The Herald

Coming crises are not idle speculatio­n, but threats we are ill-equipped to defend against

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RAYMOND Hall (Letters, December 17) is right to be worried about the future of the middle class in Scotland.

Taxation may be a problem in the short term but there are much greater threats waiting in the wings. American home-based manufactur­ing production has remained constant during the last decade whilst numbers working in the factories have declined by 25 per cent. It is machines, not Mexicans, which are the real cause of the rage that brought Donald Trump to the White House.

During the next 20 years automation, robots and new computing power will destroy thousands of jobs the middle class has made its own since the Second World War. The main victims will be in finance, law, accountanc­y and retail. People working in these sectors who live in the leafy suburbs of Edinburgh and Glasgow, with their shiny new cars in the drive, will not be replaced when they retire. Their jobs will be done faster, cheaper and better by computers.

Anyone currently laughing at the idea of driverless vehicles should still maybe take a moment to reflect before thinking of a career in the motor trade or in the delivery or taxi business. In the fairytale world of Scottish politics people are given 20th-century solutions to 21st-century problems. So it is apparently fine to dual the A9 40 years too late while leaving the Victorian rail links to rot. The new Forth crossing, the new motorways round Glasgow will do nothing to avert the coming massacre of the middle class.

With Donald Trump, a climate change denier, possibly in power until 2024, it now seems impossible to stop the planet reaching the tipping point when global warming runs out of control. By 2050 the Greenland ice cap will have melted and coastal waters round Scotland will have risen by seven to eight metres. In New York they are planning the “Big U” – a 10m-high wall built to protect Manhattan from the rising sea. In Scotland I have heard nothing about dealing with this problem, which will result in huge dislocatio­n for coastal and low-lying communitie­s all over the country. The economic problems will make any associated with Brexit seem like a picnic.

Most surprising­ly I have heard nothing from our best and brightest in the universiti­es. They should be at the forefront of this debate. Instead all that seems to be there is navel gazing about access or short-term wishful thinking about the job prospects of graduates. Housing should be a priority in Glasgow, so instead of taking over the Western Infirmary to churn out hundreds more of the soonto-be-unemployab­le, Glasgow University should give this area to be used for housing. Any building on the site would, of course, have to be both affordable and flood proof. Myles Cooney, 2 Central Court, Cambuslang.

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