Readers' Letters: Politicians should not judge themselves

Angus Robertson has been very quick off the mark in supporting his boss, Nicola Sturgeon (your report, 23 March), but who are we to believe? Ms Sturgeon asked one of her previous advisers to conduct an “independent” review of her position. James Hamilton cleared her, as expected, but did say that it was up to the Scottish Parliament to decide whether they had been misled or not.

SNP stalwart Angus Robertson

The committee set up by that parliament, incidentally mirroring the exact make-up of that parliament, says she did mislead them.

The leaking of their conclusions was completely partisan, and motivated by politics, that goes without saying, but so too was the decision of the Scottish Government to slow the progress of the committee so that the report could only be published the day before parliament breaks up for the election, hence giving no time whatsoever to give proper consideration to it.

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Scottish politics is a disgrace. It is grubby and self centred and lacking in all awareness. A “government” operating in a bubble cannot regulate itself. Any additional committee or responsibilities delegated from within will be contaminated by the same smell that affected this committee. Proper oversight has to be external, but to have democratic accountability, it can only come from a UK level. Any future discussion about powers in Scotland must have at its heart the proper accountability, transparency and restraint of those powers. Never again can we have politicians judging themselves.

Victor Clements, Aberfeldy, Perthshire

No surprise

James Hamilton, the Scottish Government's adviser on the Ministerial Code, was asked by Nicola Sturgeon to investigate whether she had broken that code. It would be highly unlikely if he said that she had broken the code when he was her adviser on the code. Hardly an independent investigation.

Donald Carmichael, Orchard Court, East Linton

Vote woman

Listening to the news these past few days has made my heart scream out: “Enough!” Laws that restrict protests, a decline in protection for women and an increase in spending on further nuclear warheads.

I live in the Tory blue Scottish Borders, which is, politically, not always an easy place to live. A friend challenged me with an excellent question regarding the upcoming election: “Think about the country you would like to see, what leader would deliver this, and vote accordingly.”

Do I want more nuclear warheads, increased censorship, constraints on my personal and political views (without the protection we women need), the “rape clause”, the Bedroom Tax, an out-of-date House of Lords filled with 46 per cent white male hereditary peers, an unlawful Internal Market Bill, a “Nationalist” approach to vaccine roll-out and PPE contracts corruption? No. It offends me to the core of my being. I want a government that invests in people first. A government that is anti-Trident, mitigates the harm done financially by inhuman taxes, lets our children learn for free, supports nurses with a bursary and encourages companies to pay the living wage. On top of that I would like to see a government taking the Climate Emergency seriously and making bold changes to protect our children’s future, to lead the way at November’s COP26.

In an ideal world, one political party would stand for all the values I cherish, but I know such a party doesn’t exist. I will have to make choices, and this May I will. I will not be bought by the latest Tory financial bribery in my area. Money to the Scottish Borders is not a bonus, it’s another ploy that I am not prepared to give in to: keep your weapons of mass destruction!

Our future society and leadership? I am giving both my votes to a woman.

Els Nicol, Lawfield, Coldingham, Eyemouth

Rural unity

I’d like to highlight the success of the online Rural Workers Protest, #RWP21, held on Friday 19 March. Respecting current Covid restrictions, the physical protest which was planned last year moved online. Organised by the Scottish Gamekeepers Association and Scotland’s Moorland Groups, support was proffered from all corners of the UK and abroad, not just rural Scotland. Gamekeepers, deer-stalkers, ghillies, shepherds, foresters, their families and friends and so many local businesses such as hoteliers, agricultural merchants, outfitters, butchers, garages etc. contributed with online messages and support. Their concerns highlighted the way in which rural workers over recent years have become increasingly marginalised and their jobs threatened at the hands of the Scottish Government with legislation that disproportionately favours the Green lobby and environmental groups.

