AT the heart of the debate on the acceptable levels of sickness in any society is the dichotomy between “the precautionary approach” that is typically the EU stance, where no minimum safe level has been, or can be, determined – and the “not proven approach” that is the USA stance, where it’s considered safe until an maximum unsafe level can be proven.

Put simply, the difference is (precautionary) “don’t start until it’s proven to be safe” vs (libertarian) “don’t stop until its proven to be unsafe.”

Examples of where both the precautionary and libertarian approaches have failed – leaving the dead and maimed in their wake and the environment degraded – litter history, especially in respect of medication and agrochemicals.

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In respect of Covid-19, the UK Government and its supine media has not only chosen the libertarian path, but also repeatedly massaged down the results data, avoided fully funding precautions and local test/tracing, and effectively encouraged the spread of the virus, whilst professing the opposite. “Herd immunity” calls are made repeatedly but not attributed to the UK Government, to double down on the current UK Government aim to limit the critically ill to the number of available NHS ICU beds.

The only precautionary approach being seen to be adopted by the UK Government is from its MPs, who take the precaution of not attending relevant debates in Westminster in case their minds be swayed against the government three-line whip, and so they only bother to attend the final vote.

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Whether it’s food or Covid-19, the Scottish Government has appeared to err on the side of the precautionary approach where it felt able. However, an alternative might well be to have this Scottish Government approach as an underpinning approach, with regional originated approaches adding greater precaution as required.

Precautionary travel restrictions incoming/outgoing are on their way, but whether they are limited to national borders, and/or regional boundaries, and/or local authority boundaries, or an agreed mix, looks to be an issue that needs to be under wider and open discussion.

Scotland needs to properly and democratically determine the acceptable level of sickness within societies across Scotland, and the means to achieve this. One thing is clear though: the EU precautionary approach will be required, at it will need to be applied by Scotland as an independent EU nation state, and with the support of its citizens both nationally and regionally.

Stephen Tingle
Greater Glasgow

I TOTALLY agree with the calls for solidarity and unity of purpose in the campaign to gain independence for Scotland, in the letters in last week’s Sunday National from Colin Sellar and Helen McGowan.

I’ve written in these columns about the frustration of subjugating personal opinions for the greater good, but this doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be freedom to express differences of opinion with regards to policy. In my case, I don’t think we should retain the monarchy or membership of Nato. I would also like to see a speedier transition to our own currency and the establishment of a central bank.

READ MORE: This is a time for pulling together, not division and recrimination

However, these things can all be negotiated in due course with independence. What I can’t understand is the repeated nonsense that the leadership of the SNP do not really want independence. As for the suggestion from G McKenzie in the same edition that at this crucial juncture, when the signs for independence have never been more favourable, we need to change the entire leadership and NEC – that simply beggars belief.

So I hope the many calls for restraint are heeded, but I have my doubts that a small cadre of naysayers will be deterred. For a few, their egos and narcissistic delight at the sound of their voices in print will always supersede the need to put the primary objective first. For an even smaller number, I’m sorry to say that I have grave doubts above their true motivation.

Douglas Turner

PROGRESS Scotland and the Scottish Independence Convention think tanks should be put to bed before they put up more problems for voters in the referendum. They have had six years to come up with something, but have not.

On a Yes vote for independence, Scotland becomes an independent country, the British Government ceases to exist.

All powers now belong to the sovereign people of Scotland. They then give the powers to the Scottish Government to act on their behalf.

All taxes would be payable to a Scottish Treasury. The Scottish Government would eventually set their own taxes and rates. Then collect the tax and spend it for the benefit of the Scottish people.

The Scottish currency would be the Scottish pound and issued by the Treasury. There could be an agreement with the Scottish registered banks who already issue notes.

The existing border would be an international border, the same as all international borders.

Scotland would NOT be spending money on: 1) nuclear fission or bombs, 2) fighting foreign wars, 3) unsuitable aircraft carriers, 4) all infrastructure deemed of no benefit to Scotland, eg HS2 rail; Crossrail; London sewage works; maintenance work, repairs and rebuilding of the Westminster buildings costing us tens of millions, 5) MI5 and MI6 and all their buildings, 6) all royal family palaces and houses and estates.

