Scotsman Letters

NHS Lothian has launched a new political programme to atone for historical slavery. This is a self-indulgent distraction when they should be fixing poor health provision across the region. Patients waiting ten hours plus in A&E today will find no comfort knowing the Board has its head stuck in the 18th century.

Only the chronically woke care if the Royal Infirmary inherited a slave estate in Jamaica, 198 years before the formation of the NHS. The proud Jamaicans I met last week have no use for their bleeding hearts. If folk really want to help this beautiful Caribbean country, book a holiday there and get some direct flights going from Scotland.

The 1700s was a brutal period for working people universally. We were the machines of the day, regardless of skin colour. Scottish mine owners benefited from child labour and highland estates often treated inhabitants worse than sheep.

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Financial legacies from Scottish capitalists/landlords then undoubtedly propped up the hospitals. However, no NHS Board reparations are planned for exploited working class communities. It doesn’t fit with their right-on “progressive” left narrative that our nation is institutionally racist.

Research from NHS Lothian has discovered the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh at Little France has historic ties to the Atlantic slave trade (Picture: Jon Savage)Research from NHS Lothian has discovered the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh at Little France has historic ties to the Atlantic slave trade (Picture: Jon Savage)
Research from NHS Lothian has discovered the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh at Little France has historic ties to the Atlantic slave trade (Picture: Jon Savage)

The Chief Executive of this rogue Health Board, Calum Campbell, must stop parading his student politics (at our expense) and start preparing for the annual NHS “winter crisis” – so predictable that Santa sets his clock by it.

Calum Miller, Prestonpans, East Lothian

Democracy affront

It may surprise Stan Grodynski to learn that the House of Lords is by no means alone in terms of being “an affront to democracy” (Letters, 4 October). He should remember that the very epitome of democracy, namely the USA, has three arms of Government, of which the judicial (the Supreme Court) is appointed by the President and is “guardian of the Constitution”. It is much less talented than the House of Lords and is appointed by one man.

Another affront to democracy happened here in Scotland only nine years ago. In that exercise, the people of Scotland were asked if we wanted independence and we answered “No”, by a very large margin (almost one quarter more voting against the separatist proposition than voted for it). The advantages the separatists had were many: deciding the date (the 700th anniversary of Bannockburn); deciding the question; deciding who would be allowed to vote (and including schoolchildren as an easily influenced element in the population); deciding who was not allowed to vote (any Scots living outside Scotland, such as those living in the rest of the UK and enjoying the benefits of the Union); spending enormous amounts of money on propaganda delivered to every house in Scotland – and at our expense!

The SNP was duplicitous. They undertook to respect the outcome. They did not. They said it was a “once in a lifetime” decision and, having lost, then decided that it wasn't. They wish to hold a second referendum, but give no undertaking that, if they won, there would ever be another one. That is a much bigger affront to democracy in my book.

Andrew HN Gray, Edinburgh

Human cost

Jill Stephenson writes: “Perhaps [Stan] Grodynski would have preferred the UK government not to try to protect us all during a major pandemic” and refers to the UK Treasury's “largesse” with business support and furloughing (Letters, 5 October). This is clearly ridiculous and in any case, what a government should have been doing – the problem is in the way that it was done: contracts for cronies, huge sums for unusable PPE (some doctors in England having to buy operating theatre gowns from Amazon) ad infinitum.

Ironically, the TV drama Partygate started being shown this week, nicely coinciding with the Conservative Party conference where, unbelievably, representatives still seem to be yearning for the return of “BoJo the Clown”, that is, when they are not rapturously applauding Liz Truss, the Lady Jane Grey of British politics, who managed to wipe £30 billion off the economy in just 44 days.

As the Covid enquiry rolls on with bereaved relatives standing outside, Ms Stephenson's statistics do nothing to wipe the human cost of the UK government's shenanigans from collective memory.

Marjorie Ellis Thompson, Edinburgh

Struck a nerve

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Clearly my letter of 4 October struck a raw nerve, given Jill Stephenson’s response yesterday. To begin, with she should be reassured none of the information I provided came from “social media” and should she wish to make a claim of “misinformation” or that any figures I have provided are wrong it would be helpful if she could provide the figures she believes more accurate.

