Letter of the Day – MacAskill’s ‘pro-Salmond spin’

Kenny MacAskill’s article (Perspective, 2 April) is nothing but a piece of pro-Alex Salmond spin.

Gordon Jackson QC has referred himself to the legal watchdog after apparently identifying complainants on a busy train (Picture: ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

He presents it as legal procedure for dummies, so that we numpties might understand the ways of m’learned friends, but the reality relates more to SNP political infighting.

He defends the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, Gordon Jackson QC, for naming complainants in public on a train,during the recent Salmond trial, which would be serious professional misconduct. He then actually attacks those who filmed it – direct evidence the existence of which Jackson doesn’t deny.

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I look forward to the spin employed by the Faculty of Advocates, as their disciplinary process lumbers slowly into action.

Crawford Mackie

Keith Row, Edinburgh

Something stinks

Instead of criticising Salmond’s lawyer, Gordon Jackson, for discussing an ongoing court case in a public space and naming witnesses Kenny MacAskill turns on the whistle blower, accusing them of spreading “poison”! I would have thought a self-professed legal expert might be able to work out who was in the wrong here.

What was most disturbing about Mr Jackson’s apparent indiscretion was the idea that he tried to “put a smell” on the testimony of the witnesses. This is not only nauseating but insidious. During the trial Mr Jackson admitted that he couldn’t “prove” there was something questionable about the testimony but he could “smell” it. I do not profess to be a legal expert but I am surprised that at this stage there was no intervention from the judge. Mr Jackson’s duty is to prove his case. If on his own admission he is introducing statements he cannot prove then why were they allowed? It was evident he revelled in his performance as a Hollywood movie star manqué. We will never know what effect it had on the jury. As to a judicial system which allows such characters to affect a jury by appealing to its sense of smell? It stinks.


Braid Hills Avenue, Edinburgh

Donald ducked

An attack on the PM after he criticised Trump’s administration for hurting global trade was only to be expected. That is the modus operandi of the president. But Trump has a brass neck. On 22 December he was briefed about Covid-19 but chose to ignore it. He thought it was like the flu – the warm weather would kill it.

In May 2018 Trump fired the entire pandemic response team at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – probably because it was an Obama creation. On 22 January this year he said: “No, the corona virus won’t become a pandemic. Not at all.” Now he claims: “I’ve always known this is a real pandemic. I felt it was a pandemic before it was called a pandemic.”

Pity the poor Americans with this man as their leader.

John Dorward

Brechin Road, Arbroath

Holyrood highs

If it wasn’t for the Scottish Parliament, Alexander McKay (Letters, 2 April) and his relatives would not benefit from the abolition of student tuition fees, free personal care, free eye tests, free dental care, free prescriptions, better childcare provision, better free bus travel, baby boxes or mitigating Tory austerity from Westminster.

The Scottish Parliament has led the way on the smoking ban, minimum pricing of alcohol, paying a living wage, gender equality and climate change. We also have less crime, and our much better-performing NHS, with more beds, nurses and doctors per head, is probably the main reason Scotland can provide more Covid-19 testing and ventilators per head, with significantly lower mortality rates among Coronavirus patients, than elsewhere in the UK.

The real waste of money is Westminster, which costs £650 million a year to run, with 800 unelected members of the House of Lords, and the £4 billion refurbishment is running several years behind schedule.

Mary Thomas

Watson Crescent, Edinburgh

Reality check?

Despite a dire world situation, determined Nationalist letters continue clamouring for us to become Denmark, Norway or Ireland. But let’s consider what an independent Scotland’s position would be today. In 2014, daily utterances from Alex Salmond featured “Scotland’s oil”, that great stolen national asset.

With Brent crude trading at just $25 a barrel, SNP silence on this subject is as deafening as that heard on the Forth Crossing nowadays.

Would the Scottish Government have had the capacity to guarantee 80 per cent of employees’ wages in the current crisis? No.

Would hospitals north of the Border have been able to benefit from shared NHS resources during this global pandemic? No.

