ONE of the most predictable unfortunate effects of the Covid pandemic is that discussion about it will inevitably be drawn into our polarised culture wars: we can now add vaxxer/anti-vaxxer to Leave/Remain and nat/yoon in the list of Scottish political denominators.

And of course like those other imposters (with apologies to Kipling) there is a wealth of territory in between the extremes which will sadly be overlooked.

I am triple vaxxed and I have lost a loved one during the pandemic, so I value the protection which science can give us and I know the risks. However, I share the despondency of many others when faced with seemingly unending restrictions on our freedoms and their effects on our mental health and on society as a whole.

It does not help that the politicians in charge have interests which are transparently served by continuing and increasing restrictions: Boris Johnson as a distraction from his utterly inept and habitually dishonest ministry, and Nicola Sturgeon as a get out of jail card that allows her to promise nationalists a referendum in full knowledge that it is not going to happen.

Neither of these charlatans is going to abandon their control freakery anytime soon, and we cannot expect either of them to change their emphasis from what we cannot do to what we can do. In that light, individuals must take the initiative, by beginning to look at things differently. We must start to see scientific advances as a toolkit to lead our lives as normally as possible. Vaccinations mean that infection and serious illness are much less likely, and hopefully we will soon know whether the Omicron variant is, as reported, less dangerous than its earlier counterparts. Testing means that we can check our own status frequently at our own convenience.

In his famous 1933 Inaugural Speech, President F D Roosevelt told the American people that they had "nothing to fear but fear itself." That is not the case today, as the dangers of Covid are real. However, excessive fear generated by politicians for their own benefit is itself also a danger, in that it is a barrier to going about our lives informed by clear thinking and rational scepticism.

Peter A Russell, Glasgow.


IN the continuing debate about Covid Paul McPherson (Letters, December 13) says that we need to live with this. He says that we need to get things into perspective and start living again. He asks if it is worse than cancer, heart disease and the like and that a loved one dying of Covid is no worse than a loved one dying from a preventable disease.

His last two statements may well be correct but he seems to be missing a couple of important facts.

First, cancer and heart disease are not infectious. You cannot catch these diseases by close physical contact. You cannot catch them by breathing the air that someone else has exhaled.

Secondly, Covid is a preventable disease. By following the rules on social distancing, mask wearing and good hand hygiene and so on and following the advice that goes beyond the rules by limiting social gatherings as much as possible, many people have avoided catching the disease.

I do however understand and appreciate that some people, due to their work, like those in the health and care sectors for example, have much greater exposure to risk than the general public. Perhaps if the general public took the situation a little more seriously and took a little more care key workers would be exposed to less risk.

David Clark, Tarbolton.


WHERE have colds and flu gone? To put Covid figures into perspective, could we also have those for flu and the common cold? Surely good old-fashioned influenza killed people in the days when we went out and about without fear?

And are people with colds perhaps being accounted for as Covid sufferers?

There are too many fine lines here, and too much emphasis being placed on Covid. Influenza and the common cold did not require lockdowns and masks, and we came through their seasonal visits without the need for constant media attention.

It seems government is now more concerned with the welfare of the NHS than with that of the people.

Malcolm Parkin, Kinross.


IN response to Geoff Moore’s letter (December 13) re asthma and mask wearing I would like to point out that a small piece of laminated plastic and a sunflower lanyard have not, to my knowledge, been scientifically proven to offer any protection to asthmatics from Covid. As an asthmatic myself I agree it’s not ideal to have your face covered but it’s only for short periods and, quite frankly I support the BMA advice. If your asthma is so troubled by mask-wearing what are your chances with Covid?

Lynda Campbell, Falkirk.


IN answer to Brian Watt (Letters, December 13), I had my third jag in October. This now appears on my NHS Scotland Covid status app.

The update first appeared a couple of weeks ago, so you may need to be patient. The app also shows the (negative) result of a nucleic amplification test that I took.

Colin Findlay, Glasgow.


IT is obvious that Boris Johnson is totally unfit to lead the country, never more so than at this time of crisis. Nevertheless he was voted in as Leader of the Conservative Party and thus Prime Minister by the MPs and the membership of that party, that appointment appearing to be ratified later in 2019 by the voters but only under our undemocratic electoral system.

Therefore the blame for the mess our country is in rests with the Conservative Party, assisted by that element of the electorate which continues to support the PM in spite of him having lied throughout his journalistic career, the Brexit campaign and his term in office.

I suggest that even those of us who argued against leaving the EU never imagined that our once reasonably decent country could sink to such depths. Look at the Cabinet and the potential replacements for Boris Johnson, a rabble of Anglo-British nationalists entirely without the necessary skills, adept only in the practice of cronyism, in post only because of their zealotry for the Brexit cause.

And yet there is worse to tell. The real Trump-inspired crazies are to be found on the Conservative back benches with their conviction that true freedom is to be found in having the liberty to put the lives of others at risk.

John Milne, Uddingston.

* THE new baby will need fed at nights, the dog will need to be walked and the Prime Minister’s wife, Carrie, will be recovering from giving birth. And the Christmas cards will have to be written and presents organised. With all that going on, how will Boris Johnson cope with the prospect of the reduced salary he is going to be faced with soon when he returns, justifiably humiliated, to the back benches? I can’t wait.

Dave Stewart, Glasgow.


FURTHER to Maureen McGarry-O’Hanlon's letter about Boris Johnson and Winston Churchill (December 10), by coincidence, I came across the following the same day. Having known that Mr Johnson liked to see himself as a latter-day Churchill, but never having been able to see any resemblance, I found it enlightening.

It comes from a letter from Alexander Cadogan, Britain’s first permanent representative at the United Nations. At the time, he was involved in the post-war Potsdam Conference and wrote to his wife, anent Churchill, that, since his arrival, the Prime Minister had refused to work or to read anything. This was fine, Cadogan continued, but Churchill ought then, if he knew nothing of the current topic of conversation, to remain silent or ask his foreign minister to speak on his behalf. “Instead of that, he butts in on every occasion and talks the most irrelevant rubbish and risks giving away our case at every point ” (from The Diaries of Sir Alexander Cadogan1938-45).

I can see now the similarities.

Ken MacVicar, Lesmahagow.


I NOTE yet another letter (December 11) from Dr Gerald Edwards telling us that Scotland as an independent country would be financially unviable. He is as entitled as anyone to hold whatever view he wants, but I don’t think this bears proper scrutiny.

Most thinking commentators, politicians, and the rest (not just me) think that Scotland, as an independent state, would be commercially/financially viable. Scotland would surely be as viable as any other nation state in the world, and the question is "should Scotland be independent", not "could".

I genuinely would like to hear a cogent thought-out reasoned argument for why Scotland should not be an independent country.

George Archibald, West Linton.

Read more: We can't just carry on regardless. We must heed the experts