Readers' Letters: Tory Fraser wants to have his cake and eat it

I was left incredulous by Murdo Fraser's article in Wednesday’s Perspective section (“Prospect of SNP-Green deal makes a strong case for Holyrood voting reform”, 2 June).

Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser's views on voting reform proved controversial (Picture: Fraser Bremner/Getty Images)

Is this the same Murdo Fraser whose Conservative party formed a coalition with the DUP in Westminster in 2017, giving a majority of four on a combined 43 per cent of the vote?

Or the same Murdo Fraser whose party currently holds a majority of 80 in Westminster – 57 per cent of the seats! – on 43.6 per cent of the vote?

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If Mr Fraser genuinely supports voting reform, he should be appalled at democratic outrages such as these. However, I fear that his concerns are a "cakeist” sham – and you don’t have to be a genius to work out why. Which electoral system should Mr Fraser support? Why, the one that gives his party the best chance of holding power, of course!

But there's a darker edge to the opinion piece. With just over 50 per cent of the regional list vote going to parties or independent candidates who declared support for Scottish independence, the proposition being made is not for the voting system in Scotland to be changed to promote democracy – but to thwart democracy.

Which begs the question – does Murdo Fraser believe in democracy at all?

David Patrick, Edinburgh

The game’s afoot

I've seen selective reporting before when it comes to electoral statistics, but Murdo Fraser's opinion piece deserved a prize for its one-sided take on last month's election. Mr Fraser claims that vote-splitting in Edinburgh Pentlands led to a little over 3,000 people voting SNP in the constituency vote and voting Green on the regional list. He accuses those who did so of "gaming the system" and indicates that this is in some way underhand or duplicitous. But who else were Green supporters going to vote for, given that their first party of choice did not stand in the constituency?

Would Mr Fraser like to comment on the result in the neighbouring Edinburgh Southern constituency, where more than 4,000 Conservative voters lent their votes to Labour, despite having a Tory candidate to support? Or perhaps in North East Fife, where a similar number of Conservative voters lent their votes to the Liberal Democrats?

It is a mathematical fact that all electoral systems can be gamed. We should be thankful that we have such an educated electorate that they use their votes to express their wishes in the strongest and clearest way, whether or not they split their votes.

Perhaps Mr Fraser could take note of that before he decides to use only the statistics that favour his own prejudices.

Janet Bungener, Edinburgh

Hospital drama

So the BBC in its infinite wisdom has done it again, messing on its viewers from a great height yet still expecting us to pay its extortionate licence fee! It’s bad enough that anything else gets moved or taken off when there is an awfully important (not) football match on, but now after 23 years a huge fan favourite is to bite the dust. I, like millions, have watched Holby City since the beginning and have chased it around the BBC1 schedules while trying not to tear my hair out or throw the telly out the window. I love Holby City, it is a little oasis of calm and fantasy in a painful and difficult world. A place to escape to for an hour and to live in someone else’s world for a little while. It is a programme full of great actors telling great, important stories and after all these years should be shown due respect and not kicked to the kerb when the top tier twits decide to shuffle things about a bit.

What is the point of paying for my TV licence when BBC bigwigs don’t give a jot about what I or my fellow viewers want? For years they have asked for feedback and then totally ignored it. Sport is the most important thing and anything else can go hang. I’m sure I’m not the only one driven crazy by ridiculous listings when Wimbledon or golf or football or whatever takes over two channels and leaves little else for anyone who – shock horror – doesn’t like sport!

So BBC, either play fair with us and let us keep the programmes we actually want or scrap the TV licence fee.

Bronwyn Matthew, Prestonpans, East Lothian

Gene query

Dr Gwenetta Curry refers to ethnic minorities being disproportionately impacted by Covid, even accounting for age, sex, deprivation and urban/rural factors, and notes that those of black African origin had the highest death rate even after considering pre-existing conditions, geography and socio-economic status (Inside Health, 3 June).

