Keep politics out of BBC sport’s Winter Olympics coverage – Readers’ Letters


Performers create a flower display with LED lights during the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics

Once the ceremony got under way, the coverage was the BBC at its best.

However, it was preceded by an offensive, insensitive segment on Chinese human rights abuse.

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One must not minimize this topic but it has been covered extensively by the BBC News, Newsnight, Panorama, The Andrew Marr Show. Question Time etc.

Imagine if the Chinese State broadcaster’s commentator had said: “Here comes Team GB. Much of the squad is from Scotland; a constituent nation where many people wish to be independent. Britain has 21 per cent of its people living in poverty, one of the highest rates in the developed world, and inequality is increasing again.” It would have been inappropriate.

An opportunity to enhance relations with the most powerful nation on the planet was missed.

I just trust, unlike the South Korean Winter Olympics, we do not have Clare covering the curling in preference to the expert Hazel Irvine.

John V Lloyd, Inverkeithing, Fife

The Unionist trio of Stephenson, Lewis and Allison (Letters, 5 February) trot out the old trope that an independent Scotland can’t afford to pay the current miserly UK pensions, the lowest in the OECD.

Does anyone seriously believe the UK government would refuse to pay pensions to those who have paid into National Insurance for decades? But let’s assume they do the dastardly thing and refuse.

First, Scotland will not be liable for any of the £200 billion UK debt upon independence, which London has admitted.

Second, rUK will no longer have access to Scottish oil and gas – 96 per cent and 63 per cent respectively of all UK oil and gas production, and we won’t be dependent on Russia.

Third, Scotland produces more than 25Ghw of surplus electricity which England will sorely need.

Fourth, Scotland is a net exporter of high-quality food and drink that England will surely want.

Fifth, Scotland has 90 per cent of the UK’s fresh water – we never privatized Scottish Water so it’s cheaper and cleaner – that England will desperately need as the planet warms and droughts intensify.

Project Fear should be consigned to the dustbin. Scotland will be more than fine and London knows it.

Contrary to statements made by Donald Lewis (Letters, 5 February) it doesn’t seem to be cut and dried that all expats who continue to receive UK pensions have remained UK citizens. It seems that some have taken EU citizenship or settled status and some (where it is allowed) have dual citizenship.

So here’s a thought. If Scotland becomes independent and I opt to take dual Scottish and UK citizenship (a position which was available at the last referendum), what is to stop me claiming my UK state pension? And how would an independent Scotland be any different from say France or Spain?

Totalitarian Moscow and Beijing announced an unofficial pact on Friday as Moscow’s troops continued threatening Ukraine’s border.

On the same day, Leah Gunn Barrett (Letters, 4 February) yet again used statistics on what percentage of Britain’s natural resources are located in Scotland as a justification for separatism. Comrade Lenin (God rest him) had a term for describing those who helped achieve Russian foreign policy aims by destabilizing their own countries: that term was “useful idiots”.

Martin O’Gorman, Edinburgh

David Goodwillie played for Clyde over five years without any protest. Does that mean West Coasters are more forgiving, or the issues triggered by the move to Raith were to do with the higher league status. If the latter, why?

Where was FM and others over those five years? Furthermore, if he was still with Clyde and they secured promotion to the Championship, would that have triggered protests? As Tom Wood suggests in, when referring to David Martindale’s role of him at Livingston FC (Scotsman, 5 February), do “we only forgive those judged worthy by the mood and politics of the day”?

Whilst abhorring both sexual assault and trading in cocaine, I’m left wondering if the whole Goodwillie episode suffers from a certain degree of hypocrisy?

Richard Perry, Burntisland, Fife

Apart from their huge cost outlined by Clark Cross (Letters, 5 February), heat pumps have defects. Unless installed as a house is built, when the cost is lower, they are difficult to install. The installation process means significant work and disruption to the house, and garden if it is a ground-source heat pump.

Some heat pumps experience trouble in cold areas which can damage the system and mean that in winter full efficiency cannot be reached. Some of the fluids used for the heat transfer are of questionable sustainability and raise environmental concern.

Air-source heat pumps are less efficient than ground-source and may not achieve the required temperatures. They may need to operate longer and radiators may need to be changed to larger sizes. Also they would need servicing every two years. Heat pumps cannot provide hot water; electricity will be required.

Since heat-pumps and water heating use electricity, one wonders if there will be enough available, what with transport going electric. I wouldn’t want one.

Why is the UK going to all this trouble when the planet is not going to notice the UK’s trivial contribution? We will be cutting off our nose to spite our face. It would be better and simpler to hydrogenise the gas grid.

In a BBC interview at the weekend Ian Duncan Smith said: “I do think we need to sort out our oil and gas supplies especially since we sit on an isand of oil and gas.” Hear, hear.

If Boris Johnson wants to re-assert his premiership he should face up to the green zealots, promote offshore and onshore shale gas production and “take back control” of our energy supply, pricing and security.

Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

The recent reference to the dualling of the A9 (Letters, 3 February) raises questions again. It is a project that appears to be in favor with the SNP, in spite of their Green affiliations. Is this project – that is far from “green” – not questionable when there is a key railway waiting for improvement alongside most of the present A9? Yet to be tackled on this dualling project are no less than 70 miles with big environmental consequences.

By contrast, on the railway from Aviemore north, the so-called “deviation” over Slochd summit (opened in 1998) has structures constructed with a view to double track. Why not tackle this deficiency now?

On the current Portillo TV series, note was taken of the Norbord expansion outside Inverness that will see its HGVs increase in number from 340 to 378 per day, representing huge tonnages for on-road transit. Norbord is looking for a rail connection – road users must hope that the company has success. Add other freight – timber haulage, bulk movements of grain for distilling, the removal of whiskeys by road tankers south for warehousing or other processes – and the need for an improved Highland Main Line is clear.

At present, the line is a disgrace with long single track sections suffering from accumulations of delays; that criticism could also be levied at portions of the HML continuations north of Inverness.

Such hold-ups not only cause annoyance to passengers and have knock-on effects for them, but are also bad for business that may be time critical, Such delays were explained to a visitor of long ago by a Highland Railway employee, with experience of single track working, thus: “The train before’s behind – so they’re all behind the day.”

Jenny Gilruth, the new Transport Minister for the SNP, should “let the train take the strain” with an improved Highland Main Line.

Ann Glen, Airdrie, North Lanarkshire

In one episode of Blackadder, we learn that Baldric “tried to solve the problem of the low ceiling in his mother’s house by cutting off her head.” Is the SNP’s plan to saw a few inches from classroom doors (Scotsman, 4 February) a more or a less cunning plan?

Nicola Sturgeon continues to berate Boris Johnson for being “economical with the truth” over lockdown “parties” and says he must go. She also makes the point that she has a “democratic mandate” for another referendum as she has the biggest majority of pro-independence MSPs ever.

That is, on the surface, true but aren’t MSPs supposed to represent the views of all of their constituents, even if they didn’t vote for them? In the recent Holyrood election, more people voted for pro-union parties than for separatist ones. The true test of democracy is one person, one vote. The “mandate” Ms Sturgeon claims is therefore also economical with the truth. There is demonstrably no underlying pro-independence majority amongst Scottish voters at all.

Given this situation ought she not be considering her position too?

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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