I SEE that Age Scotland has urged the new First Minister to reinstate a minister for older people (‘Growing support for a Minister for Older People’, May 10). It will have gladdened the hearts of all interested parties to know that such effective action is being suggested. 

As chief executive officer Katherine Crawford says “We all want to make Scotland the best place in the world to grow older.” Quite so; everywhere one goes – the pub, the steamie, the bookie’s – the talk is of little else.

Ms Crawford notes that “Having no named minister raises concerns for those who plan to spend their later life in Scotland, considering the ongoing challenges including pensioner poverty, low income, poor health, loneliness, discrimination, and social exclusion that affect so many”.

Having a named minister would so obviously transform the situation that one wonders why the relevant authorities haven’t appointed a Minister for Peace and sent him to the Middle East to resolve the problems there, possibly stopping off at Kiev en route to sort out the relatively minor difficulties in that region.

Promising as the news may seem, rejoicing would be premature. All that has happened so far is that the First Minister has been formally “urged” to appoint such a minister. He might balk at the expense. The minister would naturally need an army of deputies, assistants, assistant assistants and so on, all of whom would have to be selected, suitably accommodated and appropriately briefed – all before a dish had been washed. 

All things considered, I reckon it would be quicker, cheaper and no less efficacious simply to recommend that people heed the wise words of advice given by Woody Allen: “You don’t wanna grow old - it’s got nothin’ goin’ for it.”
Robin Dow, Rothesay.


Neil Oliver: no apology needed
I HAVE long regarded Neil Oliver as an entertainer – but as a lifestyle guru, not so much. 

That finding is supported by the absence in Graeme Arnott’s letter (“Neil Oliver deserves an apology: he was right”, May 14) of reference even to basic statistics. 

The Scottish statistics are hard to find but I see from government statistics that in England, in January 2021, when vaccinations were commenced, there were 1,080,364 cases of Covid and 35,341 deaths, a crude mortality rate of 59% , whereas in March 2021, two months after vaccinations commenced, there were 136,152 cases and 5,224 deaths, a crude mortality rate of 9.2%.


Read more: 

Neil Oliver deserves an apology

Neil Oliver: The man I knew – and the man he became

Neil Oliver: TV presenter resigns as Royal Society of Edinburgh fellow


I appreciate that statistics are far from foolproof but these figures lead me to conclude that a person was much more likely to die from January 2021 onwards as a result of taking Neil Oliver’s advice and not taking the vaccine than as a result of taking the vaccine.

That conclusion is not challenged by the fact that the Astra Zeneca vaccine has recently been withdrawn because it was only to be expected that vaccine research would continue apace and better, safer vaccines would be developed.

Neil Oliver’s qualification as a lifestyle guru is further dismantled by his assertion quoted by Graeme Arnott that “If my freedom means that you might get Covid from me, then so be it,” which is a manifestly absurd reflection of the argument in the USA for bearing arms.
I sort of appreciate Neil Oliver’s input because it is so nonsensical that it reduces potentially damaging positions to absurdity and makes them less likely ever to be taken seriously at any significant level of policy determination.
Michael Sheridan, Glasgow.


A swift, Taylor-made rebuttal
YOU state (report, May 15) that the “Swift effect” will be worth £977million to the UK. Really?

Where will the money harvested from the 1.2 million Taylor Swift fans who will spend, on average, £848 to attend a concert come from, and where will it go?

Much of the money fans spend will come from taxed income but a sizeable amount will be borrowed on credit cards, thus increasing levels of personal debt while augmenting profits in the banking sector. 

A good chunk of the ticket revenue will generate  profits for the booking agencies and the credit card companies. True, pre-concert meals and accommodation will for a day boost the turnover of a few pubs restaurants and hotels, but it won’t create new or lasting jobs or increase wages, the next day will be back “tae parritch an auld claes”. I wonder how much it will cost the general public to police the events and clean up afterwards.

So the concerts will happen, many fans will have the experience of a lifetime and be happy to have paid the price, and the corporate world will have pocketed most of the £977 million. 

However, the UK will actually be worse off since the concerts will not create any new wealth and some of the UK’s wealth will exit stage left as Ms Swift departs. One swallow doesn’t make a summer and one Swift won’t make a dent in the disaster that is the UK economy – but the circus did help keep any news of Gaza off the front page.
David J Crawford, Glasgow.

* IT is increasingly obvious that artists see concert tours as their main source of income in the face of declining sales of physical product – CDs, vinyl, etc – and the rise of streaming services such as Spotify. But it’s dismaying nevertheless to see major acts, the kind who have been multi-millionaires for years or even decades, doing little to minimise the cost of tickets. I had considered seeing the Eagles’ farewell concerts in Manchester but was stunned by the sheer cost of tickets.
R. Matthews, Glasgow.

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The bombing of Vietnam
I FEEL that I must take issue with Norman Lockhart’s letter (‘Redolent of Vietnam’, May 14).
In his letter Mr Lockhart states “ Israel has dropped more bombs on Gaza than the USA dropped on Vietnam in 20 years”.

I do not know where Mr Lockhart got this information from but it is a blatant untruth.

The true facts are that the USA dropped a higher tonnage of bombs in the Vietnam War, than was dropped in the second World War.

The figure is approximately 7.5 million tons between 1965 and 1975. Israel has absolutely not bombed Gaza anywhere near this extent.

People are entitled to their views on the tragedy of this current Middle East conflict, but please can we stick to facts and not present misleading information to the Herald readers.
John Brown, Cumbernauld.