Readers' letters: Time to derail the prime ministerial gravy train

As the Chancellor, whoever it may be, turns his mind to the savings note-0be needed to restore credibility to our public finances, he may care to consider bringing to an end the practice, introduced by a Conservative Government in 1991, of paying outgoing Prime Ministers a lifetime allowance, known as the Public Duty Cost Allowance, currently running at £115,000 a year.

Its introduction may well have been regarded as an appropriate farewell bung to Margaret Thatcher but is unlikely to be justifiably earned by the flood of second-rate Tory leaders who have succeeded her, culminating in Liz Truss’s disastrous weeks in office.

To buy an annuity of this order at the retirement age of most of these former Prime Ministers, whose tenure gets shorter and shorter, would cost the man in the street something of the order of £2 million so it is no small perk, payable for ill-defined public duties that are hard to see being discharged by people like Theresa May and Boris Johnston, given their commitment to performing on the profitable after-dinner speaking circuit.

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A cynic might conclude that on this, as in everything else, the Tory Party is changing the guard as fast as it can to maximise the financial return to its parliamentarians.

As a former Prime Minister, Liz Truss is entitled to claim a Public Duty Cost Allowance of £115,000 a year

James Scott, Edinburgh

Divided country

At a time when the country should be uniting to defeat the cost of living crisis and bring about some degree of stability, it’s concerning that the current UK government should be tearing itself apart over the choice of a new leader.

I find it hard to understand why a party which kicked out Boris Johnson as Prime Minister a short time ago should now be considering him as the next incumbent of the post. Is the Tory Party’s volte-face about Johnson being caused by the belief that he was wronged when the party turned against him or is it self-preservation by MPs who are likely to lose their seats?

In the past I have been one of the voters "detested” by Nicola Sturgeon who had the temerity to vote Conservative, although in the dim and distant past I have voted SNP when the party contained individuals who had integrity and followed a moral compass. Not any more! My future voting dilemma is not helped by the fact that the Labour Party is led by the lacklustre Keir Starmer, whose policies don't fill the side of a cigarette packet.

Should Boris Johnson again be appointed to the top job I am intrigued about what current Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross will do. After calling for Johnson to step down the last time because of his unsuitability to remain in post, will Mr Ross refuse to serve under him or acquiesce for the good of the party? My future voting intentions may depend on the outcome.

Bob MacDougall, Kippen, Stirling

Johnson madness

On 6 June, 5 and 6 July and 20 October I was delivering groceries in the West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine constituency of Andrew Bowie MP.

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6 June was the date of the Vote of Confidence in Boris Johnson, on 5 and 6 July his second administration was collapsing and 20 October the date Liz Truss resigned as Prime Minister. Andrew Bowie MP is the Conservative and Unionist Party MP for the above area.

Unlike Mr Bowie, who supports Rishi Sunak for Prime Minister and voted against Boris Johnson in the Vote of Confidence, some Conservative and Unionist Party MPs and former MPs such as Ross Thomson seem determined to give us Scottish independence in jig time by going back to Boris Johnson as Prime Minister.

As someone who worked through this pandemic in a supermarket, the First Minister, in my opinion, missed an opportunity to thank all the key workers not just those in the NHS at the SNP Conference but what the Conservative and Unionist Party MPs who want Boris Johnson MP as Prime Minister is much worse.

If you allow someone who partied while key workers were trying to get the country through pandemic back into power, what message does that give these key workers? That the electoral success of Conservative and Unionist Party matters more than their efforts, perhaps? I seriously don't know what to think of such a mad idea.

Peter Ovenstone, Peterhead, Aberdeenshire

Petty politics

There are many good reasons for devoutly wishing that Boris Johnson does not appear as one of the Unholy Trinity, one of the main ones being that it would wipe the smug smile off the face of the nauseating Stanley Johnson. That may sound petty. I hope it does.

If Boris gets 100 votes, any remaining trace of decency among Tory MPs will be consigned to the oblivion where the utter poltroon Boris himself belongs.

