Readers' Letters: There's no general demand to get rid of Holyrood

I was taken aback by the assertion by Kenneth McRoberts-Brannan that our newspapers are deluged with letters pleading for an end to the Scottish Parliament (“Let’s abolish the Scottish Parliament”, 7 March).

If he is referring to the Scottish broadsheets, he could not be more wrong for their pages are dominated by no more than a handful of correspondents who, in some cases for decades, have been grinding out the same old assertions against devolution and independence. He jokes if he imagines that this mindless cacophony conveys any sense of representative opinion on these matters that might be thought to override the verdict of the ballot box.

James Scott, Edinburgh

Second rate?

Don't believe readers who write to newspapers represent other readers, says reader (Picture: Adobe)Don't believe readers who write to newspapers represent other readers, says reader (Picture: Adobe)
Don't believe readers who write to newspapers represent other readers, says reader (Picture: Adobe)

On first reading of Kenneth McRoberts-Brannan’s letter today I thought that this was maybe a step too far, despite my frequent objections to the way Holyrood operates. Then I remembered watching a session from the Welsh Parliament last week and instantly being impressed at how professional and capable their politicians looked and behaved, not least because the issues they were debating were relevant and important to the everyday lives of their constituents. Take in a session from Cardiff and form your own opinion.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Now, I fully realise the effectiveness of the Welsh Assembly is questioned in many areas, so perhaps this professional gloss hides the fact that they may be second raters. What is worrying is that our bunch in Holyrood are not even second raters – which may be obvious given the stature of the three leading candidates for First Minister. Given their single belief that “independence transcends everything” I find myself in agreement with Mr McRoberts-Brannan.

Ken Currie, Edinburgh

No improvement

In agreeing with Kenneth McRoberts-Brannan, I am reminded of what ought to be the real purpose of Scottish devolution: can our country find politicians whose intention and achievements demonstrate better governance than can the Westminster Parliament? If so, the costs and ballyhoo of a Scots parliament would be justified.

However, it has not been any clear improvement on Westminster, despite the many faults of that mainly talking shop.

So far, the rather monothematic character of the party at present in power, and certainly of its present leader, have not shown any such justifying achievements.

Charles Wardrop, Perth

Development hell

Why do we bother having councils if the Scottish Government ignores them? Why don't we just accept that a government Reporter is a de facto ruler, answerable only to the government, with no care for the needs of Scottish people?

Right now, housing developments are springing up across the Lothians, even when councils and residents are unanimous and repeated in rejecting them. Areas of historical import and ecological diversity are being destroyed, children are losing their play areas, woodlands are being decimated, ancient trees are being chopped down, rare species are deprived of habitat, and all completely contrary to the will of the taxpayers who live there.

Even if we shrug at these things, there are two issues that should be cause for concern.

The first is that there is no accountability and no democracy. The government lets the Reporter decide and, here at least, the Reporter seems to rubber stamp any and all building demands. As a theoretical, if ever there was some untoward arrangement made, we would have no way to uncover it. The only way to combat this is court, and who can afford it?

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

If the democratic deficit isn't alarming enough, on a practical level completely ignored by the government, there just isn’t the infrastructure. We don’t have enough surgeries, or schools, we don't even have the wherewithal for proper litter collection. The intention seems to be to create a massive, dirty, facility-poor suburb stretching from Edinburgh to Glasgow. It’s money for developers and who knows what for the government, because this isn't even social housing. This is money in someone's pocket, and sheer cynical disregard for voters.

D E Worden, Bathgate, West Lothian

Brains needed

Marjorie Ellis Thompson is right to criticise bias and falling standards by the BBC (Letters, 7 March). News At Ten is now apparently made more “entertaining” with Huw Edwards’ ludicrous perambulating and nightly repetition of “now let’s have a look at some of the other events happening today”, while several consecutive nights can pass with no update at all on Putin’s war.

Of course there are many excellent programmes, David Attenborough’s are an obvious example, but like almost all dramas and documentaries they, too, are marred by the unnecessary, inappropriate and excessively loud “background” music, even when Sir David tells us, sotto voce, to listen to the mating call of an exotic bird in the Indonesian rainforest!

