Readers' Letters: Opposition must get ready for government

I attended an SNP leadership debate in Inverness last weeknote-0 hosted by the local newspaper. The audience was derived from their digital subscribers. There was no way of determining their politics, and no-one asked us, either during the event or beforehand.
Labour leader Anas Sarwar and his Tory and Lib Dem opposites must let the public know what they have to offer, says reader (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)Labour leader Anas Sarwar and his Tory and Lib Dem opposites must let the public know what they have to offer, says reader (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Labour leader Anas Sarwar and his Tory and Lib Dem opposites must let the public know what they have to offer, says reader (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

It had an interesting effect on the candidates, who had to assume that this was a genuine cross section of opinion from Inverness and the northern Highlands. There was virtually no mention whatsoever of constitutional politics. The discussion was to do with the A9 and the A96, NHS provision, support for rural businesses, infrastructure development, the operation of the Cairngorms National Park and reform of local government.

At one point, there was so much talk about devolution of local government that it felt like the candidates were reading from a Lib Dem manifesto. Kate Forbes was presenting her Tory-lite side to local business, and there is no doubt that had politics in Scotland been different at the moment Humza Yousaf would have been wearing a red rosette.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Much of the crowd was sceptical. Why would the SNP invest in the area now when they had not done this in the last 15 years? Why would a party which has centralised so much power now suddenly see the value of delegating responsibility? You would think they were telling people what they thought they wanted to hear.

And here’s the thing. This SNP government is obviously not going to last for long. The real choice is between one of these three, and Messrs Douglas Ross, Anas Sarwar and Alex Cole-Hamilton of the Conservatives, Labour and the Lib Dems respectively. If the debate is between left, right and liberal, you might as well look at the full-fat versions.

The issue, of course, is that they are all virtually invisible at the moment. All opposition politicians in the Scottish Parliament need to up their game and start telling the public what they are about and what it is they have to offer. The public want to debate real-life issues. They are sceptical about the SNP, but it is not good enough for others to simply be anti-SNP.

What do they believe, and what will they do? These are the real questions. The next election is not as far away as people think, and the Holyrood opposition need to wake up to this.

Victor Clements, Aberfeldy, Perthshire

An opportunity

The resignation of SNP CEO Peter Murrell has given the party a chance to reboot. There’s no denying that some of the deadwood at the top needs to be removed, as what was initially a radical new party with exciting ideas has become stale and unresponsive to public needs. The influence which the Greens hold over the Scottish Government is vastly disproportionate to their public support and their wings need to be clipped.

An SNP with younger ministers who may need time to mature may slow progress towards “independence”, but along the way perhaps the party can regain credibility and improve transparency, thereby gaining sufficient public trust to convince the electorate that separation from the rest of the UK is not a pipe dream but is a viable option.

Bob MacDougall, Oxhill, Kippen, Stirlingshire

Plus ca change?

Whoever wins the SNP leadership race will be a lame duck leader for some time to come. Despite Nicola Sturgeon insisting that her party is not in a mess, it truly is. In fact, if Kate Forbes wins then, through no fault of her own, it will be in an even bigger mess give how many of her senior colleagues seem to despise (a word not unfamiliar to the SNP) her.

There is no way the incoming FM can pay full attention to the job of governing a country with so much to prioritise within the all-important party and so little experience. Mind you, the outgoing FM didn’t really devote much time to governing on behalf of all the people either. Plus ca change?

Ken Currie, Edinburgh

Time to breathe

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The news that Peter Murrell will be standing down as SNP Chief Executive must come as huge relief to Nicola Sturgeon.

The ability for partners to openly converse is surely the bedrock of any strong relationship. Based on the evidence that both Ms Sturgeon and Mr Murrell have provided in recent years, they've not been able to discuss simple matters over the dinner table like so many other couples.

You know, those things like serious allegations against their former boss or a six-figure loan given by one of them to the party they both lead. It truly is incredible to think they weren't able to talk to each other about such matters.