Trade with England will still take place, but with agreement, not dictatorship. Oil, gas, water, agriculture and fisheries will be Scottish assets NOT British assets. Scotland will NOT have any transition agreements before independence – any agreements will be for after.

William Purves

KATHRYN Sampson, STV’s political reporter at Westminster, did it again. This time Sir Keir Starmer, leader of English Labour, was the English MP she interviewed.

Let us cut the “UK leader” nonsense once and for all. She exposed a man who was unsure, and looked startled when being questioned intently. As with her interview with Boris Johnson a few weeks ago, she took no prisoners, but it was easy with Sir Keir.

Challenged on remarks he made about indyref2 being a matter for Scots, he tried to backtrack. He started with the rubbish about how that is not what Scotland needs and he conceded it should just be more powers!

These he did not specify, as he had not a clue about Scotland – English MPs never do!

The joke came when he contended that Richard Leonard could be the next FM in Scotland.

He did acknowledge that, according to the reporter, he was more popular in Scotland than Richard Leonard. His now fabled forensic skill was not to be seen and after that performance, his reputation up here is now about to nosedive!

I wonder how the other unknown knight of the realm, the leader of the English LibDems, will fare when she comes to interview him?

John Edgar

WHILE channel-hopping to avoid TV news coverage of President Trump’s re-election campaign, I stumbled into the middle of a documentary.

A middle-aged black man was driving a young white journalist along a fairly rough road in an elderly car. They were passing row after row of abandoned, boarded-up, derelict homes with overgrown gardens.

They discussed the problems of acute poverty and deprivation in the area. I made the big mistake of thinking it was somewhere in the third world (I don’t actually like that term), maybe in South America or more likely Africa.

I was about two long minutes into the programme before I realised it was Detroit, USA.

A quick Google will tell you that Detroit has at least 70,000 abandoned buildings, 31,000 empty houses, and 90,000 vacant lots.

They got out of the car and met a group of local people who had formed what could best be described as a community farm. They were using abandoned gardens and open spaces to grow the basic food they could not afford to buy. They even had a small herd of goats.

Apart from their clothing, you could have been looking at America in 1820, not 2020. Trump has not made America great again.

Brian Lawson

I AM sorry to have to disagree with Martin Hannan’s defence of MP Margaret Ferrier giving her Covid “brain fog” as a reason for her taking public transport from London to Glasgow after being confirmed positive for Covid-19 (Brain fog: the virus symptom that can last months, October 13).

Brain fog is indeed a recognised affliction. As a long-term sufferer of ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I can tell you that it existed more than 20 years ago when I was first diagnosed.

READ MORE: Covid brain fog: The symptom that may explain Margaret Ferrier's actions

Even today, brain fog for me is the inability to make decisions if a task requires a sequence of stages, such as gardening, decorating, housework etc, where a logical sequence is required. During a brain fog the ability to sequence these job is totally impossible. So much so that you eventually give up and nothing gets done.

Ms Ferrier would have had to have been sat down and told to book ticket, pack bag, order taxi etc as the brain fog would have lost her the order in which these thing were to happen.

I see the invention of “long Covid” as another way to avoid explaining why long-term ME/CFS patients were disqualified from benefits from 2014, trying to invent a brand new disease.

I am sorry, but if Ms Ferrier wants to continue to claim MP benefits, she will need to find a different loophole.

Jim Mc Gregor

I GET worried by Nicola Sturgeon’s continued use of referencing the “UK” as a term, rather than describing our dis-united islands group as “the four nations”.

I for one do not wish Scotland to be associated with an archaic monarchic system, and as can be clear from the recent Ipsos Mori poll, the number of folk in Scotland who still have not understood the benefit of Scottish independence and who still associate with the misnomer of “UK” has fortunately decreased significantly.

With this in mind, could we all urge Nicola to not refer to the UK Government, but to call that bunch in London the Westminster government?

This would make my listening to the FM’s briefings regarding the stressful pandemic just one little bit less stressful.

Keith MacLeod
Pensioners for Independence