Readers' letters: Rees-Mogg is wrong on flexible working

There is little doubt that Jacob Rees-Mogg, the PM’s greatest defender and self proclaimed constitutional expert, has over stepped the mark with his condescending desk notes to civil servants working from home stating “sorry you were out when I visited” and “look forward to seeing you very soon”.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, Brexit Opportunities Minister
Jacob Rees-Mogg, Brexit Opportunities Minister

Flexible working for those juggling lifestyle priorities is now seen as a work life balance necessity and many talented people will simply walk from jobs that don’t offer that option

It’s yet another example of the neanderthal thinking of a man who needs to wake up and realise he lives in the 21st century rather than 19th and do an honest day’s work rather than criticise progress.This comes after his claim that the highly respected historian and constitutional expert Lord Hennessy was mistaken to directly link the violation of the ministerial code with the constitution.

Rees-Mogg played down the importance of the code as being detached from the constitution and under the PM’s control. He went on to state that the PM was quite right not to resign as he had done nothing wrong, despite the police deciding that he had broken the law, and Lord Hennessy, an honourable man and friend of his father, had simply misunderstood.The Sword of Damocles hangs over the Old Etonian who claimed that “abortion is morally indefensible” and has consistently voted against same sex marriage.

Such is his dismissiveness of the ministerial code and flexible working that many will question whether he is fit be in Government.

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It’s clear, however, that Johnson’s inner circle headed by Rees-Mogg are increasingly isolated and when Johnson goes for lies and misdemeanours, they will be expected to follow.

Neil Anderson, Edinburgh

Industrial decline

I am as cross and disappointed at the ongoing problems with the construction of the two ferries as anyone and there is no doubt it has given the opposition parties a field day.

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CalMac are blamed, the Ferguson Yard as well and of course the Scottish Government.

There must be failings somewhere. It is all too easy to try and blame someone around today, but again we should be asking ourselves why have we lost the capability, our shipbuilding skills and being reduced to one commercial yard on the Clyde.

It hasn't just happened in the last few years. Unfortunately people have short memories or convenient loss of memory. The destruction of our industrial heartland took place in the Thatcher era and that is when we lost our skills.Goodness me, there has been a huge boom in shipbuilding over the years, what with highly technical vessels for the oil industry and all these luxury cruise liners. What was the UK's share in all that? Very little.

So let's be fair and place a good part of our present failings at past poor policies by a government obsessed with privatisation no matter what the cost to the country.

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I'm sorry to say but there are endless poor policies decisions taken from our UK government at present.

Peter D Cheyne, Invergordon

Refugee policy

The Rwanda deal made by the Mr Johnson’ s government is an abomination of a policy.

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The Scottish Refugee Council said the policy was a “very clear breach of international law”, with the government choosing to model its asylum policy on Australia’s, a failed system, costing billions, mired by well documented serious human rights abuses. It seems Mr Johnson will do anything to distract from partygate.

When there is a cost of living crisis, vulnerable people seeking asylum will be off-loaded into Rwanda at vast cost, by the UK to likely detention centres.

The UN refugee agency has slated the move to “shift responsibility” for claims of refugee status. Trafficking will likely be given a boost as people try to flee an unsafe situation again as happened when Israel tried this. By the way, nobody from Ukraine will be rendered to Rwanda as the Conservatives protect white refugees.

Even the horrendous Nationality and Border Bill in process, and also mired in illegality would go against the Johnson-Patel plan. The Borders Bill defines a safe country but Rwanda is a place that people run from and the criteria do not apply there.

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Then Priti Patel was found in a recent judgement, to have misled parliament over the Bill and must rethink large sections before it returns to the Lords The judgement allows those who wish to claim asylum in the UK to do so.

Scotland needs to move away from the criminal, racist and cruel government at Westminster and gain independence to run in accordance with the rule of law and international conventions signed, such as the Geneva Convention.

Pol Yates, Edinburgh

What votes tell us

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I watched Ian Blackford being interviewed by Sophie Raworth on Sunday morning.

