Readers' letters: John Swinney's a leaopard who won't change his spots

Our new (recycled) SNP leader and First Minister says, “I have changed”. He wants to work “collaboratively” with opposition parties. “Collaborator” was an unpleasant word during the last war and I strongly suspect that the Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem opposition parties view Mr Swinney in the same way as me. He is a leopard and leopards are famed for not changing their spots.

Indeed, many expressions come to mind in connection with the SNP. When it comes to Mr Yousaf, the words “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words? They cannot hurt me” are contradicted by a law passed by the latter and voted for by the present First Minister which aims to make opinion punishable with a prison sentence. Contradiction is the word which defines the SNP.

They claim to be “Scotland’s party” and yet they stand for things which totally contradict what Scots people want.

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Here's an idea, however. If Mr Swinney is the nice guy he wants to persuade us that he is, he could repeal the Hate Crime Act. He could scrap any nonsense about gender identity. He could dual the A9. He could support the oil and gas industry. He could open talks about keeping the Grangemouth refinery open and keeping oil industry jobs for Scots. He could ditch the never-ending independence mantra.

John Swinney chairs his first Cabinet meeting since taking up the role, at Bute House yesterday (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/PA Wire)John Swinney chairs his first Cabinet meeting since taking up the role, at Bute House yesterday (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/PA Wire)
John Swinney chairs his first Cabinet meeting since taking up the role, at Bute House yesterday (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/PA Wire)

In short, he could do what the overwhelming majority of Scots people want him to do. Then – and only then – people might believe what simply sound to me like mealy-mouthed words.

Andrew HN Gray, Edinburgh

Pressing issues

When we had cause for better priorities from our new First Minister, it was sad to have the seemingly first question to John Swinney at Holyrood lat his first FMQs one that related to gender issues from the leader of the Greens – just when we hoped to have more pressing issues being raised: child poverty, the NHS and education, as mentioned by Mr Swinney at his press conference the previous day.

Equally sadly, BBC Scotland in interviewing the First Minister in the evening bulletin, pressed him on his stance on LGBT Issues, when NHS waiting lists etc would have been far more relevant and of interest to not just a minority.

Please can we have a priority list set out and concentrated on, with “independence” far enough down said list – that way the SNP may have a chance of more votes at the next election.

James C Orr, Pathhead, Midlothian

Prime objective

We all know that the only objective of the SNP is the breaking up of the United Kingdom and independence for Scotland. So why is John Swinney telling parliament that “we will all have to work together” to get legislation through parliament, when the only aim of the SNP is to get rid of the devolved parliament.

In reality, Mr Swinney’s offer to opposition parties to work with the SNP is, in fact, an invitation to help the SNP achieve its ultimate ambition.

Jim Houston, Edinburgh

Limited tolerance

So the Green Party, which claims to stand for fairness, tolerance and freedom for all people in Scotland, refuses to vote in favour of the new Deputy First Minister, because her views on sexual ethics – shared by a large percentage of the Scottish population – don’t square with their own. Where is the tolerance in that?

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By appointing Kate Forbes as his Deputy, John Swinney has wittingly or unwittingly forced the Green leadership to demonstrate that tolerance of those they disagree with has no place in their self-righteous agenda.

Michael Lind, Conon Bridge, Highland

Happy birthday

I’ve decided I’m a really bad person. I relished Yousaf’s dismissal of the Green MSPs Harvie and Slater, not just the fact of it, but the way they had to make their own way home rather than use their taxpayer-funded chauffeur service. I took great delight when Yousaf then resigned. Then I enjoyed the sight of the rather pompous Harvie taking pot-shots at Kate Forbes in Holyrood.

It’s hard to imagine three better birthday presents for my recent 70th.

Brian Barbour, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland

Civic nationalism

The SNP decided some time ago that to be successful they had to disguise their nationalism with the term “civic nationalism”, trying to convince the voters that Scottish nationalism was benign, woke, liberal and cool and certainly not anglophobic or identity-based.

Their recent travails indicate that the civic tail is now wagging the nationalist dog, much to the dismay of those SNP members who really do want separation from the English and are at best neutral on trans issues, hate crime and other woke tropes.

