Readers' Letters: Are 'bags for life' such a great idea?

When I asked the cashier in the supermarket this morning how much a bag for my seven items would cost, I was disgusted by her reply: 25p for a paper one and 50p for a plastic one. The actual cost of one of these bags is, of course, less than one tenth of what is charged for them. The real objective is not to recoup the cost of supplying the bags, but to deter people from actually using them.

Should plastic bags be free to customers once more?
Should plastic bags be free to customers once more?

Also, the multiple reuse of so called "bags for life” for food shopping is unhygienic. At the same time, a great many so called “single use” bags are reused for storing or carrying stuff or as bin liners.

It was only a few years ago, when supermarkets and other shops provided free bags as part of the service to their customers. Today it appears that they serve the government, the Civil Service and most of all the “Green” movement; the needs and wants of the customers who actually pay their wages come a poor second.

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Otto Inglis, Crossgates, Fife

Stop sniping

The Scotsman’s columns and responsive letters throughout the year can only confirm the concerns of many as to how incompetent the Scottish Government has been in the handling of many issues which have been widely reported. Their recent call for future borrowing powers beggars belief when you consider their track record. Now we have Mike Russell sniping from the sidelines, yet again, about Brexit. Obviously it's in all of our interests to get the best possible deal for the whole of the UK, but his involvement, sorry verbal rants, during ongoing negotiations has not been helpful and I would not put money on him winning a hand of poker.

Incidentally, I voted to remain in the EU but accepted the democratic vote, unlike Donald Trump and our present day SNP-led Scottish Government, who both appear to find it difficult to accept such a vote.

G Bonnington, Douglas Road, Longniddry

Enough whining

I suppose one can play around with figures to support any argument, but may I remind Gill Turner (Letters, December 15) that only 37 per cent of the total electorate voted for Independence in 2014. Yet, despite achieving this resounding minority, the losers haven’t stopped whining about it since.

Andrew Kemp, Mossbank. Rosyth

Numbers game

It was with much hilarity that I read the contribution from Gill Turner quoting a preference that others might have for the tyranny of the numerical minority and quoting the democratic will of the majority as despotism! Let me assure Ms Turner that the tyranny of the numerical minority has been amply demonstrated by this inept Scottish Government, who secured 46 per cent of the vote at the last Scottish election whilst the opposition parties secured 54 per cent.

Further, this divisive government has only “won” several votes in the Parliament with the support of the Greens. These same Greens who got a fraction over half of 1 per cent of the electoral vote! Indeed the tyranny of the numerical minority is alive and well in Scotland.

Richard Allison, Braehead Loan, Edinburgh

Hot gossip

Richard Dixon discusses the target of a 1.5 degree rise in global temperatures, which replaced an earlier target of 2 degrees (Environment, December 15). He should read the Climategate emails, where climate scientists wrote in private before they were hacked. On September 6, 2007 Phil Jones, one of the most respected climate scientists of all time, wrote: “When is/was the base against which the 2 deg C is calculated from? I know you don't know the answer, but I don't either! I think it is plucked out of thin air.”

Mr Dixon also claims that November was the hottest November ever and 2020 will be the hottest year ever. Can he explain, then, why, out of 57 US states and island territories, only 11 have a record high temperature set after 1988, the year that the global warming claims really began. Incidentally, the validity for three out of these 11 records is disputed.

Geoff Moore, Alness, Highland

Not our debt

Robert Scott (Letters, 15 December) repeats the myth that Scotland has a £15 billion deficit. The estimated GERS paper exercise does not tell us how an independent Scotland would perform, as in that case, the Scottish Government would have the power to make very different fiscal and monetary choices. It is, however, an annual reminder of how badly Scotland fares as part of the UK as a result of our economy mostly being controlled by Westminster.

