IN January 2021 the Scottish Government is to publish the findings of a review into social care in Scotland. In the outline we read that it will take a “human rights-based” approach to the issue.

Nicola Sturgeon has said that the Government’s response will include considering the possibility of a National Care Service, but what is not spoken of is how such a service is to be funded.

In response to an open invitation the Scottish Socialist Party has submitted a paper outlining our vision of a National Care Service, namely that it should be publicly run and funded and, crucially, free at the point of need.

The SSP holds weekly street stalls at which we invite members of the public to sign our petition which we send to Nicola Sturgeon, and the response to our petition is massively positive. We find that the people of Scotland are overwhelmingly behind the establishment of an NCS paid for from general taxation and free when needed.

Like the Scottish Socialist Party the people of Scotland are outraged that when people, after a lifetime of hard work and paying their taxes, find that when they need elderly care they have to pay all over again.

Fees in privately run homes – and the majority of them are – are exorbitant, often forcing people to sell their own homes to fund care.

A human rights-based approach sounds very noble but surely should go without saying. And receiving elderly care when needed is indubitably a basic human right.

Michael Davidson, Scottish Socialist Party, Edinburgh.



Continuing abuse of GERS figures

DOUGLAS Cowe’s claim (letters, December 16) that “the Scottish Government’s GERS figures are a true indication of the precarious nature of Scotland’s finances” could only be true under one set of conditions – “under the present constitutional arrangements”, to quote the introduction to GERS (ie, as part of the UK).

Thus, to draw the conclusion, following Kevin Hague (“Independence would cost us dearly… the statistics prove it”, December 15), that “the act of separation would lead to eye-watering austerity in an independent Scotland” draws only limited validity from GERS.

One would have thought it obvious that independence is not the same as being part of the UK. However, some of your correspondents of a Unionist point of view are content to simply transfer the GERS notional deficit of a UK region to a sovereign state.

Yet without a good deal more not only is this not justified, but ironically an abuse of the very document that they seek to defend. Peter Russell (letters, December 13) recently wrote of “GERS deniers”. Yet by using GERS for a purpose for which it was not intended, it is arguable that it is he who is the GERS denier.

Moreover, we need to be clear that “the precarious nature of Scotland’s finances” owes most to the Westminster Government, which determines much the greater part of the Scottish Government’s spending, but also more than 70 per cent of taxation decisions.

Unlike Holyrood, Westminster has also been able, during the Covid pandemic, to basically print money, something the Scottish Government cannot do.

In short, if Scotland’s finances are in the sort of state Mr Cowe depicts, Westminster cannot possibly be absolved of responsibility.

Mr Cowe may be correct that we supporters of independence “should be very aware of what they wish for”, but GERS by no means has a precise equivalence to independence.

If I may paraphrase Mr Cowe, Unionists should be very aware of the data they use and of its limitations. Sadly, history suggests that either they are unaware of this, or don’t care, and so will continue to abuse GERS as they consistently have in recent years.

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.


Keep this art exhibition open

AS a group of art historians and historians we deplore the premature closing of Angus Reid’s exhibition Parallel Lives currently showing at Summerhall, Edinburgh, before it has had the chance to be opened fully to the public.

We demand that this decision be overturned, and the reception of the show be extended so that as many people as possible, from Edinburgh, Scotland, the UK, Poland and elsewhere can visit it.

Their interest is proven, and it is wrong to exclude these people from such a significant aesthetic and ethical experience of art that stands up for LGBT rights.

The quality of the exhibition is already partly reflected in a small collection of reviews. We wish to add to that. We are in close solidarity with the message and form of the exhibition which we admire, and which is of the highest quality. Morally, it pertains to human rights and this must be encouraged, and particularly now when human rights are being so brutally repressed.

Speaking from Poland, we need and we count on international solidarity and awareness. Edinburgh has a long-standing connection and exchange with Poland over many generations, and now is the time to collaborate as closely as we can.

Speaking from Britain we recognize the show as an event of outstanding significance, and particularly as it can be the first to include the placards of the women’s strike, the queer-feminist alliance whose political and social significance is felt far beyond the borders of Poland.

We shall continue to defend the importance of this kind of work. It has a vital role to play at the present moment both in Poland and beyond. It belongs to a movement that is still emerging and is of the highest importance, a queer-feminist alliance that requires expression if it is to become the transformative political force that it promises to be.

