Readers' letters: Johnson created a government in own image

Following Dominic Cummings’ allegations on Wednesday, anyone curious about Boris Johnson’s long lack of acquaintance with honesty should read Peter Oborne’s book, “The Assault On Truth” which, the author says, is not sufficiently lengthy to document all the evidence he gathered of Johnson’s mendacity. He has “form” and it is hardly surprising that he leads a government in which lies and misrepresentation have become the norm.

Boris Johnson, says journalist Peter Oborne, tells lies (Picture: Ben Stansall/AFP via Getty Images)

The alternative to believing Cummings’ allegations is that Johnson brought into the heart of government a fantasist and liar. Not only that, Cummings worked for Michael Gove at Education and all three – Johnson, Gove and Cummings – were at the heart of the Brexit campaign. Brexit and its populist message has created a tribal loyalty amongst those in England who voted for it. Johnson has banked considerable, unquestioning support and it may sustain him even as numerous other promises – such as protecting the NHS, workers’ rights, farming and fishing – turn out to be worthless.Oborne claims that Johnson’s election as Prime Minister ended the shared commitment to standards of truth and accuracy in our politics. His persistent lying is a “form of political theft” robbing the public of their ability to make judgements as a “public domain with shared facts and assumptions” no longer exists. Truth “becomes what power says it is”.We have been warned.

Robert Farquharson, Lee Crescent, Edinburgh

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Tower of Babble?

It was not only the revelations regarding the UK government’s failings that grabbed the attention in the Dominic Cummings testimony. He has also revealed that Nicola Sturgeon’s ‘’babbling’’ after high-level Cobra meetings turned these vitally important get-togethers into a “sham”. Participants were afraid to be open because she would immediately afterwards “blab” on TV information and views given in the strictest confidence. She would go from the Cobra meeting to her free and exclusive daily BBC Scotland and STV-supplied TV slot, supposedly there to update the country on the pandemic, and take full political advantage.

Well, she had an election to fight, hadn’t she? Who cares about probity and trust and integrity and statesmanship when there is even a remote prospect of furthering the break-up of the UK?

Alexander McKay, New Cut Rigg, Edinburgh

Testing times

There is something strange about the fact that Scotland forces you to use CTM Portal, which charges far more than anyone else, to book Day 2 and Day 8 PCR tests if you are returning from an Amber country (and Day 2 tests from a Green country). In England and Wales there are several providers, which have driven costs down, and most airlines have also negotiated with providers to provide discount codes to drive costs down further and make them affordable for travel. In Scotland the prices are substantially higher than any England provider and continue to remain high.

And on another note, you cannot get a Vaccination Status Letter in Scotland. If you go to the website you can print out your status, but the option for a PDF has been removed by the government after it was pointed out that these documents are easily forged! They will be replaced by Digital Passports, but when will that happen and what are we meant to do in the meantime? The website says that you can call to get a Vaccination Status Letter, but when I did they admitted that they are just going to print out the same web page and send it to you. The website also says that you should call to get a Vaccination Status Letter if you are travelling within the next 21 days, but again, when you call in for one, they say it will take 21 days to print out the same thing you can print at home and send it to you in the mail (how are they posting it that it takes so long?). So the only option is to get a PCR test and you can only get that from CTM… seeing a pattern here?

Peter Lang, Front Lebanon, Cupar

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These 11 historic Glasgow buildings are at risk of vanishing forever

Discharge card

Donald Lewis (Letters, 28 May) fails to understand the limitations of devolution as the Scottish Government had to initially follow the flawed UK policy on Covid as it didn’t have the statutory powers to close borders and implement a lockdown, or the borrowing powers to compensate businesses and individuals through furlough etc.

It is astonishing that the BBC continues to promote the narrative that Scotland’s death rate is “roughly the same as the UK” when the official UK government site listing deaths by nation shows that the death rate per 100,000 in Scotland is 140, compared to 199 in England and 176 in Wales, which has been the pattern over the past 15 months.

Then on the BBC News channel, Dr Philippa Whitford had to correct Clive Myrie, who claimed that Scotland has one of the highest care home death rates per capita “anywhere in Europe”, by pointing that a recent Nuffield Trust report and London School of Economics research both refuted these claims.

