ALISTER Jack, David Mundell and Jackson Carlaw would have us believe that irrespective of the prevailing status of Covid-19 in different parts of the UK, each part, even different countries such as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, should come out of lockdown “together”. To any objective observer this regrettably is putting political ideology above regard for human life by a select group of persons whose comfortable surroundings allow them to live physically, as well as mentally, remote from the rest of us.
While the UK Government still engages in every artifice of which it can think to hide the true extent of deaths in the UK by no longer including separate ONS data in their country comparison chart while introducing an even more opaque logarithmic representation of the current situation, it is clear that this UK Government’s handling of this crisis has been a disaster. We do not need another year or two to assess this government’s performance to-date as the only countries that even come close to sustaining the number of deaths per head of population as the UK had less time to prepare than the UK andor are including suspected deaths, such as the majority of those in care homes, in their figures. In fact by comparison with the UK, most independent countries of comparable size to Scotland have suffered death rates less than 10% of that of the UK, which already equates to thousands of lives saved.
Is this really the price Conservative and Unionist politicians wish Scottish citizens to pay for a supposed “Union Dividend” of having some of our taxes returned to us and sharing a debt that will be many times what had been accrued in 2010 when George Osborne considered the UK to be “on the brink of bankruptcy”?
Longniddry, East Lothian
WATCHING the news it’s clear some people are concerned that installing the coronavirus contact tracking app could compromise their security and/or social liberties.
If you have a mobile phone it can already be located whenever it’s turned on. In an urban area the tracking will be sufficiently accurate to tell the authorities where your phone is within a few metres and who owns the other phones close to yours, whether you install the coronavirus contact tracking app or not.
Let me explain why I feel the app will not endanger my civil liberties any more than my mobile phone does already.
When you buy a phone you’ll find it has an IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number – it’s hard wired into the equipment and it can’t be changed. Think of it as your phone’s unique fingerprint.
The first time you put a SIM card in your new phone it’ll be associated with the equipment’s IMEI number. If the authorities want to check where you are they can check the location of the SIM and/or IMEI number. Move your SIM to another phone and they’ll immediately know your SIM is associated with another IMEI number. Put a different SIM in your existing phone and the authorities will know that your phone’s IMEI is now associated with the new SIM. You can’t hide if your phone is with you and turned on.
Another myth is that GSM phones are encrypted so can’t be listened into. When you initiate a mobile phone call your signal goes out unencrypted to the phone mast you are connecting to. The phone mast initiates encryption after which your call is encrypted. So what if the mast your phone is connecting to isn’t a genuine cellphone mast? There is such a “fake mast” called an IMSI (International Mobile Subscriber Identity) Catcher available to the police and other security services that acts as a fake tower to allow them to eavesdrop on a suspect’s phone calls. In theory they are not available to the general public, but go online and search for “imsi catcher for sale” and you’ll find anyone could buy one. OK, it’s illegal to use an IMSI Catcher, but for cyber criminals, other criminals, terrorists or those members of the mainstream media who put themselves above the law, having an illegal IMSI Catcher doesn’t worry them.
Putting it simply, if you value your privacy so much that you don’t like the thought of being covertly trackable, you really shouldn’t have a mobile phone so put it in a lead-lined box or a bucket of water! Installing the coronavirus contact tracking app won’t degrade your civil liberties any more than merely having a mobile phone does already.
We’ve enough to worry about right now without refusing to install the coronavirus contact tracking app due to concerns it’ll make you and your phone easier to track. Even if it were used for that (which I think is extremely unlikely) it would just be another tool in an already crowded inventory of surveillance tools.
I’ll be installing the app as soon as it becomes available in the hope it’ll speed our exit from this lockdown by removing the need to stay home to protect the NHS and save lives. Too many people have died already – let’s defeat this common threat in whatever way we can.
I AM puzzled by the current apparent puzzlement over the excessive numbers of dark and black skinned people affected and dying of coronavirus. Are we so focused, almost with tunnel vision, on testing, treatments and vaccine searching that we have lost sight of medical research which only about four weeks ago was making headlines?