Scotland would have entered 2020 with a budget deficit of at least 9 per cent. The country would therefore have been unable to borrow.

When we emerge from this unprecedented situation, the Scottish economy will (like most others) be in a precarious state. Could Indy Scotland have reasonably expected assistance from our neighbours in rUK? No.

Self-styled patriots who write energetically in praise of every First Ministerial syllable, please use this lockdown to quietly reflect on sober reality.

Martin O’Gorman

Littlejohn Road, Edinburgh

Change the record

It’s sad to see that despite the current Covid-19 pandemic, and the need for volunteers amongst various charitable organisations apparent now more than ever, that some people still have their heads buried deeply in the sands of constitutional change.

In the real world outwith The Scotsman Letters 
page, I haven’t heard anyone in my family, workplace, golf club or local pub talk about independence for a long time.

Surely senior politicians like Gordon Brown, Keir Starmer, Jackson Carlaw and Willie Rennie can’t all be trying to “do Scotland down”? Has it ever occurred to nationalists that, just perhaps, these politicians care deeply for Scotland and do not want to inflict the damage on the Scottish people that independence would bring?

I can’t see there being any Indyref2 for at least the next 20 years, but even if there were, and if hypothetically, the vote were in favour of independence, why would those in favour of the status quo accept the result when the SNP have never accepted the 2014 result? Personally, I would hoist the flag of St George in my garden and declare the land my property sits on part of England before I’d ever be part of an independent Scotland governed by the pretendy parliament at Holyrood.

Andrew Hamilton

Forth Street, North Berwick


Having read in Wednesday’s Scotsman about SRU chief Mark Dodson’s deferral of 30 per cent of his salary of £933,000, it brought home to me the absurd level of salaries CEOs, sports personalities and so-called celebrities are earning, most of them non-essential workers.

Then I looked at our essential workers, our NHS doctors and nurses, but also the hospital cleaners and catering staff, our refuse collectors, bus and train personnel, farm workers, super market workers, the police and many others. What is their average salary?

I would like to compare essential workers’ average salary with non-essential workers’ average salary. I am certain that there is a huge difference in favour of the non-essential workers.

I would suggest we have got our values wrong, and would hope that once this crisis is over we would start to value those who are contributing so much to the wellbeing of all of us in this country and move away from a celebrity culture which is rewarding many at obscene levels of remuneration.

Peter D Cheyne

Barbaraville, Invergordon

Back to school

I was disappointed that neither the UK nor the Scottish Government took pupil age into account when imposing school closures.

Surely it would have been wiser to give priority to young primary kids in attempts to maintain schooling. They need a structure more than the older ones, and are presumably more at risk of lasting psychological damage in the pressure-cooker atmosphere of being at home with stressed-out parents.

In Sweden, where the mortality rate from Covid-19 is roughly the same as in the UK, the primary schools remain open, but our governments have painted themselves into a corner by telling kids not to mix, and would lose face by doing a U-turn.

More generally, our governments have to give people hope, by a very gradual, weekly loosening of the current lockdown which could end up causing as much harm to society and our wellbeing as the disease itself.

Certain construction sites, for example, could be deemed safe to re-open with adequate, demonstrable social distancing.

George Morton

Hudson Road, Rosyth

Gene theory

From early on in this dreadful time of global illness, the countries of first, Italy and later, Spain have shown a puzzling tendency to have higher rates of mortality than other countries. To some degree this can be accounted for by demographics and the average age of those populations and strong-family relationships in those countries.

I feel, however, that the high death rate might be accounted for by something that I have not seen mentioned elsewhere, the genetic link between both of the above nations. Not only is it clear that the languages of both nations are linked but that the reason for that is historical because of the Roman invasions of Spain many centuries earlier.

What I am suggesting is that the coronavirus may have the ability to lock onto some genetic groups in an easier way than onto other genetic groups. If that was proven then a way forward might be found to destroy the virus in some manner.

Archibald A Lawrie

Church Wynd
Kingskettle, Fife

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