Readers: Letters: Vaccine passports debacle typical of Scotland

So with the desperate need to be different from the rest of the UK – in particular England – the First Minister decides to introduce vaccine passports then, on realising what a shambles its introduction will be, postpones enforcement by two weeks (your report, 29 September).

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon have overseen a steep rise in Covid-19 cases over the last month (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell-Pool/Getty Images)

There is no scientific justification for this ridiculous law, as there was no scientific justification for the continued use of face masks (mandatory in Scotland and the Covid rates soared, in England there is freedom of choice, yet cases dropped). This Government continues to grind its domineering high heel on the people of Scotland, for nothing more than a show of power, with scant regard for the people it is supposed to serve.

We still await the app that will contain all the information required for the passport, even though it is alive, well, and working in England and Wales.

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This Government uses its powers far too readily for no reason than to show that it is different from the rest of the UK. This nonsense gets headlines, while getting on with making things better for the lives of all Scots, like sorting education, the NHS, the mess that is Police Scotland, and the desperate need to get the ferries on the water to help our island neighbours live a normal life, trundles along, directionless.

Perhaps some of yesterday’s SNP-supporting contributors to the Letters page could take a breath of fresh air and address the issues mentioned instead of continually blaming a Government down south that has absolutely nothing to do with the examples I have given, instead of shaking the magic money tree that is the UK Treasury to dig the SNP out of every mess they create.

This regime at Holyrood is in the last throes of its existence. Time to go, Nicola.

David Millar, Lauder, Berwickshire

End quarantine

I read with interest, articles regarding the now delayed passport for entry into large venues in Scotland, but I have not seen anything to promote removing the requirements for 10 days quarantine in a government-managed hotel if travellers return from so-called Red List counties. I work in such a country and during my leave rotation, I have stayed in these hotels twice at great expense. It is not pleasant. Why is this still required if travellers (workers) hold a British passport and they have safety factors such as two British Covid Jabs and can show a recent negative PCR result?

Why is the government not taking into account the value of these safety factors and allowing people to travel freely? It’s well past the time when this ridiculous state control and restriction on our freedom to travel should stop.

William Park, Dingwall, Ross-shire

Desperate times

The pandemic is still in full swing and vaccine passports look to be a non-starter yet the SNP is to ramp up its plans for Indyref2. This is not the act of a confident party but more like one in the last chance saloon. Independence is a very serious issue being promulgated by a party that cannot even get basic legislation right.

Gerald Edwards, Glasgow

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Go figure

Jane Lax (Letters, 29 September) claims that Scottish Minister for Transport Graeme Dey has no idea how many under-22s will use the free bus travel scheme. In fact, he knows very well that almost one million (930,000) under-22s will be eligible for free bus travel. You can look it up on the Parliament website. Clearly that is the basis for costing the scheme. He went on to say that “people will change their behaviour only if they are supported and enabled to do so”. In other words, he realises that take-up may be low initially and that efforts to publicise the scheme will be required. Anyone who pretends otherwise would be foolish.

George S Gordon, Edinburgh

By no means?

Should the Scottish Government use its new social security powers to increase the winter fuel payment by £70? On this occasion Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar seems to have put forward a meaningful proposal (your report, 28 September). Rising energy and food prices and the temporary suspension of the triple lock may well put pressure on pensioner incomes over the coming year. This comes on top of the BBC's decision to charge those over 75 not on pension credit for the TV licence. On the face of it the Holyrood government could gain a lot of goodwill by taking a measure to ease the situation for those elderly who will struggle during the current difficulties.

However, Mr Sarwar has made it clear that he wants to help those on lower incomes. The winter fuel payment, rightly in my view, is a non means-tested benefit. Pensioner couples receive £100 each, single pensioners £200 and this rises to £300 for the over-eighties. This has hardly changed at all since its introduction in 1997. Is Mr Sarwar asking the Scottish Government to means test this benefit? Or should he declare unequivocally that Scottish Labour, if not its colleagues down south, is committed to universal provision? I can envisage a number of practical problems if the Holyrood administration did decide to means test. But I do not see why it can't use its new powers to ease the plight and increase the incomes of all pensioners north of the Border. It will show that it is big enough to accept a constructive opposition move to tackle both fuel and pensioner poverty.

Bob Taylor, Glenrothes, Fife

Voter power

The Scottish Parliament is far more representative than Westminster due to its proportional voting system. At Holyrood, the share of seats won by a party broadly lines up with the proportion of votes it receives whereas successive Westminster governments win a majority of seats on a minority of the vote. However, while the House of Commons desperately needs to ditch First Past the Post, the Scottish Parliament also needs electoral reform.

Holyrood's Additional Member System is only broadly proportional (and only at the regional level) and limits voter choice through its closed party lists. It also results in two distinct types of MSPs and provides opportunities for parties to game the system, as attempted by Alba at this year's election.

Alternatives such as the Single Transferable Vote or Open List PR (with levelling seats) would improve proportionality and increase voter power. Scotland’s electoral system has served well for 22 years but the time is right for a democratic upgrade at Holyrood.

Richard Wood, Edinburgh

Word game

I note that the SNP administration is back on its old hobbyhorse of trying to revive the Gaelic language. This time it seems that officers of Police Scotland will be roped in to further this pipe-dream. Members of the public will have noticed that many police vehicles have already been inscribed with the sign: “POILEAS”, which must be a recently created Gaelic word since it does not appear in any fairly modern Gaelic dictionaries.

Mind you, I suppose one might describe the words for “police officer” which appear in both McLaren's and McLennan's dictionaries as rather archaic: “riaghladh baile”, which can be translated as town governor or regulator. “Oifgeach”' might have been a more appropriate word for an officer than “riaghladh”.

Does the SNP really believe that a resurgence of Gaelic makes us more Scottish? It never was the language of the whole of Scotland; Pictish, Welsh or Cumbric, Norse, Doric, Anglo-Saxon all had a part to play in Scotland's language development over the ages.

And since very few of the key figures in the SNP “have the Gaelic”, why do they wish to impose it on the rest of us? This whole business could be described as a smokescreen to divert our attention from the SNP's failure to effectively handle the economy and major government departments.

Robert I G Scott, Ceres, Fife

Flagging interest

It’s obviously John Swinney’s turn today to try deflect from the constant failures of the Scottish Government. Predictably, it’s back to Brexit and the problems the SNP created by not voting for a deal. Never mind that, John is complaining about the labour shortages while ignoring the opportunities for Scotland to be fully employed and on wages that are not held artificially low by employing cheap European labour. Every cloud has a silver lining, unless you are in the SNP in which case every cloud is another reason for another grievance.

Try flying the flag for Scotland, John. After all, you do have one in your back garden to practice on.

Ken Currie, Edinburgh

No more tees

The Ryder Cup was, once again, a rollercoaster ride and an extremely enjoyable watch, notwithstanding the final result. Few could argue that the US team did not thoroughly deserve their win, although there were some laudable performances over the three days by various members of the European team.

What I did not enjoy, however, was the spectacle of a post-match interview with a bereft Rory McIlroy, unable to hold back the tears, because his team had lost. My concentration had lapsed at the outset of the interview and I engaged at the point when the interviewer was offering consolation for, it appeared, some terrible tragedy which had just occurred. It took a while to realise nobody had died, and it was disappointment at losing a golf match which had caused this meltdown

Passion is all very well but whatever happened to stoicism? I would commend to Rory the sentiments of Rudyard Kipling: “If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat these two impostors just the same… you’ll be a Man my son!”

Graham Hammond, East Calder, West Lothian

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