It's time for Brian Monteith to change the record - Readers' Letters

Scotsman columnist Brian Monteith blames all Scotland's woes, as he sees them on Nicola SturgeonScotsman columnist Brian Monteith blames all Scotland's woes, as he sees them on Nicola Sturgeon
Scotsman columnist Brian Monteith blames all Scotland's woes, as he sees them on Nicola Sturgeon
Another Monday, another fatuous, evidence-free polemic from Brian Monteith (Scotsman, 26 July)!

How can he bear to live in this apparent hellhole of Scotland? In his fevered mind, nothing here works, bodies and hospital patients lie in the streets, our children's education languishes in tattered ruins, life is one grim, tedious existence only punctuated by broadcasts from Nicola Sturgeon. Our roads are a disgrace!

Well, that last bit is true at least, although I am not sure we can blame it all on the First Minister, although Brian does! Indeed, he blames everything on the First Minister, as if she is some sort of imposed dictator.

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It may perhaps have slipped Brian's notice that the SNP (of which I am not a member or even a full-time supporter) won the last election handsomely, in a system which was designed (by the Labour Party to a large extent) to remove the possibility of such a victory, and is also, by far, the leading party representing Scotland in Westminster.

Far more damage has been done to Scotland by Brexit, which Brian wholeheartedly supported.

But no! It's Monday, so it's time, yet again, to trash the government! Oh dear, or "Obh Obh", as we say in Gaelic.

Brian Bannatyne Scott, Edinburgh

On the other hand

Brian Montieth has once again detailed the shocking, cynical decline of Scotland since devolution, especially the last 14 SNP years.

Those who read the papers and go online will recognise his points and examples, but as long as BBC Scotland and STV fail to inform their 800k teatime news audience what is going on, or provide balanced, probing documentaries in the causes, effects and possible solutions, there will never be an electorate angry enough to do something about it or an opposition emboldened, funded and replete with enough decent candidates to muster the energy, argument and ruthlessness rid Scotland of the SNP.

I mean, who would want the job of sorting out this mess?

At least since the May election the SNP and opposition know that Indyref2 is a dead duck, but it seems we have at least another five years of rudderless decline, and probably another five after that, if a shaky pro-UK coalition scrapes a majority of seats.

I suspect that sometime in the next ten years things will get so bad that a version of East Germany's collapse, so brilliantly recounted in the Deutschland TV series, or the Stormont-like suspension of Holyrood will be the outcome and a parcel of civil servants from Westminster will take over until order can be restored.

I'm not so sure about Brian's squirrel analogies but the situation is certainly nuts.

Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

Missing in action

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Many Scots might well have cast their vote for the SNP because of Nicola Sturgeon's claim of handling the Coronavirus outbreak better.

As with many pronouncements from the SNP the reality is somewhat different from the promise. Nicola Sturgeon's excuse that she only expected to offer all Scots aged 40 to 49 the vaccination rather than make sure it was delivered as close to 100 per cent as possible simply makes the case. Every word the SNP utter has to be carefully vetted to discover the in-built "get out clause". Brian Monteith's excellent article in the Scotsman ably demonstrated this.

There are two major dates still to come that we know of in Nicola Sturgeon's first 100 days. The new drugs deaths figures are due this week and the Scottish schools exam results are due on 10 August. Places to hide and opportunities for "spin" are disappearing fast not only for Ms Sturgeon but for the SNP administration too.

(Dr) Gerald Edwards, Glasgow

Guns targeted

Otto Inglis’s oxymoronic call to arms in the interests of “diversity and tolerance” (Letters, 26 July) raised some interesting questions for me also. The main question being why Mr Inglis equates “local cultural attitudes and traditions” such as, for example, cheese making, ethnic dancing and traditional music with the right to keep an AK-47 or 12-bore shotgun in your broom cupboard for “self-defence”?

To take his contention a stage further, part of the UK’s historical heritage was slavery, public executions and piracy but would the return of those dubious practices herald a new age of freedom and diversity? Bizarrely, Mr Inglis seems to imply it would.

Ultimately, Mr Inglis goes on to state that such a move to give people the right to own firearms in the Czech Republic, and elsewhere in Europe, will provoke hostility from those with “progressive opinions”, as if this is a bad thing. Maybe he can explain why the perpetrators of mass shootings tend to be racists and “non-progressive” advocates of the extreme right?

