Scotland behind UK in 40-49 year old Covid jabs amid ‘missing appointment letters’ – The Sun

SCOTLAND has jabbed fewer 40 to 49 year olds than anywhere else in Britain — amid fears over missing appointment letters.

Just 67.1 per cent here have had their first Covid shot compared to 72.9 per cent in England and 78.9 per cent in Wales, latest stats show

But concerns have been raised that some crucial vaccine invitations haven’t arrived.

One 44-year-old man in Glasgow who didn’t get a jag time slot said: “I started to get worried so I phoned and got told my appointment was the following day.

“I was told there have been problems getting the letters out and lots of people haven’t been getting to appointments. Hopefully it’s sorted soon.”

Another man in his 40s claimed the helpline told him his address was wrong in NHS systems following an apparent data entry error. His appointment was in seven days’ time.

New Public Health Scotland data on jab rates can be revealed a month after Scotland hit the milestone of vaccinating all over-50s and the clinically vulnerable.

And it’s emerged Glasgow — in the grip of a case surge — has one of the lowest inoculation rates in the country, with 56.1 per cent of adults jabbed at least once compared to the Scottish rate of 67.9 per cent.

The southside outbreak, thought to be linked to the Indian variant and centred in the G41 and G42 postcodes, led Nicola Sturgeon to keep the city, along with Moray, in Level 3 lockdown as most of mainland Scotland drops to tier two today.

A testing blitz and accelerated jag programme for youngsters aims to control the spread.

But Professor Adam Finn, of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, warned that prioritising jabs in “hotspots” may “do more harm than good”.

He told Sky’s Sophy Ridge that moving vaccine areas and shifting between priority groups could disrupt the “protection of the population”, adding: “You end up chasing the virus and always arriving too late.”

Where Is the Economic Case for Scottish Independence? – Bloomberg

Getting a touch ahead of events, the New York Times noted last week that the recent electoral victories of the Scottish National Party could lead to “the biggest blow to a British prime minister since Lord North lost the colonies in America.”

The markets took a different view. In Monday morning’s trading, after the election results were clear, sterling rose against the dollar and the euro — a vote of confidence in a U.K. economy that is bouncing back quickly thanks to a successful vaccine rollout.

I recommend trusting the markets, not the newspaper pundits, on this one. The threat of an independent Scotland hasn’t gone away, but the U.K. government still has many cards to play to preserve the most durable union in democratic history.

Support for a referendum on independence actually fell during Scotland’s mid-terms election campaign. The most recent polls have shown 47% against and 44% in favor, while crucial undecided voters remains at 9%. Only a quarter of Scots would like a referendum this year or next, and 45% want one in the lifetime of the new Scottish parliament.

Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP leader, changed her tune accordingly during the campaign. She told voters that a vote for the SNP was “not voting for independence.” In 2014 the nationalists lost the referendum by a 10-point margin. This time around, rather than making an overt pitch for “Indyref2,” she emphasized separateness from England on key policies.

Once she secured an impressive fourth term in office for her party, just shy of an outright majority, she immediately went back to demanding a referendum. If she hadn’t, she would have faced the fury of party fundamentalists, which shows the delicacy of her position. That the combined vote share of the unionist parties barely tipped 50% doesn’t bode well for her.

Most likely, her aim now will be to goad U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson into behaving like an autocratic George III or Lord North, denying the Scottish people their democratic rights (the Union with England in 1707 was voluntary).

Sturgeon will plug away at issues that put Edinburgh at odds with London, and when the time is right, she’ll put a referendum bill before the Scottish parliament at Holyrood and dare Johnson to veto it. If he blocks her, she can take her case to the U.K. Supreme Court.

Supporters of the 300-year-old union are divided about how best to respond to this prospect of legal warfare. One faction believes that Johnson shouldn’t refuse Sturgeon’s referendum demand outright. Playing for time, the prime minister should make a positive case for the U.K. and give support to distressed areas of Scotland — in other words, remind poorer voters of the risk of departure. The U.K. government could also try harder to claim credit for its vaccine success, which many Scots attribute to Sturgeon even though procurement was organized by London.

