Readers' Letters: Do SNP voters really believe what they’re told?

Alex Salmond, the man who took the SNP from a party of protest into government, has said the present Scottish government leadership has failed. And when he discovered what senior SNP and Scottish government officials had been messaging about him he said it was "one of the most distressing days of his life".

Nicola Sturgeon, Alex Salmond and Jim Sillars campaign in 2014 (Picture: Getty)

Former deputy leader of the SNP, Jim Sillars, has said that the present leadership of the SNP has “brought the party to the point that I and others cannot even contemplate holding our nose and voting for them”.

Do those considering voting for the SNP in May really believe the SNP's Chief Executive Peter Murrell when he says he thought Alex Salmond was "just popping in for a chat"? Do they really believe Nicola Sturgeon when she says that she “forgot” that the first meeting with her former mentor Alex Salmond took place? Do they believe that husband and wife Murrell and Sturgeon “didn't talk” about Alex Salmond after the three meetings with him? Do they believe the Scottish Government were right to spend £50,000 in coaching witnesses for the parliamentary inquiry?

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I suggest that in their heart of hearts SNP supporters do not really believe any of these assertions.They should withdraw their support until the present SNP leadership has been purged.

William Loneskie, Justice Park, Oxton, Lauder

Frustration

Alex Salmond was put in a somewhat difficult position on Friday. He was tasked to tell the truth but was then explicitly told that he could not tell the truth, as the truth has been redacted in Scotland.

Throughout documented human history there have been many tyrants (major, minor and inconsequential) and there has only ever been one answer to tyranny, and that is the truth. How must a person feel when they know the truth but are forbidden from uttering it? Herodotus, widely regarded as the first historian, summed up Mr Salmond's predicament very well when he wrote, some 25 centuries ago, "The most hateful grief of all human griefs is this, to have knowledge of the truth but no power over the event" Plus ca change.

Michael J Laggan, Newton of Balcanquhal, Perthshire

Absolute power

Alex Salmond made some extraordinary claims when he delivered his evidence to the Parliamentary Committee. However, whilst these matters need investigating, there are greater issues and implications at play that must be considered.

At the heart of this is the question of how we are governed and, importantly, how the Executive is held to account. In an open and transparent democracy, it is beyond belief that The Crown Office, supposedly independent of the Executive although its head sits at the Cabinet table, can instruct Parliament, our governing body, to redact and therefore censor certain parts of an individual’s evidence. Forget the public figure who is Alex Salmond, this could have affected any “ordinary” individual.

Then, even more worryingly, the Scottish Parliament acquiesced. The serious question now arises as to who provides the necessary oversight of the Crown Office which, additionally, refused to say why their view had changed in their demand to censor Mr Salmond’s evidence. It now seems that the Crown Office and the Government of the day can work hand in hand to suppress any information that in effect they do not like or agree with.

Ultimately this situation defines a major fault line in devolution and could affect an individual’s liberty whilst clearly diluting the rights of the people to hold its rulers to account. We have no oversight or a second chamber to reign in the governing party when appropriate. It is now very relevant today to recall the famous quote, “Power tends to corrupt and, absolute power corrupts absolutely”.Richard Allison, Braehead Loan, Edinburgh

Banana republic

Contrary to Christine Jardine’s claims (Perspective, March 1), thanks to Nicola Sturgeon’s decisions Scotland has 40 per cent lower Covid-19 cases per 100,000 of population, a lower death rate and much lower care home mortality rates. It was only when we diverged from Boris Johnson ‘s gung ho approach that Scotland got on top of the pandemic and the recent Brazilian strain shows that the Scottish Government was right to implement stricter quarantine arrangements.

Sir Keir Starmer refused to call for the resignation of UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock for breaking the law and misleading Parliament, yet Labour in Scotland just want to chase cheap headlines.

If the same standards applied in England, Hancock, Johnson, Robert Jenrick and Priti Patel would be on the backbenches as the UK government has broken the law on numerous occasions.