Dr Nick Williams, Auchenblae, Aberdeenshire

Grammar crammer

Dr Ian Galt (Letters, 9 May) made several excellent grammatical points, although Hutchesons’ Grammar, is not necessarily to blame for Humza Yousaf’s incorrectly worded resignation letter to the King.

My Glasgow-born Dad left “Hutchie”, worked in shipping then, age 29, volunteered in 1939 to join the RAF, going on to pilot a glider-towing Dakota on Operation Varsity, the Allied aerial invasion of the Rhine. He knew full well, that ink on paper was evidence that you were “writing to say…”

Back in the day, Scottish education, generally, was of a very high standard. I went to Jordanhill College School, where pupils left school understanding a letter is a purely a conversation.

Doug Morrison, Cranbrook, Kent

‘Scottish-y’ Cass

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Now we know that the primary purpose of Holyrood is to ensure that legislation, reports or actions emanating from it have a Scottish-y complexion. The most disastrous result of this obsession was the ‘Scottish census’ in 2022, which was poorly organised and achieved a significantly lower return rate than the normal UK census in England and Wales.

Now we have a similar issue with the Cass report. SNP public health minister Jenni Minto admits it is a “scientific and evidence-based document”, but her party cannot agree simply to implement its recommendations in Scotland. Perhaps it was because that was a Conservative proposal, and we know that Conservatives are anathema to the SNP.

So the SNP’s amendment that Holyrood should examine the Cass review and report back was accepted. This will enable ministers and their advisers to pore over it at length and to tweak it so that it has singularly Scottish characteristics.

Because, as we all know, scientific facts change once they cross the border.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh

Lost in translation

Ah readit “Eck” Mackay's letter aboot that Harper wifie’s hummill bummil wi Doaktur Cass (Scotsman, 9 May). It micht huv come ower better if she’d spikken in yon Scotch leid thit she oafen yaises tae remind us a’ she's mair Scoatish an, abune the rest ae us insteed o’ trying tae impress by spikkin English whiche she's clearly no’ fluent in ken?

At least then Dr Cass wid nivver uv kent Ms Harper didny huv a clue whit she wiz haverin’ oan aboot, ken?

Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

Labour hypocrisy

Perhaps 17 years of failed opposition explains Jackie Baillie’s bitter and ungracious column yesterday. It ends with a baseless demand for an early Holyrood election.

Ηolyrood is a five-year, fixed-term parliament. We elected our MSPs just three years ago. The SNP won. Labour’s recent no-confidence motion in the government was defeated. John Swinney was elected as First Minister by a majority of our MSPs. He’s perfectly entitled to run a minority government, just as happened in 2007-11 and 2016-21.

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Scottish Labour’s supposedly heart-felt belief in the Scottish people getting another, early vote would not reek of opportunism and hypocrisy if they extended the principle to another independence referendum. Sarwar claims that he “absolutely believes in the principle of self-determination” and Starmer recently confirmed that the Union was “voluntary”. But ten years have passed and Labour refuses to say by what method or timescale the Scottish public can exercise a vote.

Robert Farquharson, Edinburgh

Elizabeth I

I have been not a little surprised to read, in Scottish newspapers, references to Her Late Majesty as Queen Elizabeth II. These include mention of possible memorials to her, in Scotland, using that title. Might I remind readers that, as the song says: “How can there be a Second when the First has never been?”

Some sensitivity would not go amiss, as many Scots take a dim view of our history being overlooked in favour of that of our larger neighbour. The inappropriateness of the designation, however, was tacitly acknowledged during the monarch's lifetime, with letterboxes and telephone kiosks designed without the offending numeral. It was acceptable too for Scottish MPs to take their oath to simply “Queen Elizabeth and her heirs”.

The number is simply not required in Scotland, as the late Queen was the only Elizabeth to have reigned over this part of the UK, and that fact should be reflected in our discourse and our monuments. No numeral is required north of the Border; just “Queen Elizabeth” will suffice.

Jane Ann Liston, St Andrews, Fife

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