Labour leader Keir Starmer has an overwhelming interest in keeping left-leaning Scotland within the U.K. too. His lawyerly seriousness may prove more appealing to the Scots than Johnson’s buffoonery.

Opponents of this “make nice” strategy believe that throwing money at Scotland and handing over more devolved powers to Holyrood (the so-called “devo-max” proposal) will only feed the appetite for independence. After all, 25 years ago Labour promised that “devolution will kill nationalism stone dead.” Instead, the SNP replaced Labour as the party north of the border. The European Union badging its grants to U.K. projects didn’t prevent Brexit.

A third course is advocated by those who won the referendum battle in 2014: The SNP should be forced to show its hand on what a negotiated divorce settlement with London would look like as the price of a referendum. Lord North’s opponent, George Washington, famously “couldn’t tell a lie.” Sturgeon should be made to tell the truth. The SNP have had many years in which to lay out their blueprint for an independent country. They’ve evaded the hard questions about how one would be run and at what cost.

What, for instance, would an independent Scotland’s currency be? This question is one SNP supporters have found most difficult to settle. Would Edinburgh shadow sterling, launch its own currency or join the euro?

If it shadowed sterling, it would cede control over monetary policy to London without enjoying the benefits of quantitative easing — and decisions over its finances would still be taken in England. If the new nation-state created its own currency, it would be placed at the mercy of international markets for its hefty borrowing requirements. If Scotland eventually joined the euro, the SNP would have to reduce the deficit to the 3% ceiling required under the terms of membership.

Voters would be entitled to ask how the SNP would reduce that deficit, which, according to the politically neutral Institute for Fiscal Studies, has ballooned during Covid from an already heady 9% of GDP to nearing a vertiginous 24%. Although more prosperous than many English regions, Scotland also gains from higher public spending from the central exchequer (£1,630 more per capita). The loss of London’s subsidy would be painful — and hard to make up without a growth spurt.

Preservation of the Union ‘at the forefront of policymaking in Whitehall’ – Aberdeen Evening News

Isle of Lewis breaks down – what next? – Stornoway Gazette

This latest development threatens to plunge the entire CalMac network into even deeper crisis. The Isle of Lewis was switched from the Oban-Lochboisdale route following the breakdown in mid-April of the mv Loch Seaforth.

Engineers are working on the Isle of Lewis with no immediate indication of how long she will be out of action. Nobody from CalMac was available for comment. The company’s web-site merely said: “Cancelled for the remainder of today”.

CalMac have repeatedly under-stated the time required to bring the Loch Seaaforth back into action and there are now fears that her absence could extend into June. On Friday, the “earliest” date for her return was pushed back to May 28th.

The knock-on effects of the serial failures on the Stornoway-Ullapool route already extends down to Islay and Arran, as vessels were redeployed to cover the freight run. However, the basic problem is that there are too few ferries and an ageing fleet.

It was recently estimated that it would now take 87 years to renew the CalMac fleet – more than double the figure a decade ago. It is now expected that the two unfinished vessels at the Ferguson Marine yard in Port Glasgow will cost a third of a billion pounds to complete, with no date in prospect.

Repeated calls for a relief vessel to be chartered to support the stricken fleet have been rejected by CalMac and Scottish Government Ministers. If, however, the latest blow proves to be anything other than short-lived, outrage on the island is likely to intensify.

Local businesses are already being hard hit by delays in freight moving on and off the island.

Isles MSP Alasdair Allan, said that he recognised ferries was an issue. “As is obvious to everyone in the islands, the ferry service at the moment is simply unacceptable,” he said, in the aftermath of being elected “It is notable that this latest technical problem is occurring in one of the fleet’s newest vessels. This simply serves to illustrate why we need additional resilience across the ferries network.”