To date, there is no evidence that hospital discharges led to a spike in care home deaths as opposed to transmission by asymptomatic agency staff and the failure to isolate residents who had caught the virus. Also, the size of the care home was more of an indicator of outbreak risk than hospital discharges, which were ultimately taken by clinicians and home care managers in the best interest of patients.

Mary Thomas, Watson Crescent, Edinburgh

Blaming Boris

I notice that Neil Ferguson and Nicola Sturgeon have joined explicitly or implicitly in blaming Boris Johnson for excess loss of life. Why not complete the case now by blaming him for: The lateness of the Chinese in providing warnings and allowing infected individuals to leave the country.

The slowness of the World Health Organisation in providing warnings and advice on how to contain or eliminate the virus.

The slowness of the mass of UK so-called specialists to march on 10 Downing Street much earlier with demands that the country be shut down. If everything was so clear then surely they should have acted much earlier with a united front and clear demands.

The lack of equipment to protect against the disease in hospitals and amongst the population. That will make Blair/Brown/Cameron and May, as well as Salmond and Sturgeon, feel exonerated. After all, Boris had been in power a whole few days when the infection took hold in China.

Boris surely must have known that when he asked people to observe distancing they would follow the advice for their own sake. He failed to act as a dictator and caused a week’s delay. Shame on him for all his failures and good for all the other participants in the disaster. They can now feel happy they are exonerated of all guilt.

I anticipate that more people will now jump on to the “blame game” bandwagon.

John Peter, Monks Road, Airdrie

Lost Glasgow

Yesterday’s picture essay is a troubling reminder that many of Glasgow's historical buildings are at risk. The city's architectural heritage is one of its great assets, and too much of it was indiscriminately destroyed in the 1960s and 1970s. So many of these buildings were demolished that in 1981 Frank Worsdall wrote a book titled, The City That Disappeared. It makes for both interesting and painful reading. Many of Glasgow's demolished buildings could still be fulfilling a role in the 21st-century city. The St Enoch Hotel would have made an excellent stone-cleaned frontage for the Centre. The Christian Institute in Bothwell Street could have been converted into offices and one could see the Grand Hotel at Charing Cross being one of the city's top hotels.

These buildings cannot be brought back and it would be a tragedy if more of Glasgow's historic buildings were to be lost.

Robert Kelly, Bonhill Road, Dumbarton

Turbines total

According to experts at Aberdeen's Robert Gordon University the number of workers in the UK's offshore energy sector could reach 220,000 by the end of this decade (your report, 25 May). In Scotland the "tens-of-thousands" of wind turbine jobs promised went to foreign manufacturers and foreign workers. The UK Offshore Energy Workforce Transferability Review says that the UK needs to install 2,500 offshore wind turbines by 2030. Why? The UK is already saturated with them and at times we cannot use all the electricity they produce. This work will also go to foreign manufacturers and foreign workers since the UK cannot compete on price. Constraint payments for turbines in Scotland since 2010 are fast approaching £1 billion, which was added to our electricity bill, causing fuel poverty.

Clark Cross, Springfield Road Linlithgow

Slanging match

Further to two reports in The Scotsman of 28 May (“New term sees new faces but same old arguments” and “Numptitude claims a place in dictionary”), I offer an alternative report on this week’s proceedings at the opening of the sixth session of the Scottish Parliament. Whilst it was good to see MSPs back in action, apparently not too jaked, some may say they continued to display considerable numptitude and, frankly, are just a bunch of roasters. Nicola Sturgeon put on her usual scary biscuits face when dealing with First Minister’s Questions from the opposition leaders, looking down at them and treating them as a bunch of wee shames.

Whilst issuing her usual run of apologies and “will do better in the future” platitudes, at no point could she could be described as tonto. No doubt she may well have been tempted to ask newbie Douglas Ross if yer da sells Avon.

Overall, a dull first day but the big fear, going forward, is that it will be a real clusterbourach if the SNP and the Scottish Greens do formalise a working partnership.

Adam Gillingham, Trinity, Edinburgh

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