Readers' Letters: McLeish wrong to condemn electoral system

Former First Minister Henry McLeish calls for a new Holyrood electoral system as he didn't anticipate one party having a majority, as the SNP have had since 2007, “with the help of the Greens” (Scotsman Online, March 21). This is a very selective view of what has happened since the formation of the Scottish Parliament in 1999.

Scotland's former First Minister Henry McLeish (Picture: Getty)

In that year a Labour government was formed with the help of the LibDems, an arrangement which lasted until 2007. This allowed Labour to run the country whilst the LibDems were rewarded with a few lesser ministerial posts and eventually places for their leaders in that repository for nearly successful politicians, the House of Lords.

When the SNP gained the most seats of any party in 2011 there was no other party willing to go into coalition with them. Alex Salmond formed a minority government and so successfully managed Scotland's affairs that he achieved what was designed to be impossible, an overall SNP majority in 2011. That success has never been replicated but since then the SNP has formed the government, backed on most issues by the Greens.

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I agree that the electoral system in Scotland could be improved but over the past 22 years it has given us all these different outcomes and, incidentally, saved the Scottish Conservatives from being wiped off the electoral map. The route to success for parties other than the SNP is not gerrymandering with the system but for them to produce policiesnwhich gain majority support. So far they have signally failed in this attempt.

Ian McKee, The Cedars, Edinburgh

Call SNP bluff

In the two recent referendums (2014 and 2016) I voted to remain in the UK and the EU. In football parlance, won 1 lost 1, but accepted the result in both. Democracy I think it's called. I am, no doubt like many others, fed up of politics in Scotland being dominated by decisive argument on the constitution. Although not supported by polls on the priorities of the Scottish public, the SNP continue to demand a second referendum.

Surely Boris Johnson, and other Union supporting parties, are missing an open goal? Agree to a second referendum which will be held in 2030, 2035 or 2039, depending on an agreed definition of a generation (16, 21 or 25 years). This timescale will allow proper evaluation of Brexit and post-pandemic consequences and let the Scottish Government concentrate on improving education standards, reducing drug deaths and the real priorities of the Scottish public.

Of course, the SNP would not support this proposition as, heaven forbid, their worst fears might be realised… Brexit turns out to be a success and a bogey man no longer resides in Downing Street.

James Callachan, Bellsburn Avenue, Linlithgow

Lucky escape

I feel for Nicola Sturgeon right now. The committee which started out with an in-built pro-SNP majority has resulted in a majority who disbelieve her testimony. Any politician with a sense of honour would be duty-bound to resign over their findings. What Ms Sturgeon does will tell us all we need to know about her in that regard.

Then, to cap it all, the head of her favourite unelected institution, (the EU Commission's) President, Ursula von der Leyen, threatened to ban EU exports of vaccine to the UK, in just the same way they unilaterally blocked the Irish/Northern Ireland border without remembering to let the Irish Government know first. They also threatened to take over vaccine factories and all this while they were sitting on a stockpile of over 7 million jabs of AstraZenica's vaccine that they were refusing to use!

Lunatics and asylums come to mind, but the best is yet to come. Having given big grins and thumbs-up signs after her speech, Ms von der Leyen had to be notified (by Pfizer, AstraZenica's EU rival vaccine manufacturer) that blockading the UK would mean that the fatty molecules essential for the manufacture of any Covid vaccine, which are made in the UK, by the way would mean that EU vaccine production would soon grind to a halt.

Who would buy a second-hand car from von der Leyen or Nicola Sturgeon, who wanted Scotland to be in the EU's vaccination system?

Dave Anderson, Broomhill Road, Aberdeen

Balanced view

In a reasonably balanced contribution dealing with the make- up of the parliamentary committee considering the handling of the harassment complaint against Alex Salmond, Colin Hamilton (Letters, March 22 ) says “How the SNP bigwigs must regret that their usual selection process was not followed to pack the the Salmond inquiry committee " .A bit of basic research would have revealed that this is yet another unfounded conspiracy theory as the rules governing the composition of committees clearly state under the heading “ The structure of the committee system” , “ Members of the Committees are selected so that the balance of the political parties in Parliament is retained” . That's another myth come to grief on the inconvenient rock of democracy.

