Readers' letters: Scots’ influence at Westminster is significant

The fact that the most likely candidate for Prime Minister, Liz Truss, grew up and had much of her formative education in Paisley should interest us here in that this will have informed her view of politics and community from an early age, but it doesn’t seem to arouse even the mildest form of curiosity.

The political narrative here, of course, is to belittle and deny any Scottish influence at a UK level, but a quick online search will confirm that the following positions have been held by Scots MPs or Scots-born/educated politicians since Margaret Thatcher departed the scene in 1990:

Two Prime Ministers; two Chancellors three Chief Secretaries to the Treasury; a Secretary of State for Justice; Two Lord Chancellors; two Secretaries of State for Trade and Industry; two Secretaries for Work and Pensions; four Defence Secretaries; a Home Secretary; a Secretary of State for Northern Ireland; a Health Secretary; a Leader of the House of Commons; three Secretaries of State for Transport; a Foreign Secretary; a Secretary of State for International Development; a Leader of House of Lords and an Equalities Minister.

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Some like Michael Gove held a number of key positions. There have been others like David Cameron and Rory Stewart with obvious recent Scottish ancestry. The Labour Party has always been well supplied with Scottish administrators and spokespeople. Even the Lib Dems have provided people like Charles Kennedy and Sir Menzies Campbell who have been figures on the national stage.

Liz Truss, who went to primary school in Paisley, on the campaign trail in Cardiff
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We do have a problem at the moment, however, in that our SNP MPs are effectively gagged by their party, and so cannot contribute fully to debate. Traditionally, our MPs have been elected to represent their constituents, who happen to be Scots. Now, most of them represent only the views of their party leader. In such circumstances, democracy suffers, and the potential for influencing policy greatly diminishes.

Whether we agree with Ms Truss or not, we should at least listen to what she has to say. There may be more of West Central Scotland in her than we might think.

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Victor Clements, Aberfeldy, Perth & Kinross

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Tabula rasa

Murdo Fraser considers Liz Truss a woman of conviction and principle (Scotsman, 3 August), but he is only partly right – she is certainly a woman. Otherwise, she is a tabula rasa on which principles and convictions can be written as needed, then erased when no longer suitable or populist.

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That any Scottish Tory MPs or MSPs consider Truss as the best choice for PM, is truly extraordinary. Do none of these people realise that she is another gift after Johnson, to the Nationalist/Green tendency? So much for the boast that the Tories are the unionist party.

EP Carruthers, Lockerbie, Dumfries & Galloway

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Trusting Truss

The comments of Liz Truss on Nicola Sturgeon (Scotsman, 2 August) play right into the SNP grievance agenda, which she should have spotted. Her comments on regional pay were quickly shot down. Her wish for tax cuts at a time of huge government debt, sound dodgy.

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Polls suggest that Rishi Sunak stands a better chance of beating Labour; she may be the members’ favourite, but this will not win an election.

William Ballantine, Bo'ness, West Lothian

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Festival greed

We read in the Press that advance ticket sales this year are lower than previous years for both the Fringe and the official Festival.

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It is undoubtedly the case that the cost-of-living crisis, Covid and Brexit have all played played a part in this scenario. However, speaking as a resident of the city, is it not also the case that one of the main contributory factors is that the city has become the victim of its own greed, with many landlords charging extortianate rates for lets at Festival time, and ticket prices (apart from the Free Fringe) very much over-priced and beyond the price of the average citizen?

This was not the intention of the founding fathers of the Festival/Fringe in 1947

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Nor indeed has the city created or invested in the necessary infrastructure to cope with the influx of such visiting numbers over the years.

Jim Park, Edinburgh

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Artistic freedom

After reading Tim Walker's letter in The Scotsman (August 3) about how the Edinburgh International Festival was a celebration of freedom of expression, I made a point of going to see his play Bloody Difficult Women at the Assembly Rooms.

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I can see why when it opened in London some Brexit-supporting newspapers were not willing to acknowledge Walker's play about what these very same newspapers put Gina Miller through when she courageously took the governments of first Theresa May and then Boris Johnson to court for failing to pay any regard whatsoever to the principle of parliamentary sovereignty.

