Readers' letters: Johnson's Marx Brothers' policies and Scottish local elections

Reflecting on the outcome of the local elections and the Tories’ calamitous loss of seats, Murdo Fraser comments that ‘it would be fair to expect many of those who sat on their hands in these elections to return to the fold in a Westminster or Scottish parliamentary election where the stakes are higher’ (Local elections special, 7 May).

Boris Johnson and Murdo Fraser
Boris Johnson and Murdo Fraser

He should try looking himself in the mirror and reading that sentence out loud: would he recognise how tone deaf to voters’ intentions it sounds, not to mention breathtakingly patronising and entitled (Tories ‘expect...’).

All that before we get to the casual insult to his own voters who will ‘return to the fold’. That would be ‘the fold’ as in sheep, voters without the capacity to change their minds and make new choices?

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In North Berwick Coastal ward a well-known Tory councillor and a highly-regarded Tory community campaigner faced fierce challenges from a veteran Labour stalwart; an SNP candidate with extensive experience in the Middle East; and a highly engaged, and engaging, Green party environmentalist.

In first preferences the leading four were separated by a few handfuls of votes, with the fifth placed Green also polling over a thousand once second preferences were tallied.

The ward had the county’s highest percentage turn out with voters exasperated by both the energy crisis and the scourge of second homes and proliferating Airbnbs.

These are pricing out of the local market those renting on low incomes, as well as first time buyers. Not much ‘sitting on their hands’ here.

Mr Fraser thinks these elections don’t matter because ‘the stakes are higher’ in parliamentary elections. Higher for whom?

Ambitious politicians maybe, but voters can’t wait for yet another election to help them heat their homes, put food on the table or meet bewildering price increases in goods and services.

They need action now, and concrete assistance now, from the politicians they’ve already elected, the overwhelming majority of whom belong to the SNP.

As for Westminster’s false prospectuses: what happened to the disappearing £350 million on the side of the bus; the non-existent Brexit opportunities; the forgotten Northern Powerhouse; the abandoned super-railways; the mirage of levelling up?

Voters have cottoned on to the fact that a Johnson election manifesto isn’t a contract but a deception, a junk currency belonging in the same basket as the cynical opportunism of Groucho Marx’s famous gag: ‘These are my principles; and if you don’t like them, well, I have others’.

Dr Geraldine Prince North Berwick

SNP joy misplaced

Nicola Sturgeon and followers are cock-a-hoop with her perceived success on Thursday.

The facts are, not including Independent councillors elected:

pro-independence councillors elected (SNP +Greens): 488.

pro-Union councillors elected (Con,Lab,Lib-Dem): 583.

I believe there should be a referendum ASAP because there is no majority for separation and we can end this constitutional quagmire once and for all.

Following seven abysmal, costly years, Nicola Sturgeon has consistently failed to offer any economic/ financial/ defence plans for a successful independent Scotland. Her supporters are stuck in an emotional independence, xenophobic bog.

Pro-Union votes cast v pro-separation votes in the election will again show that in any referendum Ms Sturgeon will lose. She knows that hence her procrastination.

Douglas Cowe, Newmachar

New alliance

What a load of baloney is being talked about the 2022 Stormont elections, with everyone babbling about the most dramatic rather than the realistic.

Sinn Fein became the largest party, but couldn't win a single new seat. The umpteen flavours of unionist (from spicy to ultra bitter orange) are sulking and won't play.

In short, little's changed among those who have done zero for decades.Mythical border polls and all manner of bally-hoo-ha are being chattered loudly, all to avoid the giant amber elephant in the room of the Alliance Party NI doubling its seats to 17 at the expense of every other party.

The look of horror on SF and DUP supporters at each APNI victory said it all - they know the clock's now ticking.

NI is changing, but not quite the way sensationalist headline writers would have it.

No other party has ever cut across the sectarian divide in such devastating fashion.

