Readers' Letters: Too much 'man in the street' on TV news

News presented on TV about Covid 19 and the various Government measures, increasingly seems to fill airtime gleaning the opinion of members of the public. In many instances these can be extreme and ill-informed.

Should TV news vox pops come with a health warning?
Should TV news vox pops come with a health warning?

There never seems to be any questioning of the interviewee about the basis for their opinion and this can be very dangerous and unsettling to the people of this nation. It can also engender support for behaving badly, such as stating a refusal to comply with the rules. It doesn’t take much, when people are hurting and struggling, to be influenced by such individuals.

I heard one woman complaining about the current lockdown indicating a possible refusal to comply because “it didn’t work the last time”. Silence from the interviewer. Wouldn’t it be balanced to counter this by asking the person to explain their view and, for example, ask about the extent of the reduction in the R number during the last lockdown?

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We need help to maintain our morale in these difficult times and it is not helpful to hear appallingly wrong or dangerous statements declared as facts. It’s like watching a mini-America.

Margaret Austin, Alnwickhill Drive, Edinburgh

Forced goodness?

With the smacking ban coming into force, the coming criminalisation of speech. and taxes on our few pleasures, the SNP seem determined to make Planet Covid the norm.

These laws never self-limit themselves. If someone had told me 20 years ago that a parent could be prosecuted for lightly smacking their child on the calf, fireworks would get banned and you would need a licence for a trampoline, I would have thought you were writing some satirical, light-hearted fiction.

The majority of adults know what abuse looks like and report it. The sad fact is that there will always be children who suffer at the hands of their parents and caregivers. Do we expect most Children and Family Social Work Departments to just disband on Monday morning and have a victory parade?

Another level of legislation will change nothing and will criminalise normal Scots while the feckless minority don't care either way. Great thinkers such as Plato, Edmund Burke, C.S Lewis and Dr King believed that the state could not legislate people to be good, but the SNP must know better.

David Bone, Hamilton Street, Girvan, South Ayrshire

Give us facts

Every day Nicola Sturgeon announces the number of covid deaths. She then tells me what I cannot do (which tier I am in) and then threatens me (law to stop travel, future lockdown, a lonely Christmas) if I do not comply/obey.

All my life I have made decisions in relation to my actions. The bigger the decision the more information I use. Without breaking confidentiality Nicola could give me more information, particularly two crucial pieces.

Firstly, if there are 20 deaths, Nicola could give the age ranges eg 60-70 years – three deaths; 70-80 years – five deaths; 80+ years – 12 deaths.

Secondly she could give data on underlying conditions eg of the 20 deaths, 13 had lung conditions, three heart conditions, the other four a variety of underlying conditions.

That way I could make decisions as regards my lifestyle and help senior family members protect themselves. After all, Nicola told me she would treat me as an adult –perhaps she can start doing so in future briefings.

Elizabeth Hands, Etna Court, Armadale

Bang to rights

It is 2am, and I cannot sleep. The reason is sporadic explosions coming from near and far all over my town, like it's Last Night At the Somme. This has been going on for weeks but tonight's the worst night – all because it is, or rather was, Guy Fawkes Night. As ever, disreputable fly-by-night traders in short lease shops have sold tonnes of lethal gunpowder to the population at large with the blessing of HM Government.

It is beyond belief the same laissez faire approach to fireworks sales continued in a year when the annual carnage of casualties is the last thing beleagured hospitals needed with Covid 19 still on the rampage. It has gone long past the time all firework sales – except via licenced display professionals – were banned.

Mark Boyle, Linn Park Gardens, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

Review OAP age

Chancellor Rishi Sunak certainly lit up the country with his very welcome U-turn regarding the furlough scheme. Extending it until March 2021 will assist the economy of the country and help millions who were facing uncertainly and possible redundancy. But are there other measures we should be looking at ?

Covid has certainly given the country a wake-up call as thousands have gone the extra mile in serving their communities, friends and neighbours, demonstrating a caring society. It has also given us the opportunity to review exactly how we function in providing major services and I am sure many of our welfare policies will see reform as a result. Future employment opportunities should certainly be focused towards the younger generation to give them a chance in life.

So could the Chancellor’s announcement have gone further? Well, all sectors of society are being affected, but one sector who are being affected that could have a solution presented are those being forced into early retirement. Those over 60 years of age, those who will struggle to find future employment. Surely there must be another way than to simply ask them to join the employment statistics and apply for benefits.

After all, many have worked close on four decades of their lives, and while the focus of future job opportunities should be geared towards the younger generation, we must not stand by and let those in the twilight years of their working lives down. There should be an urgent review of the state pension age. It simply does not make economic sense for those being forced into early retirement to have to start the process of claiming benefits.

So perhaps the Chancellor’s announcement could have gone further by announcing an immediate review of state pension age considering the future implication for this sector.

Catriona Clark, Hawthorn Drive, Banknock, Falkirk

Buy British

The doomsayers keep telling us that the UK economy will falter when we leave the European Union, but they do not tell us what will happen to the EU economy.

One of the strengths of Germany and France is that they buy German and French goods, but we buy the best or the cheapest.

Everyone in the UK should buy British whereever possible, and the public sector should be obliged to buy British on all occasions.

The German police buy Skoda – ie Volkswagen while the British police buy BMW, which they say is the best deal for them. But is it the best deal for UK Plc?

The United Kingdom has long ago forsaken manufacturing many items which we now source from abroad, and the time has come to buy British, and make GB great again.

James MacIntyre, Clarendon Road, Linlithgow

Beyond belief

Friends of the Scotsman contributor Gareth Black of Solas thinks that our human experience of suffering and the universe itself only makes sense from a Christian point of view (“Anger may point to the reality of God”, 5 November). Without a belief in God (a god unnamed and perhaps unknown), he thinks the universe deaf, “morally vacuous” and indifferent to us.

Is that what bothers him? He can't believe that the almost infinite universe we inhabit has no meaning or purpose. Yet all the evidence points exactly to that. Our emergence, indeed all life, is an accident of chemistry in a universe, possibly one of an infinite variety of universes, that happens to allow such accidents. The idea of gods is indeed a delusion, a man-made device to explain the apparently inexplicable.

However, that does not mean that we are without inherent standards of justice or values. They are instinctive and do not necessarily arise from religion. People can be well-behaved without any supernatural beliefs. Christians need to stop trying to persuade us that only their superstitious beliefs explain the world.

Steuart Campbell, Dovecot Loan, Edinburgh

Paying the price

There is a conversation that the whole country needs to have, indeed, one it can’t avoid having, about how we are going to pay for the huge costs of the lockdowns, the consequent recession and the rise in the national debt by over £350 billion (it now stands at a terrifying £2 trillion).

The private sector of the economy and the tax base have shrunk, whilst the public sector is as large as ever. We cannot simply make up the gap between the demands for public expenditure and the shortfall in revenue by raising taxes, nor can we keep increasing the national debt. Also, economists have long warned of the dangers of using inflation as a means of shrinking the national debt. Those of us who remember the 1970s can confirm the destructiveness of inflation.

No, there is only one way forward; the government must make major economies. We should start by cancelling HS2 and so save at least £100bn. If we don’t get an EU trade deal, then we should cancel the “divorce bill”. We should greatly shrink the foreign aid budget of £15bn per year, and restrict it to emergency aid for famines and war refugees. Nor should we forget the many smaller government budgets, the arts for example.

Westminster and the devolved governments must learn the benefits of strict economy; our children’s future depends on it.

Otto Inglis, Ansonhill, Crossgates, Fife

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