Readers' Letters: Rishi Sunak is another impostor at the despatch box

Watching Questions to our latest Prime Minister (Scotsman, 27 October) was an extremely distressing experience. It is not only that the country now has man estimated by the age of 42 already to be twice as wealthy as King Charles, telling the rest of us that austerity rules, our belts must be tightened, and we are not to worry about the poorest because they will certainly be helped (somehow) by his “compassionate” government.

What made it worse was that we had it confirmed that we have another Boris at the despatch box, time and time again waving away very specific fact-seeking Questions even from the Leader of the Opposition, actually inviting and encouraging roars of approval from the pack behind him – another impostor, indeed.

Moreover, we still have a Speaker who makes no attempt to ensure that proper questions are properly addressed in the response by the leader of the government in power.

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No doubt this abuse of an established constitutional right given to parliamentarians in a democratic debating and deciding chamber has gone on from time to time in the past, but these days it is accepted as normal.

The resultant “debate” is not serious, responsible politics and it’s high time that our parliamentary democracy had a Speaker insightful and brave enough to do a proper job.

(Rev) Jack Kellet, Innerleithen, Scottish Borders

Cabinet own goal

When a football team plummets towards relegation it is inevitable the club will bring in a new manager. The new manager will try to get the supporters back on board by drafting in some new faces, promoting a few young, enthusiastic second string players but will, crucially, get rid of the old guard who were responsible for the team being in that position in the first place. Such actions might arrest the decline or, at the very least, allow the team to go down fighting but newly energised.

In his first job as PM Rishi Sunak has singularly failed to take any of those eminently sensible actions and has organised his “new” cabinet around those who failed under Johnson, under Truss and will fail again under Sunak. Raab, Williamson, Coffey, Braverman, Dowden, Barclay, Shapps – all the same tired old faces and abject paucity of ideas.

It is a cabinet that merely panders to the various extreme factors in the party and is also the result of favours repaid by Sunak to those who supported him. If anyone thinks the latest PM’s appointment is a breath of fresh air need only look at this cabinet and think again.

It has ensured the Tories' annihilation at the next election and their place as the Third Lanark of British politics.In his first act as Prime Minister, Sunak has failed spectacularly.

D Mitchell, Edinburgh

Context is key

The grave problem with the reappointment of Suella Braverman as Home Secretary – days after being forced to resign for a security breach – is the context.

Making a "technical infringement”, reporting it instantaneously, then using one's resignation letter to all but demand a beleaguered PM reciprocates for her far greater calamities, all in the space of a few hours at the worst possible time for Truss, smacks less of Zola's “J'Accuse...!” and more of chess's “en passant”.

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Braverman's instantaneous rehabilitation leaves more than a bad taste in the mouth. It has the air of a well crafted palace coup having taken place under our noses, what the UK always prided ourselves could never happen here. One hopes this is not a portent of Sunak's premiership to come.

Mark Boyle, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

Not so smart

We are now all familiar with adverts extolling the virtues of smart meters in theses straitened times. What none of them say is “Get a smart meter and turn anxiety into paranoia!”

Dr SR Wild, Edinburgh


I am not a blind supporter of energy companies but I do very much wish that our media would cease sensationalising the news and providing incorrect information which influences public opinion.

The latest example of misinformation is the announcement of “huge” third-quarter profits being made by the Shell energy company, thereby adding fuel to the argument for imposition of windfall taxes.

What is not mentioned, is the fact that Shell is not a UK company and the totality of its revenues is gained from international operations, worldwide, where it is already being taxed by the jurisdictions from which it is deriving its revenues. Only approximately ten per cent of Shell revenues is derived from UK operations.

Derek Farmer, Anstruther, Fife

Health poverty

Public Health Scotland’s figures released earlier this week have shown that people in the most deprived areas are 74 per cent more likely to die from cancer. This is shocking, but sadly not surprising.

At Marie Curie Scotland, we know that living in deprived areas worsens health outcomes for terminally ill people. This is often because of longstanding health inequalities and inequities around access to palliative care support.

Those living in socio-economically deprived areas are less likely to come forward for support, and this was exacerbated during the pandemic when health and social care services were overwhelmed.

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The impact of the pandemic led to changes, delays, or cancellations of treatments like chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and as a result there has been an increased risk of cancer diagnoses becoming terminal.

Palliative care demand is also rising sharply, with Marie Curie research revealing that by 2040, up to 95 per cent of all people who die in Scotland may need palliative care. The number of people dying from more than one terminal condition, such as cancer and organ failure for example, will also have risen by 80 per cent by 2040. As a result, disease trajectories will be more complex, and this means different and sometimes increased palliative care needs. There is greater need for the coordination of relevant health and social care services.

The Scottish Government’s upcoming cancer strategy must ensure palliative care is fully integrated in the long term, and prioritised in the short term, to manage a potential increase in demand in palliative care services.

Finally, the cancer strategy’s priorities must also align with the Scottish Government’s upcoming palliative care strategy and National Care Service to ensure equity of access to palliative care, through an inclusion health approach, to ensure that vulnerable and socially excluded groups can access the support that they need.

Only then will we be able to break the link between poverty and poor health outcomes in Scotland.

Ellie Wagstaff, Senior Policy Manager, Scotland, Marie Curie, Edinburgh

Archaic conflict

Your report “UN inspectors to revisit sites [in Ukraine]” (Scotsman, 26 October) records one more consequence of an avalanche of Russian threats and wanton destruction. This ridiculous war is over which government controls Ukraine. It is an archaic territorial dispute reminiscent of the First World War.

The parties in this conflict have a choice. Should they and all the nations of the world cling to old and completely unsustainable patterns of behaviour which last century saw cities destroyed and millions die for absolutely nothing or should the combatants and all the countries of the world come together to consult and resolve all territorial and other disputes by constructive consultation not wanton destruction?

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The human race has by some fluke survived so far in spite of a history of conflicts. We as a race have "progressed” from sticks and stones to nuclear and chemical weapons such that a command from a single individual can destroy the entire human world.

The current worldwide tide of conflict must be stopped before action and reaction lead to nuclear exchanges. Such exchanges would completely annihilate all those caught up in destruction of truly biblical proportions.

The conflict in Ukraine, conflicts elsewhere and all potential conflicts around the world must be stopped by an act of consultative will enforced by all the countries of the world. We have no choice, there is no other way except extinction.

Ken Carew, Dumfries, Dumfries & Galloway

Higher ground?

It is not uncommon for political parties to “whip” their members into supporting their proposals in parliament. Some might regard this as undemocratic.

On a daily basis we are treated to the SNP grievance machine deploring a lack of democracy in UK politics. Perhaps they could take the lead, therefore, and allow their members to a free vote in parliament – particularly on sensitive issues where members' consciences or ideological convictions urge them to oppose party plicy.

The Scotsman (October 27) carries a heading: “SNP MSPs whipped to vote in favour of gender recognition”. Another example which confirms that – as regards democracy and so much else – the SNP talk a good game but their actions show that for them the moral high ground is still a very distant prospect.

Colin Hamilton, Edinburgh

Count your votes

SMP MSPs could face disciplinary action of they don't vote for the Gender Recognition Bill. The reason is the Greens view the passing of legislation this session as a “red line” for the “co-operation” agreement that keeps the SNP in power.

The Greens only got 34,000 first preference votes in last May's Holyrood elections. At least Liz Truss got 82,000 for her disastrous campaign.

Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

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