Readers' Letters: Blustering Boris has taken power for granted

Iain Duncan Smith, the Edinburgh-born former Conservative leader, encapsulates the thinking of those “men in grey suits” keeping Boris Johnson in power. On the one hand he and fellow Tory grandees recognise the appalling behaviour the PM has shown whilst maintaining that no one else has the necessary leadership skills to navigate the UK through multiple crises.

It’s a terrible admission of a party standing behind a liar who has lost the trust of the nation that no one else can do better. Music to the ears of opposition parties that watch the Government dig deeper into a hole. Warning signs were clear from the local election results that saw Labour as the largest party, a lead set to be crystallised by forthcoming June by-elections triggered by Conservative MPs’ misconduct.The PM will attempt to hide behind the resignations of senior civil servants, prompted by the Sue Gray report, to cover his crimes and misdemeanours. It’s time he realised that he is a liability, but he has an ego bigger than the Shard, he is a Churchillian whose legacy on Brexit and Covid will long be remembered. Perhaps, but mainly for the wrong reasons.Johnson is now more lame duck than Incredible Hulk, when trust is lost it’s very difficult to get it back. Performance in the 21st century is judged as much by behaviour as results but, like Thatcher, Blair and Cameron in their later years in office, Johnson has taken power for granted. He has become an arrogant blusterer losing our trust. Major had the decency to call a leadership election so detractors could “put up or shut up”. Johnson shows little interest in the cost of living crisis and risks being remembered as “an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”.

Neil Anderson, Edinburgh

Time to reflect

Prime Minister Boris Johnson departs 10 Downing Street for PMQs yesterday (Picture: Leon Neal/Getty Images)
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Nicola Sturgeon may have passed a record-breaking 2,743 days as Scotland's First Minister but I think the achievement should be viewed with reflection rather than celebration. The hallmark of a good leader is surely to bring opposing factions within a country together to work for the common good. This has not happened in Ms Sturgeon's case and Scotland is more polarised politically than ever. During her “reign”, well-documented problems with our public services have arisen, including the NHS, ferry procurement, understaffing of Police and Fire services, and now a national rail strike looms.

Against this background, many people are critical of Ms Sturgeon's apparent sole focus on “independence”, with other issues being sidelined. It's obvious that she places the responsibility to keep public services running on her ministers but she must also be aware that her ministerial pool of talent is not good and she needs to become more involved herself. Nicola Sturgeon's domination of Scottish politics has been bolstered by the fact that the opposition is fragmented and this is unlikely to change.

Bob MacDougall, Oxhill, Stirlingshire

A rare genius

This week, Nicola Sturgeon became our longest-serving First Minister in Scotland, and what a glowing legacy she has created for us. She has launched more independence campaigns than ferries, at least once a year since 2014, although none of them have ever gone anywhere. She has burnt more bridges than she has built. Admittedly, she has not built any bridges, but you get my meaning. And technically, every train service that has been cancelled, all 700 of them on a daily basis, is now officially “not running late”.

The woman is a complete genius. I don’t know what else to say. No one else could possibly compete.

Victor Clements, Aberfeldy, Perthshire

None so humble

With reference to yesterday’s editorial congratulating the First Minister on her length of term in holding the office, I suspect that many readers will agree with me that the term “longest serving” is inappropriate. To serve requires an appropriate degree of humility, competence and dedication to meet the needs of Scotland and all its people, rather than a relentless one-track agenda.

Fraser MacGregor, Edinburgh

Monkey around

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It has been suggested that infection from monkeypox can come from certain types of sexual activity. It's likely that the government will advise us to avoid casual sex, among other measures. But no doubt after a few weeks there will be news stories of government figures having casual flings.

They could learn from Partygate and get their urges out of the way now.