Thankfully, it’s those “progressive opinions” that go such a long way to protecting us from United States-style mass murders here in Europe and keep such libertarian, senseless, antediluvian attitudes in check.

D Mitchell, Edinburgh

Miles better?

On Monday I spent a day in Glasgow in glorious weather, and found the city full of life and pleasure with outside tables, beautifully paved traffic-free streets with wonderful architecture – a truly international city.

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With the terrible weather warnings it had a “fin de siècle” feel about it, and although a long-time Edinburgian, I couldn’t help but feel it knocked Edinburgh into a cocked hat.

Hamish McKenzie, Edinburgh

Vocal support

It is always interesting to see who extols the virtues, as some might see them, of the EU. Now in Edinburgh a blatant piece of political theatre is to be played out when Auld Lang Syne is rendered in the languages of the 27 members of the EU plus Gaelic but, I bet, not English, or Scots.

This Song of the Union is tied in with the Talbot Rice Gallery and commissioned with the Edinburgh Art Festival until 29 August. The idea comes from a Nigerian-born artist and a German MEP and includes people singing who weren’t eligible to vote in the Brexit referendum.

As they are clearly Unionists, though not my kind, I hope that they will also be happy if I stage another, matching “art installation” next year featuring another well-known, old Scottish song rejoicing in another, somewhat older and considerably more democratic Union?

It’s the one we voted to stay in in 2014 and which voted democratically to leave the EU in 2016. It is a Union which allows us to kick out those who rule us if we don’t like them, the way you do in a real democracy like the United Kingdom. You can’t kick out the rulers of the EU, of course. They are unelected and unaccountable.

I suggest that we stage Rule Britannia, sung by people from the four nations of the UK, including the voices of those of us who are regarded as being too old to have a say in the future of our wonderful Union. Will the Talbot Rice Gallery and Edinburgh Art Festival support that?

Andrew HN Gray, Edinburgh

Style council

Dr Lawson obviously does not like the structure atop the hotel at the St James Quarter (Letters, 26 July). I won't use his description but it does remind me of something out of Communist-era Eastern Europe – ie it tries to look modern but lacks style and taste.

William Ballantine, Bo'ness, West Lothian

Trout fishing

Jim Stewart (Letters, 27 July) is quite correct that I have no evidence of poaching of salmon because my letter was concerned more with the poaching of sea trout on the River Tyne (as evidenced by the finding of a poacher’s net with 60-odd dead sea trout in the river).

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Although there are statutory measures in place aimed at preventing poaching it does go on and despite the legislation referred to by Mr Stewart it is obviously well worth the while for poachers.

The main point of my original letter was that poaching needs to be regarded more seriously by the courts in both the prosecuting of cases and the imposing of custodial sentences rather than fines if increased numbers of migratory fish are to be encouraged on the River Tyne. Otherwise it will be a poachers’ paradise.

David W Elder, Haddington, East Lothian

BBC criticised

It is somewhat late in the day for the BBC to return awards received for that Martin Bashir Panorama Diana interview shown a quarter of a century ago when more of its governance double standards have only come to light in recent times.

Martin Bashir will enjoy his pension and former BBC Chairman Lord Hill’s subsequent handling of the issues remain unresolved. Licence-payers as usual will be left with the costs. A quarter of a million over-75-year-olds who haven’t yet paid last year’s re-introduced TV licence-fee are being warned they could face criminal prosecutions later this summer as they have left the BBC with a black hole of £40 million.

All right it seems for some at the BBC. Highest paid Gary Lineker already earning ten times more than the Prime Minister, it is recently reported will also be taking on the hosting of an ITV programme!

It’s not just the revelations which have come to light in recent years over BBC governance, the quality of its reporting on current affairs is not what it was, whether it’s the lack of real probing into issues or getting caught up in the PR speak from government or business interests.

Jim Craigen, Edinburgh

Every cloud

Let it provide some crumb of comfort to those affected by the recently flash floods in London and the South East to know that millions of the most common variety of social wasp will have drowned in their underground nests to cause no further nuisance this year.

In every cloud, a Wespendämmerung lining.

Mark Boyle, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

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