Sir, – Regular correspondent Rev Dr John Cameron (‘There is always tomorrow’ Courier, December 31), in an uncharacteristically optimistic letter, tells us of all the good things happening in the world.
I commend him.
But I would like to comment on one of his statements: that ‘African life expectancy has risen by five years during the decade’, which is absolutely wonderful.
In the UK, according to Oxford University academic Professor Danny Dorling, who has studied the statistics for 30 years, the picture is the opposite.
Life expectancy for elderly people, men and women, is falling, by six months in the last few years.
It is more for poor people, and is now considered to be a trend rather than a blip.
Not only that but infant mortality is rising, in England and Wales, from 3.6 babies for every 1,000 born in 2014,, to 3.9 in 2017, the last year for which figures are available.
Nowhere else in Europe is life expectancy falling and infant mortality rising.
So why is this happening in one of the richest countries in the world?
The only explanation Prof Dorling can come up with is austerity.
The timeframe fits.
Public spending in the UK has fallen from 41% of GDP in 2006, to 36% in 2019.
Almost every other country in the EU now spends more on its public services than the United Kingdom.
The UK is now the most unequal large country in Europe.
Austerity was a clear political choice made by the Conservative Government, in coalition with the Lib Dems, in 2010, and has had dreadful consequences for the wellbeing of the nation.
Yet we have just elected a Conservative government into power again for another five years.
With Brexit looming, dire economic forecasts, and a government with dictatorial powers, how bad will things be be by 2024?
5 Carmichael Gardens,
Put rail back in public hands
Sir, – What happened to “ competition will reduce fares and cost in a share owning democracy?” The rail fares are bleeding the traveling population.
It is time the rail system was back in public ownership.
The whole system needs to be electrified and the private sector will never pay for it to be done.
John G Phimister.
63 St Clair Street,
Act purposefully on climate
Sir, – With a first minister who loves grabbing the headlines we can be sure climate change will be her second priority in 2020, and, once again, education, health etc will drop down a place.
Scots will not be surprised to learn of the sacrifices and taxes required to lead the world. One would think the loss of coal, heavy engineering and the reduction in the use of fossil fuel, added to the visual vandalism of our landscape with windmills, would be sacrifice enough for a country whose geographical significance in the world is insignificant to climate change.
Whether or not we have too much or too little carbon dioxide one thing is clear, we need to plant lots of trees anywhere and everywhere suitable: glens, back gardens, parks, pots, wherever.
Children should stay in school and learn about science and be imaginative with chemicals such as those which absorb CO2 and how we use them.
Or materials to provide cover from the ultra violet of the sun and insulate ice from melting, and the engineering required to disperse them.
Or the economics of forming companies and finding staff to produce and sell enough to finance investment in new technology in order to prevent the growth of elements which might affect the future climate, and provide solutions in the form of alternatives.
Increased cobalt mining and recycling of batteries, along with higher taxes and penalties is not an answer.
The answer is with future generations being persuaded to learn and think first before acting.
Then acting with purpose.
Balancing the books not easy
Sir, – In answer to Douglas Crowe (‘Gentle persuasion won’t win indy argument, Courier, January 2) .
He states “ evidenced by the state of Scottish finances and deficit”.
Could I gently remind him that Holyrood can’t borrow money.
The money that it does get is allocated from Westminster therefore it has to balance the books.
I would also gently remind him we are still part of the UK who still reserve the largest part of financial control.
Of course Mr Crowe can believe whatever he wishes but I would remind him that Scots in a Westminster driven election made an overwhelming choice of whom they place their trust to stand up for the Scottish interest.
Period of silence for first minister
Sir, – I have a New Year’s resolution for Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP: ‘I will tell Scots the truth about Scotland’s financial position, and admit we have been telling porkies about that and about an independent Scotland’s chances of getting into the EU’.
Alternatively,Ms Sturgeon could just adopt a self-denying ordinance and stop trying to bore us all into accepting her obsession with separatism and another referendum.
A period of silence on that subject would be most welcome.
Charity begins at home
Sir, – As more and more people get themselves into debt over the festive season, spending copious amounts of money on gifts that many do not need,why not think of others who need our help?
At Christmas my partner and I gave each other nominal presents and instead made a donation to the Salvation Army to help the homeless and also sent a lot of food to the local foodbank.
Why waste money on things we don’t need or want?
We are certainly not looking for a pat on the back, especially as I know of others who did much more.
But, and I know next Christmas is a long way off, there is plenty of time to reconsider what you’d like to and, indeed, should do come the next festivities.
Eric Travers .
38 Gellatly Road,
BRINO a real possibility
Sir, – With regard to Brexit; the “Remoaners”, just can’t leave it out.
The general secretary of the teachers’ union EIS has “expressed concern about potential changes to health and safety legislation in the wake of Brexit” (Teachers paid £100k after pupil assaults, Courier, December 30).
Why the pessimism?
Has it not occurred to him that things could actually get better ?
We can be quite sure that arch-Remoaners such as Blair and Heseltine will be fighting a rearguard action to ensure that the coming negotiations between the EU and the UK result in BRINO (BRexit In Name Only).
29 Hudson Road,