NICOLA Sturgeon’s recent “time is on my side” comment (“First Minister urged to apologise over ‘chilling’ allusion to Unionist voters dying”, The Herald, October 8) belies a callous, although not unexpected, attitude to what essentially amounts to the deaths of a cohort who don’t vote for her.
The first time I could vote in a Holyrood election, I voted for the Scottish Socialist Party. A few years in tax-paying work, a degree, and a lecture from Tommy Sheridan was the final nail in the coffin for that brief dalliance.
I was 23 when the SNP came to power. I’m now approaching my 40s. The intervening years could have been used as an attempt to wow me, to show me a glimpse of what an independent Scotland could achieve; instead, I feel underwhelmed by the almost dystopian Scotland the SNP has created. I dread to think what would happen if it ever get these “additional levers” that it claims to need.
Ms Sturgeon is correct, we all shuffle off the point of the demographic pyramid at some point, but how people vote and see the world in their twenties will be drastically different in their fifties. She may well have cornered the “yoof” market, but when they end up paying tax for her welfare democracy, have had a sub-par education or can’t get a job that pays more than the minimum wage, they will vote for someone else eventually.
David Bone, Girvan.
STURGEON’S LACK OF AMBITION
I AM surprised by Nicola Sturgeon’s apparent lack of ambition displayed by her reported hinting that independence will eventually come about through the many elderly No voters dying off .
As it is, the elderly have enough aches and pains to cope with without the Government suggesting that the country would be better off without them. Is Ms Sturgeon so bereft of ideas that she can’t cobble together a persuasive blueprint proving that the benefits of separation far outweigh the downsides and convert the doubters that way?
Of course, there is always a slim chance that the unionist parties can get their act together and provide a credible opposition but I think Ms Sturgeon’s main problem will come from young potential Yes voters throwing away their rose-tinted glasses and seeing what is actually happening in the real world and the shambles being made of our public services in Scotland.
Bob MacDougall, Kippen.
OUTRAGE IS CONTRIVED
WOW, the faux “outrage” from British nationalist pundits and politicians over basic demographics is surely the funniest thing this week. Governments collect demographic information about births/deaths to plan expenditure. In Northern Ireland the demographics of its population is one of those metrics most closely watched. The Tory party is reportedly concerned over the age profile of its membership. In the West, the age of the citizenship is a concern for governments. None of this excites any political comment, except in Scotland.
Imagine the fuss if the First Minister had said “let the bodies pile up” … oh, wait.
GR Weir, Ochiltree.
SCOTLAND IS NOT OUT OF STEP
RICHARD Allison (Letters, October 8) castigates the Scottish Government for its authoritarianism in demanding vaccination passports from those attending football matches and the like.
I have just spent a weekend in Germany. There you need to show a vaccination passport (plus, in some cases, photographic ID) to enter the simplest cafe. You need a surgical mask (fabric masks unacceptable) to board public transport (the driver challenged me the one time I forgot to pull it up), any indoor space and even some outdoor spaces such as street markets. Everyone obeys these rules without a quibble.
If Mr Allison compared us to the rest of the world, rather than just England, he would see that in protecting public health the Scottish Government is well within mainstream practice.
As for COP26, that is organised by the UK Government, whose attitude to crowd protection is at the lackadaisical end of the spectrum. Any Covid spike arising from this event cannot be blamed on the Scottish Government.
Mary McCabe, Glasgow.
CARE CONTRACT THE WRONG MOVE
I HAVE the utmost admiration for Andrew Neil as an interviewer, and the one interview that sticks so well in my mind was when he challenged Nicola Sturgeon on the state of the Scottish NHS. While she was claiming that Boris Johnson was looking to privatise “our NHS”, something he can’t do as it is a devolved issue, the targets set by her own Government showed how woefully it was performing.
The First Minister is however very quiet on the awarding of a contract to PWC as consultants for the National Care Service (“Concerns over care service contract”, The Herald, October 28). It is clear from the awarding of this contract to a private sector business that design of this service will be full of business jargon rather than being set up by those who actually provide the care now or the Scottish Care Inspectorate, the scrutiny body which ensures high standards of care in Scotland.
I await blue sky thinking and pushing of envelopes when what we need are good staff, good standards, clean, safe environments and the reassurance that when we enter a care facility, we will be treated with respect and not be exposed to abuse or highly infectious diseases like Covid.
Jane Lax, Aberlour.