Geoff Moore, Alness, Highland

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Blame shifting

It was instructive to read Richard Allison's reply (24 May) to Stan Grodynski’s attempt to excuse the SNP’s incompetence and policy of secrecy by telling us that Westminster and “other governments” do this too. This isn’t about Westminster. They didn’t tell the SNP to engage incompetently in the ferries fiasco! Or the Lochaber smelter affair. Or the current Census disaster, to mention only three of many. It’s about Scotland's right to have a government it can trust to use taxpayers’ money wisely. and competently. Mr Grodynski refers to the “delight people take in listing the SNP's perceived failures”.

Firstly let's substitute the word “disgust” for "delight”. Secondly, the use of the word “perceived” implies that the failures are invented by opponents of the present government. All these countless failures are fully and factually documented and will be even more so once we are finally freed from the SNP's current trademark of secrecy, “lost” documents and blame shifting

D Mason, Penicuik, Midlothian

Prime example

I noted today that BBC4 are running Yes Prime Minister yet again.It would have much more impact were it to be aired at primetime on BBC1, so younger folks can appreciate the chaotic farce that is most likely the real machinations of government behind closed doors.That is, of course, if the results don’t already make it patently obvious.

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Derek Sharp, Edinburgh

Careful now

Alastair Stewart's rather misguided Perspective column of 24 May ("Unionists should learn from history and form an anti-SNP alliance") missed several pertinent facts.

Firstly, in some parts of Scotland a de facto anti-SNP alliance already exists. For instance, in my own constituency of Edinburgh South, Conservative-leaning voters have for many years had no problem with putting a clothes peg on their noses and voting Labour. Assisted, no doubt, by knowing that in one recent election, the local Conservative candidate was seen working hard – in the neighbouring constituency of Edinburgh South West!

Secondly, forming an anti-SNP alliance is, in some places, counterproductive. Sticking to Edinburgh South/Southern, at the recent council election in the Morningside ward there was a huge transfer of votes away from the Conservatives. While many of those votes went to Labour and the Lib Dems, enough votes transferred to the Green candidate for them to be elected on first preferences in stage 1 of the count too.

Which leads quite neatly to my third point. The SNP are not the only pro-independence party – the Scottish Green Party (and Alba on the margins) are also pro-independence, which is why there is a majority government in Holyrood, with a democratic mandate to bring forward a referendum.

In short, Mr Stewart, be careful what you wish for!

David Patrick, Edinburgh

Bad maths

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An interesting point from Murdo Fraser (Perspective, 25 May), saying that sticking the label “Scottish” on something does not make it better. You can take this point further, with people; being “Scottish” does not make you a nationalist – a point cleverly exploited by the SNP. Too many think that being “Scottish” means voting SNP – it does not!

William Ballantine, Bo'ness, West Lothian

Wider view

Henry Dundas has been unfairly condemned for his role in delaying the slave trade’s abolition, but he did not “earn the condemnation”, in the words of your editorial (24 May). He may in fact have speeded up the process, by successfully acting for Joseph Knight and establishing that slavery was not recognised in Scots law, and by successfully ensuring its abolition by parliament in 1807.

It is regrettable that Brian Ferguson’s report ignores Dundas’s crucial role in freeing Knight.

John Birkett, St Andrews, Fife

Union power

James Scott has provided (Letters, 25 May) a fine exposition of how nationalisation leads to party political considerations entering into operational decisions and not just the general strategy of the enterprise concerned.

Another aspect is that it means the relevant trade unions, instead of having to deal with owners who have to operate at a profit to survive, are faced with one who can ultimately print money.

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They are also in a position to close down an essential service in pursuit of their "just demands”.

The post-war Labour administrations found no solution and we ended up with the Winter of Discontent followed by privatisations and the Labour Party dropping from its constitution the aim of public control of the “commanding heights if the economy”.

S Beck, Edinburgh

Keep on running

Compare the average UK train drivers’ pay of around £54,000 – or £4,500 a month – with the Ukrainian train drivers, who earn the equivalent of around £450 a month. It’s hard to compare, except to say that the Ukrainian train drivers have kept their trains running.

Fiona Garwood, Edinburgh

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