Readers' Letters: Candidates must have gravitas to face Putin
What might Vladimir Putin and his advisers make of the recent ITV debate involving what are now the two Conservative leadership candidates still in the race?
The unseemly spat between former Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss might lead him to think that there is no real united resolution in the UK government (your report, 21 July). Indeed, the rumpus seems to have prompted their advisers to counsel against taking part in a Sky News debate, very much in the manner of uncles and aunts keeping warring cousins apart on a family holiday.
A better standard of debate might come about as the pair face each other on the BBC on Monday night. But serious questions about their political maturity need to be asked. Part of the problem is the presidential nature of these encounters. It’s win at all costs or at least persuade some waverers among the membership that the other person has some serious character flaws. But most people know that the contenders will need to work together in Cabinet. With Mr Sunak's high degree of support in the parliamentary party it seems inconceivable that he should be left out if Ms Truss wins – possibly returning to his role as Chancellor. If he emerges victorious there will be a case for the Foreign Secretary continuing in that role. But the tone both adopt from now on will need to be more statesmanlike. There will be a case, too, for Kemi Badenoch, Penny Mordaunt and Tom Tugendhat to be given prominent roles.
Discussion of the war in Ukraine has not so far been a feature of the contest. I think we can be sure that Mr Putin, one way or another, will, be sizing up not just the contenders but the impact it all has on government in the UK. Standing up to him requires more gravitas from the candidates than has been shown so far.
Bob Taylor, Glenrothes, Fife
Truss for SNP?
There is hope for us yet. I have just finished viewing a video of a lively young woman addressing a Liberal Democrat conference in which she asserts, to applause, that “we believe in referenda on major constitutional issues” and, to less applause, in abolishing the monarchy. She then went on, some years later, to vote against Brexit.
With these views and formative years spent at school in Paisley, Liz Truss looks to be a candidate for support from the SNP, but unfortunately the privilege of deciding who succeeds in the Premiership is confined to a handful of members of the Conservative Party.
I am left wondering who posted the video?
James Scott, Edinburgh
We have a serious problem with our politicians, as Jill Stephenson’s letter exemplifies (20 July). They are more concerned with presentation than with effective governance, because they have been infected by the techniques of the advertising industry. This is true both in Holyrood and in Westminster.
However, we do have an Advertising Standards Authority with a remit to ensure that advertisements are not misleading, harmful, offensive or irresponsible.
Sadly, these standards appear not to apply to politics. The campaign for Indyref2 does not meet any of the ASA’s four criteria.
It is misleading in that it ignores objective financial evidence, harmful in that it would leave Scotland in a perilous economic situation, offensive in that it distresses at least half of our population and irresponsible in that it consumes so much of legislators’ attention that other, more pressing concerns are neglected. Politicians present us with a facade which bears little relation to reality.
Helen Hughes, Edinburgh
Mary Thomas (Letters, 21 July) asserts I am “guilty of peddling GERS figures”. I cannot recall Alex Salmond being accused of misdemeanour by nationalists when, as First Minister, he described the GERS reports as the “authoritative publication on Scotland's finances”, and indeed, used them as the basis for his economic case for independence. Of course, the GERS statistics made more palatable reading in 2014.
On the other hand, Ms Thomas does seem to be in agreement with Mr Salmond in pointing out that “demand for oil and gas will remain high for decades” and in putting potential revenues from this back at the forefront of the independence campaign. She berates the UK government, however, for imposing a “lower oil and gas tax regime than in Norway”. Perhaps she has forgotten that in 2015 the next First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, slammed the UK government for failing to grant tax cuts to the oil industry and pressed for the headline rate of tax to be reduced, which it duly was.
Ms Thomas is quite right, I believe, to put the case for fully exploiting the North Sea's resources. But on this issue what we get from the SNP – or should I say, the Green tail wagging the dog – is yet another U-turn. Now the "policy" is to leave the oil in the ground. On fundamental issues such as this or the EU or Nato all we get from the SNP and their supporters is contradiction and a total lack of consistency. Sailing whatever way the wind blows is the only consistent approach of a populist party.
Colin Hamilton, Edinburgh
I am perplexed at recent statements by railway companies that their trains are cancelled because of buckled rails due to excessive heat. I seem to recall hearing in my youth that rails were laid in fixed lengths with a small gap between ends. This gap was to allow for heat expansion and also gave the “Diddely dum diddely dum” sound as the train ran over the gap.
Could this be a simple answer to the current problem?
Sandy Macpherson, Edinburgh
I tuned into the Radio Scotland News programme yesterday to catch the Sport headlines. There was only a mention of the World Athletics Championships, focusing on Scottish athletes and, of the golf LIV saga regarding Henrik Stenson.
Not a word on the England ladies football team getting through to the semi-finals of the European Championship.
Have we really sunk so low as to avoid mention of and congratulations to our neighbours across the border under the controlling influence of the grievance-ridden, mean-minded SNP regime ?
Fraser MacGregor, Edinburgh
Not for the first time I feel the need to explain that climate change will see the end of civilisation unless drastic action is taken to stop it.
Calls to reduce greenhouse gas emissions fall on deaf ears and, in any case, are ineffective – in this country, anyway. The UK's contribution to global warming is trivial, as are any measures taken here to ameliorate it. But not even the big emitters like China and the USA are doing much; in fact China's are increasing.
There is talk of achieving “net zero” (balancing emissions against carbon sinks), but don't be fooled. Firstly NZ will not be achieved; there are not enough sinks to balance the increasing emissions.
Secondly, even if achieved, NZ would merely stop more emissions than can be absorbed by sinks. That would still leave too much greenhouse gas in the atmosphere and the temperature would continue to rise. It would require a halt to all emissions to bring the global temperature down. Of course, that in itself would probably mean the end of civilisation; life runs on exploiting fossil fuels.
That's a conundrum: to save civilisation we would need to destroy it! Is there no way out; no hope?
There is one. Global warming has two interacting causes: too much greenhouse gas in the atmosphere and insolation (solar radiation). If the gases can't be reduced then perhaps insolation can be. People scorn geoengineering but in fact humanity is already unconsciously conducting a global experiment which is itself geoengineering.
A technical fix is needed to deal with a technical problem humanity created.
Sunshades in space or chemicals sprayed in the atmosphere have been suggested. But Professor Stephen Salter of the University of Edinburgh suggests using clouds to reflect more radiation than they do normally. He would make clouds more reflective.
That at least would get the temperature down and give us more time to deal with greenhouse gas emissions and ocean acidification.
It's either that or we’re doomed.
Steuart Campbell, Edinburgh
If the “Real Life Quidditch League” seeks to rebrand itself due to issues involving J K Rowling and Warner Brothers, perhaps this group of grown men and women – running around bowlegged holding broomsticks between their legs – could change it to the more appropriate “Need To Get A Life Quidditch League”?
Mark Boyle, Johnstone, Renfrewshire
I read with great interest about the top ten recommendations from the Edinburgh International Film Festival (21 July).
However, I would like to bring to my fellow reader's attention a play that I will be coming to see at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival: Bloody Difficult Women by Tim Walker.
It's a hilarious dramatisation of Gina Miller's successful court case against Theresa May's government over the triggering of Article 50 and explores where real political power lies – the answer is bound to surprise you!
Although I saw the play four times in London, I will be coming to the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh for a fifth time because, apart from great entertainment, this play offers a message of resilience and hope.
Muhammed Raza Hussain, London
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