Readers' letters: Lee Anderson's foul-mouthed jibe comes as no surprise

The Tory attack on asylum seekers, reinforced by the deputy chair of the party Lee Anderson calling for them to “f*** off back to France”, should hardly come as a surprise (Scotsman, 9 August).

It is typical kneejerk, dog whistle politics to castigate asylum seekers and immigrants, especially by a Tory Party in the electoral mire, desperate to garner votes by whatever means possible. It should also be noted that these incendiary remarks have not been condemned by Keir Starmer.

It was one reason why many people backed Brexit, and is straight out of the right-wing play book, which sees the blame for an inability to get a GP appointment or a council house put firmly at the door of “immigrants”. While “stop the boats” is the best-known Tory pledge, cutting the size of NHS waiting lists seems to have disappeared off the agenda, probably explained by a rise in the overall waiting list south of the border.

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Asylum seekers represent just eight per cent of non-EU immigration last year but dominate the headlines. Glossing over the real issues to distract voters from failures, and attempting to blame them is a populist trick, tried many times through history.

The Home Office plans to accommodated 500 migrants on the Bibby Stockholm barge docked at Portland in Dorset (Picture: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)The Home Office plans to accommodated 500 migrants on the Bibby Stockholm barge docked at Portland in Dorset (Picture: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
The Home Office plans to accommodated 500 migrants on the Bibby Stockholm barge docked at Portland in Dorset (Picture: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

The UK is heading down a very dangerous road, with the Tories along with the pro-Brexit Labour Party happy to use human beings as political tools.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh

No lark in navy

Those serving in the post-war Royal Navy in the last century knew well HM Naval Base, Portland, undergoing training to ensure HM ships were ready to join the fleet. Portland naval base closed in 1995, the naval air station in 1999.

In a naval career, sailors would make multiple visits to Portland. Not once do I recall criticism from Britons ashore about naval ratings’ accommodation standards on board ship, with leading hands and ABs then living in messdecks of 30 with three-tier bunks. Comfortable it was not, particularly in rough seas, but Jolly Jack just got on with it – “life in a blue suit” being the common refrain.

Some asylum seekers are now on board the barge Bibby Stockholm at Portland, with more to follow. This barge’s accommodation and facilities are far better than in ships of HM fleet, with naval ratings at sea 24/7, protecting our island nation and British interests worldwide.

Yet today, some British civilians complain that this barge is unsuitable for people who have just arrived in our country, most of them uninvited. Am I allowed a wry smile?

Lester May (Lieutenant Commander, Royal Navy – retired), London

Exam results

You cannot fairly blame Humza Yousaf or the government of Scotland for the poorer examination results we are seeing (Scotsman, 9 August).

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My three grandchildren (aged 19, 16 and 14) have all hadtheir education severely disrupted in the interests of keeping them and many others alive, through Covid.

Three years of school closures have wreaked havoc for thousands of children and understandably in the less prosperous areas where working parents have notbeen able to supervise the online classes that were available, the effect has been greatest.

I wish all success in the future to the Scottish teachers and educators who worked so hard to provide online classes, and hope that future generations will not have to suffer in this way.

Jenny Martin, Edinburgh

Splashing the cash

It was interesting to read that among the SNP’s list of reckless and uncontrolled, Imelda Marcos-level, civil service spending under the previous First minister’s leadership (Scotsman, 9 August), there is a payment for a batch of books about running a government.

Clearly they had not been read by those that should have read them. Their preferred reading would have been about how to break up a successful country.

But again the most striking aspect to me was the delusions of grandeur of the then leader of a shaky coalition administering a sector of the UK. This was US Presidential-style splashing of cash on a relatively very minor personage with an enormous entourage and equally enormous ego. £14 million on what is mere fripperies is obscene during a cost of living crisis.

Perhaps after these revelations we will be spared the SNP’s ‘’Tory austerity’’ taunts. And what a joy when this nightmare is over if a decent administration emerges with ministers dedicating all their energy to their portfolios and nothing else.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

Credit cards

The Labour Party (Scotsman, 9 August) is guilty of conflating civil service fiscal guidelines with the SNP as Scottish civil servants are all part of the UK Civil Service and it is unlikely that different credit card criteria apply.

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As for Nicola Sturgeon using airport VIP channels, this greatly reduces the risk for a senior politician passing through an airport. That in turn reduces the demands on airport security and police resources. Also, paying for team bonding away days and staff development is normal in large organisations.

Labour might regret using this leaked report as Sir Keir Starmer charged taxpayers £161,273 for chauffeured car journeys home from work despite living just four miles and a direct Tube ride from the Crown Prosecution Service offices while his successor, Alison Saunders who was also DPP for five years, spent less than a third of Sir Keir’s total in expenses.

All this is a drop in the ocean compared to Liz Truss using a private jet to fly to Australia at a cost of £250,000 to taxpayers while she was Foreign Secretary or Rishi Sunak’s £50,000 helicopter jaunts. Meanwhile, SNP ministers have refused pay rises since 2009 and returned £1.3 million to the public purse.

Humza Yousaf is right to order a Civil Service review of credit card spending and this should extend to sacking whoever leaked such details to a political party.

Fraser Grant, Edinburgh

Camera shy

Am I the only one who was baffled by Tom Wood’s encouragement for vigilante action against a bus gate camera? In his opinion piece (Scotsman, 8 August) he seems to suggest that it is acceptable for anyone who feels that a legally installed measure lacks “general consent” is entitled to exercise wilful criminal damage.

While I don’t dispute his right to hold such opinions in private, It seems to me that Tom Wood, as a retired police officer, is sailing perilously close to bringing his former employer into disrepute. And that is arguably even worse than the barmy angle-grinder wielding one-man militia of Corstorphine.

Harald Tobermann, Edinburgh

Scotland’s elephant

You can tell a lot about someone as much by what they don't say as by what they say – as current First Minister Humza Yousaf illustrated by telling a Fringe audience they belonged “whether it’s your colour, whether it’s your gender, or your background” (Scotsman, 9 August). For he missed out the big old elephant in Scotland’s room: religion – strange for someone droning on every other chance he gets about being the UK’s first Muslim to hold high office.

Never was the time more apt for a clear statement that all sectarianism, regardless of affiliation, has no place in Humza’s All New Super Inclusive Merrie Old Land Of Oz. In my fifties, yet still routinely asked that loaded question upon joining anything new about “what school did you go to?”, it's the thistle long past being grasped and crushed.

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But no. Can’t be offending our multi-cultural plethora of knuckle-trailing tribal bigots with daydreams of their pseudo master race ruling supreme, can we? Not when Yousaf and his cronies might need them one day.

Mark Boyle, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

Murray’s fine

Martin Redfern’s concern for Ian Murray (Letters, 9 August) is touching. But why Rutherglen and Hamilton West voters should elect a Labour MP just to give Ian a pal isn’t explained.

Perhaps that’s because Labour has ditched its manifesto pledges so that now it’s in perfect lockstep with the Tories.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh

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