Readers' Letters: Salmond should accept that his time is over

After the Alba Party conference in Perth, Alex Salmond suggested that the next Scottish Parliament election should be considered a “de facto referendum”.

There are two issues to unpack in this throwaway manifesto suggestion. Firstly, it implies that he thinks Nicola Sturgeon’s Plan B de facto referendum at the next Westminster election will either fail, or not come to anything. Secondly, if that vote is run as a de facto referendum, and people vote against it, then Salmond is suggesting that he will just ignore that and try again. This is what he did in 2014, when he didn’t even accept the result for even half a day.

Perhaps we can make another few de facto political conclusions for the former First Minister. Mr Salmond lost his seat to the Tories in 2017, implying that the Conservatives are more popular than he is. And his new Alba party struggled to get much above one per cent at the 2021 Holyrood vote, implying that no-one is listening to him anyway. Mr Salmond needs to take the hint and depart the stage. His day is done. He has no answers to everyday problems, and is divisive to his own cause. Sooner or later, the men in grey kilts will have a word and, hopefully, we will not see his like again.

Victor Clements, Aberfeldy, Perthshire

Alex Salmond, leader of the Alba Party, at a campaign event in Falkirk last year (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)Alex Salmond, leader of the Alba Party, at a campaign event in Falkirk last year (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)
Alex Salmond, leader of the Alba Party, at a campaign event in Falkirk last year (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)

Reason to rush?

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With reference to Allan Sutherland’s remarks on the proposed Gender Recognition Act bill (Letters, 12 December), may I add my thoughts? There can be no doubt that the reason the SNP and their partners are charging ahead, some might say recklessly, with their new Gender Recognition bill is that they are trying to avoid another ministerial resignation.

It would seem certain from her past actions and remarks that Kate Forbes – at present on maternal leave – would join the already disgruntled Ash Regan and throw in the towel when she returns in the New Year. They would surely wish to get it through before that return and the high chance of a second and higher level ministerial resignation.

As well, Ms Forbes is seen by some as rival for the present FM’s throne, and a stand on principles would be beneficial to any future leadership campaign.

I fear that the views of those of us in this country who very much resent the proposed Act – probably the vast majority of voters – will be once again cast aside as not being woke enough. The apparent non-acceptance of the fact that the easing of changing gender for convicted and possibly violent prisoners can and will certainly be abused is baffling.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

Flawed plan

Looking through Gordon Brown's plan for the future of the UK, it is shocking to see no mention of proportional representation. Fixing what’s wrong with UK democracy should be the first step.

Far from replacing the notorious first-past-the-post system, Gordon wants it introduced for the election of regional mayors and all local elections, abandoning the “Supplementary Vote” (he doesn't say what he means by that). Does that mean abandoning the single transferable vote (STV) system used for local council elections in Scotland? How regressive! STV should be used for all elections. It is already used for the Assembly and local elections in Northern Ireland, and in the Irish Republic, but not for the Irish Senate (a confused and controversial mix of various appointees).Gordon advocates reform of the House of Lords, replacing it with an elected assembly. However, he shies away from committing to its electoral system: it's “for consultation”. Is this the best he can do?

Steuart Campbell, Edinburgh

No paradise

It does not surprise me that Iain and Jane Macintyre (Letters, 12 December) have had such good holidays in the Irish Republic. I first went there in the 1950s as a member of a Scottish boxing team. The Irish were great hosts and, gratifyingly, very accepting of our varied-race team members. However as we were free to roam Dublin, it was evident how poor it was in comparison with Glasgow. I next went a few years later as consultant to a Dublin firm and saw another side – the glaring difference between middle class wealth and that of the poor.

It took Ireland about 50 years after independence to become relatively prosperous and able to join the EU. Dublin was now about equal with London – thank goodness for expense accounts! My last visit was a few years after the financial crash of 2008 which hit Ireland particularly badly (to be bailed out not by the EU but the UK ). To visitors like us everything was cheap; golf, for example, was about half the price of an equivalent Scottish course, so it is good to see that the country has again perked up, but note that it does not have a health service equivalent to ours and still relies on the UK for defence, etc, including fisheries protection.

