Letters: Covid has shown that the Union does not work for Scotland

THE UK Government subterfuge over Covid funding (“Treasury accused of ‘smoke and mirrors’ over £220m for Scots Covid battle”, The Herald, December 16) is further evidence that Scotland is fighting the pandemic with one hand tied behind its back because our Government cannot borrow money when needed and has no control over our borders.

It is obvious that more cautious measures would have been introduced, and more lives saved, if Scotland were independent or Holyrood had the means to compensate the hospitality industry, which makes it all the more remarkable that Scotland has been far more effective at managing the pandemic.

Each of the four UK governments is responsible for protecting public health in their own nation, but only when Westminster takes decisions for England is funding triggered. Despite Tory claims at Holyrood, there is no new or additional money and it turns out that Scotland is facing a £48 million shortfall on Covid funding previously promised.

Like our agriculture and fishing industries, the Scottish hospitality sector has also been devastated by Brexit with a shortage of 48,000 seasonal workers. As a very successful trading nation, Scotland has suffered much more than other areas of the UK due to Brexit and food prices are climbing as post-Brexit supply chain problems hit retailers hard.

As part of the UK, we are facing a growing cost-of-living crisis and the high inflation figure is almost entirely down to Brexit, while Boris Johnson’s shambolic handling of Covid, including cancelling the vaccine contract with Valvena in Livingston, has further trashed our economy.

Apart from Westminster’s relentless power grab of devolved matters since Brexit, it is obvious from Covid that the Union is no longer working for Scotland.

Fraser Grant, Edinburgh.

* I MUST comment on the numerous letters stating that Scots are so lucky that Westminster is financing furlough and providing vaccinations to keep us all safe. Westminster has provided nothing that the Scottish citizens have not already paid for with the taxes we have paid. We have received nothing we have not already contributed to. Therefore we are entitled to furlough and all the other so-called benefits which have come our way. Especially since Westminster took every penny from North Sea oil instead of it being invested as the Norwegians have done.

So please, no more tales of how grateful we should be for having our sovereign wealth stolen.

Margaret Forbes, Kilmacolm.


WHILE both Westminster and Holyrood governments wrestle with this worrying Omicron outbreak I’m curious as to why there was a vote on the new restrictions in England but in Scotland we get an edict with no vote.

Surely as new restrictions are proposed here in Scotland there should be a full debate followed by a parliamentary vote. Not just the usual “Nicola Sturgeon will make an announcement at 2pm today”. The Scottish Government should not just make a presumption of a majority.

Even in a crisis we are supposed to be living in a democracy.

Ian McNair, Glasgow.


THE news of a judge-led inquiry into the SNP’s handling of the pandemic – hopefully with the powers to make witnesses take oaths and face possible perjury charges for untruths – is most welcome (“Sturgeon and Freeman ‘could face criminal charges’ over care home transfers”, The Herald, December 16).

We have seen in past Holyrood inquiries vast amounts of meaningless verbiage and obfuscation from those being questioned and if we could have yes or no answers to tough and forensic questioning, it would be a relief to all. What cannot be denied is that at times the focus of the decision makers in Scotland has not been entirely on Covid. The raison d’etre of the politicians making decisions is paramount to them, consciously or unconsciously. I am sure the wish to know exactly what happened is more important to the bereaved than the possibility of criminal charges.

A tough inquiry, with no-holds-barred questioning from authoritative people, may give some comfort to the bereaved families of those who died needlessly.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.


SEASONAL greetings from the hospitality industry was once the thing. Now we have greetin’ faces from hospitality, whining about masks, or distancing, or Covid passes, or “that Sturgeon”, on BBC Reporting Scotland night after night after night. No doctors or nurses; no perspective on a pandemic which has killed millions: cancelled meals are the news du jour for the Beeb. The Scottish Tories even want to take money from schools and hospitals and give it to pubs and nightclubs.

A wider view: my village used to have a pub, a hotel, a British Legion club. All once thriving, but all gone long before the pandemic, killed off by pit closures. Even when the economy bounced back, they never revived, as social habits had changed. These changed social habits, reinforced by Covid-19 fears, may spell bad news for some hospitality venues in the future. But while missed, life for the rest of us will go on, in the new “normal”.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.


IN a queue at the Post Office, I was behind a lady sending packages to Europe. It took some time, a customs form needed to be filled out for each parcel. Why? Not because they contained dangerous items but because of Brexit, according to the postmistress.

Brexit has cost Scotland its market for fish, down more than 50 per cent. Whisky exports to the EU have declined by £105.7 million. Sixty-two per cent of businesses that trade with the EU say costs have risen since Brexit and the result is nearly half of them are doing less trade with Europe or have stopped EU exports completely. A quarter of the UK’s small and medium-sized businesses have moved their operations to Europe. And contrast the recent six per cent fall in UK economic growth with the 0.3% fall of Northern Ireland. What is the difference? Because of the protocol, Northern Ireland continues effectively to trade as if it were in the EU.

Brexit has damaged the economy of Scotland far more than the pandemic. As we exported twice the goods per head of population to Europe than the rest of the UK, Scotland is doubly punished for a UK Government decision that refused to recognise the EU referendum result in Scotland. It is time for independence and control of our economy.

Frances Scott, Edinburgh.


ONCE again we are left shocked, saddened and stunned at yet another bouncy castle tragedy. And yet, to me, to the solution to stabilising outdoor castles is quite, or at least relatively, straightforward. At present they depend on ground anchors, which in themselves can present a trip hazard.

Instead of inflating the base with air, why not use water or a mix of water and air? Maths isn’t my strongest discipline, but I believe a 3 x 3 x 1m base would contain nine cubic metres of water, which is nine tonnes. That won’t blow away. Nine tonnes is excessive and I suspect the bouncy experience would be adversely affected. However a depth of say 10cm would weigh 900kg; plenty of ballast to prevent lift-off. The other 90cm would be air as per usual, and the participants could enjoy the experience safely.

I believe a redesign of the inflation technique may be required, but surely worth it.

Alastair Clark, Stranraer.


LIKE most folk I am exposed to a daily deluge of instant “digital news” from multiple sources. As a counter-point to this I regularly purchase quality print newspapers, of which The Herald is one. I expect more researched, in-depth, reflective articles written by intelligent, professional journalists. Kevin McKenna’s recent piece regarding the proposed Assisted Dying Bill (“Davidson’s push for assisted dying opens a Pandora’s box”, The Herald, December 11) fell far short. Columns of rant covering slavery, poverty, Mary’s Meals, greed, poverty again, wars, a lust for power, and so on. No facts. His personal conviction is that the Assisted Dying Bill should be blocked. I disagree, for reasons of fairness, equality and compassion.

At the moment assisted dying is only available to the wealthy. This bill treats the rich and poor equally. At the moment assisted dying is only available to those physically able to travel out of the UK. This bill would enable people to die at home. At the moment “easing” someone’s death is in a very shady legal place and puts doctors in a very difficult position. The Assisted Dying Bill would clarify everyone’s position and the patient’s wishes would be validated and documented.

This bill very clearly only applies to those deemed mentally competent.

Palliative care is wonderful but does not and cannot prevent some of the most awful suffering of the unlucky few.

MSPs are elected to govern according to the wishes of the majority of their electorate, not on the basis of their personal faiths or convictions.

Your life, your death, your choice, Mr McKenna. My life, my death, my choice.

Mrs R Slack, Bishopbriggs.

Read more: Why can’t we have a more compassionate environment and the right to choose at the end of life?

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