Dr Louise S. Milne, Associate Professor in Film, Screen Academy Scotland, Edinburgh Napier University; School of Art, Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh;

Professor Pawel Leszkowicz, Adam Mickiewicz University, curator of Ars Homo Erotica exhibition at Warsaw’s National Museum, AICA member;

Dr. Habil Tomasz Kitlinski, Maria Curie-Sklodowska University, curator of Open City Festival;

Dr. Seán Martin, Napier University, Edinburgh;

Professor Sarah Wilson, Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London, Curator of Paris Capital of the Arts, Royal Academy of Arts; Kasia Murawska-Muthesius, Birkbeck College, University of London, Research fellow centre for museum cultures, Department of History of Art, former deputy director of Poland’s national museum.



Bleak vision of a cold future

WHILE it is excellent news that the Prime Minister has green-lighted talks over the construction of a new nuclear power station Sizewell C, it does nothing to solve the cold equation that the cost of electrical energy is four times that of the same amount of energy from gas.

Thus a future of cold homes, sick people and mass fuel poverty remains inevitable.

What a policy of building nuclear power stations can ensure is security of supply.

If we follow that route, then we will not need to solve the difficult and expensive problem of mass storage of electrical energy.

Potentially much more important than Sizewell C or Hinckley Point C is the development of modular nuclear reactors by a consortium led by Rolls Royce.

The production line-approach to the manufacture of these smaller reactors offers both much faster construction and much lower costs.

As we run down our base-load electricity generating capacity, we have no alternative but to go nuclear or the lights will go out.

However the cold equation means that mass fuel poverty is inevitable if we decarbonise.

Otto Inglis, Cowdenbeath.



Six key tests over online child abuse

THROUGHOUT the coronavirus pandemic, online grooming crimes in Scotland were more than 30 per cent higher when children were not at school compared with the same months last year.

The NSPCC has been calling for legislation to protect children from grooming, abuse and harmful content online. After years of the charity campaigning, this week the UK Government announced the framework for a future Online Harms Bill with the potential to provide much greater protection for children when they use the internet.

This is a landmark moment, a major step towards legislation that can make an enforceable legal Duty of Care on tech companies a reality. For too long children have been exposed to disgraceful

abuse and harm online. Social media companies will have a duty to protect young users from child abuse and harmful content online and face fines of up to £18million or 10 per cent of their global turnover if they fail.

But that doesn’t mean that the work we do stops now. For instance, the proposals fall short of ensuring criminal sanctions against named directors whose companies fail to uphold their Duty of Care.

Child protection and children’s voices must remain front and centre of regulatory requirements.

We have set out six tests for robust regulation, including action to tackle both online sexual abuse and harmful content and a regulator with the power to investigate and hold tech firms to account with criminal and financial sanctions.

Failing to pass any of the tests will mean that future generations of children will pay with serious avoidable harm and sexual abuse. We will closely scrutinise the proposals against those tests. Above all, legislation must ensure Ofcom has the power and resources to enforce the Duty of Care and be able to identify and take appropriate action against tech firms that fail.

Joanna Barrett, Policy and Public Affairs Manager, NSPCC Scotland



A nurse doll for a brave wee girl

YOUR photograph (Remember When, December 16) took me back to early 1961 when, aged five, I had to have my tonsils removed. My grandma had an account at Glen’s department store and I was taken, before the dreaded event, to choose a doll for “being a brave girl”.

The dolls were arranged on a carousel similar to the one in your photograph and I chose a nurse doll with long chestnut ringlets. I wasn’t allowed to grow my short hair because it would apparently be too difficult to manage, so my dolls always had the luxurious hair I could only dream of.

I wasn’t permitted to take the doll into the clinic, presumably for reasons of infection control. Nor were my parents allowed to visit for the few days I was in hospital, an unspeakable cruelty that had stopped in recent years...until 2020. However, a kindly nurse kept my spirits up with messages from my parents and tales of presents waiting at home.

My doll and the ice cream (to soothe my throat) are my positive memories of that experience. The separation from my parents and a masked doctor approaching with the anaesthetic, telling me to “smell the fairy perfume” are the most awful ones: I could smell the stuff for months after and had a fear of masks for many years.

Janice Taylor, Carluke.