Readers' Letters: Will Covid and Brexit take us back to Forties?

If I had slept through the pandemic and woken up this weekend, my first impression would have been that Jeremy Corbyn won in the last election. We have historic levels of borrowing and spending, to say nothing of talk about windfall taxes and nationalisation.

Are we heading for a repeat of the hard winter of 1947? (Picture: Bush/Express/Getty Images)

Covid caused a vast expansion of the state, one that challenges any possibility of judicious budgeting, while Brexit contributes crippling supply chain problems and worker shortages. Finally, a shambolic energy policy has led to the near certainty of winter blackouts.

I’m old enough to remember the later 1940s, these dreadful post-war years when everything went wrong. For all the hysteria emanating from Extinction Rebellion, St Greta and the Green radicals, I wonder if we're in for a 75th anniversary of the 1947 winter.

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John Cameron, St Andrews, Fife

Inessential Scots

It was striking to note Jackie Baillie MSP, Scottish Labour’s deputy leader, claim that Labour cannot return to power at Westminster without a revival in Scotland.

Since the General Election of 1945 there have been only two elections where the return of Labour MPs in Scotland has been essential to the return of a Labour Government.

In the 1964 General Election, Harold Wilson became Prime Minister after defeating Conservative Alec Douglas-Home, securing an overall majority of four, and in February 1974 he defeated incumbent Prime Minister Ted Heath by a mere four seats.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh

Doomed Labour

Contrary to the opinions of Martin O’Gorman and Andrew HN Gray (Letters, 28 September), Brexit has played a significant factor in UK fuel and food shortages that are not experienced in mainland Europe and contributed hugely to staff shortages in our care homes, which is causing bed blocking in hospitals, our hospitality sector as well as to the lack of lorry drivers and agricultural workers.

What can voters in Scotland do to change this situation? Labour backed the Brexit deal and now under Sir Keir Starmer they have given up on freedom of movement or returning to the single market, far less rejoining the EU.

Labour hasn’t moved on from Gordon Brown’s “British jobs for British workers” or their “Controls on Immigration” mugs yet Scottish leader Anas Sarwar has the nerve to claim that the SNP would not be a progressive ally (your report, 28 September). Even if Labour won every seat back from the SNP the Tories would still have an 80-seat majority, which will notionally increase to 90 when the new boundary changes come into force, and as Starmer isn’t well ahead in the opinion polls while we suffer from the worst Tory government in living memory, Labour have no chance of forming a government for at least ten years.

Labour’s ambition for Scotland is to keep asking the Scottish Government, which has very limited fiscal powers, to mitigate Tory policies rather than campaigning for an independent progressive Scotland in Europe. With our vast natural resources there is no reason we can’t match Denmark’s standard of living rather than being shackled to the most unequal country in Western Europe.

Fraser Grant, Edinburgh

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Anas Sarwar says Scottish ‘red wall’ must be rebuilt to deliver UK Labour Govern...

Starmer warning

Anas Sarwar (28 September) wants to rebuild the Scottish Red Wall for UK Labour.

But the differences between Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour and the Tories are hard to detect. Starmer is steering Labour away from its working class base believing this will finally win them an election. But to do what? To retain a status quo that has left the UK languishing at the bottom of Europe on productivity, debt, GDP, pensions, inequality and overall economic performance.

Starmer whipped his party to vote for Boris’ hard Brexit, which is delivering all the misery that was predicted – food and labour shortages, higher energy and food prices, unemployment and lower investment. But the rich are getting richer, so that’s OK.

He reneged on Labour’s commitment to re-nationalise public services such as energy. When pushed by Andrew Marr, Starmer denied he meant common ownership, and implied that nationalisation of public services was an ideology, rather than a superior way to manage public resources for the public good. He is content for Big Oil to continue to pay zero tax and cream off profits for shareholders rather than have the government, like Norway, collect billions in tax to ensure the welfare of its people.

And the Labour Conference rejected a motion for a proportional representation voting system, in favour of retaining first past the post, guaranteeing minority rule.

