Readers' Letters: Scottish body donors won’t be seen on TV

On Monday 5 December the documentary My Dead Body was aired on Channel 4. This programme included footage showing the dissection of a recently deceased individual who had donated her body to the Brighton and Sussex Medical School.

Human dissection is a vital experience for young doctors
Human dissection is a vital experience for young doctors

We, as senior anatomists working across the five medical schools in Scotland, supported by His Majesty’s Inspector of Anatomy in Scotland, wish to distance ourselves from this programme as it does not represent the reality of body donor programmes run by Scottish universities. Importantly, this event took place at an English medical school, where the legislation covering bodies donated to medical science is distinct from that in Scotland. The Human Tissue (Scotland) Act 2006, under which all Scottish body donor programmes operate, specifically prohibits the recording and distribution of such dissection activities.

Thus, the public in Scotland should be reassured that all individuals who so generously and selflessly donate their body to medical science will not be used in this way. Body donor programmes remain at the heart of medical and biomedical training in Scotland, and we would like to put on public record our ongoing gratitude to the donors and their families.

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(Prof) Scott Border, Head of Anatomy, University of Glasgow; Dr Enis Cezayirli, Head of Anatomy, University of St Andrews; (Prof) Gordon S Findlater, His Majesty’s Inspector of Anatomy in Scotland; (Prof) Thomas H Gillingwater, Chair of Anatomy, University of Edinburgh; (Prof) Simon H Parson, Regius Chair of Anatomy, University of Aberdeen; (Prof) Tracey Wilkinson, Cox Chair of Anatomy, University of Dundee

No plan

Yet again Mary Thomas sings the praises of other small countries which she wishes Scotland to emulate (Letters, 7 December). And as usual she omits to mention the less attractive aspects of some or most of these countries. Ireland, for example – the Celtic Tiger as she anachronistically insists on calling it – charges its citizens €60 for a GP appointment! If you want to pay 50 quid just to see your GP then line up for independence.

Aspiring to be a successful small country is all very well. Unfortunately a report by the Climate Change Committee (Scotsman, same day) highlighting a “trend of failure on emissions targets” epitomises the SNP's aspirations not only for an for an independent Scotland but for the vital services the Scottish people depend upon on a daily basis. “Scotland” it tells us – by which they mean the SNP – has “ambitious” milestones but “no clear delivery plan on how they will be achieved”.

Colin Hamilton, Edinburgh

Shot in foot

Victor Clements hits the nail on the head when he points to Labour's musings on the Constitution as a distraction from what should be their main focus, winning the next election (Letters, 7 December). The Tories continue to heap scandal upon scandal (the Michelle Mone case is a big one) and there is no better time to achieve a huge swing to Labour UK-wide, thereby disposing of the SNP in Scotland as a by-product.

But beware offering new dollops of devolution. Tam Dalyell of the Binns warned in the Seventies that the best way of holding the UK together was in a unitary system. Dalyell was even against Labour's gift of Holyrood. That particular horse has bolted. He also warned that devolution was “a motorway for the SNP's independence”, a drug with unpleasant side effects, and his Labour colleagues paid scant attention. They could still shoot themselves in the foot in the same way.

Crawford Mackie, Edinburgh

Scotland chained

Douglas Cowe wants economic facts (Letters, 7 December). Can he first explain why Westminster won’t let Scotland go if we are such a financial burden? Scotland has consistently generated a significant balance of trade surplus – it exports more than it imports. A nation earns foreign exchange reserves by selling its goods and services to other nations. 2019 ONS data shows Scotland had a £20.5 billion trade surplus, greater than any UK region except London. By contrast, England had a trade deficit of £43.3bn. Without Scotland’s contribution, the UK trade deficit would balloon by one third, hammering an already weak Sterling.

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An EU Commission report reveals that Scotland is on course to deliver nearly half of Europe’s offshore wind grid supply by 2035, which is over 55 per cent of the entire offshore grid potential in the Mediterranean Basin.

