Readers Letters: Why do we miss goal in international sport?

I am wondering why it is that Wales, a region similar to Scotland but with a much smaller population, can do so well in international team sport, while Scotland cannot.

Fans look dejected after Scotland's Euros loss to the Czech Republic at Hampden Park (Picture: Robert Perry/Getty Images)
Fans look dejected after Scotland's Euros loss to the Czech Republic at Hampden Park (Picture: Robert Perry/Getty Images)

We get all the pre-match hype and promises that Scotland will triumph, but it never does. Is the cause due to weakness in SFA management and planning?

Is it caused by our club structure that favours foreign players over home-grown talent?

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Is it caused by poor coaching technique?

Or is it a combination of all three?

Team sport in Scotland has become an acute embarrassment and requires something to be done instead of all the usual excuses ranging from bad luck to temporary under-performance.

Who is going to pick up the gauntlet and actually do something ?

Derek Farmer, Anstruther, Fife

Let us book

Half a million vaccine appointments have been missed in Scotland (your report, 17 June). Surely if we were given the opportunity to make appointments at a day and time that suits us (as is possible in England) then the centres would know how many people to expect and would be able to plan staffing and vaccine doses as appropriate, rather than just waiting to see how many people turned up. We have been slow on the vaccine roll-out, which may have been to plan all along so as to have a reason to delay easing of restrictions, but a change in booking appointments could be more efficient and maybe speed things up.I note that the Covid marshal you picture doing a good job of handing out lateral flow tests could do with a lesson in how to wear a mask, especially if you are getting your photo in the paper

J McPherson, Aberdeen

Barrier to sense

As a pedestrian, cyclist and driver, am I alone in finding the increasing number of segregated cycle lanes in Edinburgh unfit for purpose? The Green Cross Code needs to be amended to include “look down” to avoid stubbing your toes (or worse) on the 2m long trip hazards.

Cyclists need to weave in and out of these hazards to avoid potholes, roadworks, buses and parked vehicles, not to mention pedestrians taking similar avoiding action from pavements, and motorists need to be alert to cyclists suddenly popping out at right angles in front of them. Motorists are also forced to stop behind vehicles turning right as they cannot temporarily use the cycle lane. The cycle lanes are not designed for two abreast and it is not unknown to see cyclists one either side of the barriers, chatting away.

In my eyes these barriered lanes are less safe than simple priority lanes. What a waste of money.

John McIntosh, Edinburgh

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Covid Scotland: 500,000 vaccine appointments missed since February

Bitter fruit

The Brexit disasters are coming thick and fast. As climate change accelerates, the Aussie trade deal will fly inferior beef and lamb around the world to displace higher quality Welsh and Scottish products, driving small farmers out of business. The RSPCA has warned that Australia’s animal welfare standards are far below those of the EU and has begged Boris Johnson not to sign the agreement. Australia allows barren battery cages, sow stalls, hot branding, sheep mutilation and doesn’t require slaughterhouse CCTV or food, water or temperature control for live animal exports.

Meanwhile, soft fruit crops will rot in the fields thanks to a shortage of EU seasonal workers. Fife soft fruit and veg farmer Iain Brown said Scotland is falling short of the 10,000 fruit pickers needed to bring in this summer’s crops.

I n Kent, Winterwood Farms has seen applications for seasonal work drop by 90 per cent over the last two years. From the end of June, people who haven’t got pre-settled status can’t work. It’s no good hoping domestic workers will travel long distances to reach the fields, set up camp and engage in physically demanding work in all kinds of weather.

The haulage industry in Scotland has reported a shortage of 11,000 drivers due to Covid, Brexit and recent tax changes, which is hitting the supply of goods to shops and businesses and increasing prices. The Scottish hospitality industry is reeling from staff shortages after EU nationals left and many domestic workers sought alternative work during the pandemic, forcing many businesses to limit customer numbers, something that will result in business failures. Westminster has never cared about Scotland. We can make our own decisions only when we restore our independence.

In the meantime, we can pelt rotten fruit at Boris next time he dares to venture north.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Merchiston Crescent, Edinburgh

Trailing Denmark

Mary Thomas again puts forward the idea that Scotland had a better chance of emulating the Scandinavian countries if independent (Letters, 16 June). This idea is being brought up frequently by correspondents.

