Readers' Letters: No need for a ‘war cabinet’ to replace Johnson

What are the practicalities of Sir Roger Gale’s proposal for a “war cabinet” to be set up in lieu of a leadership election if Prime Minister Boris Johnson decides to step down (Scotsman, 19 April)?

In some ways he is overcomplicating what should be a simple procedure. In the event that Mr Johnson became so seriously ill that he could not continue as PM, or he lost the support of the majority of his MPs so he could not continue as PM, his deputy Dominic Raab would take over.

He would, of course, be in charge of an administration concerned with a war. But this does not mean that a leadership election could not take place in a truncated form with a short deadline for nominations, the return of ballot papers and a reduction in the normal round of debates, televised or otherwise. The Conservative heirarchy has the power to introduce the change. It could do it if necessary without detracting from the United Kingdom's role in the effort to reduce the carnage in Ukraine.

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The war there could go on for a very long time. It was impossible to predict how long it would take Allied troops to remove Saddam Hussein's army from Kuwait in the autumn of 1990. But the leadership challenge to Margaret Thatcher from Michael Heseltine that November went ahead, albeit with the electorate limited to Conservative MPs. Those same MPs went on to choose John Major rather than Mr Heseltine, and six weeks later he was announcing that British troops would move in, as part of Operation Desert Storm, to remove the Iraqi military.

Dominic Raab would take over as PM if Boris Johnson could no longer continue in officeDominic Raab would take over as PM if Boris Johnson could no longer continue in office
Dominic Raab would take over as PM if Boris Johnson could no longer continue in office

Internal party democracy and the prosecution of war were not mutually exclusive in that turbulent time. Sir Roger should recognise that they need not be now when British troops are not, as yet, directly involved in the conflict.

Bob Taylor, Glenrothes, Fife


In relation to Boris Johnson and Partygate, your correspondent Gordon Bannatyne, (Letters, 16 April) writes: “I fully appreciate the feelings of those who were not allowed to visit loved ones but to say Mr Johnson was taking people for fools is a bit extreme.”

Having lost my mother to Covid in May 2020 after not being permitted access into the care home to be with her at the end of her life, my feelings towards the Partygate scandal are not extreme but justified.

Like the majority of people I followed every lockdown rule in place in the belief I was protecting the NHS and the people I cared for. To lose a loved one, not be with them at the end of their life and to say your goodbye over the telephone is heart-breaking.

Dealing with grief on your own in lockdown without family, as my sisters live overseas, and to discover, on the day you spent walking with a friend the streets of Edinburgh crying with grief, as lockdown rules prevented you from mixing indoors, that our Prime Minister on the same day was having a party with colleagues and drinking alcohol in Downing Street, then yes I do feel taken for a fool as Boris Johnson has made a mockery of it all.

C MacMichael, Edinburgh

Any connection?

Police Scotland reminded Nicola Sturgeon of “the importance of wearing a face covering where there is a legal requirement to do so” and that “no further action is necessary” (Scotsman, 19 April).

Earlier this month Chief Constable Iain Livingstone and the Scottish Police Authority pleaded for a capital budget funding of £463 million to cover the period from 2022-23 to 2026-27. It is thought that only £263m has been set aside.

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One must wonder if there is any connection between the two events and miraculously more money will be found.

Clark Cross,Linlithgow, West Lothian

Glass houses

Readers of these pages will be in no doubt of my views on the First Minister and the Nationalists. It was therefore with a certain amount of glee that I learned of the alleged breach of the face mask regulations by the First Minister,coming as it did the day before the long awaited change in those very regulations (Scotsman, 18 April).

Predictably this led to outraged responses from political opponents seeking to make capital.Taking a step back and on reflection, however, I couldn’t help but think that those responses smacked very much of desperation from the various parties who,sadly,remain in the political wilderness here in Scotland.