Citing no further evidence, she then insults society by accusing us of “systemic racism” and “discrimination”. But is there not at least some possibility that the increased prevalence among such ethnic groups is caused, like sickle-cell disease, by something in such groups’ genes?

John Birkett, St Andrews, Fife

Blinkered view

Leah Gunn Barrett suffers from a combination of ill-justified outrage and a lack of knowledge about the workings of democracy in the UK (Letters, 3 June). She admonishes Murdo Fraser for having won his seat through the D'Honte system and then lambasts the "first past the post" system, which is used quite happily in not only the UK, but the US too. I don't hear her complaining about the latter.

She says the UK has “minority rule” when the Tories have “unfettered power” with “one third of the popular vote”. Well, the SNP won in 2021 with only 30.67 per cent of the constituency vote and 26 per cent of the regional vote, including minors under 18! Would she like to see New York secede from the USA, just as she wants Scotland to leave the UK? If not, why not? It is no more or less unreasonable. Of course, last time US states seceded, there was civil war.Her justification for her myopic view of Scottish politics is that the Conservatives "destroyed a third of Scotland's manufacturing capacity", which is arrant nonsense. World economics, coupled with our 19th-century industries unable to compete with Japan, South Korea and Germany, helped that. Would she revive the coal industry?

She knows equally well that Scotland voted to remain part of the UK and the UK voted by completely democratic means to leave the EU, but the SNP want to tear Scotland out of the UK despite our democratic vote to remain.

John Fraser, Glasgow

Crowley treated

Is Steve Hayes (Letters, 3 June) seriously trying to blame today's selfish society and feckless parenting on the English occultist Aleister Crowley due to what he said 120 years ago?

Crowley's quote actually reads “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law, Love under Will”. It was lifted from the 16th-century monk François Rabelais' satire The Life of Gargantua and of Pantagruel (arguably the first modern novel). Rebelais believed that a free society of the well educated (both academically and socially) would produce people of honour who were naturally driven to virtuous deeds.

Suffice to say, Crowley proved the idea wrong.Compare a Rabelasian society to today's – in which education is wilfully dumbed down and censored to suit the whims of secular inquisitions declaring all to be racist, transphobic or whatever other fashionable sin of “wrongthink” holds sway, and where “justice” by mobs of bullies has never held such sway since the witch crazes.Crowley may have been a nasty little boy who never quite grew up, but if we want to see who's to blame for today's society, we need only look into a mirror.

Mark Boyle, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

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Alarming news

I have learned that churches, mosques, temples and synagogues can now apply for Scottish Government grants to install security measures against hate crime.

This is a good thing as nobody should have to fear attack for any reason.

I assume that these grants will also be available to LGBT drop-in venues, cafes and bars, women’s protection and reproductive health institutions and information centres for immigrant minorities?

Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society, Edinburgh

Pension plan

Andrew Gray (Letters 3 May) repeats the disgraceful Better Together campaign lie of 2014 that the miserly UK state pension, which is the lowest in the developed world as a percentage of final earnings, was under threat from independence. Anyone who has paid National Insurance will get their UK pension after independence just as happens now with people who moved to Spain, Ireland or Australia and this was confirmed by the DWP during the 2014 campaign. The UK can afford better pensions and can afford to end pensioner poverty. The UK government has a policy of keeping state pensions low so that people are forced to pay into private pensions, boosting the pensions fund sector and the City of London. However, not everyone can afford to do that. The poorer sections of society – those who are disabled, sick and unable to work, who have been made redundant and have experienced unemployment – can’t pay into large private pensions and therefore have to make do with the worst state pension in Western Europe.

The Scottish Government already pays for the occupational pensions of public sector workers and if Norway, Denmark, Finland and Ireland can all afford to pay better pensions than the UK, then so can Scotland.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh

Unnecessary evil

It is perhaps necessary to remind the public that there is no such word in English as “necessery". Our First Minister is one of the worst offenders as she mispronounces the word repeatedly and compounds her error by stressing the second "e".

(Dr) A McCormick, Terregles, Dumfries & Galloway

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