This is the real story of Stormont 2022 - the bigots are on your way out, a new generation wants new ideas, not old scores.

Mark Boyle, Johnstone

Pension potty

Your Letters page certainly attracts some weird and wonderful views but Saturday’s letter from a member of Pensioners for Independence sounded a bit sadder than most.

Maybe the thought that significantly higher pensions in an independent Scotland is what keeps them going in their later years, but I fear they are a bit delusionary.

They may have stimulating talks on farming and port management, but perhaps they should focus on economic reality among their ranks.

They have, however, hopefully exploded one myth, namely that the rest of the UK will be only too willing to pay their substantially increased pensions.

Or have they? As a pensioner myself, I would love believe in their unicorn but senility hasn’t quite set in here yet.

Ken Currie, Edinburgh

Bugs still bug

Jim Sutherland (Bug screening,7 May) is right to point out that measuring insect numbers by counting car splats might be affected by car aerodynamics.

But even if insect numbers have declined in Scotland, they haven't in warmer climes, where insecticides are less well controlled than here and forests are being chopped down.

Dengue fever is spread by mosquitoes. We have been attacking them vigorously for more than a century. But in the last 20 years dengue case numbers have shot up eight-fold, currently at least 390 million a year- each one from a mosquito bite.

Hugh Pennington, Aberdeen

The voters’ tale

D Mitchell was clearly trying to maximise the potential of the STV voting system when he/she marked all 13 of his/her preferences on the City Centre ballot paper (Letters, 7 May).

However, it doesn't seem to have dented the Conservative Jo Mowat's result who was "first past the quota" straight away, no doubt because well-informed voters were aware of her track record as a hardworking, attentive and fair-minded local councillor.

By contrast, the SNP's Rob Munn in the next-door Leith Walk ward was eliminated despite his own party's recommendation to give him the first preference vote and a well-earned reputation as a decent politician with attention to detail and good local knowledge.

Harald Tobermann, Edinburgh

Swinn Fein

John "Swinn Fein" Swinney's pledge to work with Sinn Fein in "separatist alliance" seems illogical to me.

Sinn Fein wants to unite two entities on one island which, whatever your religious or political views, has a certain, basic, logic to it.

The SNP wants to split an island up into two states after 300 years of political stability, security and relative prosperity.

In so publicly supporting Sinn Fein they also severely risk re-igniting and worsening the ball and chain of sectarian strife that dogged Scotland for years and had been improving - and losing votes from their disgusted supporters

Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven

Costly errors

Hinckley Point C is now nearly £5 billion over budget, and two years late.

The Elizabeth Line, due to open in 2018 and now Crossrail’s contribution to the Platinum Jubilee, needs over £1 billion more to complete.

And HS2, the flagship of the levelling up agenda, is so late that we have forgotten about it.

Its costs trebled from around £30 billion to an eye-watering sum of over £100 billion, and at that point the line was cut short just beyond Birmingham. So much for levelling up.

Each of these projects is situated in the south of England. No Barnett consequential flows from them, and yet tax-payers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are funding their mis-management, paying the bill for over-running costs due to incompetent government.

Frances Scott, Edinburgh

Poor in need

I despair over what our country is becoming. I have read about pensioners who cannot afford to heat their homes and are spending all day on buses to keep warm.

Today I learn of an elderly man sitting in a shopping centre all day watching TV through a shop window because its warmer there.

How can this be a reality in a rich and modern country?

Why should those who don’t have to worry about where their next meal or pair of shoes comes from be allowed to reduce ordinary human beings to being desperate just to survive?

Many parents are starving in order to feed their children. Many older people are being forced out of their homes because they can’t afford something as basic as to be warm and light their homes.

The latest atrocity I read about was a drug addict who died in a hostel in Blackburn after using his PIP payment to score and ultimately kill himself via his addiction.

Let’s stop destroying our beautiful country and the people in it by allowing the rich to stamp all over the poor.

Bronwyn Matthew, East Lothian

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