With Christmas and the New Year approaching, it is worth pausing to reflect on the important changes being imposed on our society in the name of fighting Covid-19. Frequent, sometimes even daily, announcements by politicians in both Westminster and Holyrood have left us no clarity as to the visions they have of a return to ‘normal’ life. The promise to abolish all restrictions always seems delusional.
Those lucky enough to venture abroad now find their return to the UK conditioned on a passenger locator form, which cannot be obtained without a computer or smartphone. A few days after the end of COP26, an event in which vaccination requirements for tens of thousands of Glasgow visitors were waived, a temporary extension of the vaccine passport system for people living in Scotland was announced (“vaccine passports rolled out more widely than expected”, Herald november 16). There is no doubt that citizens will be encouraged to use a smartphone app to provide proof of vaccination, further expanding the digitization of daily life and the creepy normalization of the state surveillance system enabled by Big Tech.
Vaccination appears to mitigate the impact of Covid-19, but neither prevents infection nor transmission. Thus, an infected person who has been vaccinated and who produces a passport is likely to be able to enter restricted places, while an uninfected person, who has chosen not to be vaccinated for any reason (there are many valid reasons). I have been vaccinated, but I believe that citizens of a free society should not be marginalized if they choose not to.
We are witnessing an increasing encroachment by the state on our private lives, with few signs that this encroachment will end any time soon. Public discourse about key aspects of our way of life has virtually been stifled in the name of “staying safe”. We must ask ourselves to what extent we are willing to compromise our personal liberties as Covid-19 moves from pandemic to endemic. We will likely have to live with the virus (and its variants) for decades to come, as fundamental and challenging issues as the mental health impact of what have been introduced as temporary measures, and the relative impact that these measures have on those (significantly younger) most affected by the changes they make vs. Those most at risk of the virus, need a full and frank discussion.
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Nick Rowan, Edinburgh.
* During the EU referendum campaign, it was common for supporters of the rest to claim that various EU institutions act as a guard against national governmental tyranny. But this did not happen because many European administrations severely restricted the rights of their citizens. When the powers on the continent turn against its people again, we must strengthen our defense of freedom.
Tom Walker, Lowhead.
US passport scheme fails
After reading in The Herald that a decision on Covid passports will be made on Tuesday (“Hospitality Trade Claims Passport Vaccine ‘Destructive Business’,” The Herald, November 19), my wife and I decided to apply, just in case. The invitation letters and special appointments went well. Our first lunges and boosters went smoothly. We were impressed with these arrangements. We both chose to go online to apply.
I went through the process, and provided my NHS (CHI) number, date of birth, and zip code. You have received a security code via email – the system will not recognize it. I got a different code on my mobile phone. It will not recognize the system. I was asked to send proof of identity, and a copy of my driver’s license. At this point I gave up. My wife went through all of that, was not recognized, and sent a picture of her driver’s license which was rejected as “inappropriate identification” even though it is perfectly clear in the email. At this point she too gave up.
I have lived in Glasgow for 75 years, my wife for 55 years. We have always been registered with Glasgow West GPs. We haven’t moved in 12 years or changed our names. If this government thinks it can enforce legislation with this unfortunate standard of service, it is surely mistaken.
A year ago I printed my letter on government legislation regarding the mandatory installation of fire/smoke alarms in all Scottish homes. No information of any kind was made public and homeowners and landlords had exactly three months to install the equipment. The compliance deadline was suddenly brought forward by 12 months – until February 2022.
There is something seriously wrong with all of this. As a proponent of the SNP in general, I am very concerned.
Read more messages: Scotland needs independence to tackle climate change and protect its economy
Simon Patterson, Glasgow.
Treat yourself to wearing masks
With a global study suggesting that wearing face masks is more effective than social distancing and hand washing in the fight against the coronavirus, it is alarming that Deputy Prime Minister John Sweeney has highlighted research showing a “low level of compliance” in following up on current mask-wearing rules. Just visiting supermarkets and even local stores can confirm this.
Instead of hesitating, Mr. Sweeney should certainly consider fining shopkeepers for serving unmasked individuals who on the basis of global research increase the chances of transmitting Covid to others, or is this just using a hammer to crack a nut? In any case, more lives will be at risk unless the Scottish government takes a more proactive approach.
Bob McDougall, Kippen.
Indy will make the world safer
We welcome some focus on the other great threat to human civilization – even if Neil Mackay’s conclusions are completely wrong (“How does the SNP’s vision of independence fit in a world where the threat of war increases by the day?”, The Herald, 18 November).
Climate change and nuclear weapons are the twin threats to life as we know them. The Non-Proliferation Treaty, ratified by seven of the nine nuclear powers, was treated with contempt by those nations. By signing it, she was supposed to pursue a program that would lead to the elimination of nuclear weapons. They did the opposite.
Don’t just blame Russia and China – all of them have taken part in an ever-escalating arms race. The United States has been technologically advanced in several stages, and then others feel threatened and are quick to catch up. Chinese tests earlier this year suggest it has made a technological leap, possibly outside the United States, so the leap continues. We need to highlight the military-industrial complexes that are driving much of the arms race. There are great legal powers and vested military interests for whom disarmament is completely against their interests.
The UK has been totally dependent on the US for its supposed “independent order” for 60 years. It rents the US missile system and pretends to be responsible. Scotland has about 200 nuclear bombs near our major population centers and that number will rise to 240. We are clearly a very prime target.
One of the great contributions an independent Scotland can make to the world is to eliminate all nuclear weapons and begin to reverse this hideous nuclear spiral. We will do this with great international support. The new United Nations Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons includes specific provisions for states that possess weapons of another state on their soil. Fifty-six countries have already ratified this treaty and another 30 have signed it. The first meeting of the States Parties to this Treaty takes place in the spring. Our neighbor Ireland will be there. Is Scotland on the table?
Isobel Lindsay, Biggar.
Defense does not hold back in front of the SNP
NEIL Mackay, who often presents himself as a supporter of Scottish independence, bases his analysis of future defense issues on the mistaken assumption, often promoted by unionist politicians, that an independent Scotland will inevitably be governed by today’s SNP policies. Surely the defense policy and alliances of an independent Scotland would be a matter of which government the people of Scotland chose to elect at that time?
How can citizens of other small European countries such as Ireland, Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Portugal and the like sleep peacefully without the comfort of nuclear weapons under their pillows? The loss of the alliance in peacetime within the EU will not be compensated for by the maintenance of the military alliance within NATO. With the UK and France, both members of NATO, currently grappling in the wake of the Brexit madness, what comfort is there in the obligation of each NATO member to help any other member state in the event of hostilities?
Willie MacLean, Millingavi.
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