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Letters / The thin edge of many wedges

Well, well, well, I never thought I’d live to see the day that I’d read that Shetland’s youngsters are being deprived of their free school milk. And equally disturbing, the spectre of means testing has yet again raised its ugly head.

Free school milk has had a chequered existence, being first introduces in post-war austerity Britain, for all school children under the age of eighteen. The Wilson government reduced the qualifying age and Thatcher, as education minister, made merry. This was her green light to start her attack on The Welfare State.   Although the Wilson government stands condemned for what it did, it has to be said that if nothing else, Thatcher gloried in it.

I myself enjoyed free school milk, long before the Common Market had a say in it, and I also remember enduring standing in the poor line for my free school dinner ticket.  Hence my life-long hatred of means testing – the thin edge of so many other wedges.

To my shame, I wasn’t aware that a charge for milk had already been imposed, so I suppose I must have missed it making headlines in the local media.

That the wealthiest local authority in Scotland, with massive usable reserves, is charging school children for milk that should be free, says volumes for our thinking.

The Tory/Lib-Dem austerity legacy, enthusiastically adopted by our council, is a sad testimony on our political leadership.  It’s not too much to predict that, under the guise of future Covid-driven austerity budgets, our council will again run amok with our social services and our public spending.

And in conclusion I was amused that, without the slightest sense of irony, our arch austerity champion, our own MP Alistair Carmichael, chief Tory in Scotland during the coalition, is shamelessly blaming Brexit for this current situation.  Oh, wad some power the giftie gie us…

Ian Scott
Scalloway