THE Scottish Parliament’s drugs deaths taskforce’s chair and vice-chair resigned from the committee because of the political pressure from Angela Constance, the minister leading the efforts to cut drugs deaths – resigning because it was considered that they were not providing a solution fast enough.

How ridiculous it is that governments of all political persuasion have for 60 years failed miserably to find solutions to why people use drugs and die from them. How can they expect this expert committee to find quick solutions? Politicians have until very recently failed to understand that drug use and deaths are a health issue not a justice issue. For 60 years, they have backed sending in the police to find a solution, when it is clear across the world that catching and jailing people for drug use and trafficking is a total waste of public money. We know that Portugal has successfully diverted large amounts of police budgets to providing health care for addicts.

People use drugs because they are in pain. Pain from the poverty that politicians have failed to solve; pain from underlying mental health problems that have never been diagnosed or treated; pain from limiting the range of treatments they are offered. We need to understand and explore the underlying trauma and pain that people are suffering before starting their rehabilitation.

Politicians have ignored the fact that alcohol is a very powerful drug affecting more families than illicit drugs. They now accept that tobacco was our biggest killer drug. It has taken more than 20 years to find solutions to that that work. Politicians say they want to hear from anyone that can suggest new approaches, but in my 50 years involved in this field I have never managed to get a single proposal looked at seriously.

My last proposal was that throwing money at residential drug rehabilitation, as the Conservatives want to happen, is completely unaffordable and only works for a tiny, 5% or less, of patients. It costs £3000 to £4000 per week, for the recommended 12-week treatment costing £36,000 to £48,000. Twelve weeks in prison costs £8760 with no positive returns. I suggested we divert the prison costs to a positive outcome by creating a “Drugs Recovery Passport” with £8760 credit for any suitable treatment a patient needs, including the whole range of treatments provided by the most successful residential and non-residential drug rehabilitation clinics. The difference being not just that my proposal is affordable, but that non-residential treatment has been shown to be more successful. One third of drug addicts successfully recover in their own communities.

If the Conservatives get their way, we would be spending billions on residential rehabilitation, mainly provided by private clinics, which only works for a tiny number of our 65,000 addicts. There are only 418 residential rehabilitation beds in Scotland, and many do not treat illicit drug users, only alcoholics. Others only accept them once they have stopped using drugs!

I agree with Douglas Ross that addicts should get access to treatment as soon as they are ready for it. But let’s not line the pockets of profit-driven private health care providers to achieve that end.

Max Cruickshank

LIFE under the colonial boot of the Tories is characterised in Scotland by Dickensian levels of inequality and poverty. The Westminster Government brutalises the population through austerity. This leaves many unable to afford basic necessities all while the Tory donor class lives in resplendent opulence redolent of Ancient Rome.

The situation has been severely exacerbated by Covid-19. Since 2008, in response to the financial crisis, the Bank of England has created a tsunami of

no-risk free money to give to the oligarchs for profitable investment. By introducing quantitative easing, keeping interest rates at near zero and purchasing toxic assets, this has given rise to an orgy of speculation. This in turn has increased the obscene fortunes of the billionaire class to unprecedented levels.

This bubble has no basis in reality. No new products or factories are built. The price for this is paid by the bulk of the population in falling living standards, longer hours and decreased life expectancy. The Greek economist Yanis Varoufakis calls it technofeudalism.

He uses the example that even as the UK economy suffered its worst contraction since the time of the South Sea Bubble (more than 300 years ago), the oligarchs in the UK still saw their fortunes grow. He further elaborates that the tech giants have created “virtual” worlds where they own everything.

File photo dated 15/09/21 of Prime
Minister Boris Johnson who has tasked ministers with developing "robust contingency plans" for workplace absences as the Government acknowledged high Covid levels could hit

Technofeudalism’s new battle line will be to keep the UK together. Boris Johnson is a clown who has served his masters but will now be dumped. This will either be in favour of another neoliberal Tory (probably Rishi Sunak) or “Sir” Keir Starmer. He and his party hacks have been on a mission to convince big businesses that they can be trusted to implement further crushing austerity. It was Labour who originally bailed out the banks.

The Unionist Party hacks such as the rancid peer George Foulkes and other loathsome cretins will be wheeled out. This will be to make cataclysmic predictions about how Scotland uniquely in the world can’t be an independent state. The income streams of the Unionist donor class depend on the maintenance of the Union. So all sorts of absurd propaganda will be deployed to scare people away from independence.