Others can do their own research and make up their own minds as to how much the gross incompetency and economic mismanagement of the UK Government has cost Scotland through many decades of under-investment in Scotland’s infrastructure (in spite of the massive UK tax revenues from oil and gas exploitation). Certainly, the Scottish Government could have done more over the last 20-plus years, but the UK Government must take the bulk of the blame for the poverty and deprivation that has persisted in Scotland over a period of failure of more than “30 years” (to quote the latest Prime Minister).

Or, in Ms Stephenson’s mind, has the SNP already succeeded in creating a “separate Scotland”?

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry, East Lothian

Not my business

I am not a bloodsports person and being a city dweller have tried to see this new Hunting with Dogs (Scotland) Act 2023 from the rural community side. I can understand their argument against it as for many it’s a way of life and many people will ultimately lose their jobs and the hounds they obviously love.

Why we city dwellers should even be involved in this discussion is beyond me. How would we feel if, say, our Local Authorities were to ask rural communities to have a say on cutting our local buses in the city from one every 15 minutes to one every two hours? That decision is not a big thing in rural life as that’s probably their local timetable anyway. I am sure the city dwellers would cry out, “what’s it got to do with them, don't they understand that jobs will be lost?”

So maybe we city dwellers should let rural folk have the ultimate decisions that affect their way of life and not our animal-loving consciences?

J Moore, Glasgow

Longevity secrets?

John McLaren’s life expectancy article got my immediate attention (Perspective, 5 October). In 1952 my Dad took us from Glasgow to live in Kent. In 1968 I married an English girl. We’re into our 55th year.I did a lot of business in Scotland with Stakis, Gleneagles and the pre-Trump Turnberry. But no visit was complete until I’d visited Glasgow City Bakeries where I filled my briefcase with tattie scones, coffee buns and Empire biscuits to take back to Kent. Down here I ate Belgian buns, doughnuts et al.

A long time ago Annie insisted on a healthy diet, minimal salt, much less sugar, plus fresh greens, lots of fish and less red meat with supper. Our breakfast Scott’s Porage Oats have added honey instead of salt and I haven’t touched a Lagavulin or a Talisker for a long time.

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I’m touching wood as I tell you I’ve lived a lot longer than would have been likely had I still been living in Glasgow.

Doug Morrison, Cranbrook Kent

The I word

We’ve been “too squeamish on migration” says Home Secretary Suella Braverman. Avoiding the word “immigration” is squeamish in itself – “migration” refers to geese and such. And why is the word “immigrant” also studiously avoided by the media nowadays?

Steve Hayes, Leven, Fife

Train shrinkflation

Good old ScotRail! The living proof that if something sounds too good to be true, that's because it is!

They abolished all tickets to make everyone Off-Peak – omitting to mention fares had only just gone up almost 5 per cent in July anyway, and that was only out of desperation to get passengers back. But even then they couldn’t help themselves but pull a fast one.

Witness the west coast line this week, where the combined talents of Sherlock Holmes, Nancy Drew and Scooby-Doo couldn't solve the mystery of the forever cancelled 8.40 from Johnstone. On Monday, it was due to a driver taking ill. On Tuesday, it was due to problems with the train. On Wednesday, it was due to the signal box at Lochwinnoch (I never even knew it still had one). I can already guess Thursday and Friday’s excuses for the 8.40's cancellation – “the dog ate it” and “the driver left it up at their granny's”.

So much, also, for the extra rolling stock to cope with increased demand. The Sardine Tin Express rides again, suckers – standing room only, and bring your own oxygen. ScotRail's shrinkflation by stealth: the best advert for working from home since Covid.

Mark Boyle, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

Rail good plan

If HS2 had truly been for the benefit of the north it should have started there, by linking Birmingham to Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool, and then driving south through leafy nimby-land as a fait accompli, to finally connect with London.

Any cost cancellation of the final stretch would then have left the north provided for, a promise fulfilled, and the nimby hamlets unaffected. Joined-up thinking.

Malcolm Parkin, Kinnesswood, Kinross

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