A McCormick, Terregles, Dumfries

Too soon

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Before Stan Grodynski uses Covid statistics for political ends I recommend that he waits for the reports of the two public inquiries about the pandemic (Letters,12 December). Whatever the faults of public inquiries (after they have finished, they have no powers to ensure that their recommendations are acted upon), they produce detailed accounts of events based on documentary evidence and public witness statements. The First Minister announced on 24 August 2021 that the one for Scotland would start before the one for the UK. Unfortunately, events conspired against her, and the UK one is now streets ahead.

Regarding AstraZeneca vaccine side-effects, they are very rare. That is why the World Health Organisation says that they are outweighed by benefits from the vaccine, and why more than 2.5 billion doses of it have been supplied worldwide. I have no doubt that the public inquiries will consider vaccine matters in detail, another reason for waiting for their deliberations before making definitive statements about them.

If, as Mr Grodynski alleges, the UK has had one of the highest Covid-19 death rates in the world, Scotland made a full contribution to those sad events, in spite of running its own bespoke pandemic control measures. According to the most recent census with full Scottish coverage, it has a population 10 per cent of the size of England. The most recently recorded weekly Covid-19 deaths in England numbered 333. In Scotland there were 40.

Hugh Pennington, Chair, Public Inquiry into the 2005 Outbreak of E.coli O157 in South Wales, Aberdeen

Evening score

The only thing more pathetic than Harry Kane’s penalty taking on Saturday was the schadenfreude from my countrymen over England doing what Wales, Northern Ireland and Eire have all also done down the years – been knocked out in a World Cup quarter final.Scotland, by contrast, can't even qualify: and even when we did, “the greatest football team” always fell at the first hurdle – usually in highly embarrassing circumstances.The “friendliest people in the world” have become a petty parochial province so embittered by our own inadequacies we can only find pleasure in the pratfalls of those who do better. As Goethe said, “Nothing shows a man's character more than what he laughs at”.

Mark Boyle, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

Fuel fear

What a beautiful winter morning it was yesterday: bare branched trees seen through the mist, a frost so thick it looks like snow and not a breath of wind. Only one thing troubles me. With all the country’s wind turbines becalmed, demand for energy at a peak and a shortage of gas right across the continent, how long will the National Grid cope? Will we face rolling power cuts this Christmas?

Otto Inglis, Crossgates, Fife

Blown it

Over the current cold spell wind turbines have failed to even meet 10 per cent of system demand, hence Scottish schools, hospitals and care homes are dependent on English gas turbines to keep the lights and heaters operational. However, a ban on gas will require a fivefold increase in generation capacity to phase out the use of fossil fuels and provide the energy to charge electric vehicles.

That increases the Scottish capacity to over 100GW of plant and, as the English/Scottish interconnector only has a 6GW capacity, it is time for Holyrood to spell out the cost of a stand-by generation system that can meet the increased maximum winter demand and operate over a six week period. As gas turbines are the only technical solution at present there is also the question of sourcing gas over a 50 year period and the impact on the target of a zero carbon economy by 2045.

Ian Moir, Castle Douglas

Collieries call

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The go-ahead for the new colliery near Whitehaven is great news. We need coal to make coke to make steel, and it makes sense to mine it in Britain rather than import it. Actually, production will be sufficient to allow exports too. Not only that but it will bring highly skilled jobs to the local area, well-paid jobs.

The opposition to this project from ill-informed politicians and eco-zealots has held up this magnificent project for seven years. They say coal will damage the planet. But Germany, Europe's powerhouse, is getting one-third of its electricity from coal-fired power stations – 37,000MW of reliable, cheap, weather-independent power. Japan produces over 50,000 MW from coal – and the UK a measly 4,000 MW .

Not only should the Whitehaven mine go ahead but we should be looking at opening new state-of-the-art collieries and power stations to tap the 3,000 million tons of UK coal reserves. Forget “saving the planet”, save us from shivering .

William Loneskie, Oxton, Berwickshire

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