These oligarchs are the ones who raise prices on gas and electricity and are salivating at the prospect of the NHS being sold off.

As things get progressively worse, the “solution” from the Tories/Labour will be an increase in police and security service repression. This will be to discourage the inevitable social upheaval their policies will cause.

In response to this, the politically disengaged have turned to conspiracy theories. These are false, unhinged and dangerous to public health. They are “promoted” by paid conmen working for the Tory donor class. The purpose is to undermine anti-Covid measures as these inhibit profits.

The independence referendum needs to take place in 2022 as the worst effects of Brexit have yet to be felt.

Alan Hinnrichs

REGARDING Adam Tomkins’s vicissitudes in his political travels, which Wee Ginger Dug refers to (Own goal as ex-Tory MSP makes case for Yes – The REAL Scottish Politics, December 29), I bought a book some years ago which he co-authored with Alasdair Gray.

Titled “How We Should Rule Ourselves”, it was published in 2005 and the preface states that the authors are both “men of the left but neither belongs to, nor endorses any political party”. It goes on: “... it argues for a republic. It argues for political freedom, democracy and responsible government.”

It is amazing that Adam Tomkins has remained in the Tory party for so long, given its performance in government which has been so contrary to these principles and became so much worse under the current Prime Minister.

The declaration in the conclusion, titled, “What Shall We All Do Now?”, is resounding: “So vote! Speak! Make sure that your representatives in parliament represent what you want.”

The Scots have done that overwhelmingly in repeated elections.

The final sentence states: “We are a sovereign people. So let’s act like one.”

Mr Tomkins should hang his head in shame.

Margaret Brogan
West Kilbride

ONCE more the strange tale of fractionalisation and division within the Yes movement has raised its pitiful voice, and I say pitiful for a very good reason, as I will now explain.

The last true benchmark that the Yes movement can take regarding representation has to be the May election. If from that we take the list vote only, then more than 98% of voters expressing a preference for indy parties voted for the Scottish National Party and the Scottish Green Party. Both manifestos endorsed independence and both parties are now in a pact working to deliver on those manifestos in Holyrood. From that, it is as clear as day that there is no division but instead only a percentage of unity the Unionists would sell their soul for, if they had one.

There have been no wasted mandates, only action as and when trigger points were reached, and quite obviously the pandemic has thrown a small spanner in the works. Because as well as depriving the movement of our biggest ace which is of course our ability to put hundreds of thousands of independence supporters on to the streets of our cities and thousands on to the streets of our towns, it has quite rightly caused the Scottish Government to focus on the nation’s health – and please, let’s not hear about what the rUK government under the Johnson administration has been up to! I think we can all agree that he and his cabinet of underachieving cretinous fools are hardly a benchmark that one should aim for.

We have in Holyrood a majority of MSPs supporting independence and as such the legislation will be brought forward to make sure that when – not if, but when – we have our referendum on Scottish independence, it will be a legal vote.

The pandemic has been a bad time for many, many people. That said, it has highlighted just how underprepared Westminster, Downing Street and Whitehall were for such an event. Right from the very start, all the way up to and including the time of writing this rant, the Johnson administration have only shown interest in placating big business and at no time have they been thinking of the citizens of our “four-nation union of equals”. Which is, of course, a stark contrast to the way that our own government has been approaching the pandemic, and this has been noted, this has been observed, and as a result, we have now got voters turning from the so-called “Better Together”, because it is quite obvious that we are not, and they are turning to the choice of independence.

Now if any Unionists are reading this post and are wondering how an independent Scotland could have survived the pandemic ... well, the answer certainly does not sit in your figures based on GERS, but instead look to Denmark and New Zealand for your answers. That said, you won’t, because that would then cause you to face the realisation that there is no broad shoulders of union – only sticky fingers of imperial greed.

So as we see in the New Year, we may well be ushering in the last one that has Scotland tethered to Westminster, or it may be the second-last one – either or, the end game is upon us.

So, wishing everyone a happy and prosperous New Year.

Our future is bright, Independence is right.

Cliff Purvis
Veterans for Scottish Independence 2.0

“PUBLICITY-MAD loony” – the term found in the UK National Archives used by No 10 officials to describe the current House of Commons Speaker back in 1997! In joining the Commons in 1997, Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP would have been among many colleagues doing said term credit ... little has changed!

Catriona C Clark