AS both a social care-supported person and a member of the "Expert Panel" of the Independent Review of Adult Social Care, I warmed to the glow in which the Scottish Parliament received the report this week. Nevertheless, I became decisively cold to the amount of opposition to one of its central recommendations – that a National Care Service (NCS) should be established. Such would be built on a consensus of human rights and the agency (voices) of those with lived experience of social care support, be they recipients, providers or workers.

The clarion call to retain "local democratic accountability" – meaning the broken system of local authority provision – was most disheartening. Local democratic accountability is meaningless, as it denies accountability to the person who knows what is needed (the supported person) – that is not the person who has other competing interests to uphold. As one supported person said: "We’re not the problem. We’re the solution."

Local democratic accountability restricts our self-actualisation, freedom of movement, and denies our dignity as human beings. It maintains our poverty and dependency by extorting crippling charges, though providing the minimum of "farmyard" services; keeping us warm, fed and clean until we die. It overlords a system which can be traced back to the 17th century Poor Law, where "the poor and destitute" had to return to the parish of their birth to beg for "outdoor relief" from the esteemed and well-heeled burghers, who eked out the local "poor rate" to the "deserving poor".

To equate the proposed NCS with top-down imposition of control, as Cosla suggests, is false. Moreover, to contest, as Cosla appears to do, that an appropriate route to deliver such a human rights-based approach would be through local government is completely undermined by its long-term failure to deliver any such thing, even before the era of "perma-austerity". As one former director of social work of a large conurbation said to a group of disabled people: “We can’t afford your human rights.” Human rights should never be contingent on local priorities. If they are, then they are not rights of any kind.

Local democratic accountability has exercised neoliberal management of social care support for decades. This has prioritised the reduction of state intervention over professional ethics, principles and the value and efficacy of outcomes. The supported person becomes "the commodity", to be measured, packaged and sold to the lowest bidder. We are not "commodities". We are people. People whose dignity and human rights are as valid as today’s parish burghers who decided not to stand with us in our arguments against austerity – arguments which are now gaining political traction, after the current pandemic. We are people, whose agency, in terms of voice and influence, over our social care support is long overdue.

James Elder-Woodward, Alexandria.


JOHN Milne's baffling letter (February 17) which says that "woke" can't be bad because the word says it's good is nothing more than circular logic. Just because the woke claim that they are against prejudice does not mean that they actually are, or that they don't merely want to swap one set of prejudices with their own, or that they are using superficial friendliness to conceal a darker and more dangerous agenda. The name is part of their propaganda.

The full name of the Nazis was the "National Socialist German Workers Party". They promoted socialism and workers, it's right there in the name, so they must have been nice people, mustn't they? Of course not, the Nazis were evil – you have to look beyond their titles to what they actually do.

Mr Milne is in for a shock when he finds out who actually runs the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea.

Robert Frazer, Dundee.

* I AM perplexed by the comments of Professor Sir Tom Devine ("Professor will lead review into university's links to slavery", The Herald, February 17)

Sir Tom's argument seems to be as follows: The term "racist" did not exist in the 18th century. David Hume lived in the 18th century. Therefore David Hume was not a racist.

I think that philosopher Hume would be astonished that historian Devine should come out with such a massive non sequitur.

As an alumnus of Edinburgh University, I am pleased that the review into links between buildings and slavery at the university will be led by Professor Sir Geoff Palmer rather than Professor Sir Tom Devine.

Dennis Canavan, Bannockburn.


GORDON Watson, CEO of the Loch Lomond and Trossach’s National Park, claims the Hunter Foundation’s application was for a "discreet building” (Letters, February 15).

I beg to differ. The category A-listed Ross Priory is approximately 750 square metres. Total building area of the Hunter Foundation development is 2,017 square metres. Not very “discreet”.

Ann McIntosh, Dunning.


ROBERT Love (Letters, February 17) is right that Robert Burns’s influence crops up in the most unexpected places; in his case it was a handsome statue in the campus of Washington University, St Louis.

My US experience was different in that I was admiring his magnificent statue erected in 1887 in Dunedin, New Zealand (where the Rev Thomas Burns, a nephew of the poet, was one of the founding fathers), when an American tourist asked me, in all seriousness: “Is that the Irish guy?”.

With admirable restraint I set Homer straight.

R Russell Smith, Largs.