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Steve Hayes, Leven, Fife


It is astonishing that with his journalistic and City backgrounds, Kwasi Kwarteng did not foresee the domestic and global markets’ reactions to his uncosted budget proposals rushed through in 25 minutes; likewise Liz Truss, whose accountant husband has City contacts.

It is also astonishing that as politicians, they did not recognise their wide-open own-goal in cancelling the 45 per cent tax rate, at a time of a cost-of-living crisis exacerbated by the lockdown chickens coming home to roost, Putin’s aggression, interest rates already edging up, and the Bank of England’s extraordinary delay in acknowledging the pent-up inflationary risks unleashed by its QE “money printing”.

But it is wrong to assert that so-called “Trussonomics” has failed, as it was never implemented. Many experts affirm it is a respectable longer-term policy to encourage economic growth (as the Blair/Brown governments accepted, and as Keir Starmer may well have to) but its timing, coupled with a total lack of ground-preparation even to her own Cabinet, or of credible explanation and without the Office for Budget Responsibility’s independent analysis, all combined to ensure its rejection.

Many of us can recall the condemnation by 364 economists and others of the Thatcher/Howe decisions 40 years ago – which within a short time ended with 364 egg-smeared faces – because the then PM and Chancellor planned properly prior to implementation.

John Birkett, St Andrews, Fife

Tartan Truss

If only Scotland were independent, we could borrow money on the international markets and turbocharge our under-performing economy.

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Who would have thought that Sturgeonomics is Trussonomics dressed in tartan?

Martin Johnson, Boat of Garten. Highland

Status symbols

In these tumultuous times, it seems that both those make-believe status symbols the so-called “deterrent” (Trident) and the unwritten British “constitution” are not fit for purpose.

Marjorie Ellis Thompson, Edinburgh

Trafalgar Day

At the foot of Nelson’s Monument on Calton Hill in Edinburgh there is a sign that reads “Every year, on 21st October, the anniversary of Nelson’s death, naval flags are flown from the Monument signalling his famous words ‘England expects every man to do his duty’.”

Sadly, this year, the Monument was not bedecked; does anyone know why? Was someone in the Lord Provost’s Chambers or Edinburgh City Council asleep at their post or maybe it was by diktat from the Scottish Government?

I welcome enlightenment.

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Many of Nelson’s officers and men were indeed Scottish, Welsh and Irish but, of course, to send that signal would have involved an excessive and impractical number of pennants.

Robert O’Riordan, Edinburgh

Cost of conscripts

Vladimir Putin’s efforts to conscript 300,000 military reservists have been widely condemned as a desperate act of someone who is losing a grotesque war that he himself started. While able-bodied young men have headed to Russia’s borders in their droves and international television crews have provided views of this mass exodus, few, if any, British reports have provided UK historical context.

The Massacre of Tranent on 29 August 1797, ninety years after the Acts of Union, resulted from a detested conscription forced on “regional populations” to fight in foreign fields on behalf of the “wealthy elite”. Local people protesting against the taking of their young men, including women and children, were shot dead by marauding troops under the command of Colonel Viscount Hawkesbury. In 1812 Hawkesbury, a Tory MP, became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

Perhaps there are some parallels with events of today that our more intrepid reporters can present and perhaps all of our citizens, including those we welcome to live in Scotland, should be provided with more information on Scotland’s history?

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry, East Lothian

Reality check

Despite being a supporter of independence, former adviser to Alex Salmond, Alex Bell, speaks with so much perception to be forgiven. Writing in a Sunday national he says: “if Scotland isn’t to make a habit of allowing a political elite’s hubris to wreck the nation every 300 years or so, then the Indy movement urgently needs an economic prospectus that makes sense, is based on reality and doesn’t con the people.”

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Nicola Sturgeon’s recent paper, lauded by some as the great economic plan for a successful independent Scotland, has been rubbished not only by opponents but also by prominent, high-profile pro-independence supporters and commentators.

As ever, Alex Bell tells it as it is, nothing but a “con” that makes no “sense”. Time for separatists to listen to reality from one of their own.

Douglas Cowe, Newmachar, Aberdeenshire

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