Four weeks ago, headlines directed us to stories of large-scale research which had found that vitamin D played some part in boosting the immune system so that resistance to viral as well as bacterial respiratory diseases was increased. Some medical experts and doctors were advising governments to publish advice on supplementing this vitamin and, in some cases, even suggesting that they should consider delivering an initial dosage to every household.
Also within the results of this research was the fact that people of colour, because of the colour of their skin, were naturally low in vitamin D and therefore more susceptible to respiratory conditions and less able to fight them off. It was therefore suggested that they in particular should be advised to take supplements of vitamin D to give them a better chance of combatting this virus. So why the surprise that such people are suffering disproportionately?
I know we are very bad at joined-up thinking in the UK, but are we so bad that we are unable to link published research, even over the immediate few days and weeks following it, with events and data that support it?
THERE is much wailing and gnashing of teeth over the word “national” in the SNP brand.
There is a simple rule of thumb. “Nationalism” in an already independent country can be dangerous (Hungary); nationalism in one that is not, isn’t (Catalonia, Scotland, Wales).
WJ Graham (Letters, May 5) cites three “nationalist” countries from European history: Nazi Germany, Mussolini’s Italy and Franco’s Spain.
He rightly points out they have nothing in common with Scotland’s journey but it does highlight the way words can be twisted.
It could be contended that all of those countries were not “nationalist” but “unionist”.
Extending your territory with some (or all) of other nations for the glory of a greater and “mythical” narrative was the hallmark of those regimes, just as it is with London.
Whether it is Anschluss or Italian empire building in the 30s or Franco’s suppression of Basque and Catalan language and culture, we have seen similar in the UK.
It is chauvinism masquerading as the benevolent hand of the central authority, all for the greater good of those outlying and primitive regions.
Of course this could be nonsense and an extreme view. But who controls the narrative decides.
If we continue to fret over our own name, just because Unionists/loyalists/British nationalists have a problem then we are caught in a spider’s web that suits our enemies only too well.
I’M getting a bit fed up with people criticising the use of the word “nationalist”. I’ve always been a Scottish nationalist and always will be. The critics haven’t thought this through. Firstly, the SNP support self-determination for our nation and don’t consider our country as in any way better than other countries in a fascist way.
Everybody in the world should be both a nationalist and an internationalist. The former is a prerequisite of the latter. Free nations working together is what internationalism actually is. The opposite is empire, and frankly the world has had enough of these dangerous empires.
IN Douglas Chapman’s piece in last week’s Sunday National (Public shouldn’t have to push UK Government into doing the right thing – but let’s hope it continues), he makes a number of claims that are incorrect.
Mr Chapman fails to paint an accurate picture of the tax affairs of the Virgin companies, all of which pay taxes in the countries in which they operate.
For example, Virgin Atlantic, the company Mr Chapman refers to in his piece, is a UK registered business which pays tax in the UK. It employs 10,000 people, pays wages of around £450 million and contributes around £350m to HMRC each year.
The fact that one of its shareholders lives outside the UK has no bearing whatsoever on its contribution to the UK economy through tax or otherwise.
Virgin’s creator Richard Branson bought Necker Island in 1979 and has chosen to live in the British Virgin Islands after working hard in the UK for more than 50 years.
He spends the majority of his time starting not-for-profit ventures and raising millions for charity every year through speeches and other charitable engagements.
He gives 100% of any monies he earns from these activities to charity. As Branson explained in his open letter to employees, he and the Virgin Group have also committed $250m to support the Virgin companies and protect as many jobs as possible.
A THIRD of Scotland’s universities and colleges could run out of cash by Christmas without a government bailout.
This is the result of losing 25,000 foreign students because of Covid-19. Labour MSP Daniel Johnson wants the Scottish government to fund the £500 million black hole, saying that “this reliance on overseas income has been created by the Scottish government”.
Recently revealed was the huge salaries of the principals of universities. The highest paid is Peter Mathieson, principal of the University of Edinburgh, who earned £342,000.
Last year only 15 of the 42 highest paid principals accepted salary cuts. Mathieson has taken a 20% salary cut for six months. Some would say “too little, too late”, but it is an example that other university principles and MSPs should follow.