Are we seeing the birth of a better politics from the depths of crisis?

Out of the depths of our common enemy in the coronavirus pandemic, there has emerged a much more cooperative and coordinated attitude among the various factions operating in the House of Commons.

Where there has been dissension and petty point-scoring, every representative has now chosen to sink party political differences in the interests of the wider nation.

Nowhere was that more evident than in PMQs on Wednesday of this week when courtesy and graciousness abounded in the chamber with all focused on defeating the danger facing each and every one of us..

Churlishness and rancour were set aside for constructive suggestions and pertinent criticism.

Clearly we are all in it together – rich or poor, male or female, young or old, white or black.

If only that sense of national unity could be sustained, we would all be in a better place, though the fear must be that we will revert to type once this crisis has been overcome.

Perhaps the memory of the misery inflicted upon us by this virus will remain long in our minds to bring with it a stronger belief that we are all brothers and sisters in the same boat under our skins.

From the events of the Second World War, a new political consensus was born which served us well until it was subverted by circumstances and Thatcher's ideology, which aimed at putting the individual in pole position in the psychology of the nation.

It could well be that the fallout from the current plague will restore our sense of community and togetherness, the birth of a new political consensus where a responsible capitalism will dominate to the benefit of the whole nation.

Denis Bruce


It's not just the real world that needs healed

I know this has been a scary week, with the real prospect of our economy suffering critical damage looming large, and our very way of life facing an existential crisis.

But surely some good has come of it – surely the sight of our politicians working together for the common good rather than yelling at each other all the time about anything they think will drum up division, is a really welcome sight which should give us hope for the future.

And surely the re-emergence of society, of ordinary people working as a team in our community to help those less able to help themselves, is something we should all grab on to and not let go.

So why has the internet not got the message? Why, when I log on to my social media, do I still find the same people – we all know the type – desperate to spew bile over anything remotely positive?

What is wrong with these people? Are they annoyed that right now the country doesn't need the division and hate they seem to thrive on? Are they fighting like a wounded animal, knowing their trolling days might be numbered?

If one thing can be learned out of this whole crisis, it's that our world doesn't need these sad individuals who poison the internet.

If we're prepared to work together to help heal our real-world communities in this crisis, maybe it's time we do the same for our digital communities.

Maybe it's time we worked as a team to rid social media of these parasites for good.

Dave Anderson


Everybody sing ... we're doomed!

Make no mistake. We are witnessing the collapse of civilisation.

The Eurovision Song Contest has been cancelled.

John V Lloyd


First-world problems

Delicious Magazine has produced a list of 50 recommended store cupboard ingredients – including two grades of olive oil, anchovies, capers and harissa.

Phew. Now we know Edinburgh's Stockbridge and Morningside residents should be able to survive over the coming weeks.

Martin Redfern


Don't believe all you read

The Westminster propaganda machine is spending millions on social media, brainwashing folk that we are so lucky being in this Union. The latest one splashed all over Facebook etc is Scotland will receive £780 million Covid-19 response funding.

What they don't tell folk is Norway, with the same population as Scotland, have announced £10 billion and Ireland, with a smaller population, £3bn. Sadly many will fall for it.

Rod Selbie


This is not the time to go metric

It is becoming increasingly obvious that the UK Government cares little for the health and welfare of its older citizens, and visitors from the USA.

Its advice on safe distances from others during the current COVID-19 epidemic is quoted only in metric units which do not sit naturally with many of us. At first reading, 2m to me is 2 miles which is impractical for all except the most rural dweller and, even when I get past that initial misunderstanding, I find it difficult to conceptualise what 2 metres actually means.

This follows on from this winter's irresponsible total abandonment of Imperial measures by BBC meteorologists even in forecasts of the most serious weather conditions!

I wonder how many deaths could be avoided if both systems of measurement were shown due respect?

John Eoin Douglas


A cheap shot indeed

A rather cheap shot from Martin Redfern (Letters, March 15), who suggests that the coronavirus pandemic could become Nicola Sturgeon's Falklands war. The First Minister's response to the crisis and her statesmanlike approach, along with Ian Blackford in Westminster, putting other differences aside and working with the UK government to manage and mitigate the crisis, has been calm and measured.

It is a pity that Mr Redfern's antipathy towards Ms Sturgeon prevents him from giving honour where it is due.

Ruth Marr


Public sector pensions – the facts

Reader Clark Cross complains about the unfairness of “…gold-plated retirement benefits...” for public sector workers (Letters, March 15). Sadly, there is little in the way of fact in his argument. Here are a few facts.

A couple of years ago, the average Civil Service pension was under £10,000 per annum. Hardly “gold-plated”. There is no Civil Service pension fund. Pension contributions go straight to the exchequer for whatever purpose the government of the day may choose. When pensions are paid, these are funded directly by the exchequer. It would be somewhat difficult to set up a defined contribution scheme – as Mr. Cross suggests – when nothing has been or is being invested.

Local Authority and some other public sector pensions do have their own final salary and index-linked pension funds. These are not funded by the taxpayer but by employee and employer contributions. Where funding problems have arisen in the past, these have been generally linked to the fact that employers have chosen to take "contribution holidays" during the "good times".

In the early 1980’s Margaret Thatcher commissioned the Scott Report to "investigate" public sector index-linked pensions. She was hoping that the report would suggest they were unjustified. Instead, the report recommended that final salary and index linked pensions be extended within the private sector. Scott pointed out that those in the public sector paid almost twice as much in pension contributions than those in the private sector. Unsurprisingly, his recommendations were ignored.

I’m sure I’m not the only reader who wonders why Mr. Cross wants to "level down" rather than "level up".

Douglas Morton


An example of when accuracy counts

In his article headed “Alex Salmond...the trial that could split the SNP from top to bottom” (Herald Voices, March 15), Iain Macwhirter states that “In the event, the Yes campaign came within 5% of winning the 2014 referendum”. Your statement is factually incorrect – and therefore untrue.

First, you conflate percentages and percentage points. The result of the 2014 referendum was Yes 44.7%, No 55.3%. In terms of percentages, 5% of 44.7 is 2.24 and 44.7 + 2.24 = 46.94.

Second, in terms of percentage points, it would have required a swing of 5.4 percentage points to achieve a winning result for the Yes campaign of Yes 50.1%, No 49.9%.

I would be grateful if you correct this factually incorrect statement.

John MacIntyre

Woking, Surrey