I live in the centre of East Lothian and am surrounded by thousands of acres of superb veg, all of which is grown to the highest standard for the supermarkets. There are 600 acres of sprouts, 700 acres of potatoes and 300 acres of cabbage grown by one company near Haddington. The sprouts are successfully harvested by machine with one driver and four men. The cabbages are cut by hand and stored in temperature controlled conditions, as are the potatoes. The same company also successfully harvests over 2,000 acres of grain.
In neighbouring Berwickshire another company is growing 400 acres of sprouts, 1,000 acres of swedes and 100 acres of leeks. The largest crop, swedes, only requires one man on a lifting machine, the same as for the leeks. In England the sprouts and cabbages are grown in glasshouses, producing millions of pounds worth of excellent, non-rotting veg.
Gill Turner should check her facts before making extravagant and baseless claims.
Robert Sinclair, North Berwick, East Lothian
Within the living memory of many of us, the Clyde was the hub of Scottish ship-building but under the care of our current Scottish Government we are now in the ignominious position of having to buy a secondhand ferry from Norway for £9 million because Scotland can't seem to organise having one built here at home for an acceptable price and within a given time limit.
And that's after those who are in charge of such things appear to have already spent about £110 million on a couple of other older ships! It all makes me ashamed to be Scottish.
Archibald A. Lawrie, Kingskettle, Fife
Professor Paul Gray, former CEO of NHS Scotland, says that “an overwhelmed NHS was inevitable even before the pandemic”.
He outlines briefly some of the “robust diagnosis and radical surgery” needed, and highlights other countries whose systems should be looked at (none of which incidentally has copied our NHS model) including “where the private sector adds value”. This whole topic requires a much more detailed series of articles in our national newspaper of record, and he must be ideally placed to lead that analysis and propose practical solutions.
But he might begin by informing us what actions he implemented in his six years as CEO until 2019 “where money was far from the whole answer” to prevent NHS Scotland being overwhelmed and to establish it on a sustainable fit-for-purpose basis for its next few decades; and whether he agreed with the decision he inherited of our Health Secretary (one Nicola Sturgeon) in 2012 to reduce the number of nursing places by 300, which she justified as “a sensible way forward”?
John Birkett, St Andrews, Fife
Murdo Fraser is playing politics with the Covid pandemic when he castigates Nicola Sturgeon over her far superior handling of the health crisis in Scotland (Pespective, 6 October) which has resulted in Scotland having lower cases and deaths per head of population, plus a greater number of jags administered compared to England thanks to our much better performing NHS service and staff.
It could be argued that the Scottish position would be even better if we had control of our borders and the fiscal powers required to introduce an earlier lockdown, rather than relying on Boris Johnson’s fatal dithering that trashed our economy and resulted in the UK having the worst death rate and the highest number of cases per head of population in Europe, when as an island we should have had the lowest rates.
On Tuesday, the Welsh Senedd also agreed to introduce vaccine passports and this is common place throughout Europe, as it is seen as a vital tool in encouraging the uptake of vaccines and to protect those who frequent crowded nightclubs and large sporting events.
Murdo Fraser fails to recognise the four different health services in the UK, and on 10 June a House of Lords committee found that Boris Johnson's use of the Union flag as a backdrop for coronavirus briefings caused "unacceptable and unnecessary" confusion.
Mary Thomas, Edinburgh
Murdo Fraser accuses Nicola Sturgeon of interfering with our civil liberties by insisting on vaccine passports.
I am no supporter of Nicola Sturgeon and her ultra-controlling SNP, but it ill behoves a member of the Scottish Conservatives to throw around such accusations, given that HIS party is hellbent on removing all too many of our civil liberties.
EP Carruthers, Lockerbie, Dumfries & Galloway
Otto Inglis calls for an end to mask wearing in the middle of a pandemic, falsely claiming England’s Covid rate is similar to Scotland’s. As of 5 October, Scotland’s Covid infection rate fell to the lowest in the UK, 50 per cent lower than in England. Libertarian Sajid Javid scrapped all protections in England on 19 July and in May he eliminated mask-wearing in secondary schools, failing to provide any scientific basis for doing so. Here in Scotland, masks are required on public transport and inside closed spaces and in secondary schools for the protection of students and their teachers.
The UK Government has ignored scientific advice to provide adequate ventilation in schools and offices to control infections.
The UK Government’s messaging says infection doesn’t matter, when it matters in terms of disruption to education, hospitalisations and transmission into the community. The Tories paint safety measures as restrictions rather than protections. The fact is that good ventilation and mask wearing are simple measures to keep people safe.
Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh
Tim Flinn asks me what I propose when fossil and nuclear fuel run out (Letters, 6 October). He should direct that question to the US, Australia, China and India, which together have three quarters of global coal reserves. Middle Eastern states have more than half of the world's oil reserves and Canada extracts oil from tar sands. Europe has been forced to ask Russia for more coal to survive a winter energy crunch. Germany opened more coal-fired plants when it closed its nuclear facilities and now has more than 40 coal-fired plants fuelled by imports from Russia. China has 1,000 coal-fired plants. India, China, Indonesia, India, Japan and Vietnam are building more than 600 new coal-fired electricity plants. America, having shale gas, is now exporting coal to the world and its biggest customer is Europe.
Does it look like China and most of the rest of the world will stop using fossil fuels to drive their economies? Britain's efforts to cut its 1 per cent emissions to Net Zero will cost taxpayers over £1.3 trillion and bankrupt Britain.
Clark Cross, Linlithgow, West Lothian
Target Gaelic aid
It is a sad thing that a living language should be weaponised in the debate about Scottish independence, when it exists as a thing in its own right and many of those who are speakers of that tongue have no wish to engage in a debate which conflates politics and language.Perhaps the first thing that should be done is to take the heat out of the debate. Splashing made-up pseudo-Gaelic on public service vehicles serves only to inflame opinion, when a more measured approach would be constructive. We all know that Gaelic speakers understand English, so why do we pretend that it is necessary to emblazon all public buildings with Gaelic names? The same applies to railway stations and the like.The money that is to be spent to encourage the use of that language can only be spent meaningfully where Gaelic currently exists and where it needs to be protected and encouraged. Those places are in the Highlands and Islands, as Alastair Stewart (Perspective, Tuesday) explains. Companies need to be encouraged to settle in Gaelic-speaking areas and to encourage the use of that language in the business, and such companies should do what other entrepreneurs did in centuries past. Encourage the development of Gaelic-speaking communities around their businesses and for employees’ children to grow up speaking it.We will all continue to speak English, but money earmarked for the protection and encouragement of Gaelic should be spent where it survives, not in the rest of Scotland.
Peter Hopkins, Edinburgh
You report (Wednesday, 6 October) that the precise formulation of any potential question in a second independence referendum could influence voters and affect the outcome. It is interesting to note that the questions tested by the academics concerned are in a closed format: “Do you agree..”, “Should Scotland….”.
In contrast, as in normal discourse, an open question could elicit a much more authentic and thoughtful response. Consider this formulation: “What should Scotland’s constitutional future be: (a) an independent country; (b) a part of the United Kingdom.” Voters could tick a box. Of course, a further option (c) could be added if serious proposals for a radical change to the status quo were forthcoming.
Such an approach should encourage a more wide-ranging, less binary and less partisan national dialogue. It might even give more power to the people and reduce the influence of those who might seek to use the framing of the question to influence the outcome.
John Sturrock, Edinburgh
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