Almost one third of the 2020 notional GERS figure is interest charged to Scotland on the UK’s national debt which was run up by Westminster, so why should an independent Scotland be charged for UK liabilities without a population share of the UK’s assets and currency reserves? £1 billion a year could easily be saved on the defence figure charged to Scotland and an extra few billion a year revenue could be earned if we taxed oil and gas companies at the Norwegian level. HM Treasury figures show that the consequences of no deal Brexit in Scotland is a reduction of nine per cent of our wealth and even with a free trade deal it’s six per cent of our GDP. Thanks to Boris Johnson’s disastrous handling of Covid, the UK has been hit harder by the pandemic than any other developed economy. We have choices to make. Brexit Britain is very high risk, while taking responsibility for ourselves is much less so.

Mary Thomas, Watson Crescent, Edinburgh

Born to mystery

Donald M Macdonald claims that the scholarship on which I rely is outdated (Letters, December 14). Then perhaps he can explain how and when the conclusion that the Gospels birth narratives are invented was replaced by the view that they are true? It seems unlikely that scepticism would be replaced by acceptance. It seems that it is Mr Macdonald who is out-of-date.

I did not claim that the early Church “fabricated a story”; I claimed it was Matthew and Luke who did that independently, which is why the accounts differ. The early Church merely accepted the accounts, as they seemed to place Jesus on a par with other saviour gods.

Mr Macdonald's letter is full of gratuitous speculation: that the two evangelists “obviously selected their material...”; that Luke “probably” obtained an account from Jesus' mother; that Matthew was a highly educated Jew (that is not known). Such speculation devalues his argument. Certainly the absence of these narratives in the Gospels of Mark and John does not prove that they were ignorant of them. In the case of Mark, the Gospel on which both Matthew and Luke based their accounts, it does look as if he was ignorant of such stories. In the case of John, writing after both Matthew and Luke, whose Gospels he must have seen, it shows his disinterest, perhaps because he knew better, or didn't care. The fact is that the two accounts are incompatible; both cannot be true and almost certainly neither is true.

Steuart Campbell, Dovecot Loan, Edinburgh

Wasted resources

LW Turnbull (Letters, December 14) criticises the performance of Police Scotland and the difficulties in the Borders caused by a lack of police officers to carry out what most of us would describe as everyday policing. Meanwhile, Andrew Smith, in his football report from Parkhead, relates seeing at least 16 police vans outside the ground to deal with nothing at all. Something wrong somewhere.

Ian Lewis, Mayfield Terrace Edinburgh

Focus on helping

We are reminded this week that, tragically, Scotland continues to be the drugs death capital of Europe (with massively higher rates than England), and related deaths soaring during the SNP's tenure in government, plus that Scotland has one of the worst coronavirus death rates in the world. Yet, in a frankly bizarre TV interview on Monday, Nicola Sturgeon spent a chunk of it sharing with us the personal impact Covid has had on her and talking about her appearance, before going on to discuss enthusiastically her ambition to rerun the 2014 independence referendum. Ms Sturgeon should stop preening herself for TV cameras while behind the scenes her party spins against the UK and plots separatism. I have news for Ms Sturgeon – it isn't all about her and her constitutional obsessions. It's about real people dying daily in alleys, care homes and ICUs. Focus on what matters to us, not to you.

Martin Redfern, Melrose, Roxburghshire

Jab young first

Of course it is “wonderful” for care home patients to get the vaccine first (Editorial, December 16). But the “appalling death toll” in our care homes was due to cross-contamination of staff working in several homes and to the NHS transferring hospital patients into them without first testing them, both of which followed from the public health authorities’ insistence on limiting testing to their own labs, excluding the offers from private, academic and charity labs until far too late.

The effect is that “the message for younger generations is to patiently wait”. But the probably consequences of that are a slower economic recovery and rather more younger people dying “well before their time”. We need to return our economy to normal, to generate the wealth and taxes for our health and other public services from January onwards. However sad it is for those of us over 75, we are not “needed” to anything like the same extent; and most of us can take the right actions for ourselves and for society’s benefit. Surely the immediate priority should be health and care workers, school teachers, the military and emergency services, plus essential and certain other workers in private industry.

John Birkett, Horseleys Park, St Andrews

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