Whilst the Scottish Government’s recent paper “The Socio-economic and biodiversity impacts of driven grouse moors in Scotland” (2020) revealed that traditional rural jobs contribute much to the local economy and communities, findings were ignored in recent decisions. The Scottish Government was also charged with failing to acknowledge the invaluable skill set of the rural workforce and the experiential knowledge and expertise that has evolved over generations, contributing to climate change mitigation and prevention of biodiversity loss.

This innovative and effective protest witnessed rural workers adopt social media to enforce their message to “Unite on land and river”. All credit to the organisers who generated five key “asks” of the Scottish Government and ensured the day ran smoothly.

These asks include the creation of an innovative cross-party group to engage and address the concerns of rural workers, that equal merit is afforded local and experiential knowledge in the decision-making process, that there is robust auditing and accountability in the distribution of publicly funded conservation projects with transparency in their success, that a review is conducted that examines access rights and responsibilities, with greater emphasis on education, and that the clear findings from the Parliamentary inquiries into salmon farming are addressed.

The rural workers protest demonstrated a solidarity across a wide spectrum of business interests, occupations and the rural community. Passion about the countryside underpinned each and every message. Unless there is change to current political thinking, it is likely the frustrations, the sadness and the anger expressed by so many will become more vociferous in defence of a way of life.

Helen Ferguson, Coldingham, Eyemouth, Scottish Borders

Unfit for purpose?

I agree with Henry McLeish that Scotland deserves a more equitable form of governance, and not only in a reformed electoral process. The 1998 Scotland Act omitted the same safeguards for the Holyrood Parliament which uphold the democratic process at Westminster. Consequently, flaws in governance occurred and malpractice festered.Significant losses to the taxpayer have resulted – far beyond the £500,000 wasted in the unlawful procedure attempted against former First Minister Alex Salmond.Under the management of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, neither cabinet members Lord Advocate Lord Wolffe, nor his predecessor, Lord Mulholland, held anyone from either the Police or the Crown Office to account for malicious prosecutions, unlawful procedures and bias, estimated to cost up to £100 million in compensation payouts.At Holyrood, Lord Wolffe’s dual positions as both a politician and legal supremo – an impossible combination of roles under Westminster Parliamentary protocols – appears compromised. Who will call him to account or dispassionately investigate the Police and Crown Office for such failures? Who will reform a Scottish Parliamentary Committee System unsupported by an apparently unaccountable Civil Service? Clearly not Ms Sturgeon.Unless action is expedited at Westminster to amend the not-fit-for-purpose 1998 Scotland Act and implement administrative reform, Scotland will continue to pay a high price from being divorced, not devolved, from the democratic government of the United Kingdom.

Elizabeth Marshall, Western Harbour Midway, Edinburgh

Being Frank

Former England striker Frank Worthington, who has died, was indeed the ultimate showman, but unlike so many before and since he never let his antics affect his mastery on the field. Worthington had class in spades, and the 1970s Leicester City with striker Worthington and keeper Mark Wallington were worth ten “superstar” sauteed Liverpools and Arsenals any day.One abiding memory of Frank was his interview for Shoot! magazine – regarded as an honour in football at the time, but one which, as ever, he chose to satirise.His answers included: "Most Difficult Opponent? – The Taxman"; "Biggest Thrill? – Playing Bradford City in a practice match"; "Lifetime Ambition? – To get away from nosy reporters like you!"; "Who in the world would you most like to meet? – The person who nicked my hubcaps last Thursday."Farewell, you crazy fox.

Mark Boyle, Linn Park Gardens, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

Union of interests

Allan Sutherland asks of Mike Russell (Letters, 23 March), “whatever planet he is from”. In fact, leading SNP figures have a strange tendency to be from England. Mr Russell is from Bromley in Kent, for example, just as Angus Robertson is from London. Wendy Wood was born in Maidstone – also in Kent – and fellow pioneer Sir Compton Mackenzie was born in Hartlepool.It seems that, to be a leading Scottish nationalist, the rules are, i) be born in England and ii) be half-Scots.Life can be funny, can’t it?

Andrew H N Gray, Craiglea Drive, Edinburgh

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