As they stand down from their respective roles, they will now see the return of the open conversation they’ve no doubt longed for. No more SNP secrets kept from one another. Able after all these years to once again talk about matters of substance relating to the party they’ve dedicated decades to and led for so long. What a welcome relief I'm sure that will be to both of them. I hope they enjoy their newfound freedom.

J Lewis, Edinburgh

Wishful thinking

The three SNP candidates have said that Scotland could be independent within five years, even though latest polling indicates that support for independence is falling, while the UK government remains firmly opposed to another referendum.

Given the recent revelations of the SNP’s lies and murky finances, it is hardly surprising that all three candidate are guilty not just of wishful thinking but lying to and misleading their supporters.

Tim Jackson, Gullane, East Lothian

Admit defeat

The case for Scottish independence has imploded. In 2014 we witnessed the end of the Alex Salmond era, when the electorate of Scotland rejected his call for independence. More recently Nicola Sturgeon has met with a similar ending – as has the career of her husband, Peter Murrell. It is not at all likely that any of the candidates for the position of First Minister will inspire much support, especially since they seem intent on undermining each other's political records.

At the 2014 referendum the electorate made it perfectly clear to the SNP that their case for independence was not acceptable. The electorate is unlikely to change its mood towards the SNP’s preoccupation with breaking up the UK.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Surely the time has come for the SNP to simply accept the will of the people?

Robert IG Scott, Northfield, Ceres, Fife

Try, try again

How much dirty SNP linen can Scotland take in? We're into our fifth week of them brawling on the streets, so rather than canning their leadership election and subjecting us to another (admittedly entertaining) blizzard of acrimony, why not do as the Conservatives did last year and let members change their vote? They all – candidates, party hierarchy, members, MPs MSPs and councillors – made their bed or pretended not to know, so they must lie in it. And if they must have a rerun, others should stand – Joanna Cherry, for example.

Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

SNP maths

We are told there are currently about 72,000 members of the SNP. We are told also that the company Mi-Voice, which is running the election for SNP leader, has been given the names and addresses of 78,000 people who are to be given a vote.

I'm not a mathematician, but there does appear to be too many voters here. The leadership really ought to stop the election until an up-to-date list of members has been provided to the tellers. I’m not holding my breath, though.

Mike Watson, Edinburgh

Petty to the last

Nicola Sturgeon bred hatred of the Tories among SNP supporters during all her time in power. On her resignation she informed various people, including King Charles, of her intention to hand over the reins to someone else.

How vindictive a person is she that she remained consumed by bitterness to the end and did not notify the Prime Minister of her decision? A very undignified way to leave office and a bad reflection on Scotland. Let’s hope her successor can nurture a better relationship with Westminster and put an end to nine years of constantly picking fights over imaginary grievances.

Ian Balloch, Grangemouth, Falkirk

Big job

In all the years of the SNP promoting Scottish independence, I have not seen any reference to the enormous cost of setting up a whole raft of new government departments, currently being provided by Westminster. To name just a few: the diplomatic service, the FSA, the DVLA, the Passport Office, the Ministry of Defence etc. I believe there are over 60 such organisations that Scotland would have to fund for itself. I fear that Scotland would end up with more civil servants than there are employees in the private sector.

Will the SNP show us these figures, or will they try to hide them in the same way they have been hiding their membership figures?

Harry Cooksley, Findhorn, Moray

Off track

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

TransPennine Express, which operates in Scotland, recently cancelled the equivalent of nearly a quarter of services in a month. It appears that the operator has been badly hit by drivers no longer volunteering to work paid overtime shifts. A possible conclusion from this might be that if the drivers habitually work overtime, the system operates adequately. If not,it doesn’t.

Surely the taxpayer should be entitled to expect the system to work well without the requirement of drivers working overtime and exceptionally well when they do? It’s no way to run a railway.

David Edgar, Symington, South Lanarkshire

Write to The Scotsman

We welcome your thoughts – NO letters submitted elsewhere, please. Write to [email protected] including name, address and phone number – we won't print full details. Keep letters under 300 words, with no attachments, and avoid 'Letters to the Editor/Readers’ Letters' or similar in your subject line – be specific. If referring to an article, include date, page number and heading.




Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.