Readers' Letters: Salmond inquiry now 'a pantomime'

Former First Minister of Scotland Alex SalmondFormer First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond
Former First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond
The stumbling investigation into the Scottish Government’s botched handling of complaints against Alex Salmond which cost the taxpayer £500,000 has been a revelation, but not perhaps in the way Parliament intended.

As Salmond’s much postponed appearance before the inquiry yesterday is delayed yet again, what we are seeing is nothing short of a farce. Elements of our political class and civil service, blind to their vapid, self-serving instincts, have reduced the investigation to a pantomime. Public figures and faceless bureaucrats, anonymous “special advisers” and legal teams, on all sides, have confirmed what the public always suspected. With their disingenuous language, obfuscation and filibustering, they remind us of Machiavelli’s saying “politics have no relation to morals.”

David Gray, Sidegate, Haddington, East Lothian

Fearful future?

Enoch Powell once warned the SNP that "power devolved is power retained".He was not anti-devolution per se – and I quote, "I say to devolution, if it means an improvement in the control and supervision and execution of administration, yes; if they can be improved, let us do it". He baulked, however, at the genesis of tiers of regional government merely to sautée parochial career politicians and absolve Westminster of decades of wilful negligence in direct proportion to their distance from London, citing the tragedy of 19th-century Ireland as the end result.Powell's warnings much haunt all Scottish nationalists now, at the outrageous attempted public show trial by innuendo orchestrated against our former First Minister, abusing all legal means to gag his understandable attempts to clear his good name.Scottish devolution is devolving into the arbitrary rule of a tinpot dictator surrounded by incompetent sycophants fixated on imposing pet dogmas on the population to the detriment of all else: more akin to a Third World banana republic than a First World oil kingdom.As a portend of Scotland upon independence, it is terrifying.

Mark Boyle, Linn Park Gardens, Johnstone, Renfrewshire


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Murdo Fraser makes some excellent points (Perspective, February 24). Clearly there is an urgent need for the structural reform of our legal system.As long as the Crown Office remains subservient to politicians through a Justice ministry controlled by a First Minister we will not have the independent legal system we clearly need. The present structure ensures the administration of justice in Scotland will continue to be seen to be at risk of Putin-esque perversion unless it is radically changed.The question is, how quickly can the re-structuring of our legal system be delivered to ensure its independence of political interference? For surely the present situation is intolerable, with bias and malicious prosecutions coming at great cost, not only to the public purse, but to the very structure of our society.

Elizabeth Marshall, Western Harbour Midway, Edinburgh

Unfair to Sturgeon

Murdo Fraser’s article on the Salmond affair just proves that the Parliamentary Committee has become political rather than looking at matters objectively. The important element he forgets to mention is that the Scotland Act needs to be amended to extend the Scottish Parliament's privilege to include contempt proceedings and this has led to the problems over Alex Salmond’s submission. Some on the Parliament's Corporate body also ignored this legal advice.

The independent MSP Andy Wightman condemned the ongoing leaks from MSPs on the Committee on Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints of legally privileged information, the apparent regular breaches of the Code of Conduct of MSPs and the failure to observe the duty of confidentiality.

This confirms that some MSPs are more interested in getting Nicola Sturgeon’s head on a plate rather than concentrating on the core issue of how a flawed Civil Service process failed several women who felt they had been sexually harassed, and ended up costing taxpayers £500,000.

Mary Thomas, Watson Crescent, Edinburgh

What freedom?

