The lions are still being led by the donkeys

When I read about cleaners and caterers in universities working long hours to look after the students and staff who have been so badly affected by the impact of Covid-19, I am reminded of the Battle of the Somme and how lions were led by donkeys.

Thursday, 15th October 2020, 7:00 am
The survivial of Boris Johnson's government is dependant upon appeasing a set of doctrinaire neo-liberal MPs, says reader Andrew Vass
The survivial of Boris Johnson's government is dependant upon appeasing a set of doctrinaire neo-liberal MPs, says reader Andrew Vass

It's more than just a failure to listen to scientific advice that's causing this. It's a remarkably familiar problem which any historian of the First World War could vouch for. It's the need to save face.

The Tory Party has been identified with austerity, so now they need to tell us that our debts have to be tightly managed for the sake of the economy. For the sake of economic consistency universities can't be financially supported so must get paying students on to campusus- so they avoid massive loss of income.

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Workers can't depend on furloughing any more. With the government being dependent on a doctrinaire Neo-liberal set of MPs it has to stick with their stance. It can't put the national interest first.

And so we can't be like other countries who have successful, locally-based Test and Trace. We can't take the “spend what it takes” approach of some other countries which in the long run protects businesses and jobs. And we can't plan for a green revolution as our way to make debt manageable in the future. Why not? It is because Conservatives have been inculcated with the idea that austerity is ideal, so government is right to be cautious about spending.

The fact that austerity reduced spending power, limited growth and was a cause of zero hours working conditions does not occur to the faithful. This government needs to support its neo-liberal doctrinaires to save face and keep the illusions alive. It's been short-termist, short-sighted face-facing, not strategic planning that has been in vogue.

Andrew Vass

Corbiehill Place, Edinburgh

Testing failure

Andrew Burleigh (Letters,13 October) raises an important issue missed by innumerate journalists and TV reporters who are fed daily statistics on the number of positive Covid test results and the percentage of results which are positive, but fail to do the simple arithmetic which gives the total number of tests carried out. In recent weeks this has been of the order of 7,000 per day.

Two months ago Nicola Sturgeon said that testing capacity was 40,000 per day and that work was in hand to increase this to 65,000.

If the sampling and testing had been better managed and full use made of available capacity then the spread of the disease could have been reduced by measures such as testing at airports or sending self-sampling kits to all students to make sure they were clear before travelling to university.

If the Test and Protect scheme had been more competently handled then perhaps the recent restrictions imposed on the public and businesses would have been less severe.

WB Campbell

Cammo Grove, Edinburgh

Costly cure

No one should doubt the amount of effort the First Minister is putting in to cope with the pandemic.

The efforts to communicate with and inform the public are superior to that of the hapless UK Government, although listening to basically the same spiel five days a week for several months has rather lost its appeal and probably effectiveness and inevitably an element of politics has crept in.

The actions taken are designed to protect the NHS and save lives and no doubt will, but unfortunately they will result in different people dying, those with life-threatening conditions whose treatment is delayed too long and others with the same type of problems avoiding seeking medical advice until it is too late.

Sections of the economy such as hospitality, retail, the arts, airlines and tourism have been thrown under the bus, which will lead to massive unemployment. Many jobs will no longer exist, restricting the future prospects of the young. This will no doubt result in severe financial hardship for many, anxiety, depression, broken marriages, alcoholism, drug problems, even suicide.

I am not suggesting that there are any easy answers. Indeed I have sympathy for all the politicians trying to deal with this hugely difficult problem. However, I have a deep concern that we will look back in future years and think that the lockdowns did more damage than the virus.

Eric Cartwright

Stirling Road, Edinburgh

Sharp practice

Recent references to flu injection problems have provoked my comments on my experience here in my area. I am not doubting difficulties in other places because I have listened to friends and relations who have met with obstacles galore.

However, my surgery deserves my gratitude and admiration for committing three Saturdays to the procedures, starting with the vulnerable group in week one.