It ain’t so for a variety of reasons shown in key indicators such as Gross Domestic Product per capita, where Denmark, as an example, has a “normal” year 2019 amount of $60,170 or £43,010 (World Bank) and Scotland £30,560 (Statista). That’s a difference of £12,450. Both countries spend 49 per cent on public expenditure so both the Danish public and private sectors enjoy higher revenue availability showing up in health care and education expenditure.

It also shows that the Danish private sector is more productive, driven by a larger number of global companies, from basic products to hi-tech affairs such as Novo Nordisk, Oticon, Widex, LEGO, Danfoss, Grundfos, Maersk, Best Sellers, Ecco Shoes, Trust Pilot, Carlsberg, Vestas... the list goes on and on.

John Peter, Airdrie, North Lanarkshire

Close shave

Mary Thomas considers that the SNP pundit Andrew Wilson now holds that "Scotland's taxation, that it raises itself, is enough to pay for all of the Scottish Government's policy responsibilities". Is this the same Andrew Wilson, of the Sustainable Growth Commission, who predicted that Scotland would in fact have a tax deficit of 5.5 per cent of GDP in 2021/22, pre-Covid? It was actually an 8.6 per cent gap in 2018-9; and the deficit has now trebled to £40 billion, indicatively between 26-28 per cent of GDP in the current fiscal year, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Thankfully, we have the United Kingdom to support us against the pandemic shock – both financially and by the highly successful UK vaccines strategy. Had we attempted independence in 2014 Scotland would by now have become a basket case economically, and lagging behind, along with the EU (even if allowed in), in terms of public health capacity in face of the pandemic.

(Cllr) Peter Smaill, Leader, Midlothian Conservative Council GroupBorthwick, Midlothian

Euros bonus

In reply to Mary Taylor, I suppose a self-governing Scotland would also win Euro 2020?

Chris Smith, Carnoustie, Angus

EVEL plans

In the political crossfire over the proposal to abolish the Westminster system of “English Votes for English Laws” (EVEL), it is worth recalling the circumstances of its introduction (your report, 17 June). In the early morning of Friday 19 September 2014, with a No vote clearly established in the referendum on Scottish independence, then prime Minister David Cameron appeared before a rostrum outside 10 Downing St.

Almost flushed with pleasure, he stated that he had asked Lord Smith of Kelvin to come forward with proposals to extend the powers of the Scottish Parliament. Had he left it there, the course of politics north of the Border in the last eight years would have been markedly different. But with a proverbial sting in the tail he announced that the whole question of EVEL would run parallel to this. It rankled with a large section of the Scottish public and went some way towards explaining the SNP landslide in the general election the following summer.

I think people do understand that if someone is elected to a parliament he or she has the right to vote on all things that come before that parliament. The argument against that has always been the so-called West Lothian Question, probing why a Scottish MP should be able to vote, say, on English education matters when that same MP cannot vote on education matters in his or her constituency.

This was always a false argument and provides no justification for EVEL. All MPs were given the right to vote on the creation of the devolved parliaments and assemblies. EVEL takes away the right of some MPs to vote on certain matters, even when the proposals may have, indirectly, financial consequences for their own constituents.

With a safe Conservative majority of 80, no doubt Messrs Boris Johnson and Michael Gove can afford to be magnanimous in the abolition of this arrangement. They should still accept that it was a constitutional outrage in any parliamentary democracy.

Bob Taylor, Glenrothes, Fife

The sun says...

The sun totally controls our climate, and the science of astronomers can tell us that on the 16 July 2186 there will be a total eclipse of the sun lasting for seven minutes; the longest such event for 5,000 years. They can also say that there will be five solar eclipses in the far-distant 2904. They know what the sun and our universe is doing.

Meanwhile, the committee advising our government on climate change has concluded that if we do not reduce our emissions, summers will become hotter and winters wetter, sometime by the end of this century. They take no account of the sun’s behaviour in their predictions.

Is the government listening to the right people?

Malcolm Parkin, Kinross, Perth & Kinross

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