Letters: Sunak must now step up and brink back furlough

THE news of 20,000 Covid daily infections recorded in Scotland today (January 3) begs the question: what more evidence does Chancellor Rishi Sunak need? The number of infections in the UK has been rising alarmingly, yet no new restrictions from Westminster, no support for businesses, no alarm bells ringing.

With staff shortages due to Covid in our crucial NHS and social services, businesses crumbling, shouts from Holyrood and other devolved governments all with the same message, when will furlough be reintroduced and when, will England get in line with the devolved nations regarding restrictions? The Chancellor must step up to demands being made; no more dithering, no more wait and see, the evidence is clear, we need to protect our NHS, social care and public services now.

The devolved nations await action from Westminster, because it is only when Westminster is moved to action that consequential support for public services and business will arrive through the Barnett Formula. Over to you, Mr Sunak.

Catriona C Clark, Falkirk.


I READ with interest Joanna Blythman’s article in which she highlighted the grandstanding of Nicola Sturgeon and her deputy, John Swinney, in imposing financial hardship on the hospitality sector and also inflicting unacceptable restrictions on our civil liberty (“Time to tell joyless Sturgeon and Swinney to take a hike over Covid”, The Herald, January 1). These dictatorial decisions have been made in the absence of irrefutable scientific data.

Without in any way seeking to diminish the seriousness of the dreadful epidemic, surely a properly balanced and proportionate response is required, not least considering the catastrophic impact that restrictions and closures are having on livelihoods in the hospitality sector, but our First Minister and those behind her seem determined to be “different” in the response to the pandemic and the evidence of her grandstanding is witnessed in the unnecessary hardships being endured.

The all-too-frequent television appearances have effectively become the equivalent of party political broadcasts and it is to be hoped that those facing the prospect of unemployment in the hospitality and oil and gas industries will have long memories come election time.

I am not a member of a political party and I abhor Boris Johnson’s conduct and the conduct of those supporting him, but Ms Sturgeon and those supporting her are also guilty of duplicity in the extreme. Let us hope that the electorate will denounce such shameful behaviour in due course.

James McGilvray, Edinburgh.


BIZARRELY for a piece bemoaning the premature death of the service sector, 25 per cent of Joanna Blythman’s article is a detailed description of her meal in L’Escargot Blue, a busy Edinburgh restaurant. I assume she was beavering away on her laptop writing her piece late on the 31st before the bells or in the wee hours of the New Year after contacting transport gurus, else how could she state with certainty that “thousands of Scots flocked south”, a fact that anecdotal evidence today would tend to bring into question?

A précis of her article is that the SNP hierarchy are control freaks happy to destroy the economy simply to impose their will on a reluctant populace. As I vent my spleen in words, I learn that Covid has exploded in London and 1 in 15 people currently have the infection; I wonder what comment Ms Blythman would have made if Scotland suddenly had a similar infection rate because our Government mishandled matters in the same manner as Westminster obviously has?

Most of us will never dine at The Blue Snail nor eat one, but if the great unwashed in their droves had gone out for fish suppers and a surge of Covid infections caused the NHS to collapse would she now be castigating Ms Sturgeon and Mr Swinney for not doing enough? Damned if you do and damned if you don’t. I assume Ms Blythman and those of a similar mindset have resolved that if they are unfortunate enough to contract Covid after a night of haute cuisine they will be self-reliant in dealing with their symptoms in the privacy of their own homes and not add to the Covid burden already being shouldered by our NHS.

David J Crawford, Glasgow.

* I RESENT the attack on Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney by Joanna Blythman. I feel glad that these leaders are taking the governance of my country so seriously in a pandemic.

I am happy to leave blustering and partying in the hands of their counterparts in England. They have form along these lines.

Mary Adair, Newton Stewart.

* If by some Gilbertian twist of fate Joanna Blythman were obliged to spend a month working in an ICU you might wonder if the goose terrine would slip down with the same delight described in her article of January 1.

David Somerville, Inverness.


DAVID Stubley (Letters, January 3) seeks to label me as a unionist. There is nothing to be unified. If you must label me, born of Scots of at least five generations on both sides, I am British. The term “unionist” nowadays is used pejoratively by those who would seek separation, sans economic justification, sans logic, sans mandate. Thus will end “this strange eventful history”. I doubt many Scots really object to devolution of some administration from Westminster but full economic and political separation as advocated by the SNP is lunacy. We are British.

Holyrood was, and will always be, an unnecessary construct to deliver devolved administration. It was forced on us and predictably hijacked by the opportunist separatists. Aside from the lack of debate or political talent on display, the eye-watering duplication, the flagrant redirection of public money into political initiatives, the starving of local authorities to feed vanity projects, and rank incompetence beyond even the wildest dreams of its sceptics, it now has the gall to have unelected government ministers. Holyrood and the misnamed Scottish Government is almost certainly acting ultra vires in goading Westminster to have a go in the hope of creating what they believe will be the best ever faux grievance

It may take time but yes, no matter how many jobs funded by SNP patronage are lost as a result, Holyrood should be closed.

John Dunlop, Ayr.


READING Peter A Russell’s letter (January 1) immediately reminded me of statements made when Malta was seeking independence.

In particular, his statement, which he seems to believe is fact, that huge cuts would be necessary “without fiscal transfers from England” mirrors almost exactly the “fact” about Malta that “the economy would collapse without British Treasury subventions”. Yet Malta, without any of Scotland’s resources and assets, has been a thriving independent country since 1964, and is a member of the EU with the same rights, voting powers, veto and turn of chairing committees as the biggest members.

In any case, why does he believe the supposed “facts” promulgated by the proven liar in No 10, who never knowingly tells the truth if a terminological inexactitude will do?

Moreover, like so many Unionists, he insults every Scot who has carefully considered the case for independence and now supports it, by assuming that they are “in thrall” to the SNP. His contacts must be relatively few if he has not yet realised that the SNP, at present, has members whose natural inclination and past habit has been to vote Labour, LibDem and even Tory, and who now vote SNP only to achieve their goal of independence.

In my experience, these folk are not “in thrall” to anyone, any group or any party, but to the vision of what an independent Scotland could be.

L McGregor, Falkirk.


I’VE never seen the point of making people Members of an Empire which no longer exists, and the whole Honours system has been tarnished and discredited over recent times, but I never thought that anyone would stoop so low as to bestow a knighthood on a man who plunged the country into an illegal war which killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people, while British soldiers, who had been sent to war on a lie, returned home in body bags (“Petition in backlash at honour for former PM Blair”, The Herald, January 3). The Queen has made a most deplorable error of judgment.

What next? Posthumous knighthoods to Guy Fawkes for services to fireworks and Dick Turpin for services to face masks? Neither would be more ludicrous than knighting Tony Blair.

Ruth Marr, Stirling.

* THERE are 460,000 dead Iraqis turning in their graves. Tony Blair prosecuted a war under false pretences.

Shame on us.

Graeme Alexander, Edinburgh.

Read more: Shine a light on the failings of the BBC in Scotland

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