Scotland can now officially be recognised as a tinpot dictatorship, with Nicola Sturgeon controlling party, government, civil service and judiciary.No opposition is allowed and any dissent will be blocked by sham trials and enquiries where documents will be redacted or altered by judicial order to an obliging parliament to obstruct any investigation into wrongdoing by the government. The final step will be the police, who will probably be sent to arrest anyone who doubts the wisdom of our dear leaderA fledgling democracy has within two decades been transformed into a dictatorship

Iain H Beattie, Palmerston Road, Edinburgh

Abuse of power

I am appalled at the conduct of the First Minister at yesterday’s Scottish Government's daily coronavirus briefing. Instead of politely declining to answer questions regarding the Salmond inquiry, on several occasions she abused her position to respond at some length. Those who take time to view the briefing wish to hear the latest news regarding the coronavirus pandemic, the expansion of the vaccination programme, proposals for the eventual easing of restrictions, measures being taken to assist the economy, a return to the classroom for children and the opening up of social activity – but not discussion of a matter which has nothing to do with the intended subject matter of the broadcast. This was a blatant exploitation of the First Minister's position to engage in matters outwith the remit of the briefing.

Peter Graham, East Comiston, Edinburgh

Delay election

So, the Scottish lockdown is intended to end in the last week of April, just a week before the May elections. Whether this is irresponsible or not depends on your voting intention. But for sure, there will be many older voters who will not be happy to visit a local polling station and who will not have a postal vote.

At the same time there will be many students and older school pupils who will be happy to be out and about.

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This demographic is straight out of the nationalist playbook – older voters are (maybe) majority unionist and younger voters are (maybe) majority separatist. Holding an election so soon after a long lockdown is not democratic. Nationalists, being inclined towards a republican state, should remind themselves that such tactics are not "in the common good".

Chris Boston, Clark Road, Edinburgh

Wild dreams

Dr Dave Parish asks “what rewilding means to me” (Friends of the Scotsman, February 23). The site behind our property was once a landfill site. This was capped and over the years the land was reclaimed by nature. Sitting close to the Glasgow City boundary, this area of East Renfrewshire became the recreational lung of those living on the southside of the city, promoting health and well being for local residents and others from further afield. This is what “rewilding” means to me, Mr Parish. Today the area has been taken over by wind farms to the point where this small local authority area consists of little else and any space remaining is being targeted with single turbine applications which enjoy less scrutiny and more likelihood of gaining planning permission. One by one, another wind farm by stealth is being created. A current application has blades so long there is only a ground clearance of 9m. Whilst RSPB and NatureScot agree that “this is potentially of concern in that it may bring more birds into the rotor-swept area” limited resources means that they can now only focus on priority sites or species.

There is little chance of rewilding Scotland when our land is being desecrated with an ever-increasing number of wind turbines of greater dimensions, turning vast areas into industrial wastelands and killing more of our birds while statutory consultees are effectively gagged.

Aileen Jackson, Knockglass, Uplawmoor

Healthy heads

Steve Hayes’s letter “Dying for a trip?” yesterday promotes a survival-of-the-fittest situation where those not strong enough to take another eight weeks of lockdown – at best – are shamed and shunned from society. This is not a case of lazy, impatient people waiting to go on a holiday versus the good pupils who proudly endure everlasting lockdown. Just look at the suicidal ideation rates, which the Scottish Government indicates at 13.3 per cent of respondents in the Wave 2 Report of their Covid-19 Mental Health Tracker Study (and these are only the suicidal thoughts, willingly self-reported). Think about higher rates of people with severe anxiety disorders, PTSD, depression – the list goes on. People who have been bereaved during the pandemic and are left to cope locked up at home. People with cancer and other illnesses not being able to be treated in time by the NHS. Homeless people living even more precariously.

Think about the split families, including people with ill relatives and divorced parents with children living far apart. For all these people, being able to take an annual trip to visit family, or simply to take a break from their daily grind, may well be what keeps them in balance.For many people, eight weeks will be too much, and the lifting of restrictions will come too late. The ultimate cost of our sacrifice on freedom may be greater than the less-than-1 per cent of people saved from a Covid death, allegedly thanks to lockdown. Meaning well, we are likely creating a generation of citizens widely prone to mental health issues.

So, yes, some people may be dying from strict lockdown, rather than “dying for a trip.”

Manon H Lemaire, Castle Terrace, Edinburgh

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