When asked about a potential second independence referendum in 2023, he trotted out the usual SNP mantra that in 2021 they “were given a mandate by the people of Scotland” to do so. Not strictly true.

The SNP don’t “do” numbers very well (the ferry fiasco for one proves that), but numbers are important.

In the 2021 election the SNP and the Greens did achieve a combined majority of seats, and this, of course, gave them a valid parliamentary mandate.

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However, this was based on a combined 48.40 per cent of votes cast, and when turnout is factored in, only 30.74 per cent of the “people of Scotland” actively gave the SNP/Greens their backing for any Indyref2.

Blackford, as do politicians of all parties, likes to confuse election results with the “will of the people”. Though as far as he is concerned, he does seem to use it to regularly generate grievances.

The SNP/Green coalition no more “speak” for the people of Scotland than the Conservatives “speak” for the people of the United Kingdom

For comparison, in 2019 the Tories received 43.60 per cent of the vote, and taking turnout into account only 29.34 per cent of the electorate actively supported them.

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In both Holyrood and Westminster, the respective governments, therefore, received under a third of potential votes - hardly resounding endorsements. Under the current voting systems, all these election results are, of course, perfectly valid and legal.

It would be helpful, however, that when politicians win an election, they refrain from implying that by their victory they represent and speak for, the people of the country as a whole.

James McLeod, Glenrothes

Truth about Boris

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I read Sorin Baiasu’s piece (‘Is Johnson Lying? A philosopher explains why it is so hard to tell’, Scotsman, April 22) with some incredulity,

Although I graduated in philosophy myself, I found it hard to follow, though I did read it three times.

I don’t think the general public finds it hard to tell that Boris is lying, since 75 per cent of them have been polled as making just that judgment.

Of course, many just don’t care, the sentiment being, it’s just Boris, he’s got away with it, he’s a winner. The last consideration has weighed heavily with the Tory party, who like to win.

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The rest of us know by now that Boris has form for lying, going way back – he thinks he is fully entitled to lie when it suits him to do so.

The following are my favourite Boris whoppers: 1) 1988 He is sacked by the very non-toff Glaswegian Charlie Wilson, then editor of The Times for making up quotes.

Or rather, he is sacked when, after being found out, he points out to his editor that ‘most’ quotes on the paper are made up.

This is a mere hiccup in Boris’s upward rise, since he quickly gets another job on the Telegraph at the behest of fellow old Etonian Max Hastings.

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2) 2004 He is sacked as shadow culture secretary by Michael Howard, for lying to the press about his extra marital affair with Petronella Wyatt,.

Again, Boris felt he was perfectly entitled to lie to the tabloids. His wife forgives him. So now, does Boris feel he can break the law of the land with impunity, and mislead the Commons? Of course he does!

Crawford Mackie, Edinburgh

Windfall tax

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The UK is hurtling into recession while the feckless and incompetent UK government has raised taxes, cut spending and increased interest rates, moves which will only deepen the economic misery for millions.

One obvious action would be to impose a windfall tax on energy companies, whose profits have soared not because production costs have increased but because speculators are betting on prices going even higher. Even the energy executives and the FT agree with a windfall tax.

The last time oil prices spiked back in 2011, Chancellor Osborne levied a 62 per cent tax on North Sea oil, so why not now?

Could it be that the UK Government knows that such a tax would not only help people but would also positively impact the Scottish financial accounts, reducing the so-called deficit?

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This would damage the Better Together argument that Scotland can’t thrive outside the UK. Since the 2014 referendum, the UK government cut corporate oil and gas taxes that created a fake deficit in GERS while gifting taxpayer money to BP and Shell.

In contrast, the Norwegian government takes its responsibility for the welfare of its people seriously. It imposes a 78 pe cent windfall tax on oil and gas profits that goes directly into a wealth fund now worth $250,000 for each Norwegian.

Imagine if Scotland had voted to reclaim its sovereignty in 2014. We would be able to control our resources and investment decisions, create a national energy company and establish a sovereign wealth fund for future generations. We can’t afford to repeat the same mistake.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh

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