Gill Turner, Derby Street, Edinburgh

Be better

It is significant that so many defences of the FM's refusal to act honourably and fall on her sword are based on “whitabootery”.

I agree that the UK Parliament has several others whose conduct is a disgrace, but I hoped Scottish politicians would be better than, not just as bad as, Westminsters. Ms Sturgeon's selfish intransigence is letting down the nation she purports to love.

Tim Flinn, Garvald, East Lothian

Peer review

The leader of the Scottish branch office of the Conservative Party has had enough of representing her constituency in the Scottish parliament but instead of looking for an honest job she is off at our expense to sit in that bizarre anachronism, the House of Lords , along with those who have been rewarded for making a lot of money, those who just did their jobs, those who donated money to the Tory Party or Labour, a bunch of strangely dressed clerics from a sect calling itself “the Church of England” and a crowd of feudal relics whose only qualification is that their fathers were members.

If she had a shred of integrity she would refuse this jolly, look for an honest job and thank the Scottish taxpayer for keeping her so comfortably.

David Currie, Tarland, Aberdeenshire

No more fatwas

Now that the SNP Hate Crime legislation has been passed it is self evident that imams cannot now issue any fatwas as these are clearly in breach of this law. Equally, any fatwas in place must be withdrawn, such as the fatwa against the scholar Paigham Mustafa.Humza Yousaf, the Justice Secretary, must demand the immediate cancellation of this fatwa, or Police Scotland should deal with the 15 imams involved. The law is now clear.

Vaughan Hammond, Braco, Perthshire

M isguided idea

The notion of making misogyny a hate crime, voiced in Parliament and supported by the more extreme women’s groups, won’t deter misogynists who wish to harm women. It turns individual criminality into a blanket vilification of men, encourages the professionally offended and burdens authorities with more bureaucracy and paperwork.

Installing a 6pm curfew for men to allow women to walk outdoors takes us back to the pejorative Victorian belief that women are feeble and incompetent. Sarah Everard’s death had been hijacked by those with political agendas, typically radical feminists intent on fanning the flames of a gratuitous, dangerous culture war between men and women.

Sarah's abduction and killing was not a symptom of a sexist society. If there is to be a legislative response to her murder, it should be a properly considered, not a knee-jerk reaction which would enshrine in law the wrongful and insidious assumption that women are pathetic and require special protection from the uncontrollable urges of men.

(Rev Dr) John Cameron, Howard Place, St Andrews

Pull other one

Mike Russell of the SNP was on TV over the weekend accusing the leaked Holyrood Committee report of voting along party lines. Well, did it?; it had a majority of pro independence MSPs (if you include Andy Wightman, former Green member ), so obviously not all of them did, otherwise it would have found in favour of Nicola Sturgeon. Also, is he trying to tell us that the four SNP members did not vote along party lines? P ull the other one!

William Ballantine, Dean Road, Bo'ness, West Lothian

Planet Russell

Anyone watching Adam Tomkins's passionate, clear demolition of the SNP/Greens weekend assault on the Salmond i nquiry who is not a devout Tory hater, extreme communist or rabid Scottish nationalist must have been flabbergasted by Mike Russell's attempt to pin all the blame for the rumoured outcome on the Conservatives.

At one point, in a stupendous denial of reality, he said “the people who can't be trusted are the people who have come to conclusions without evidence " when the fact is, the most damning evidence has been in the public domain for weeks, but officially kept from the committe e by Mr Russell's party and its paid servants in the supposedly neutral, independent, Civil Service and Crown Offices.

He was so wrapped in his faux outrage that he even said "Alex Salmond was found guilty" before immediately correcting himself. Unfortunately he didn't have the good grace, common sense or state of mind to do the same regarding his "Trump" rant. Perhaps his upcoming retirement and an Indy-stopping bloody nose at the polls in May might prompt an apology. I doubt it. People from whatever planet he is from just don't do that.

Allan Sutherland, Willow Row, Stonehaven

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