Johnson’s Trump-like behaviour makes England, with a huge Tory majority and massive fawning newspaper support, more like a one-party banana republic than Scotland ever will.

Fraser Grant, Warrender Park Road, Edinburgh

No alternative

Robert I G Scott argues that we are desperately in need of major changes at Holyrood and then goes on to criticise the Scottish Government for providing the opportunity to bring about these changes by holding an election in May. All throughout Europe elections are being held successfully despite the pandemic so why does he believe that Scotland cannot do the same?

The truth is that whilst opposition parties here are vocal in their criticism of the Scottish Government they have produced no policies of their own other than vague aspirations, such as improving health or education. Until the electorate are given information about how Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems would set about running the country these parties will continue to be rejected. That is why they are scared at the prospect of an election and want it postponed.

Ian McKee, The Cedars, Edinburgh

Facile fuels

The one vital piece of data missing from the figures given by C Scott (Letters, March 1) is that energy from gas is 4p/unit whilst that of renewable energy is 16p/unit. That means the “credible experts advising on energy” highlighted by C.Scott have failed to recognise that, in Scotland, the 27 per cent living in fuel poverty will increase to around 72 per cent, with only the rich elite being able to heat their homes, run electric cookers and charge their vehicles.

Why do the Scottish Green, Labour and Liberal Parties fail to obtain a report from a body such as the Fraser of Allander that analyses the impact of a fourfold increase in energy costs following the proposed SNP ban on fossil fuels?

Ian Moir, Queen Street, Castle Douglas

Untouchables?

I have just received an unsolicited official form to register for postal voting included with a propaganda letter for IndyRef2 from the First Minister herself, and emblazoned with the SNP logo: the very same tactic I reported my former Labour MP, Dougie Alexander, for trying on to the Parliamentary ombudsman in 2014 – and received no reply.There appears to be an attitude in the UK that Scottish politicians are to be allowed to get away with anything they like that is long overdue to be redressed.Mark Boyle, Linn Park Gardens, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

God help us

The Church of England’s second most senior clergyman, Stephen Cottrell, the Archbishop of York, has claimed that his church should be more involved in politics, saying that, “I simply don’t accept a separation between faith and politics.” More involved? Has he forgotten that the nearest other country to have unelected religious leaders in its legislature is Iran? Mr Cottrell is entitled to his personal opinions but with fewer than 2 per cent of the population attending Anglican services, if he wants a wider platform he should stand for election like everyone else.

Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society, Saughtonhall Drive, Edinburgh

ER, no...

On Friday the first question in your Miniquiz was “Who is second in line to the English throne?” The answer, published the following day, was “Prince William” The last occupant of the throne of England was Queen Elizabeth who died in 1603, which led to the Union of the Crowns and the commencement of the monarchy of Great Britain.

Sandy Macpherson, Swanston Avenue, Edinburgh

Scotland rules

Brian Monteith is wrong (Perspective, March 1). Scotland is not a failed state because it is not at state but a region of the UK. Devolution is a UK creation, ultimately controlled by Westminster. The UK Government dictates the overall size of the Scottish Government budget. The Scottish Government has only a limited ability to tax and no borrowing powers.Despite these constraints and a decade of Westminster-imposed austerity, the Scottish Government’s achievements are considerable. Scots benefit from free university tuition, subsidised childcare, free prescriptions, council tax that averages £500 less than England, free personal and nursing care, free bus travel for the disabled, over-60s and soon for all under 19s, and a more progressive income tax so that 54 per cent of people pay less than elsewhere in the UK. Because the Scottish Government spends more per capita on healthcare than any UK region, its Health Service is the top UK performer. Scotland has more GPs, nurses and midwives, nearly twice as many hospital beds, our A&E attendance is the lowest and patients are seen more quickly. Finally, Scotland’s superior Covid response has resulted in a 40 per cent lower infection rate, 20 per cent lower death rate and a 50 per cent lower care home death rate.

If only partial control over Scotland can deliver these results, imagine what an independent Scotland can achieve. The failed state, Mr Monteith, is the UK.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Merchiston Crescent, Edinburgh

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