Readers' Letters: Unconvinced SNP leader race is democratic

The Scotsman’s report on the SNP “civil war” yesterday and Nicola Sturgeon’s thoughts on it included another quote attributed to her: “We’re having a democratic election.”
Humza Yousaf, Kate Forbes and Ash Regan at the SNP leadership hustings on 8 March (Picture: Andy Buchanan - Pool/Getty Images)Humza Yousaf, Kate Forbes and Ash Regan at the SNP leadership hustings on 8 March (Picture: Andy Buchanan - Pool/Getty Images)
Humza Yousaf, Kate Forbes and Ash Regan at the SNP leadership hustings on 8 March (Picture: Andy Buchanan - Pool/Getty Images)

An “election” there certainly is, the jury is still out regarding the “civil war”, though evidence seems contrary to her stated position. There is no evidence at all that the election is democratic. It seems she really does intend us to take it on “trust”.

I am not a member of the SNP so do not expect a vote. I am, though, one who is to be, de facto, governed by the party which will be led by the victor in the election. The mechanics of this election are not transparent, the number of the electorate is not open to external scrutiny, neither is the process of running the election – already there are mutterings about favourite candidates and seats at hustings.

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When the outgoing leader says this is a democratic election, this is something I for one do not take solely on trust. The old saying “trust but verify” comes to mind. There is no verification as to the “democratic” election process, therefore there can be no assurance that this is so. This has bearings on the legitimacy of the “democratic process” to which we submit as the ruled over, and therefore the legitimacy of the Government.

Transparency of the electoral process is essential to legitimacy, only then can the “governed” make their own minds up as to the legitimacy of the process, so long, of course, that this is prior to the election rather than during or afterwards.

Gavin Findlay, Boghead, Lanarkshire

Quite a legacy

So, finally, someone high up in the SNP, someone vying for the leadership, tells it the way it should have always been. “We have to show the Scottish people we are capable of governing a country” and “We need to build an economic case”. Kate Forbes has already been caned for disclosing her personal opinions on gay marriage and gender reform and now she gets completely vilified by the party hierarchy and an awful lot of members for this latest statement of the sensible and decent way to progress. The poor girl must surely now realise, if she didn’t before, that being open and honest is not the way to go in the SNP.

In one fell swoop we get crystal clarity on the vital necessity of enforcing one of the hallmarks of the Salmond and Sturgeon years – the iron fist control of individual thought and expression.

Through all of this Nicola Sturgeon is desperately trying to persuade us she is proud of her legacy.

I suggest she definitely does have a legacy – but certainly not one to be proud of. She has managed to lead a dominant party through an unprecedented series of policy failures before eventually appreciating that her game is up and suddenly resigning with absolutely no succession strategy in place and leaving the almost perfect shambles. Quite a legacy really!

Ian Hogg, Melrose, Scottish Borders

Big win needed

Watching SNP candidate debates, I am a bit concerned that they assume a referendum-winning margin would be 50 per cent plus one. Regardless of whose side you are on, this is not wise. Any result needs to be emphatic, so that it will be accepted by all, and the story will end.

Fifty per cent plus one means that 49.9 per cent did not vote for it, and they would not accept such a narrow loss, so the story would drag on. This is why we need a bigger winning margin – to produce a stable result accepted by all. This would hold true if the Yes side narrowly lost. This is also before we get to the problem of a possible low turnout!

William Ballantine, Bo'ness, West Lothian

Wasted dreams

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Once again Joyce McMillan regales us with her views on Scottish independence, trying to justify her opinions on the basis of her teenage longing to escape the White Heather Club for London an d beyond (Perspective, 10 March).

Has it not occurred to Joyce that after 14 years the SNP has been unable to deliver a factual, truly considered plan for independence and that Holyrood is in fact a devolved regional assembly charged with the primary responsibility of looking after Scotland and its people in the real world?

She never mentions the dire situation with public services and failing infrastructure that is the legacy of SNP mismanagement.

Until such time as everyone realises the difference between idle dreams and governing reality, Scotland will become even more of the backwater that Joyce alleges to be the case.

