Readers' letters: Rishi Sunak doesn’t need to call a general election

The Scotsman claims the new PM, Rishi Sunak, will not have a mandate without a general election (Leader, 24 October).

However, we have a parliamentary not a presidential system. No matter how voters regard an election, we vote for parties and the PM at the time only appears on a ballot paper in his/her own constituency. More precisely, we vote for a local candidate who may represent a political party.

It is for the leader of the party with the most MPs who gets invited by the head of state to form a government and that leader can only lead if he/she commands the support of the House of Commons.

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Calls for a general election every time a party appoints a new leader are misconceived and rather mischievous. Mr Sunak has a mandate from his own party and (hopefully) leads that party for the good of the country.

New Conservative Party leader and incoming prime minister Rishi Sunak waves as he leaves the Conservative Party Headquarters yesterday

Steuart Campbell, Edinburgh

Lucky Rishi?

All over the UK and Europe sky-high energy and mortgage costs are forcing people to turn down the heating and slash spending.

This will curb inflation, interest rates will start to decline, and the PM could become “Lucky Rishi”, enabling him to delay calling an election until, say, 19 October 2023, the date almost imperceptibly pencilled into Nicola Sturgeon's diary for Indyref2.

Let's see if she still calls it a “de facto referendum” because, if I'm right, the improved economic situation, resurgence of Labour and cumulative effect of her detail-lite damp squib Indy “papers” and ongoing incompetence will result in the SNP’s annihilation, at least in terms of their total vote share, which is what decides referendums, de-facto or not.

Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

Glum Jacob

When at lunchtime on Sunday Jacob Rees-Mogg appeared on TV to say: “His supporters tell me they have 100 names”, I turned to my wife and said: “You can tell from his face that he doesn’t believe it. Boris is out.”

Lord Steel of Aikwod, Selkirk, Scottish Borders

Whitehall farce

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During the last four months we have had three Prime Ministers, four chancellors, three Home Secretaries and a cabinet that has resembled a game of musical chairs. Rishi Sunak has been anointed the current PM but who knows for how long? And we’ve even had an intervention from a disgraced ex-PM who was ousted by his own party, just to stir things up a bit, as if they needed it.

Does anyone really care which member of this corrupt, incompetent, shambolic government takes the poisoned chalice? What the vast majority of the general public, completely sidelined as the Tories continue to play their power games in front of a tiny membership, really want is general election.

This Whitehall farce has been played to death and real change is desperately needed.

D Mitchell, Edinburgh

Who’s next?

At long last the public finally gets the person we should have had in the first place.

On Sunday evening Jodie Whittaker regenerated into David Tennant in Doctor Who.

John V Lloyd, Inverkeithing, Fife

History lesson

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Stan Grodynski (Letters, 24 October) identifies correctly the need for historical education on Scottish constitutional matters.

The debatable lands between Hadrian and Antonine Walls are a good starting point.

Named in the 1215 Magna Carta, “Alan de Galloway constable of Scotland”, had contributed to its terms in the days leading up to King John sealing the great charter. In The Lordship of Galloway, by Richard Oram, it is recorded: “Alan was deeply involved in negotiations that led to the drawing up of Magna Carta. He was with the king at Windsor on 3 June, and the naming of Alan as one of the men on whose advice John supposedly granted the great charter indicate the nature of his dealings with the English king.”

That original version was annulled by Pope Innocent III, having described it as “illegal, unjust, harmful to royal rights and shameful to the English people”, a purely territorial reference. Magna Carta of 1215 is hence still a legitimate constitutional tool in southwest Scotland’s territory.

There are shared principles, for example a security clause, which appear also in the later Declaration of Arbroath, oddly, about 90 years apart.

There is therefore a historical and geographical overlap of common precepts of law, long before the Union, seen in living constitutional documents linking Scotland and England, doubly so in Galloway, lest a massacre of conscripted annexation be repeated where authority exceeds its powers.

