United Kingdom is heading for soft Brexit

© Getty
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Sir, – What lies behind the conciliatory tone adopted by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (January 7) on the case for a soft Brexit?

I think it is due to a realistic assessment of what the opinion polls are saying about public enthusiasm for another referendum on Scottish independence.

They don’t seem to have moved at all in more than two years after our views were sought on the matter.

It would be unwise for the Holyrood Government to stake its reputation on going for independence whatever the negotiations on Brexit actually produce.

Voters may want Scotland to go its own way for a variety of reasons but I doubt if access to the European single market is the most crucial.

In any case, Ms Sturgeon may be kicking, so to speak, at an open door because we are heading for a soft Brexit.

That means there will be a compromise on tariff-free trade with the rest of the continent and control of free movement of people across borders.

The very fact that Prime Minister Theresa May is waiting so long to trigger Article 50 on withdrawal shows surely that she is thinking long and hard as to how that compromise can be achieved.

If she was going for the hard option, strict immigration control and individual trade deals with countries throughout the world, she could have announced that days after she walked into Downing Street.

Instead, we seem to be moving towards a situation which, surprisingly, will keep both her and Ms Sturgeon happy.

Bob Taylor.
24 Shiel Court,


Rethink health and social care

Sir, – Gareth McPherson’s article, Horrifying deaths of patients waiting to be discharged from hospital (January 5) rightly draws attention to the sad news that increasing numbers of people are dying in hospital while they wait for the right social care to enable them to go home.

Three in 10 people in hospital are in their last year of life and when people have a terminal illness, time is short and many don’t have the time to wait.

This is why in December we published a report with the Association of Palliative Care Social Workers, Hospice UK and MND Scotland. In Dying to help: A report into social care at the end of life, we called for a responsive social care sector that delivers co- ordinated, seamless care to make sure someone lives and dies well.

We know through our Glasgow City Fast Track service that working in partnership across NHS, local authorities and the third sector, we can provide better support to people at the end of life.

We are already successfully preventing avoidable admissions and reducing the number of delayed discharges.

The Scottish Government and health and social care partnerships must rethink how health and social care is delivered across Scotland so that we can prevent a crisis in caring for older and dying people.

Richard Meade.
Marie Curie,
14 Links Place,


Religion at root of conflict

Sir, – Rev David Robertson conflates education with observance.

Education teaches about religion, hopefully in all the diverse forms.

Observance is about following a subset of the vast array of different practices, opinions and rituals available from across the world.

Such observation readily extends to indoctrination and can in extremis become dogmatic and xenophobic. Religious observance in schools is imposed, albeit in a limited sense and, therefore, implies a requirement to conform to some religion or other.

Aside from access to natural resources, almost all wars and abuses arise from blinkered imposition of religious teaching.

Thus history should be added to the educational equation.

Nick Cole.
Balmacron Farmhouse,


Is Kirk really serious?

Sir, – I refer to your story regarding the Church of Scotland’s attempt to lure men back into the pews, having first checked that I had not overslept and woken up on April 1.

Toy guns and rubber darts to shoot at bores, some roast pork to scoff and a chat with the lads about porn and poker. What’s not to like?

In all seriousness though, is the church being serious?

Alistair McBay.
National Secular Society,
5 Atholl Crescent,


The freedom to choose

Sir, – If David Robertson (January 5) wants “more meaningful” religious observance (RO) in schools, he should logically support my suggestion which is to offer pupils a choice between RO and an educational activity.

Those who do not believe in the school religion could thus more easily remove themselves from a fake observance of it, so that the number attending RO, while smaller, would contain a higher proportion of true believers who find it meaningful.

Mr Robertson, however, opposes the right of pupils to opt out without parental permission, and claims humanists are pursuing it “as a step towards removing (RO) from the public school system”.

Why does he fear that letting pupils opt out of RO might lead to its removal? If they were offered the choice and a majority chose RO, its position in schools would actually be strengthened, yet Mr Robertson seems to fear such a test.

We would not test the popularity of educational subjects such as maths in this way, as the functioning of society depends on the education of children, but it does not depend on school RO.

Robert Canning.
Secular Scotland,
58a Broughton Street,


Few reasons for optimism

Sir, – I’m glad your correspondent Alex Orr of Edinburgh (January 5) finds reason to be optimistic and I too am an optimist. But while world hunger may have “reached its lowest point for 25 years in 2016” Dundee hunger has reached its highest.

Alex Gurr of the Trussell Trust spoke in November of “an epidemic of hunger in Scotland”.

A Courier headline on April 22 2016 read, Foodbank a lifeline for Dundee man facing three-year benefit sanction.

Then on December 8, you reported that Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath had been hit by highest rate of benefits sanctions of any area in Scotland.

Dr David Webster of the University of Glasgow describes it perfectly as “Britain’s secret penal system”.

Being positive or negative matters little to those struggling for survival.

Moira Brown.
142 Gray Street,
Broughty Ferry.


Energy crisis facing nation

Sir, – Energy is now a talking-shop industry.

It has become something to occupy the public and political sectors while we – the hapless populace – descend into dark and cold.

It is because of these people, brainwashed by the Greens, that we ignore nuclear power and rely on windmills and wood burning in the 21st Century.

Our next step backwards must surely be the horse and cart and the persecution of witchcraft.

Malcolm Parkin,
15 Gamekeepers Road,