The following two weeks are organised, alphabetically by surname, and, in common with a number of those to whom I have spoken, these took place with maximum ease – and not a queue in sight.

I went along in my category and was immediately sanitised in the entrance. I had my temperature taken and after giving my details I walked straight in to have the injection, and departed by a different door.

Thank you to the medical teams here in Dunbar for putting patients first.

Olive Bell

Randolph Crescent, Dunbar

Blinkered views

I can only think that Eileen Budd is reading the Ladybird Book of Scottish Independence if she really believes the simplistic nonsense she writes (Letters, 13 October).

The people of Scotland are being treated appallingly by the SNP who run the show up here.

It is not the Government who are putting us in lockdown, but the SNP. The only opinion poll that matters delivered an overwhelming vote of confidence in the UK.

The UK will be happier under its own control once we have completely left the EU and are no longer run by EU apparatchiks in Brussels.

We will decide our own future and use the genius of our own, British people who have created many of the things which make life better now than ever before – jet travel; the internet; radar to keep us safe; nuclear power to give us electricity.

The education she praises is going down the drain, as we all know. The “green energy” is unable to power anything without 100 per cent back-up and the turbines are built in China, not Scotland. The devolved power she praises is in the SNP’s sights as they want to get rid of it.

The things that Scotland is famed for are all the result of the Union.

Does she go through life with blinkers on?

Andrew HN Gray

Craiglea Drive, Edinburgh

Tongue in cheek

When tidying last week’s newspapers, I noticed in the Scotsman of 9 October that a picture of our First Minster took up more than half the front page alongside the caption “I have nothing to hide over Alex Salmond”.

Many of your readers will have noticed noticed that Ms Sturgeon had her tounge in her cheek.

John MacKay

Glen View, Cumbernauld

Losing control

It is the current UK government with its obsession with Brexit and the power grab of devolved issues under the UK Internal Market Bill that is hastening the destruction of Westminster’s control of Scotland (Douglas Cowe, Letters 14 October).

This week Tory MP Andrew Bowie even boasted: “The UK Government is back in Scotland. Get used to it.” So much for the near federal powers promised in the last-ditch attempt to save the Union in 2014.

I find it strange that the 63 per cent who now support self-government are branded separatists when a majority of them want to rejoin a vast multinational union of different races, religions, nationalities from which our 1200-year-old European nation has been separated against its will rather than those who want to cling on to a little Britain isolated from its continental neighbours.

With Boris Johnson’s handling of Covid and Brexit set to inflict long-term damage to Scotland’s economy, a recent poll of over 2000 voters conducted by Survation confirmed that 75 per cent will back independence if they are convinced it will benefit the economy. Work in this area is being conducted by Business for Scotland and the Scottish Independence Convention among others.

Fraser Grant

Warrender Park Road, Edinburgh

Price of failure

The article by Omar Shaikh (Scotsman, 14 October ) joins a long list of contributors who have failed to note the paper presented at the World Forum on Climate Justice which states that “renewable energy is too expensive hence the cost must be transferred to the taxpayer” and also the fact that the First Minister has failed to act on such a recommendation.

Investment in the renewable sector may bring rich rewards to the shareholders of the foreign-owned energy companies operating in Scotland but the fact that 30 per cent of Scots are living in fuel poverty shows the outcomes of high energy costs.

The sector claims that “on-shore wind farms are producing energy cheaper than gas” but not a single politician can explain why consumers are charged 16p/unit when gas is provided at 4p/unit. A 400 per cent increase in energy bills to £56 billion a year is a tax increase of around £20,000 for every taxpayer – a cost that would bankrupt the Scottish economy.

Omar Shaikh does not include the fact that the infrastructure costs of a ban on fossil fuel is around £470bn. When will the true costs of climate change policies be spelt out by the Energy Minister ?

Ian Moir

Queen Stree, Castle Douglas

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