Panorama now is often only a half-hour – 25 minutes in practice – versus the full hour of serious investigation decades ago; and Question Time is a tabloid version of its previous format, with too many panellists and too much participation by both presenter and audience.

One way to restore the BBC’s cultural and intellectual heft while meeting all three of its “inform, educate and entertain” values would be to revive the excellent Brains Trust, which it did some years ago chaired by the splendid Mary Ann Sieghart. But, unwisely given the “graveyard slot” at 11.15pm, it failed to reach its target viewer numbers and was prematurely cancelled.

Surely today’s younger generations are entitled to such serious debates by today’s great minds, as we were with Bertrand Russell, Cyril Joad, both Huxleys, Jennie Lee, Jacob Bronowski, A J Ayer et al. Or would some of them be “cancelled” and “no-platformed”, a practise many academics and several university authorities now seem to favour?

John Birkett, St Andrews, Fife

Breezy does it?

Your 6 March editorial (“Energy policy may be next for bonfire”) is a timely reminder of the lack of data in the Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan detailing the timescale over which it is anticipated there will be insufficient wind to keep the lights on in Scotland.

The Grid Operator Resilience Document should indicate such a timescale over which there will be a lack of output from Scottish wind farms. In the winter of 2010 there was a six-week period of high pressure, hence a prudent Resilience Plan would be based on a ten-week minimum requirement for a secondary back-up generation system, which then raises the question: why base a 21st-century economy on the energy from wind farms which are unreliable, uneconomic and unaffordable to those living in fuel poverty?

Ian Moir, Castle Douglas, Dumfries and Galloway

Changed mind

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

I was interested to read former Bishop of Edinburgh Richard Holloway's piece in which he concluded there is a “secular intolerance towards those whose religious views do not conform to current norms” (Perspective, 2 March).

Ten years ago in his pamphlet “A Plea for a Secular Scotland”, published by the Saltire Society, he wrote: “As the pace of social change quickens in Scotland, we must reassert the founding principle of the secular state and claim it anew for our nation. In the name of that principle we will continue to extend toleration towards institutions that are themselves intolerant, but we will not permit them to export their institutional prejudices into the secular sphere. They may continue to discriminate against women and gays in the sanctuary but we will not permit them to do so in the public square.”

He adds: “While religions are adept at taking advantage of the tolerance that secular governments extend to them, they rarely return the compliment”, noting that if the religious restricted their intolerance to the community of their own adherents, that would be acceptable, but their role in opposing gay marriage “shows that their instinctive authoritarianism is alive and kicking”.

I am surprised, therefore that he appears, to side with religious intolerance in his latest musings.

Alistair McBay, Methven, Perth and Kinross

Tail wagging

I was surprised to read recently that during a question about the Green Party’s influence on government policy one SNP hopeful denied that the “tail was wagging the dog”.

One only needs to see their dead hands on schemes such as the proposed ban on alcohol advertising, an affront to our democratic right to choose; the ludicrous Deposit Return Scheme, which is ill-thought-out and will never achieve its objectives; and the ban on landlords raising rental charges and evicting tenants, to name but three.

The first two schemes will come at eye-watering costs, money that could be directed to more needy causes; and what of the costs to businesses and possibly jobs.

Furthermore, the Greens purport to be a party of environmentalists and “do-gooders” but actually they are a party of negativity, their leaders intent on adopting an agenda of banning and anti-growth regardless of the consequences. I worry about what half-baked schemes they intend to impose on us next.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

With the SNP relying on them to maintain its majority, it seems unlikely that they will part company. However, as a party that was not voted into government, the tail is definitely wagging the dog. Hopefully whoever becomes the next First Minister will keep them at arm’s length before they can do any further damage.

Fred Chrystal, Begbie, East Lothian

Write to The Scotsman

We welcome your thoughts – NO letters submitted elsewhere, please. Write to [email protected] including name, address and phone number – we won't print full details. Keep letters under 300 words, with no attachments, and avoid 'Letters to the Editor/Readers’ Letters' or similar in your subject line - be specific. If referring to an article, include date, page number and heading.




Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.