Scotland vetoed Brexit but was still dragged out of the EU, possesses the vast majority of the UK’s energy resources yet perversely pays the highest charges, and has a proportional representation voting system yet is dominated and ignored by Westminster.

Starmer’s Labour won’t save Scotland. We need to do it ourselves.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh

More hot air

COP26 continues to dominate the headlines (“Scottish Government could bear major cost if COP26 is cancelled”, 28 September). Why are the emission costs never disclosed? In a business where a new project is proposed then a detailed "pay back" analysis is required. We have seen no such analysis for COP26 in respect of the additional greenhouse gas emissions created. Extra emissions created by the 30,000 delegates, press, transport, a Police Scotland presence and lots more need to be estimated.

This can then be compared with the improved emission reduction promises from the 197 countries. If they are not better than the emissions created by COP26 then COP26 should be cancelled.

One flaw here is that the majority of countries, with China foremost, have refused to give updated emission reduction targets to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Without these targets COP26 is dead in the water. The previous 25 COPs achieved nothing but hot air and pointless extra emissions and COP26 will be no different.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow, West Lothian

Dey ticket

Just as the SNP fail to lay out the details of how an independent Scotland would be funded, Graeme Dey, the Transport Minister, has revealed that the costings for free bus travel for the under-22 are random figures picked out of thin air. Guesstimates are not how a country should be run but as we all know, the SNP don’t care about costings as firstly it is not their money – it is taxpayers’ money and secondly, if all else fails, they can just take it from somewhere else to fund this and blame Westminster for austerity.

As if this revelation were not bad enough, the committee then backed the policy even though they have no idea of costs, of uptake or impact.

This is typical SNP, claiming it will be a major success just because they want the headlines.

The Scottish and rUK taxpayer deserve a government in Holyrood that actually looks after the taxpayers’ pound rather than spending it recklessly.

Jane Lax, Aberlour, Moray

Cost of Brexit

Singing from the Brexit hymn sheet, Andrew HN Gray (Letters 28 September) says the shortage of HGV drivers is nothing to do with Brexit. He instructs us to be aware of our facts before commenting. However, if he had read the editorial in the Scotsman of 27 September he would have seen a quote from the Road Haulage Association which said Brexit had led to an exodus of 20,000 drivers.

Be that as it may, as we read of millions of pounds of fruit and vegetables left to rot in the fields and a shortage of turkeys for Christmas looms, can he now explain to us how the serious shortage of fruit and vegetable pickers and poultry workers is nothing to do with Brexit.

And with the UK government's own forecaster, the OBR, estimating that Brexit has cost each UK citizen £1,200, does he still think it was worth it?

Gill Turner, Edinburgh

There’s no fuel…

With regard to the fuel crisis and Jerry can sales increasing as mentioned yesterday in The Scotsman, if these are 20-litre cans, it is illegal to store that much fuel at home. Even with Jerry cans and panic filling up of fuel tanks if supply of fuel is normal, any shortage would only last a few days because the extra spare capacity to store fuel is limited. Drivers don’t normally leave fuel tanks empty. Any increase in the average amount of fuel in tanks will be small in the longer term.The lack of fuel storage capacity makes panic buying of fuel completely different to, say, the panic buying of toilet rolls. You can store many months’ supply of toilet rolls, not so fuel.

So why are we getting long queues at filling stations if excess storage capacity for fuel is limited? There is a domino effect – when one filling station closes the queue moves on to the next one. The domino effect does not negate the basic issue that excess fuel storage capacity is limited even if a small percentage of drivers do store an illegal extra 20 litres in Jerry cans.

If this “crisis” continues, what would be the cause? If supply of fuel is not at normal levels there will not be enough fuel to go round. It seems likely that this is already the case and quite possibly the cause of this fuel shortage.

There is storage capacity for fuel at filling stations. A shortfall in supply will have depleted these reserves. The supply of fuel to filling stations must have been inadequate before the public noticed and started taking on a relatively small percentage of excess fuel.

Governments need someone to blame and so blames the public and panic buying when the real problem is a shortfall in supply.

Ken Carew, Dumfries, Dumfries & Galloway

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