Letters: It is too early to compare results of how the home nations handled Covid

IN 2012 our then Health Secretary, one Nicola Sturgeon, decided to reduce the number of nursing places by 300 which she justified as “a sensible way forward”. I assume that was a precursor of her “far superior handling” praised misleadingly by Mary Thomas (Letters, October 7).

Apart from still being too soon to compare results across the UK (as Professor Hugh Pennington and others have warned), one might expect England to fare worse than Scotland. England’s population density is much greater (about the highest in Europe); we have no equivalent to London’s population or its density (nor does Europe) nor to England’s other congested areas (West Midlands/Lancashire/South Yorkshire); and we have far fewer ethnic minorities who may possibly be more susceptible to Covid and who do seem more averse to vaccination.

It is easy for Ms Thomas to condemn the PM for not closing down the UK sooner. But in early March and in some cases for weeks thereafter, SAGE advisers were dismissive or divided about closing airports and schools, preventing large gatherings outside, wearing face masks and even about testing’s efficacy.

Transfers from hospitals to care homes, without testing, were made in all parts of the UK. The often-criticised “herd immunity” was advocated by Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance until mid-March; and they both warned that a lockdown too soon would not be sustained long enough by the public. The PM implemented lockdown on March 23, within days of their changed advice based on the Imperial College projections on March 16.

All UK governments have tried to manage near-impossible balancing acts between lives and livelihoods, physical and mental health, short-term and long-term effects, the old and young, and the huge financial and other costs inherent in all such decisions – all while hearing differing opinions from different experts. The right time for comparing results will probably not be until March 2022, when with luck we can say the pandemic is over (at least in wealthy countries) and two full years of data are available for comprehensive and credible comparisons.

John Birkett, St Andrews.


AROUND 25,000 delegates from all over the world will arrive in Glasgow next month to hold wide-ranging discussions that are focused on climate change. The people who are most vociferous and physically active in the demand for change will be turning up in their thousands to protest (“Issue of the Day: is Glasgow ready for COP26 demos?”, The Herald, October 7).

Has no one noticed the irony of protesting about a summit that is trying to address the very issues the protestors demand that we address? The right to peaceful protest is essential in a democracy. However, respect for fellow citizens must be considered. The recent blockages at the M25 were, in my view, ill-conceived and caused serious hardship for many citizens who also support the need to address climate change.

My fear is that peaceful protesters in Glasgow will be infiltrated by people seeking to raise the temperature by engaging in seriously disruptive actions and possibly violence.

I hope I’m proved wrong but I fear the worst.

John Gilligan, Ayr.


GLASGOW City Council leader Susan Aitken talks of “modern Glasgow” and “a chance to put the city in world’s shop window” (COP26 Climate summit can be the defining moment in story of modern Glasgow, says leader”, The Herald, October 6).

Is the modern Glasgow the one with the litter-strewn streets, the one with graffiti everywhere you look, the one with the potholed streets and broken pavements, the one with the vacant shops and business premises in its city centre, the one where the buses stop running at 10pm, the one where the subway shuts at six on a Sunday or is it the one that only exists in the imagination of a leader who surely cannot have recently ventured forth onto the streets of our once-proud city?

William Gold, Glasgow.


WE are reportedly short of lorry drivers, butchers and members of every building trade under the sun. At the same time, I have heard of no shortage of graduates in, for example, politics, sociology and international relations. Indeed, it is remarkable how many social science graduates are stuck in minimum wage jobs.

Are we producing far too many “thinkers”, and far too few doers?

Would we not be better to give far more young people opportunities to learn skills which are in demand and which lead to a good income and a future?

Penny Ponders, Edinburgh.


STUART Waiton’s column about the attitudes of the criminal justice system towards males (“Beware the danger of moral panic over crime”, The Herald, October 6) reminds me of story from a previous age, in which two hooligans were charged with attacking and robbing an old guy returning after an evening at his Miners’ Welfare.

“Excuse me,” asked the judge of the prosecutor, “what’s this “miners’ welfare’ that you are talking about?” “Well, m’lud”, replied the prosecutor, “it’s a sort of men’s club.” “My goodness”, exclaimed the judge, “it has come to a pretty pass when a gentleman cannot walk home from his club of an evening without being accosted by footpads.”

Needless to say, the “footpads” felt the full weight of the law as a result.

Professor KB Scott, Stirling.

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The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992