Readers' Letters: Politicians need to get out into the real world

As someone who enjoys political debate, I had it confirmed to me why I don't want to be a politician while listening to 15 minutes of First Minister’s Questions on three Thursday day shifts.

On the first occasion I had seven deliveries which started in Tarland and by the time I reached Logie Coldstone, Douglas Ross was asking questions on the rail dispute and the chaos caused along with Anas Sarwar.

I can tell you it was not causing any chaos at all out in Tarland, Logie Coldstone to the couple of customers in the Keig area, or in Auchleven (Premnay), Daviot or finally Maud. Why? Well like Peterhead they don't have railways.

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On the second occasion it was whether or not the cost-of-living crisis was helped or hindered by independence.

Nicola Sturgeon responds during First Minister's Questions at the Scottish ParliamentNicola Sturgeon responds during First Minister's Questions at the Scottish Parliament
Nicola Sturgeon responds during First Minister's Questions at the Scottish Parliament

What would Anas Sarwar, Douglas Ross or the First Minister know about the cost-of living-crisis compared to someone earning £10 an hour in a supermarket or the £11.50 an hour that I earn delivering groceries? Thankfully, I was out in Pitmedden, Newmacher and Cultercullen delivering groceries between noon and 1pm.

Third time lucky but no real improvement was on 30 June, when the police were the subject of discussion.

Telling us that police are paid more than in England or that spending per 100,000 is better is all very well but Aberdeenshire is a completely different area to police than the Central Belt of Scotland.

it is high time all politicians, regardless of party, took time out to find out the situation on the ground. Maybe by September they will have done so – or maybe not.

Peter Ovenstone Peterhead, Aberdeenshire

Bus lane blues

I was horrified to read Ian Swanson’s article on the expansion of bus lane provision in Edinburgh (Scotsman, 1 July) and how little Councillor Chas Booth knows about the people he is supposed to serve.

Changing the timing of bus lanes to 7am-7pm seven days a week has no justification as it will not create a significant switch to public transport. Local community halls currently little impacted by peak time-only bus lanes will then have parking and drop-off issues. This will create issues in side streets or could see some activities stop because the old and the young cannot access them. This could lead to knock-on issues of loneliness and mental health problems as we recover from the pandemic.

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As a motorist and bus user I do think peak time bus lanes (and enforcement) have a significant part to play in keeping Edinburgh moving but with an ageing population investment in public transport has to look at the frequency of services and spreading regular bus options to all areas.

I am amazed Cllr Booth has stated drivers have a perception that bus lanes are holding them up. I suggest he talks to the drivers who come in at the Cramond Brig on the A90 and the delays/increasing air pollution caused by the fairly new peak time-only bus lane there. The one-size fits-all approach is not the solution and the full council should reject it.

Michael G Cockburn, Edinburgh

Them and us

Marianna Clyde (Letters, 4 July) draws a comparison between the South African apartheid state and the constitutional position of Scotland. This is deeply offensive nonsense and disrespectful to those South Africans who made sacrifices to overcome a system which the UN defined as a crime against humanity.

All adults in Scotland have the right to vote freely in elections. Prior to 2015, Scots held senior positions in the UK government. In the 2014 independence referendum the electorate chose to retain the status quo. In apartheid South Africa certain racial groups were totally excluded from participating in elections and there was certainly no referendum open to all to consider constitutional change.

Scots have freedom of association, freedom of speech and freedom of movement. In apartheid South Africa the leaders of groups agitating for change were imprisoned, often for decades. The state carried out torture, executions and assassinations. Black people required passes to move around the country. There are no political prisoners in Scotland, we can freely express diverse political views and we can go where we choose.

Black children in South Africa were taught in Afrikaans, a language foreign to them, and the state spent ten times more money on the education of a white child than on a black child. In 1976, when secondary school students protested in Soweto, the police opened fire and 176 students were killed. The Scottish Government has full jurisdiction over education and per capita public sector expenditure in Scotland is 11 per cent above the average across the UK.

