Madam, – Your leader (Findings mean it is time for action, Courier, August, 17) quite rightly highlighted the appalling problems caused by drugs, but said drug abuse was “fuelled by poverty and inequality”.
In my experience, any kind of abuse – alcohol, cigarettes, gambling, drugs – has nothing at all to do with poverty or inequality.
People living in Britain today do not know what real poverty is.
Their grandparents and great-grandparents did, but our nanny state ensures most Britons today no longer need to go hungry.
If there is hunger and homelessness, it is usually the young, the feckless and the mentally ill who still suffer today.
There is certainly inequality, but are we all expected to earn the same as professional footballers and pop stars?
Socialism is the politics of envy.
The strange thing is that very left-wing politicians who wrecked the Scottish education system in the name of social engineering, equality and to help children from poorer families enjoy the same education as the children of the rich, have severely damaged the chances of the disadvantaged.
I and my parents before me – all of us from lowly backgrounds – had a far better education in Scotland’s state schools before 1960 than today’s working-class children.
I also had a lot of experience of Dundonians living in what were then called slum clearances.
Most worked very hard, but some chose to spend their money on the then addictions of fags, booze and gambling.
They were not quite so deadly as cocaine and heroin, but they still kept their addicts poor when they could have been well clear of the poverty line.
My father was brought up in chaos in Aberdeen and ended up several times in the Poor House.
Yet both his mother and his father enjoyed good incomes, my grandmother being a highly skilled weaver and my grandfather a mason.
It all went on booze.
The old Scottish education system helped save my father and his brothers and sisters. They all went on to lead decent and reasonably prosperous lives.
Part of the solution comes back to education.
Our schools since they became comprehensive and discipline became more relaxed lend themselves to pack rule.
Scottish schools helped save my dad and many others and levelled the playing field for them when it came to competing with the children of the rich.
Scottish schools could save the day again, but we must scrap the social engineering and get back to basics.
A return to the Dundee schools I knew in the 1930s and 40s would be a good start.
George K. McMillan.
5 Mount Tabor Avenue,
Prevention is better than cure
Madam, – Much is currently being made of the shortcomings of various statutory and charitable organisations in looking after the welfare of drug addicts, particularly in Dundee.
One such charity, which figures prominently in Dundee, employs 1,600 people nationwide with an annual wage bill of £51 million.
Multiply these figures by all such charities and it is obvious this is a massive growth industry providing jobs and careers at a cost of many hundreds of millions of pounds.
While not doubting the good intentions of those involved, is it not perhaps the case that were it not for the existence of drug addicts such careers,jobs and organisations would no longer have a reason to exist?
This may go some way to explaining why, perhaps subconsciously, the focus is on the welfare of addicts rather on prevention.
Providing safe facilities for addicts to indulge their vice may or may not help to reduce drug related deaths, but does not address the cause of addiction in the first place – the availability of drugs.
If the above resources were directed towards preventing drugs coming into the country and on to the streets, the number of addicts and deaths would be reduced and the welfare of future generations of young people would be safeguarded.
51 Airlie Street,
Jury doubts are reasonable
Madam, – Called up for jury service recently, it struck me as excessive that Scotland needs 15 jurors to decide what 12 are quite capable of doing in Australia, Canada, the USA and other parts of the UK.
Substantially more than the 15 people need to be called up to form the panel from which the jurors are selected.
On one day, I was one of 75 potential jurors who attended the sheriff court, sat around and were then sent home with instructions to phone the following evening.
I understand that 75 people is a sufficient panel from which to create three juries.
If the jury was smaller, fewer people would need to be inconvenienced to form the panel.
A Scottish jury can reach a guilty verdict on the say so of just eight jurors with as many as seven jurors disagreeing.
A dispassionate observer might well think that seven out of 15 disagreeing was in one sense ‘reasonable doubt.’
Gordon Jackson, QC, dean of the Faculty of Advocates, has called for weighted majority verdicts in Scotland
England is ahead of us in this respect with a Crown Court judge being able to accept a majority verdict provided 10 members of the jury are in agreement.
We in Scotland should study how other jurisdictions both in the UK and abroad deal with legal matters and, where their arrangements are better, reform our laws.
Juries would be a good place to start.
6 Inveralmond Grove,
SNP stance is a tale of two deals
Madam, – First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is keen to claim the moral high ground on opposing a no-deal Brexit.
Yet back in 2014 the independence case was clear. Scotland was to leave the UK, even though it would effectively mean leaving the EU with no deal.
Rejoining the EU on its terms would have to wait.
In 2019, things have changed but the end result could be the same.
The UK leaving the EU with no deal is now considered by the SNP to be the worst thing possible, and is now to be used to help justify leaving the UK.
After which Scotland must start the long tortuous process of trying to rejoin the EU on the EU’s terms.
If Brexit is somehow overturned completely, and after years of trying to leave the EU, the UK ends up staying in, then the new SNP position will be that it’s critical we leave the UK, even though that will have the same effect of leaving the EU with no deal.
We would then start the process of restructuring Scotland’s public finances to meet the EU joining criteria and try to rejoin the EU on its terms.
So it seems for the SNP leaving the EU with no deal is terrible if it results from UK Government actions, but is fine if it is a consequence of the SNP taking us out of the UK.
Planning to fail in Tayport
Madam, – On the busiest weekend of the year, when there is a major national event taking place in the Kiltwalk and a large well attended car boot sale scheduled, the local council close the main road into Tayport for the whole weekend for roadworks .
Need I say more!
The council “planners” at their best.