McMillan a rare light in political debate

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What a gem, what an absolute breath of fresh air – I’ve always had time for Joyce McMillan. Unlike some “specialist” cultural critics, she disports herself generously, letting us into her honest, open and generous self.

She has a rich personal remit, engaging easily with stark reality and truisms in metaphor (if indeed these can ever be separated). Nor is she fazed by asking questions of herself and sharing these publicly through your pages. Three years or so ago I was present at a set of six conversations she had set up as part of her research fellowship year at Queen Margaret University. It was obvious that she is held in high regard within the acting community of Scotland.

Refreshing, too, is her apparent no-sidedness with politics and politicians, instead seeking fairness and bright ideas in place of easy voyeurism and comfortable portent.

This was well embellished in her piece entitled “No answer came the stern reply” (Perspective, 18 January), her previously outed dismay in our leadership being overtaken by a clear representation of whys and wherefores. Politicians do need to be drawn from better stock. It severely blights real progress when we seem to be stuck with the defiantly mono-directional “wee toon cooncillor” – plausible but useless – mentality.

Where on earth, and with all our trumpeted educational provision, can we find good, new and creative ideas emanating from properly responsible and trusted people?

Only when the current emphasis and parroted presumptions are contested might be an answer. While there are sane, honest, perspicacious media columnists such as Joyce McMillan, thinking and writing with real insight and integrity you are blessed, perhaps, with the vanguard of a new age in your midst.

Douglas Hogg



Every serious commentator on Scottish politics (that I respect, at any rate) has been disgusted by the mixture of contempt and indifference displayed by the UK parliament towards the Scottish Parliament and the referendum, not least your own Joyce McMillan (Perspective, 18 January), who “now finds it hard to think of voting No”.

Elsewhere, another commentator and “lifelong unionist”, Kevin McKenna, concludes that “independence is fast becoming the only option”.

I cannot claim to be grieved by this, as I have long believed that the true feelings of Westminster and, I am sorry to say, the majority of the English people, regarding Scotland will deliver the kick in the backside the Scottish people and the Yes campaign need to secure a majority in 2014.

I trust the latter will ensure that such dismissive and offensive views about Scottish affairs receive a wide circulation.

David Roche

Alder Grove

Scone, Perthshire