I would just like to say I loved the play. It made me laugh and it made me cry. More importantly, people can be heard out in Scotland now – and at the Edinburgh International Festival in particular – in a way that they can't in London. May I just say that I for one welcome Walker and his play to our city. If they no longer value freedom of expression south of the border then that is their loss and emphatically not ours.

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Angus Blaine, Edinburgh

Road to ruin

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Deteriorating Western Isles ferry services have prompted the chairman of Harris Development Ltd (Scotsman, 3 August) to complain to the transport minister: “Those with a vested interest in ignoring the wishes of island communities…have been allowed to squander millions of our [taxpayers’] money, and all to the detriment of those they are meant to be serving. Every cancelled sailing adds fuel to the funeral pyre and pushes many businesses and residents closer to the edge for packing up and leaving.”

Elsewhere in the same issue are familiar headlines about the SNP "creating a crisis in policing”, as well as “alarming” rises in cancelled hospital operations and A&E waiting times. And this week the Scottish Government yet again demands additional cash from London when the Barnet Formula already provides £1,200 more per capita here than in the rest of the UK.

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How ironic, therefore, to then read MP Chris Law’s comments (Perspective, 3 August). Mr Law argues that after secession, Scotland could somehow afford increased expenditure on international aid, piously bleating: “We must commit in law to spending the UN target of 0.7 per cent of GNI on development and assistance.”

Development and assistance is clearly needed closer to home, not just by NHS patients, crime victims and Hebridean islanders, but by all “the people of Scotland”. Separatists claim that independence would allow the use of “levers” to raise more funds than they currently have. In practice, this would mean massive borrowing to try paying an inflated welfare, public services and foreign aid bill.

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Martin O’Gorman, Edinburgh

Public sector pay

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Calls for more cash for councils to meet pay claims (Scotsman, 4 August) further highlights the limitations of the devolution settlement as the UK Spending Review, which determined Scotland’s block grant for this year, did not take into account the level of salary increases proposed by the independent pay review bodies.

Under devolution, Holyrood does not have the necessary financial flexibility to cope with 40-year high inflation, caused by the UK government’s poor decisions on energy policy and Brexit, or meet unprecedented public sector pay demands without massive budget cuts as every Scottish government has a legal obligation to deliver a balanced budget and therefore has effectively a fixed budget without the full taxation and borrowing powers of a normal county.

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The price of natural gas is currently 125 per cent higher than the start of the year and North Sea crude oil is still over $100 a barrel, which means a cash bonanza for the energy companies, and the OBR forecasts £12 billion for HM Treasury in London from Scotland’s waters.

After independence, this bonanza would accrue to a Scottish government which would then be in a strong position to help with high fuel bills and pay cost of living wage increases to all public sector workers.

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Mary Thomas, Edinburgh

The game’s up

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As Blondie's Debbie Harry might have put it: “Oh ho, ho ho, what's Rangers going to do? Union, Union, Union Saint-Gilloise!”

Once again the insufferable arrogance of Scotland's Mickey Mouse domestic professional football game – treating a Law Of Averages finals appearence by one of the Old Firm as “proof” we're in rude health – has crashed in flames in the heat of reality.

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'We need to change it around big time' - the Rangers reaction that says it all a...

Like Sligo Rovers’ roasting of Motherwell, the Belgians’ well-earned victory was a routine reminder of how feeble our game is thanks to the madness of SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster and his cronies hell-bent on preserving at all costs a wildly uncompetitive duopoly no quality player or shrewd investor would touch – let alone a fan!

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The Belgians, by contrast, forced through changes a decade ago to end the Anderlecht-Bruges-Standard Liege stranglehold of their domestic game. Now Union Saint Gilloise – in the doldrums for 60 years – along with the much-loved Royal Antwerp, Mechelen, Seraing and Beerschot have returned to health. All matches are competitive and interest in their domestic game never higher.

If the same thing happened in Scotland with USG's equivalent – Queen's Park – it would suffer a plague of penalties, suspensions of key players, etc to keep them “in their place” below the Old Firm like the rest.

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Mark Boyle, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

Write to The Scotsman

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