WHILE across the UK many commentators, including many "scientific experts", have been impressed with the transparently-planned approach and public-health-conscious decision-making of the First Minister and the Scottish Government, there are those who regularly contribute to these Letters Pages who can only find words of criticism. In spite of limited scope to diverge from UK Government policies, in Scotland the "peak was flattened" to a much greater extent than in England (which even ran out of some items of PPE) and relative to population sizes, both Covid-19 deaths of those tested and "excess deaths" have been considerably less.

Identified new cases of Covid-19 in England are still averaging around 1,000 per day (estimated at around a quarter of actual new cases) while identified new cases in Scotland have fallen to much more manageable levels (now into single figures) for a robust contact-tracing system that deliberately was not built around an untested app (that the UK Government falsely claimed would be ready by June 1 and would be “world-beating”). Working towards "elimination" of the virus rather than attempting to balance health, economics and popularity, has also resulted in no recorded Covid-19 deaths in Scotland for four days in a row (albeit taking in a weekend), which overall would suggest to most objective observers that the Scottish Government has done a "reasonable job" to date in handling difficult questions posed by this devastating pandemic.

None of us know what lies ahead, but a little bit of humility on the parts of those who would have had the First Minister follow in “lock-step” with a Prime Minister clearly struggling with the serious demands and responsibilities of attempting to manage a pandemic would at least be a positive contribution to constructive debate in Scotland.

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry.

PLEASE allow me to present an alternative perspective on some of William Loneskie’s alleged failings of the Scottish Government (Letters, June 29). To be clear, I am not a member of any political party.

Those better qualified than me will comment on educational standards, but as far as reopening schools is concerned it is far too early to pass judgment. We are still several weeks away in a fast-changing situation which could still go either way; fully open, blended learning or local lockdown. I expect that local authorities will continue to develop solutions for each scenario over the coming weeks.

Some weeks ago the London School of Economics busted the myth that care home deaths pro rata have been higher in Scotland. Fundamental responsibility for barrier nursing and supplying PPE rested with the care home owners but we should be pleased the Scottish Government helped with supplying PPE and there have been various other positive interventions by the NHS and Care Inspectorate. The actions that the Health Secretary has taken with the NHS boards responsible for the Queen Elizabeth University and Sick Children hospitals should be welcomed rather than condemned; much has still to emerge about the delivery of the respective contracts and adherence to specification. We should also commend the setting up of a central unit that will give guidance on design and procurement as well as oversee construction of hospitals across the country in future.

Similarly, while the contract for the provision of rail services has not met targets, the contract is being terminated at the next break point. Surely this, combined with the plan to allow a public sector bid, is a sound action and not a failing?

Mr Loneskie’s mention of “branding in Gaelic” is nothing to do with the SNP or the current Scottish Government. Each public body in Scotland is required to have a Gaelic Plan under the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005, which was introduced at the time of the Labour/Liberal Democrat Scottish Executive.

The NHS is not the only service that is potentially unsustainable in Scotland under the current allocation of funding in the UK and we could certainly do better. We need to start to realise that Scotland is a wealthy country and when trade, production, land, sea and air assets are allocated properly, Scotland is better resourced pro rata than rUK. We are the wealthy part of the UK and are capable of funding ourselves adequately, becoming similar to countries like Denmark, Finland and Slovakia, which exist quite happily with populations around the same as ours.

These small countries don’t need big neighbours to let them play their full part in the world either; for example only last week Norway and Ireland gained seats on the UN Security Council.

John C Hutchison, Fort William.

WELL, there we have it, after the Tory UK Government cry of "get Brexit done" the mantra now appears to be "get Covid done" and move on. This was confirmed by our cavalier PM that England was ending its "long national hibernation", with lockdown rapidly easing.

This is against the advice of independent health professionals, at home and around the world, who warn of the "real risk" of a second wave of coronavirus. However, for the sake of all the peoples of the UK I fervently hope this will not happen.

As a new kind of normality arises, the meaningless intransigence of Westminster should accept that a union, freely entered into by two sovereign nations, commands mutual respect with either member able to withdraw if a majority of its people decide. With separate legal systems and with very different views on Europe and the world, it is now up to the people of Scotland, alone, to decide their destiny. This democratic right is growing in Scotland as polls to date have risen to more than 54 per cent for independence and with several strong mandates already in place for indyref2, an independent Scotland is inevitable with or without the permission of London.

Grant Frazer, Newtonmore.

FOR some time Scotland plc has been run by the marketing department, putting a kilt on everything including a Nightingale Hospital, culminating in the ridiculous plaid face mask sported by the CEO last week.

In the meantime the operations departments of education, healthcare, tourism, social care and industry, have under-performed miserably when measured against the competition, yet curiously underspending every year.

In the tough times ahead the shareholders of Scotland plc will demand a change of CEO and finance director and impose severe cuts to the banal marketing spend and replacement of all the department heads with people who know which way is up, because, for the first time in recorded history, you are not better off with the devil you know.

John Dunlop, Ayr.

I FOUND Sir Tom Hunter's article ("Take this risk, do something differently to help Scotland lead the world", The Herald, June 29) inspiring. This crisis has given us the perfect opportunity to start again. If business and government can agree to work together in a way that enables both sides to do what they're good at and not let vested interests or petty jealousies get in the way, then everyone benefits. The Government itself would thus earn the respect of the whole nation as forward-looking and we truly could have a new Enlightenment.

Ann Jopp, Glasgow G12.

SIR Tom Hunter must know that Nicola Sturgeon will never share the limelight with anyone nor will the SNP release its neo-communist grip on Scotland. Jim McColl got his fingers badly burned associating with the Scottish Government over the ferries project. The priorities and ethics of business are very different from those of politics.

Rev Dr Robert Anderson, Dundonald.

"LET bosses lead Scotland's recovery, not politicians", says Sir Tom Hunter. May I suggest the same approach be applied to education?

Maureen McGarry-O'Hanlon, Balloch.

I READ Tom Gordon's article ("Salmond inquiry will shine an unforgiving light on the SNP", The Herald, June 27) with wry amusement. We have been at this juncture before, with the original Salmond inquiry, the Salmond trial and now the trial of the inquiry. At each point the doom of Nicola Sturgeon/Alex Salmond was on the cards, and the destruction of the SNP was happily forecast by all the pundits in the Scottish media. There comes a point when wolf is cried too often.

So I wonder if Mr Gordon and his fellow scribblers are too close to the touchline (and the opposition dug-out) to feel the reaction of the crowd. I look back at Damian Green, the effective “Deputy Prime Minister” of the entire UK, and the serious accusations which faced him. He is no longer a minister, but still a respected MP and a pundit the media often turn to for informed comment, a situation which could not be replicated in Scotland, where only the starkest black and white exist.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.

I AM surprised that David Roche (Letters, June 29) should apparently sell his soul to the devil in order to gain independence for Scotland. I consider his suggestion that Labour voters should betray their cause and vote SNP in order to bring about a single-party independent state is as illogical as it is ill-timed.

I believe that if he displays patience until the next UK General Election he will without any doubt see Sir Keir Starmer lead Labour to a majority by a landslide and go on to drain the swamp of Westminster.

Many will agree with me that in a misguided and somewhat naïve effort to lead his party by consensus, Jeremy Corbyn effectively managed to design an unelectable Labour Party in the last General Election.

Sir Keir now has a breathing space to reconstruct a focused, transparent and dependable UK-wide party.

During the same period I anticipate Boris Johnson will continue his downward spiral of an incremental collapse in party confidence with growing public unease, suspicion and mistrust.

Bill Brown, Milngavie.

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