, and Scots who settled in southern Africa, he said that some of them held the worst racist views. How widespread this was is not clear.

William Ballantine, Bo’ness, West Lothian

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