Scottish Government dragged heels on coronavirus – Letters

Holyrood was too slow to act, says a reader
Was Scotland needlessly late in reacting? (Picture: Bill McBurnie)Was Scotland needlessly late in reacting? (Picture: Bill McBurnie)
Was Scotland needlessly late in reacting? (Picture: Bill McBurnie)

In dealing with coronavirus the Scottish Government has been too slow to act and has failed to take the right decisions. And it’s time we got personal about this, because it is our lives and livelihoods which are at stake.

Pretty much all of us can read a graph. By early March the evidence in the media demonstrated that the UK was simply tracking the experiences of Italy, Spain and France, yet the Scottish Government did nothing.

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They should have stopped entry from affected countries, shut down schools and non-essential business, closed bars, restaurants and shops. Insisted on masks on public transport and inside public buildings. Hand sanitising stations at all entrances and exits. Created a massive track and trace capability. Isolated care homes.

With one medically compromised member in our household, we decided to lock down on 7 March – with one important exception. We had a visitor from East Lothian due to stay with us on the night of 8 March. We checked the infection rates and judged it safe for her to stay overnight. She travelled by public transport through Edinburgh to Glasgow. But Nicola Sturgeon had concealed the February virus outbreak in Edinburgh. Had we known this, my friend would have been given short shrift.

The First Minister made a totally irresponsible, inexplicable decision which placed my family at greater risk.

Despite the care home tragedies in Italy and Spain, the Scottish Government implemented a mass transfer of potentially infected patients into care homes, resulting in the highest death toll in Europe. The most vulnerable were sitting ducks.

Now we are weltering in lockdown limbo because the Scottish Government continues to avoid the necessary decisions. Have a look at Germany; it is scrupulous hygiene and a relentless track and trace programme which will get us out of this.

I’m lucky. I live in a house with a garden, and I’m not on my own. I can Zoom and drink prosecco with the best of them.

But at this rate, we’ll be sitting here this time next year, with our economy in tatters.

Carole Ford, Terregles Avenue, Glasgow

Back to work

According to M Terry (Letters, 12 June) Fergus Ewing has made a terrible mistake in announcing the opening of the hospitality sector on 15 July. No, he hasn’t. Actually, he should have announced an earlier opening.

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The virus is well on the way to petering out and as for a supposed second wave, countries which have greatly eased the lockdown have seen none. Professor Hugh Pennington does not believe in a resurgent pandemic, describing himself as “a second-wave sceptic”.

The tourism and hospitality sector in Scotland supports nearly 250,000 jobs and is valued at £11 billion to the economy. Figures this week reveal that the country will face mass unemployment and a damaging recession, and the longer lockdown continues the worse things will be. Many countries around the world use a one-metre distancing guide and this is backed by the World Health Organisation (WHO). This should be implemented soon to assist the hospitality, tourism, education and transport sectors. The limit on travelling five miles should be lifted immediately – private cars are bio-secure.

There is a danger of catastrophising the pandemic. The number of deaths in the UK for June is below average, and Professor Karl Sikora has said that the total number of fatalities solely caused by coronovirus may be half the official figures.

William Loneskie, Oxton, Lauder

Blinded by science?

The First Minister insists her hands are tied by “the science” which she claims backs the maintenance of the two-metre rule, but the fact is that it has no clear justification in science and it will wreak severe damage on businesses and schools

As so often in this crisis, her “science” seems to be at odds with “the science” of most other nations. WHO recommends one metre: advice which has been followed by much of Europe as well as most of the Far East.

Even here science is equivocal and as a scientist I can see that 2m is not a rule. The distance humans keep apart is 1m – anything less invades our sense of privacy – and decisions on her 2m mantra are political; its results seriously economic.

(Dr) John Cameron, Howard Place, St Andrew

Slave trade

I was struck by the comments from Althea Dundas-Bekker, descendant of Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville, whose statue towers over St Andrew Square in Edinburgh (12 June).

As Home Secretary and Secretary of State for War, Dundas is recognised as being instrumental in deferring the abolition of the slave trade.