In essence the First Minister’s apparent omission could be construed at best as a minor lapse,but of course people in glass houses…

David Edgar, Symington, South Lanarkshire

Wind farms

Aileen Jackson points to the easy acceptance of wind farms by those who will never have to live near them (Letters, 18 April). This has left a free hand to developers in Scotland.

When subsidies stopped for wind farms in 2012 there were many hotly contested wind farm consents in Scotland of turbines around 100 metres high. Many of these consents, all over Scotland, are now new applications for larger turbines around 150 metres tall.

This means they bypass legislation designed for wind farms administered by councils and they go to the Energy Consents Unit under legislation from 1989 designed for power stations. Councils can trigger a public inquiry at great expense but it is hard to justify when so many councils are overruled by the Scottish Government on appeal. A scoping list is arranged between the regulatory body – ie the ECU – and the developer for interested parties to have input into the Environmental Impact Assessment. The 2017 regulations governing these assesments say Scottish Ministers must not adopt a scoping opinion until they have consulted interested parties.

The ECU did not notice for two years that Midlothian (population 93,000) and the community councils of Penicuik and Howgate (which will bear the brunt of the construction traffic) were missed off the scoping list for Cloich forest wind farm on hills above the tourist route from Edinburgh to Peebles The site is only 3km outside Midlothian in the Borders council area. The application is for an increase in height of 12 turbines to 149.5m (eight metres short of the Blackpool Tower). I am told the omission was an “oversight”.

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The ECU says scoping is “voluntary” under the 2017 regulations and because Midlothian Council has now been given the chance to put in a consultation that is the end of the matter. How can regulations be voluntary?

Celia Hobbs, Penicuik, Midlothian

Low blow

In her letter, Aileen Jackson did not address the big fault with wind farms in that, if there is no wind, there is no output. The Scotwind project of 25,000MW of off-shore wind farms comes at a capital cost of around £125 billion yet, if Holyrood bans fossil fuel generators and nuclear plant, what will keep the lights on in Scotland when there is prolonged high pressure over the winter?

Ian Moir, Castle Douglas, Dumfries and Galloway

Holiday time

Scotland has always followed its own pattern of public holidays independently from England.

So why would an independence-seeking Scottish Government close its offices on those days that are English but not Scottish public holidays?

Viola Stephenson, North Connel, Argyll and Bute

Divisive schools

Cameron Wyllie absolutely hits the nail on the head, when, in his list of how schools might specialise to serve the children who attend them, the religious beliefs of their parents should be the last to be considered (Scotsman, 19 April).

Many parts of Scottish society are already riven by adult sectarian divides. That the state pays for these divisions to be propagated in school children is a cruelty which, as Mr Wyllie identifies, will likely look even more absurd when the religious results of the Scottish census are revealed.

Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society

Badge of honour

As a Hearts supporter of more than 60 years standing, I was particularly delighted at our victory in the Scottish Cup semi-final on Saturday as it was clear that following them being outplayed and outclassed at Tynecastle the previous week, Hibs adopted thuggish tactics to try to beat us. Fortunately, football prevailed. As a proud Scot, I can now look forward to beating The Rangers and their awful supporters with their sectarian and anti-Scottish songs and chants.

I would also like to remind the tiny number of so-called Hearts fans who drape themselves with Union flags that there will be more than enough of those flags at the other end of Hampden on cup final day without the need for them to bring more.

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If they are looking for a flag that truly represents us and the nation, then they need look no further than the Hearts badge, which proudly incorporates the Scottish Saltire.

Brian Kelly, Edinburgh

Rotten Easter

Johnny Rotten marked Easter by saying of his erstwhile Sex Pistols band mates: “I supported them for years and years and years, knowing they were dead wood. None of them would have a career but for me. They did nothing before, they’ve done nothing since.”

Good to see he's phlegmatic about his recent failed litigation against them and isn't the least bitter about it. That he now sounds exactly like Malcolm McLaren did post-Pistols till the end of his days shows not only has Rotten lost a case, but his sense of irony.

Mark Boyle, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

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