Readers' Letters: Press should stop giving Cummings a platform

If there is anyone in public life as odious and narcissistic as Dominic Cummings, I have yet to come up with their name.

Is former number 10 special adviser Dominic Cummings worth listening to? (Picture: Getty Images)

The poison and vitriol he now aims at the Prime Minister and others seems nothing more than petty revenge for losing his job which, frankly, he should have lost well before he did.

Whatever one’s views of Boris Johnson, he demonstrated a level of loyalty to a Special Adviser (SPAD) rarely seen before. Dominic Cummings was permitted to hold his own press conference at 10 Downing Street, a privilege not afforded to any other SPAD, in my recollection.

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It transpires that Mr Cummings was at best economical with the truth concerning his Barnard Castle trip as in May he told a committee of MPs that he left London due to security threats against his family and admitted that failing to disclose this at his Downing Street PR exercise was a “terrible misjudgment”. It is very clear that he lied when he declared he had travelled north due to child care issues.

The Press, both oral and written, should not give this disgraced individual any further oxygen of publicity, and indeed, not a word he utters should be believed.

Richard Allison, Edinburgh

Kindred spirits?

I'm pleased our First Minister seems to have found a kindred figure with whom she agrees in Dominic Cummings. I hope she doesn't tell the SNP leader in the Commons, who thought very little of his standards (but that was some time ago).

James Watson, Dunbar, East Lothian

Inconsistencies

Inconsistencies and poor messaging by the government are bringing the pingdemic to a store or pub near you. Of course, it is not yet a scare story, and even when Brexit issues eventually affect our lorry drivers and food supplies, total chaos may be averted.

But the inconsistencies bode ill for our future. The Tory party has its libertarians who want small government and free enterprise. They see herd immunity as the answer. They are demanding total freedom, even opposing night club vaccine passports. There is also the fiscally conservative who hate pandemic “war socialism” and want to kick people back on their feet and cut debts as soon as possible.

The ideology of the party is Neo-liberalism, after all, so what can one expect but “laisser faire” and a hatred of anything that seems socialist or woke. But the desire for ideological purity means government can only ever address our future problems with soundbites and finessing. Neo-liberalism cannot level up or manage environmental disasters. Why? Quite simply, governments have to commit to big spending, big plans and cooperation between countries if we are to address the environmental decline which had become all too obvious across China, the USA and Europe. The same is true of levelling up, social care problems and safety standards in food, flood preparations and housing. Dominic Cummings is right to suggest we need a new premier, but wrong if he suggests it should be another Conservative one.

Andrew Vass, Edinburgh

Independence

Steuart Campbell (Letters, 21 July) should get his facts right. The Treaty of Union was in 1707, not 1703, and was forced through by bribery and intimidation. The Scottish people were never consulted. As for Yorkshire, it never was an independent country. Scotland was an independent country for nearly 900 years from 843 to 1707, and indeed was a country before England was.

Colin McAllister, St Andrews, Fife

States of play

Steuart Campbell is correct about no other part of the UK seceding since the formation of the Irish Free State but wrong to imply there is, or should be, a veto on that happening again. The Good Friday agreement, and the subsequent Act passed by the UK parliament, enables Northern Ireland to depart to the Republic if the people there so decide, and provides the constitutional mechanisms for this to be done.

The difference between the situation in Scotland and the island of Ireland (and Wales) as distinct from Yorkshire, which he mentions, is that all have separate national character, and history, from that of the large element in the UK – England, of which the English regions form an integral part. Scotland has a further distinction not applicable to the others mentioned: it was a separate state, and went into a voluntary merger with another state, to form a new state. As recent events have shown with Brexit, such a voluntary agreement can be undone.

Jim Sillars, Edinburgh

Unbelievable

If Nicola Sturgeon is comfortable justifying John Swinney putting out potentially bogus Covid advice, surely we cannot believe anything that the SNP puts out through their 50+ strong media corps. We do rely on correct advice from Government so when that trust is lost, what is the point of having such an extensive and expensive communications division or, indeed, such a Government? One might have thought that after the Salmond fiasco when advice was lost, hidden and conveniently forgotten that the SNP might have tended towards the believable.

Ken Currie, Edinburgh

Protect heritage

Yesterday’s UN decision to strip Liverpool of its World Heritage status is a stark reminder of the responsibility we all hold to preserve and enhance Edinburgh’s New and Old Towns. In this light, perhaps the Council will reconsider its recent decision – taken without consultation – to impose on-street rubbish tips within the New Town Conservation Area.

Patrick Macdonald, Edinburgh

Glass half full

Andrew Kemp (Letters, 21 July) repeats the Better Together tactic in 2014 to tell pensioners that their miserly low UK state pension was at threat from independence. During the referendum campaign the DWP confirmed that, in the event of independence, the UK government would treat people living in Scotland in the same way as those who emigrated to Australia or retired to Spain and continue to honour their UK state pension based on the level of contributions.

As the average life expectancy in Scotland is two and a half years less than the UK average then it can be argued that Scotland could more easily afford to increase the state pension.

The Scottish Government already pays for the occupational pensions of all public sector workers and if Norway, Denmark, Finland and Ireland can all afford to pay better state pensions than the UK, then so could Scotland.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh

Missing the bus

In an unnerving echo of a similar event in Edinburgh, Blackpool borough council has been fined £109,000 and forced to make a grovelling public apology after being found guilty of “discriminating on grounds of religion” by removing bus adverts for an evangelical Christian event. The event had featured evangelist Franklin Graham who is well known for his LGBT+ hate-views. Religious fundamentalists are entitled to their opinions but let us not forget that LGBT+ people similarly are protected by equality legislation. Which side should Blackpool borough council have taken?

As we compare the protected characteristics of LGBT+ identity and religious belief, let us not forget which one is a choice.

Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society

Read More

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Why has Liverpool been stripped of its UNESCO World Heritage Status?

Welcome visitors

Charles Wardrop (Letters, 21 July) is right to warn the authorities of the health risks presented by November’s COP conference in Glasgow, given concerns that June’s G7 in Cornwall may have brought a surge in Covid cases in the West Country.

But why does he describe COP delegates as immigrants? Collins Dictionary defines an immigrant as someone who comes to a country in order to settle there. Delegates to COP are obviously visitors to Scotland, and given their urgent purpose, valued ones at that.

Moreover, given Home Secretary Priti Patel's implacable hostility to those seeking to stay in the UK, it’s unlikely COP specialists obliged to come here to coordinate the fight against climate change will want to outstay their strictly limited welcome.

Anthony O’Donnell, Edinburgh

Disastrous

In recent years, when communities are devastated by floods or wild fires, governments give the lame excuse that climate change is to blame. The truth is that such disasters are almost always the result of counter-productive, incoherent, green policies as well as failed and underfunded protection measures.

The fires in the Western US and Australia, as well as the floods in Germany’s Rhine basin or elsewhere in Europe, expose the folly of the Net Zero farrago. Communities in these areas will still face such disasters, they won’t disappear just because governments throw billions at wind and solar energy. Active land management with hazard-reduction burning and forest thinning must lie at the core of any fire policy. As regards floods, the habitual failure of UK governments to alleviate predictable inundations was matched by Germany’s failure to use nine days’ notice to implement protection measures.

It’s time we redirected resources towards adaptation policies to minimise the misery caused by natural events. Over the next five years renewable investors will receive £50 billion from UK taxpayers. A fraction of that would deliver greatly improved flood prevention and disaster recovery systems.

(Dr) John Cameron, St Andrews, Fife

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