Derek Farmer, Anstruther, Fife

So depressing

News that the UK’s diplomatic service might be asked to accompany SNP ministers travelling abroad to prevent them from talking up the break-up of the UK is welcome. I have no problem with the SNP funding their own trips to discuss their independent future, but this is not what a Scottish Government should be allowed to do – especially at taxpayers’ expense.

In a similar vein, is it not depressing that candidates for the role of First Minister choose solely, it seems, to focus on independence? While the SNP are perfectly entitled to talk about this ad nauseam (which they do), the role of First Minister is to head up a devolved Government charged with governing on behalf of all the people. Not one of them sees the need to be able to work constructively with the UK Government to the betterment of all, rather than see the role as standing up to it. It’s depressing really. Scotland deserves better – a government for the people.

Ken Currie, Edinburgh

Bad to worse?

Should, in the face of the challenges of Tory-imposed austerity, Brexit and Covid-unpreparedness, the performance of the Holyrood Government be considered “mediocre”, how would one rate the performance of the Westminster Government?

Setting aside the lies, moral corruption and rampant fraud, the enormous waste of taxpayers’ money by the Tories continues unabated at a scale that makes the Ferguson’s budget overrun minuscule by comparison. Forget tens of billions of pounds lost to non-functional PPE, late and hugely over-budget aircraft carriers (without the planned aircraft) and other delayed military hardware, HS2 alone is now estimated to be £65 billion over budget and even with the northern extension to Leeds abandoned is now scheduled not to be completed until a decade later than originally projected. The cynical disclosure by the Tory Government of the latest delay via written statement cannot hide the fact that even on the conservative estimate of £98bn the cost of this massive folly is equivalent to the cost of paying the salaries of around 200,000 more nurses, doctors, care workers, teachers and police officers for the next ten years.

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Clearly mediocrity would not only be a “dizzying-height” for Douglas Ross but also for his fellow Conservative and Unionist Party MPs acting as Ministers in the Westminster Government.

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry, East Lothian

Bin bad plan

A principle of environmental practice is that it is better to mend and repair, than replace with something new which will require an unnecessary waste of resources. Why has that principle not been followed by the Greens as regards the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS)? We have a working system of recycling plastic and glass whereby every business and household puts those materials in the appropriate bins which are then collected and sorted by the council workforce. Admittedly, the system does not operate perfectly and one sees plastic bottles and glass lying as litter in many places.

But that does not mean the recycling system should be replaced. All it means is that it should be improved, for example, with more public bins regularly emptied, more law enforcement for littering and a publicity campaign to encourage better care of the environment.

Already the DRS looks complicated, unwieldy and very expensive. Shopkeepers are dreading its imposition as they are being forced to become collection points. The general public are against it because the extra admin will have to be paid for through higher prices. It is a very costly sledgehammer to crack a nut. Let us hope that the whole idea goes to landfill, as it is not fit to recycle!

Les Reid, Edinburgh

Cold, dead facts

It would be good to know the criterial used by Mary Thomas to justify her opinion that the NHS in Scotland outperforms that in England (Letters 10 March). I would start with life expectancy, which unequivocally indicates the opposite, not just for England and the rest of the UK, but for Western European countries as a whole. Scots’ lives are shorter. To be fair to Humza Yousaf, it could be said he hasn't been in post long enough to make any changes for the better. But that argument doesn't apply to the SNP. Did that statistic play any part in Nicola Sturgeons resignation?

Hugh Pennington, Aberdeen

Cheque please

The NHS is struggling to cope with the vast numbers on the waiting list, particularly for planned operations, and waiting times for A&E. In order to provide additional staff and facilities we need additional funding, which would need to come from the taxpayer, but one other source of funds is to seek a contribution towards costs from those who use the NHS, which is probably unpalatable to most people.

Many taxpayers, however, would be prepared to pay more to support the NHS and therefore the answer is to send a cheque to HMRC – they will accept it – with gratitude. This, of course, would mean that the generous would pay and the “could not care less” would not, but as the advert says “the NHS is worth it”.

James Macintyre, Linlithgow, West Lothian

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