I WOULD like to support and add to L McGregor’s letter on poverty (July 9) with a personal story.

My dad was born in a tenement in the Gorbals in 1922 and my mum in one in Partick a few years later. I suppose you could describe them as “poor but smart” but by dint of personal effort after serving in the Royal Engineers during the Second World War, Dad became a qualified mechanical engineer. Together they raised a family of six kids, Dad was always employed and during our formative years Mum was a full-time housewife and mother. Money was always tight; I vividly remember collecting scrap lead pipes from the house we were renovating ourselves to trade for cash to feed us one weekend as we were skint. We all worked; I had a paper round while still at primary school and “pumped gas” in petrol stations as soon as my age allowed while at Dumfries Academy. My summer “holidays” while at university were spent labouring on building sites and in garage forecourts.

My parents produced a family of one school teacher, a marine engineer, two doctors, one dentist and a professional musician. We were the first in our family tree ever to attend or graduate from a university. None of us has since ever been unemployed or been “on the social”, we have been taxpayers from day one and still are in retirement. I personally currently pay more tax from the occupational pension I contributed to than I receive in the state pension I also paid for. In effect I have no state pension.

What I am recounting is not to demonstrate how clever my family is but rather how fortunate we were. Without support from the public purse in our formative years with, for example free education and access to it, then rather than continuously contributing to society as we have done, we would have been a drain on it. We are an example, perhaps an extreme one, of what can happen to a family given the appropriate assistance at the right time.

Suffice it to say that were we to have been born in the 21st century I think it is unlikely that any of that would have happened, as much of the post-war largesse given reluctantly by the Establishment to the Great Unwashed has gradually been withdrawn. Rishi Sunak and Co live in a completely different world and don’t have a clue about the reality of life near the bottom of the heap, they actually don’t need to care as whatever happens to the Untermenschen they themselves will be taken care of. Anyone fancy a freebie Mustique holiday?

David J Crawford, Glasgow.


IT is surely time for the way our health and social care system is delivered to be radically changed. Frontline staff perform an excellent service and deserve all the praise they get, but they are hamstrung by a system that is no longer fit for purpose.

The delays that are built into the system, evident before the pandemic, cannot be brushed off. Beds are blocked in hospital due to the social care sector being unable to cope with the demand. Clearly something needs to be done, and to refuse to consider alternative systems is a failure of vision and imagination.

A more cost-efficient and patient-focused way must be found if we are to develop an effective health and social care system for the modern post-pandemic age. It is time to look seriously at the merits of a system more akin to that of say Germany than to bury our heads and protect “our precious NHS” as it currently stands.

Alan Dickson, Haddington.


IN recent editions of The Herald, within the last seven days, there have been articles which have identified difficulties experienced by individuals who have attempted to obtain their Covid vaccination record by filling in the online application form, and have discovered that having provided the necessary information, the NHS system has rejected the application.

On further examination of the form and the questions asked therein, the critical piece of info needed is the various codes and other identification numbers as used by the NHS.

If by chance or through an arrangement you were given the Covid vaccinations by your own doctor, the NHS identification codes would not be present in the system, and consequently, no matter how many times one attempts to beat the system, the only result is defeat.

As I now have joined the growing list of members of the public who would wish to avail themselves of the pleasure of travelling abroad, perhaps, through your Letters Pages, someone in the NHS will take some positive action to rectify this fault in the system.

Mike Dooley, Ayr.


NICOLA Sturgeon has spent a large part of her time as First Minister trying put a tartan label on basically UK initiatives, demanding more "levers" and raising hell at the merest whiff of a Westminster power grab or slight.

Yet when she has full freedom to hold her own, Scottish, proper, judge-led inquiry into her Government's Covid performance she refuses and seems content for us to be firmly included in a UK-wide investigation.

I wonder why?

Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven.

* IS there a known cure for Long Sturgeon? It is very irritating and just seems to go on and on and on.

John Dunlop, Ayr.


CHRIS Keegan (Letters, July 8) berates me for offering no explanation as to why extensive quantitative easing is viable for the Bank of England, but not so for a new Scottish central bank. I had thought that I did not need to spell this out. The pound is a major world trading currency having broad capital markets, regardless of its current exchange rate. On the other hand, from the word go, any new Scottish currency would be at the mercy of currency speculators.

The SNP's own Sustainable Growth Commission makes clear that establishing fiscal sustainability and stability of debt issuance will be crucial, as would establishing the credibility of the new central bank. One of its main recommendations include a target for Scotland's public debt to be no more than 50 per cent of GDP and its budget deficit to be below three per cent, with public spending increases being limited to "sufficiently less than money GDP growth to deliver this". Any significant degree of quantitative easing would therefore not be possible.

In these circumstances, I fail to see how Mr Keegan's reliance on our exports (which will in any case face great uncertainties, since we shall be severed from both rUK and the EU), can somehow magic up funds for the Scottish Government to dispense in the fight against Covid or some such similar future pandemic.

R Murray, Glasgow.


THERE has been a 14 per cent drop in households accepted as homeless. Which means homelessness has fallen in Scotland massively since last year.

Yet your recent story ("Pandemic causes use of temporary accommodation for homeless to rise", The Herald, June 30) majors on temporary accommodation ­– without showing any understanding that the rise in use of temporary accommodation is directly related to the success of bringing down homelessness.

People in temporary accommodation have been accepted for permanent housing. They are on their way out of homelessness. They are waiting whilst a permanent home is found.

The Scottish Government has spent billions of pounds expanding the stock of social housing and is to spend billions more. But it cannot easily make up the decimation of the housing stock by previous governments, thanks largely to the right to buy.

In this context the hypocrisy of the Labour and Tory spokesmen, in criticising the lack of social housing, is blatant. It might have been helpful to hold them to account. And to at least mention the decline in homeless, which in my view should have been your angle.

Michael Lloyd, Dunbar.


YOU report the very good news that CalMac’s parent David MacBrayne Ltd is seeking new talent to serve as chair and non- executive members of its board (“Beleaguered ferry group offers £300 a day as it hunts new talent for top roles", The Herald, July 9) to help the group steer a way through its present troubled waters .

With tongue slightly in cheek, might I suggest that to fill these positions it need look no further than from the locations served by its ferries? I am sure there is a more than adequate pool of hands-on talent there desperate to help and well experienced in the difficulties with the ferry services. For the time being, board meetings can be by Zoom or similar, to avoid any concerns about attendance being disrupted by any continuing failures of ferry sailings.

Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop.

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