SWITCHING IS NOT SO EASY
THE collapse of People’s Energy and Our Power demonstrates clearly that Scotland cannot sustain a private energy company capable of delivering energy at costs that eliminate shareholders and other profiteers. Both these enterprises promised profit share to their customers/communities, albeit over a period of time. More importantly, they were not for profit. It does not surprise me that they have failed. Despite the recent hike in prices I doubt if they were welcome in the market place of profit worship. The SNP approved and helped to set up Our Power if I remember correctly.
The SNP Government has quietly, along with the Greens, dropped plans for nationalising the Scottish energy market. Maybe that is too Corbynist for them and we must avoid that at all cost. If not that then why have they shied away from the only sensible way to control an essential service? It is now blatantly obvious that private enterprise does not work for our essential needs. Perhaps one of your readers can explain why we need middle men to deliver energy rather than the producers of our gas and electricity. It is the same with our railways, NHS and water.
I am totally weary of the strain of switching to save money with suppliers who, once you have committed to their ridiculously low quotes, soon revise them within a few weeks of changing. This they can do without giving you meter readings or asking for them first. Saving money this way is a myth. Yet I have switched from Octopus to People’s Energy (and soon to be British Gas) with no settlement from Octopus. I had to beg my £251 credit back and it has still held back £51 and not closed my account.
It turns out that my smart meters are not smart and cannot be read. I have looked up at least three different sites on how to read them and am still unable to work my way through the various messages that come up. If they are smart why do they not show your usage on screen continuously without pressing button A and button B while holding pen and paper trying to scribble down what you see in the few seconds before the screen switches off? I requested a physical reading but have been ignored and now face another round of mind-boggling changes with another company which will no doubt try to tell me that switching is easy.
I hope readers can identify with this as I cannot believe I am alone.
Walter Simms, Falkirk.
A SHORT-SIGHTED DECISION
THE judgement relating to Greenpeace’s attempt to question the wisdom of further oilfield development (“Shetland oil field plan in focus after legal reverse for Greenpeace”, The Herald, October 8) must represent one of the most cynical examples of human short-sightedness at the highest level.
Coming on the eve of the COP26 conference, it completely destroys any pretence that the UK may make to be a leader in environmental protection and concern about climate change. Lord Carloway’s claim that it would be “impracticable” to consider the wider climatic implications of further oil extraction is mind-boggling in its narrowly focused complacency. If governments are unable to do this, then what hope is there for any meaningful action on climate change?
Dr RM Morris, Ellon.
TURNING THE TIDE ON ENERGY
ONE questions why there is no Scotland-wide renewable electricity and heat development programme?
It seems surprising, given the SNP’s rejection of nuclear power, that it has not promoted development of the vast, reliable and non-intermittent tidal stream power resource from around the Scottish shores. New tidal power stations, like the one at the Pentland Firth, could prove an important source of future energy and income for Scotland.
In tandem with new tidal power developments, there could be rolled out nationwide marine heat energy provision utilising heat pumps, akin to that now operating in Glasgow.
How long must we wait whilst we continue to endure rising energy costs when we have remedies to alleviate these at hand?
Elizabeth Marshall, Edinburgh.
ANTI-DOPING RULES MUST BE UPHELD
I WAS disappointed to read your article regarding Scottish hammer thrower Mark Dry (“Dry fights back after ultimate hammer blow”, Herald Sport, October 2). It failed to acknowledge that in this case UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) is upholding its public obligation to implement the World Anti-Doping Code, which is clearly set out and communicated to athletes. Athletes are repeatedly advised of the serious consequences of breaking the anti-doping rules, namely a ban from sport.
The article also states: “Dry was handed a four-year ban in February 2020 by UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) for an anti-doping rule violation”. It was not UKAD that issued the ban. The ban was issued by the National Anti-Doping Panel, which is independent from UKAD, following a full hearing at which Mr Dry gave evidence.
Lying to anti-doping officials, and then encouraging others to corroborate that lie on your behalf, can only be viewed as an attempt to subvert the anti-doping process. The suggestion, as posed in the article, that this offence should be treated with more leniency than other anti-doping rule violations undermines the anti-doping rules, and public confidence in clean sport.
Emily Robinson, interim Chief Executive, UK Anti-Doping, Croydon.
THE CHOOSING OF LIZ LOCHHEAD
IT was good to see Liz Lochhead’s poem The Choosing featured as the Poem of the Day (The Herald, October 7). This appeared in her first collection Memo for Spring, published by Reprographia in 1972, which sold out two printings totalling 5,000 copies – a record for a Scottish poet at that time.
Readers will be pleased to hear that Edinburgh publishers Birlinn are releasing a 50th anniversary edition, with a foreword by Ali Smith, on March 3, 2022.
Gordon Wright, Edinburgh.