OF all the aspects of a failing society that the current Covid pandemic has highlighted, the abject failure of Scotland’s elderly care system has been captured in the glare of a prison spotlight.

Two thousand deaths in Scottish care homes show up a system that is woefully unfit for purpose. 60% of these facilities are privately owned; business that put lining the pockets of shareholders above the comfort and welfare of their elderly residents.

The Scottish Socialist Party is therefore calling for a National Care Service, a service run along the same lines that the National Health Service was founded on. It must be publicly run, publicly funded and free at the point of need. Tokenistic bureaucratic tweaking of the current system will not answer.

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Before the NHS was established, those who didn’t have the money to pay for their healthcare were forced to rely on charity for often second-class care. The founders of the UK’s most cherished institution would be outraged to see that 72 years on, so many of our elderly are receiving similar treatment from a model that puts profit before people.

It is a disgrace that 2000 people died a lonely and miserable death without their loved ones around them to bring this situation to public scrutiny.

Like the NHS in 1948, an NCS paid for from general taxation, free at the point of need and equal for all, is an idea whose time has come. The Scottish Government must act now to put an end to the scandal of profit-motivated elderly care.

Michael Davidson
Scottish Socialist Party

MICHAEL Fry usually manages to brighten my Tuesdays, but this week’s column was a disappointment. The bold headline promised trenchant criticism of the Scottish Government (After peak virus, will the SNP want to give up control of the economy?, July 21) but the article meandered, eventually made a weak claim about how the Scottish Government might evolve after the pandemic, and then sputtered to a close.

At the moment, it seems that almost every day you are reporting on some proposal to found a new pro-independence party. Yet almost always, in terms of economic policy, these aim to outflank the SNP on its left.

Why is there so little discussion of the possibility of creating a party which supports independence but also a small state, a spirit of enterprise, and the promise of greater well-being through higher economic growth? It is, after all, a combination for which Mr Fry advocates vociferously. Is he simply a voice crying in the wilderness?

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Realistically, in an independent Scotland there would be an orthodox conservative party which would adopt such a platform.

For the moment, is it the case that the Scottish Government’s habit of pulling in rather conservative bankers as advisers ensures the credibility of its economic programme among the business community? Or does the absence of such a party indicate the extent to which those business interests have concluded that the continuation of the United Kingdom serves them best?

Or is it simply the case that the possible progenitors of such a party are essentially pragmatic, and have concluded that independence is a necessary condition for the successful pursuit of their economic policy objectives?

However, given the extent to which the Scottish Conservatives have set their face against independence, and the social democratic tendencies of the SNP, this seems to be a good time to venture the formation of such a party.

With his years of experience in politics, I’d like to see Mr Fry turning to answer some of these questions, rather than continuing to recycle ideas that are already so well used as to be hackneyed.

Robbie Mochrie
via email

AN interesting letter from Alan Hind (Letters, July 22) concerning the recognition of what are now international conventions concerning the recognition of a state or country by another state or country.

His conclusion made me smile at the notion that Mr de Pfeffel Johnson is trying to convince the world that Scotland doesn’t exist, at the very least, outwith the UK borders. What an absurd notion. But then, it just about sums up Johnson’s intellect. Everyone knows Scotland is a country. Perhaps even more so than England. For example, Scotland’s worldwide products indicate that they are “made in Scotland” whereas goods made in England are indicated “made in the United Kingdom".

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Then there is the fact that you cannot miss Scottish goods covered in tartan decoration. People from all over the world visit Scotland. The annual Tattoo held in Edinburgh Castle is definitely a Scottish event. And Scotland as a country is celebrated when the royal family arrive for their annual visit to the Highland games at Braemar, with Charlie never failing to wear his Highland outfit.

Scotland has been a country (and ruled by kings and queens) for many centuries before England was ever recognised, something Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is obviously not aware of.

Alan Magnus-Bennett