Douglas Ross needs to follow Salmond’s example of leadership - Readers' Letters

I am no fan of Alex Salmond and will not vote for his party but as a political leader in the past he has been exceptional.

Douglas Ross is hoping to become an MSP via the Conservative Party list

In 2003 the SNP was soundly defeated in the Scottish Parliamentary election and looked as if it was going nowhere. Salmond was re-elected party leader and decided to stand for election to the parliament in 2007.

He didn't choose a constituency in which he was bound to be elected but had the courage to opt for Gordon where the SNP had come third to the Lib Dems and Conservatives in 2003. He realised that a leader had to lead from the front and demonstrate that he had the confidence and energy to win such as seat. In the 2007 election Salmond won Gordon with a large majority, the SNP became the largest party by one in the parliament and Salmond was elected First Minister. That one seat made all the difference.

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Contrast that with the Scottish Conservatives. Douglas Ross has been elected leader because that once outstanding hope for their party, Ruth Davidson, has slunk off to the House of Lords, and it was judged there was no one left amongst Conservative MSP's suitable to replace her.

Has Ross sought out a challenging constituncy to show his mettle? No, he hasn't, in fact he hasn't sought out any constituency at all, preferring instead to rely on a high place on a Conservative Party list. He is the first ever leader of the Conservatives in history not to stand for election to a parliament in his own name.

Those familiar with the works of Gilbert and Sullivan will recognise the similarity between Douglas Ross and Ruth Davidson to the Duke of Plaza-Toro in The Gondoliers:

"In enterprise of martial kind,

When there was any fighting

He led his regiment from behind

He found it less exciting.”

Ian McKee

The Cedars, Edinburgh

Alphabet effect

It is interesting that there has been radio silence from the SNP about the name of the new “independence” party – doesn’t independence begin with an “I”?

But there lies some rub. The SNP was not above offering itself to the electorate in a previous Scottish Parliament election with a name beginning with A (for Alex).

Democracy is ill-served by those who exploit the so-called alphabet effect so blatantly. The regional (list) ballot paper is ordered A-Z by party name. Guess which name is likely to come first?

The librarian and indexer in me love the ease of finding information arranged A-Z. Research is suggesting that the digital age can offer fascinating new ways of retrieving information, and that is exciting. However, that future has not arrived for this May's election.

Moyra Forrest

Starbank Road, Edinburgh

Union outflanked

Brian Monteith forgets that the D’Hondt proportional voting system, a far more democratic system than Westminster’s first past the post, was imposed by the Labour government to prevent an SNP majority at Holyrood (Scotsman, 29 March). How did that work out?

However much Westminster tries to rig the Scottish voting system to prevent independence, the democratic wishes of the Scottish electorate will prevail. The successful launch of another pro-independence party indicates a deep yearning for a government of our own choosing.

The UK voting system has resulted in governments more than half its citizens rejected. In 2019, the Tories took 43 per cent of the UK vote, whereas the SNP won 45 per cent of the Scottish vote. Yet we suffer under Tory rule.

Scotland’s vote has been treated as irrelevant for the last 70 years. Despite our decisive vote to remain in the EU, we were still dragged out. Predictably, we are seeing our exports disappear and our economy shrink. We are also enduring the dismantling of devolution, the one democratic concession Westminster made to keep Scotland in the “precious Union”’

Unionists are distraught because they have been outflanked. The more they fight against the restoration of our independence, the sooner it will happen. And that’s a good and democratic thing.

Leah Gunn Barrett

Merchiston Crescent, Edinburgh

Political hubris

As an illustration of political hubris, Alex Salmond launching his own political party takes the biscuit. We have watched him in an undignified tussle with his former protégée, with their collective political bed linen on display and the knives have come out, showing that Scottish nationalism is a very nasty business.

Former Scottish nationalist representatives are jumping overboard and comments from their ex-colleagues tell us that the SNP is not a happy ship. Nicola Sturgeon attempts to brush off the criticism made of her by the very parliament that she would have running an independent Scotland. If the Scottish Parliament matters so little to her, we know that the Scottish people don’t matter either. It is all about ego with her and with Mr Salmond.

