DURING the Covid crisis the SNP government has relied totally on the UK government for funding to tackle its effects. According to the National Audit Office, as of last September , Covid-19 has cost the UK government £370bn. Pro rata Scotland’s share is some £37bn extra funding. Yet Nicola Sturgeon seems to think that the Treasury has a bottomless pit full of cash.

“Our public health response is curtailed by lack of finance” she said last month, after the UK government added another £440m of new money for Covid response. It doesn’t matter how much Westminster gives Holyrood – it will never be enough.

What the Covid crisis shows is how much better Scotland is as part of the Union rather than separated from the world’s fifth largest economy, with no central bank, no currency, no national grid, and with a government that wants to shut down North Sea gas and oil.

From the rapid and unique development of the Astra Zeneca vaccine, free from the constraints of the European Medical Agency, through the support of the British Army, the roll-out of millions of free lateral flow tests (each costing £8), to the sharing and pooling of medical science across the four nations, the case for the Union speaks for itself.

William Loneskie, Lauder.


NICOLA Sturgeon’s stance on lateral flow test kits being freely available betrays the core problem with SNP policies: great on the surface, huge problems underneath. Health minister Humza Yousaf is in the same boat (“Yousaf ‘not planning cuts to Covid isolation period’,” January 10).

Lateral flow kits are expensive and, like all “free items” on the NHS, prone to abuse. Add in John Swinney’s exhortation to basically use one every time you go out, and not only does the bill rise alarmingly, so does the mountain of plastic waste.

Mr Yousaf is not taking into account the damage to commerce nor staff availability nor even the mental health of many Scots.

Ms Sturgeon effectively cancelled the holiday period for many and did huge collateral damage to the economy. The SNP is one-dimensional, focussing only on the length of time until indyref2, but there are three “normal” dimensions plus time and space.

The government isn’t coping with the breadth or height of the problems it is facing, and time is running out for the SNP as is space for the endless excuses as to why little is working properly in Scotland today.

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow.


WHILE fully supporting the ongoing current pandemic injection campaign and the regime for frequent use of lateral flow tests, I cannot help but feel a gnawing and growing unease about the veritable mountain of many millions of single-use pieces of plastic we are creating, destined for landfill, this being anathema to the Greens among us.

I also wonder if any attempt is being made to reclaim and recycle the tonnes of, presumably high-grade stainless steel, from the teeming multitude of used syringe needles?

David J O’Hara, Scotstoun, Glasgow.


DAVID Leask’s article on “Scotland’s skin-deep relationship with the EU” (January 8) highlights some crucial issues, not least the Scots’ affection but lack of detailed knowledge about the significance of EU membership.

That “we are not remotely interested in its detail” is in part true. That Scots “…do not keep up with what is happening in the EU or in its member states…and neither do our politicians” has been deeply concerning, but no surprise.

Why might this be? During our tenure as members of the EU, the UK media largely ignored the wide-ranging significance of our membership, unless an ‘EU bad’ headline was lazily accessible.

I was always struck through my involvement with other member states how their national and, more importantly, regional press regularly featured balanced pieces on a new piece of legislation, new consultation, speeches or visits by Commissioners or delegations.

By contrast, it was evident that large sections of the UK press indulged in clear campaigns of misinformation which at times verged on the ludicrous. The EU would fairly regularly send measured rebuttals to editors across the UK, but I cannot recall ever seeing these being published.

Sometimes the detail doesn’t matter and sometimes it does. Our collective poor record in informing the public did however play a large part in the dreadful and internationally embarrassing decision to withdraw from the EU, the consequences of which we have not even started to realise, as David Leask observes. Our attachment to Europe is perhaps more at an emotional level and sometimes that is more than enough.

Tony Fitzpatrick, Dumfries.


EILEEN McCartin (letters, January 7) makes an excellent point about the dangers of the ‘slippery slope’ associated with legalising assisted suicide or euthanasia, as evidenced from the experiences of other countries where laws have been extended to include disabled people, children and those with mental illnesses.

She states that many Liberal Democrats oppose Liam McArthur’s proposals but she is incorrect in claiming that “the current Assisted Dying Bill … in no way reflects Lib Dem policy”. Sadly, the Scottish Liberal Democrats did adopt just such a policy in 2015, which was reaffirmed in 2019 by the UK Liberal Democrats in a motion which made specific reference to Mr McArthur’s proposed Bill.

Of course, like all previous attempts to legalise assisted suicide, Mr McArthur has failed to address the concerns that exist about how to safeguard those who are vulnerable to pressure being exerted by others with questionable motives, such as access to a potential inheritance or the desire to free up beds in hospitals or care homes.

For example, most of those gaining assistance from doctors to commit suicide in Oregon now regularly cite the “fear of being a burden on family, friends or caregivers” as their reason for seeking death.

The bill would provide a cheap solution for policy-makers or NHS managers, enabling them to sidestep their obligations to address the unmet need for palliative care. It would make the situation worse.

The experience of those countries which have gone down the assisted suicide or euthanasia route shows that the development of palliative care is impeded when such legislation is in place.

Faced with shortages of NHS resources, an overstretched workforce due to the pandemic and the prospect of huge savings to be made by enabling patients to end their lives prematurely, can we really trust politicians to come up with a law containing adequate safeguards which will prevent abuses from occurring?

Dr Gordon Macdonald, CEO, Care Not Killing, Glasgow.


I HAVE never understood why abortion has not been brought in to the discussion about assisted dying.

It is perfectly legal to end a life that has not been lived (frequently for very good reasons, such as rape, or the health of the mother being at risk), whereas people who have lived what they describe as a happy and full life and now wish to end it, either because of, or ahead of, intolerable, unmanageable pain, are unable to make this decision for themselves.

Why is it permissible to end one unlived life but not another fully lived life?

Kathleen Gorrie, Helensburgh.


I AM a retired doctor, and a Catholic opposed to assisted dying legislation.

Like Lilian McDade (letters, January 8), I have watched my 21-year-old son die. I have witnessed the suffering of patients, of their family and friends, and also within my own family. I don’t believe we can relieve all suffering, either physical or mental.

However, I differ from your previous correspondents. As a doctor, I felt my role was to relieve suffering where I could and to acknowledge and respect the patient and her family when I was unable to provide relief. As a doctor and a person, it was not my role to end her life, only to be present.

Some of us have charmed lives and happy deaths, but some have difficult lives and difficult deaths.

I believe a caring society acknowledges this and acts to help. Offering death, however, is not acceptable to doctors, nurses or human beings.

We ought to oppose assisted dying legislation.

Miriam Deeny McKernan, Rutherglen.