Donald M Henry, Krikcudbright, Dumfries & Galloway

Drawing parallels

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It cannot be denied that providing citizens with accurate information about Scottish history is a good thing. But comparing current events with what happened centuries ago, like events in Tranent in 1797, has to be done with care (Letters, 24 October).

Do Darien, Flodden and Culloden have much contemporary significance? More recent events provide much more important parallels, surely. The reckless experiments of Fred the Shred at the Royal Bank of Scotland in 2008 (supported by Alex Salmond) nearly bankrupted Britain, just like those of Liz Truss when Prime Minister.

Hugh Pennington, Aberdeen

Blasted fireworks

We are approaching that time of the year again when fireworks blight the night sky, and yet again the numerous organisations who claim to want a better environment say nothing about it.

Exploding gunpowder in the air affects air quality as well as causing massive noise pollution. Fireworks release particulate matter which is harmful to health. In 2019 a scientific study in the Netherlands compared particulate matter in the air before and after a fireworks "display". PM10 particulate concentrations were measured. Before the "display" these were recorded at 29 micrograms per cubic metre, and in the first hour after at 277 micrograms per cubic metre – an increase of 877 per cent.

Various elements are used to produce the different colours. Red is produced by strontium and lithium; orange, calcium; yellow sodium; blue, copper. Chemicals called perchlorates are also used. These dissolve in water, so rivers and lakes may be contaminated.

There is also the cost to be considered. The New Year's Eve 2018 London fireworks display cost £2.3 million. What a waste.

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William Loneskie, Oxton, Scottish Borders

Green policies

Stuart Brooks (Scotsman, 21 October) makes the case for the UK and Scottish Governments to honour commitments to the environment. He highlights how environmental bodies are concerned that economic development and climate change threatens agricultural, fishing and planning policy to the detriment of biodiversity. This puts our natural heritage and wild landscapes at risk of being “lost forever”.

It’s easy to forget what a unique and fragile environment we have in Scotland with its 11,800 kilometres of coastline and 30,000 lochs holding 90 per cent of the UK’s freshwater. SEPA fails to adequately protect our lochs and waterways from contamination by run off from farms and sewage discharge. Our native species like red squirrels get depleted through disease from invasive species. The RSPB estimates 16 of UK top 20 garden birds are declining through loss of habitat. Our pollinators are declining at an alarming rate, down 30 per cent since 1980 due to pesticides and loss of habitat. They are essential to crop production and experts consider the population would starve without them. We badly need to rejoin our wildlife corridors and expand nature restoration funding for farmers to help improve yields without pesticides.

The majority of Scotland’s carbon store is captured in peat bogs covering over 20 per cent of the country but 80 per cent is estimated to be damaged, including by wind farms, and require restoration. Only a fraction has been restored as damaged bogs leak carbon dioxide. While the effect of planting thousands of trees is negligible in the short term for carbon capture, restoring native forests is essential to biodiversity.

These are some examples where government policy should have been making a difference. The case for action is enhanced by explaining why government should be doing more.

Neil Anderson, Edinburgh

Leader lessons

Sir Keir Starmer is reportedly getting “leadership lessons” from Sir Tony Blair and Gordon the “Vow” Brown. Is it any wonder Scots are underwhelmed at the prospect of a Labour government?

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A Labour government won’t change the fact that we pay the highest energy charges in the UK even though we’re self-sufficient in energy production. Scottish renewable energy is exported to the privatised National Grid which we then have to buy back at extortionate prices, while private energy companies rake in billions. And the recent Scottish Government energy summit showed how powerless it is to protect Scots from corporate profiteering. A pledge to increase smart metre coverage just won’t cut it. 65 per cent of seniors will use less heating this winter – that puts them at risk for illness and death.

It beggars belief that the SNP has joined with Labour to call for a general election that won’t even happen because the Tories know they’d be wiped out and they are into self-preservation.

Unless the SNP leadership moves to end the Union, we’ll be stuck with the Tories for at least two more years followed by a Brexit-supporting neo-liberal Labour party. It’s hard to understand what they are waiting for.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh

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