Victor Clements makes a very telling comment (Letters, 29 March) that Mr Salmond’s new party is not about us, it is about him. It always has been. It is not Scotland’s party any more than the SNP is or was. The SNP and Alba are about the cult of personality. The SNP is about Nicola Sturgeon, not Scotland. Alba is about Alex Salmond, not Scotland. And look at who is climbing on board the new party – Tommy Sheridan, no less – “former Scottish Socialist Party leader….jailed in 2011 for perjury” as your article says. Need more be said?

If I were Alex Salmond I would be tempted to break into a song of lament: “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.”

Andrew HN Gray

Craiglea Drive, Edinburgh

Publicity drive

Scottish Parliamentary elections are looming so it is to be expected that you report what various actions and policies are being promoted by parties and candidates. It would be normal for existing parties to feature strongly in such reporting. On the other hand, I struggle to see why there would be much reporting of parties which have no track record and no policies decided by a party conference or the like.

There is such a new party, and I am surprised that you are giving it credence such as pages 1 and 5 of your 29 March edition.

Brian O'Callaghan

Beauchamp Road, Edinurgh

History lesson

Scotland has a history of having leadership contenders. After the death of Alexander III, succession to the Scottish throne became open to whoever might claim it by hereditary right, causing much backstabbing, skulduggery and deviousness.

Roll forward 700-plus years and it would seem that the independence-supporting parties in the forthcoming Holyrood election would want to return us to these times. Surely we need forward-looking politicians to lead us out of the current mess?

Ken Currie

Liberton Drive, Edinburgh

Labour’s target

Scottish Labour’s campaign to date for the Scottish elections in May puzzles me. Their new leader has brought a touch of freshness to a jaded party but like his predecessor he seems to attack only the Tories and acts as if the elephant in the Scottish room – nationalism – does not exist.

They are it seems prepared to have all guns aimed at and blazing the Tories and so far barely a word of criticism of the woman and the party who have shamelessly harmed and are continuing to harm Scotland more than their nemesis Margaret Thatcher or any Tory ever did.

It seems to me Labour are time-warped in a bygone era and events have passed them by. Working together with the Tories and the Lib Dems, they could save Scotland and end the close to overwhelming bitterness and division. Left-right Ideologies could be sorted out once the danger is over.

Every time Labour looks like they are becoming electable again, the wilder elements seem to take over and lurch the party back onto the road to oblivion.

Alexander McKay

New Cut Rigg, Edinburgh

Easter humility

As secular idealism faces modern life, with its crude individualism, competing nationalisms and glaring mistreatment of women, many are left wondering if we need a post-secular society in the same way as we once needed to reduce the influence of Christian fundamentalism on society.

A liberal Christianity which focuses on the wisdom of the Bible, and the historical Jesus offers us hope. Jesus stood up for the victims of social change and social forces. He advocated greater responsibility and seriousness. He was against the macho instincts of pride, recalcitrance, and defiance which are trumpeted as assertiveness in modern times. Consider two thieves on the cross. One mocked him, the other showed sensitivity, and respect for Jesus' mission. Both might have been seen as wicked by the great and the good of today. But Jesus showed the sensitive thief that he could still be saved.

So who are we to have black and white views and condemning attitudes given that God assesses us even in our last minutes. Surely we should have humility, trying to live with the zeal, sensitivity, and forbearance which Christ showed.

Andrew Vass

Corbiehill Place, Edinburgh

Rural values

Once again rural Scotland looses out to those living in the rich Central Belt of Scotland as indicated by the article over the Edinburgh tram inquiry (Scotsman, 29 March)

Holyrood spent £776 million of taxpayers cash on an Edinburgh tram system and a further £12m on a tram inquiry yet the SNP could not find £8mto set up a National Park in Galloway. What contribution do SNP MSPs contribute to the South of Scotland when they support such largesse for the rich Central Belt and not even a glimmer of crumbs for rural Scotland?

Ian Moir

Queen Street, Castle Douglas


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