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Ms Dundas-Bekker notes that Dundas “was having to make difficult decisions in difficult times”. There is no doubt that when William Wilberforce tabled his abolition bill in 1792, Dundas as Home Secretary was responsible for the deferral of abolition until 1807.

However, historical opinion is divided as to whether this was indeed a measure to kick the issue into the long grass or was a ploy by Dundas, given the strength of the pro-slavery West Indian lobby in Parliament, to actually get the bill passed.

To further add some complexity, and as Ms Dundas-Bekker points out, in 1777 at an earlier stage in his life while practising as an advocate in Edinburgh before moving to London, Dundas was the legal representative in a famous case. This involved a former slave called Joseph Knight who had been brought from Jamaica to Scotland by his owner, James Wedderburn.

Knight had run away from Wedderburn, and when he had been found he filed a claim which ended at the Court of Session to protect him from becoming re-enslaved – claiming either freedom or wages for his service.

Dundas’s representation was assisted by Samuel Johnson and James Boswell and the case was heard by the writer Henry Home, Lord Kames.

The decision given by Lord Kames was in favour of Joseph Knight, effectively underlining the lack of basis in Scots law for either slavery or “perpetual service”. That is, although slavery might be considered legal in Jamaica, it was not in Scotland.

As this hopefully highlights, the actions and motivations of historical figures are often complex and not as simple as they first appear, or indeed some may like them to be.

Alex Orr, Marchmont Road, Edinburgh


To take it as read that the majority of people in our country recognise that “grown-up conversations” need to happen, taking to the streets does not give carte blanche on what those societal changes should be. Two social acceptances of modern slavery are evident in our daily lives.

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Firstly, prostitution through the illegal sex industry – all the governments and agencies, national and devolved, are aware of it but choose not to tackle the human trafficking and exploitation head on.

Secondly, drug use. As recently seen on Channel 5’s Doing Drugs for Fun, the finance and supply chains for all classes of drugs is deplorable in contributing to acts of modern slavery for those caught up in it, innocently or otherwise.

The question is, will the traction this movement has deal with these current acts of modern slavery issues or will calling out the casual and habitual drug-users be seen as an accepted level of hypocritical tolerance?

Paul Dishington, Saughton Mains Gardens, Edinburgh

Well said, JK!

Gina Davidson’s opinion piece (“Why abuse of JK Rowling is a problem for trans rights activists”, 11 June) was wonderful, and well-reasoned. It was a joy to read something different.

The gender self-certification legislation to be implemented in Scotland will be exploited by those who behave predatorily.

Many people believe that a few years after an “incident”/abusive relationship a person will be back to normal, but I still feel a terrible dread when I hear someone running and I still wonder if behind the nice man is a violent one; gone now will be the safety in places where women are most exposed and vulnerable.

The haunting echoes of Twitter users towards Rowling in their emotional abuse, with their pressure to grind her into submission and in wishing violence on her after she has faced the reality of this in her past, is nightmarish – that she has a lovely supportive family is heartening.

I, too, have worried for a long time that when I start a family, if I have daughters, what they may be subjected to.

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I am not sure all parents see the minefield that is the reality for many young girls particularly.

In a country where people are progressively, chillingly, boxed in and reluctant to speak, for Rowling to stick to her authenticity and bravery, as she has always shown, should not be surprising, but it is really quite something.

Rowling’s statement expands on what many more people already knew of her in heart, mind and soul; like many, I salute her!

Madeleine Fitch, Attleborough, Norfolk

Something fishy

Twenty-five foreign supertrawlers, each more than 100m long and capable of catching hundreds of tonnes of fish a day using nets up to a mile long, collectively spent 2,963 hours in 2019 and up to 1,388 hours in 2018 intensively fishing in 39 UK marine protected areas. Thank Heaven for Brexit.

Doug Clark, Muir Wood Grove, Currie


If electricity from wind is the cheapest way to generate then why do our bills keep going up?

Christopher Shaw, Pinwherry, Girvan

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