Then there’s oil and gas. Scotland produces 82 per cent of the UK total that raises over £65bn in tax that stays in London. That is the equivalent of £5,000 for every Scottish household per annum over the next six years. It’s Scotland’s money because the Continental Shelf Act of 1964 and 1968 defined 90 per cent of UK North Sea maritime area [as being] under the jurisdiction of Scots law.Just as Westminster suppressed the 1970s McCrone Report revealing Scotland’s oil and gas potential, it removed a 2013 report on Scotland’s renewables potential from the national archives website. It needs to keep us ignorant to keep us imprisoned so it can continue its asset-stripping. It’s past time Scotland ditched this joke of a union.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh

Modest plea

I understand that, if you join a trade union you can opt out of the proportion of union dues which go to fund political parties. Can I opt out of the proportion of my taxes which are being used to fund Indyref 2?

Christopher H Shaw, Glentrool Forest, South Ayrshire

Doesn’t add up

Sir Keir Starmer recently celebrated Samantha Dixon’s win at the Chester by-election. Turnout was 41.2 per cent, Ms Dixon secured 17,309 votes, around 60 per cent of the votes from those who voted. However, almost 60 per cent of the population didn’t actually vote. The electorate is around 74,000. So effectively, more people did not vote or actually voted against Ms Dixon. I would assume, however, that Sir Keir believes Ms Dixon has a mandate to represent the City of Chester.

Boris Johnson won the 2019 election seeking a mandate to “Get Brexit Done”. In fact he secured an 80-seat majority. In terms of the popular vote, however, this actually equated to only 43.6 per cent of votes cast. With a turnout of 67 per cent in the election, more people actually voted against the Conservatives in 2019 or didn’t vote at all. I cannot remember hearing the Labour Party arguing that Boris Johnson had no mandate. Keir Starmer has said that the SNP winning a majority of votes in the next general election wouldn’t provide a mandate for an independence referendum. Am I missing something?

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Stuart Smith, Aberdeen

Hide purse

Gordon Brown, he who presided over the emptying of the coffers as Prime Minister, has proposed giving the SNP more borrowing and spending powers in the event of a Labour Government after the next General Election. The SNP “government” has proved they are past masters in squandering money. If they are never going to be held to account for their misuse of public funds then surely allowing them to borrow and spend more more money will not benefit Scotland in any way.

Ian Balloch, Grangemouth, Falkirk

Game face

Striking is an understandable reaction to government intransigence and inflation. But it plays into the government’s playbook. That recreates risk for those of us who really want change. What a shame! Over 20 years the Tories learned that condemning propaganda which activates their base wins many voters over. Angry emotional reasoning trumps objective argument – think about all the Brexit lies which many people remain oblivious of.

And now with the strikes the Tories will raise the temperature yet again and rekindle their political credibility. The strikers are apparently just a branch of the Labour Party. Trade Unions have always put greed before the country's need. How can logic refute this appeal to emotions? What percentage of the strikers have ever voted Tory? Are real concerns about rises in cost of living driving widespread striking? Are compromises being slowly found in the Labour or SNP-controlled peripheries of the UK? Is this claim about greedy left-leaning ideologically driven trade unions just the same old same old emotional reasoning propaganda?

Those of us who lean left have to get better at playing the game the Tories have perfected. But we also have to be responsible enough to play the long game, and act for the good of the country. If you learn to play the long game, you may find yourself only having to face short games.

Andrew Vass, Edinburgh

Reel hope

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It is good to read that there are now two proposals for reopening Filmhouse (Brian Ferguson, Perspective, 7 December). The one from PCC is interesting, but it would be good to know more about the intended programming. One of the strengths of Filmhouse has been not its big misplaced festival in August but the numerous mini-festivals of film from particular countries.

As for the bid from the previous management, it would be better if, rather than criticising PCC, they had been more positively forthcoming about what is continuity and what is new in their own proposal. It has been noticeable during the decline into insolvency, and since, that members who paid subscriptions to CMI have not been kept informed.

I wonder who now owns the mailing list. If it is the Receiver, is Brian Ferguson in a position to find out how it might be used in sounding out opinion before a deal is done?

Peter Lush, Edinburgh

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