Apartheid South Africa considered the white race to be superior and developed a complex system of classification to separate “them” from “us”. Ms Clyde appears to consider that those who don’t share her views are “supine” and have a less evolved political consciousness. Her argument itself displays an attitude of superiority, contrasting “them” with “us”.

George Rennie, Inverness, Highland

Democratic deficit

19 October, 2023 will be the 60th anniversary of the appointment of the Earl of Home, a hereditary member of the House of Lords, as Prime Minister of the UK. The leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, wanted to stand down for health reasons. At that time leaders of the Conservative Party were not elected by MPs or party members. Macmillan told the Queen he thought Lord Home should be Prime Minister. On 18 October, 1963 the Queen invited the Earl to see if he could form a government. He was able to do so, and became Prime Minister the next day. In effect he was appointed Prime Minister by one – or two – people.

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On 23 October 1963 Home disclaimed his earldom under the Peerage Act 1963, and then became known as Sir Alec Douglas-Home. Until 7 November, 1963, when he won the Kinross and West Perthshire by-election caused by the sudden death of the sitting MP, he was Prime Minister of the UK, but not a member of either House of Parliament.

Today there is still a democratic deficit in the UK, as shown by recent examples of members of the unelected House of Lords being appointed to UK government posts. An independent Scotland would be free of the House of Lords, and would be a full democracy.

E Campbell, Newton Mearns, East Renfrewshire

SNP problem

After a weekend during which I was accused, not for the first time, of being a “bigoted English Tory”, it might surprise a few to learn that I could believe in independence for Scotland. I can assure you that I am as Scottish as anyone, and proud of it, but there is one major block which prevents me from supporting the current Indy movement. That block is the SNP.

In my eyes they only possess two stand-out attributes. They are (i) totally incompetent, and (ii) dictatorial by nature. With the backing of the might of their new puppet master, the Greens, they have become even less than totally incompetent. If the independence movement wants to be taken seriously, including by our crucial businesses, then it surely has to be decoupled from this display of ineptitude? They show no signs at all of ever improving, or even being interested in improving, our lot.

Scotland is not “too wee or too stupid”, but our current government continually proves themselves to be exactly that.

Ken Currie, Edinburgh

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Unsexy solutions

I always enjoy reading Brian Wilson’s two columns in Scottish Perspective and he hits the nail squarely on the head in his article headed “Make home insulation a big crusade” (Scotsman, 2 July).

By proposing that home insulation ticks every box he clearly subscribes to the fabric-first approach and the reason I believe this is given insufficient attention is because it isn’t sexy enough. The focus seems to be on expensive renewable energy when the greenest kilowatt hour is the one you do not use.

JA Carruthers, Lockerbie, Dumfries & Galloway

Dinosaurs’ demise

To those who view gloomily Scottish society as an immutable dinosaur, may I point out that whereas 5,000 attended the annual gathering the so-called “Loyal” Orange Order in Glasgow's city centre on Saturday, over 12,000 attended the Gay Pride march along the similar route the previous week – and that despite a rail strike in place.

Mark Boyle, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

Standards matter

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The behaviour of Chris Pincher MP, who has been suspended as a Tory MP in the latest of a series of sex scandals, is both shocking and speaks to the problems that persist both in Westminster and across society.

It is hardly naïve that we should expect our elected representatives to be above reproach, and Mr Pincher should clearly consider his future as a parliamentarian.

This is the second time that Mr Pincher has left the whips office. In 2017 he was accused of sexual impropriety after a complaint over an unwanted pass at the former Olympic rower and Tory activist Alex Story.

It clearly begs the obvious question of why Boris Johnson granted him a senior role in government a second time, and casts yet more doubt on his judgement in picking teams and whether he cares about sexual harassment. The whip, after all, is meant to look after MPs’ wellbeing.

Standards in public life matter, and this is yet another damaging episode for Westminster and for Mr Johnson’s already deeply tarnished reputation.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh

Ball game names

First it was Henman Hill, then it was Murray Mount. What next? Norrie Knoll?

Ian McElroy

Thurso, Highland

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