Readers' letters: We need fewer politicians in our lives, not more of them

Holyrood was originally set to reduce the number of MSPs to 117, once it had settled in, but of course it was decided the public would benefit from more snouts in the trough and 129 were retained.

Shortly after that, they contrived to exceed the promised £64 million cost of the hideous parliament building by 900 per cent and, ever since, taxpayers’ money has been liberally scattered to the four winds for scant reward. Of course a politician will claim we need more like them, but the coronation of another failure to lead the SNP and act as First Minister reflects the low standard on offer One MSP on a committee the other day could barely string a sentence together. How could we possibly want more of that?

If politicians recognised they are public servants, not leaders, that they cannot justify any assumption of moral or intellectual superiority and that they are employed to facilitate our lives, not dictate how we live, we would all be better off.

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We do not need more MSPs at Holyrood, as former Lib Dem leader Jim Wallace suggests (Scotsman, 8 May), we need fewer politicians, of all parties and parliaments, in our lives

Humza Yousaf makes his final speech to the Scottish Parliament as outgoing First Minister - but should there be more MSPs listening? (Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire)Humza Yousaf makes his final speech to the Scottish Parliament as outgoing First Minister - but should there be more MSPs listening? (Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire)
Humza Yousaf makes his final speech to the Scottish Parliament as outgoing First Minister - but should there be more MSPs listening? (Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire)

Hamish Hossick, Broughty Ferry, Dundee

Plain English

Watching Emma Harper of the SNP asking Dr Hillary Cass (Scotsman, 8 May) questions was excruciating. Twice, Dr Cass had to ask for clarification about what the MSP was asking, so convoluted and torturous was the question. You could sense the expert’s puzzled disbelief in an elected representative being quite so, let’s face it, un-clued up on what she was asking.

Surely the SNP could at least have put someone up who had a decent grasp and could have asked pertinent questions in plain English. Merely reading from Spad-prepared notes and even then making it sound forced and apologetic in tone does not cut it at this level.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

Picture this

The front page photograph of John Swinney, Humza Yousaf and Nicola Sturgeon in yesterday’s Scotsman sparked an idea: the paper should run a regular headline or caption competition. For example, given that Messrs Swinney and Yousaf are sporting self-satisfied or smug expressions and Nicola looks an unhappy bunny, was this her reaction to the offer to her by the other two, on her retirement as an MSP, of Scotland’s “Last Quango in Harris”? Could the title have been “Unholy Trinity” or the caption “Groundhog Day – people of Scotland stitched up again”?

I invite other readers to offer their suggestions.

Fraser MacGregor, Edinburgh

In denial

Unable to accept the Scottish Government’s calamitous record of non-stop failure, Stan Grodynski retreats instead into familiar grievance rhetoric (Letters, 7 May). Bitter ramblings about stolen North Sea reserves seem pointless, given that most good separatists now shun the very idea of fossil fuels. Boasting about renewables and “massive tidal generation to come” is the kind of wishful thinking which prompted Humza Yousaf’s false 2023 claim that Scotland had “the majority of the UK’s renewables and natural resources.” The real figure turned out to be 26 per cent.

Mr Grodynski tries to excuse the Continuity SNP’s attempts at dumbing down and politicising our schools: “The focus in education should not be on narrow exam targets but on holistic development of young people to enable the building of an ambitious, healthy, happy, prosperous, democratic, socially just and egalitarian society.” So don’t bother so much with all that maths, literacy and science stuff then, let’s just do more indoctrination.

It’s suggested that folk “down south” wish to preserve the Union because “Perhaps they don’t want to have nuclear submarines moored next to their most populous city.” Anti-nuclear politician George Galloway observed in 2014 that regardless of whether Trident was based here or elsewhere in Britain, Scots would be “eviscerated along with their neighbours” in the event of a nuclear exchange. The main point of his argument being that outwith the UK, Scotland would have absolutely zero say on whether to retain our deterrent or not.

Martin O’Gorman, Edinburgh

Write stuff

I would like to comment on Humza Yousaf’s letter of resignation to the King.

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A letter is a written conversation. Thus you never say “I write”, or “I am writing” etc. Also he should have written “and me “ and not “and I”. Methinks Hutchesons’ Grammar School needs to improve its standards. My school taught these basics in Primary 6.

Dr Ian Galt, Cape Town, South Africa

Comedy gold

There may not have been an internal SNP contest to appoint a new leader but, come August, I imagine there will be one almighty contest to see who gets top billing at the Edinburgh Festival – comedy category.

While Mhairi Black may be the first to announce her intentions, my money is on Keith Brown, given his claim that John Swinney will “build on the success of Humza Yousaf”.

Ken Currie, Edinburgh

The wrong note

There seems to be a lot of controversy over the Eurovision Song Contest at the moment. It has been a farce for many years, however. and doesn’t deserve to be watched for the quality of the “music” on offer, which often relies upon visual spectacle rather than a good tune. Can anyone seriously believe that a group like Abba could emerge from the sort of fare we are offered nowadays?

I would recommend what I do to others. I wait until the time comes to watch the marks being offered by the various national juries. That is realpolitik in action. It is hilarious and far more enjoyable than the main event. It also means that I don’t have to listen to the ghastly “music”.

Andrew HN Gray, Edinburgh

It doesn’t add up

Too often one hears comments like “I hated maths in school'' or “I was rubbish at maths” expressed almost proudly. Somehow it’s okay for people to chuckle about not being good at maths. Yet, if I said “I never learned to read,” they’d say I was an illiterate dolt.

The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, clearly understands the power and value of mathematics to society and the economy. In March 2020 he pledged £7m to provide every region in England with funding for a specialist maths school. Building on those earlier plans, the government has now announced a £6 million National Academy for Maths that will push for numeracy to be seen as important as reading.

Scotland produced one of the greatest mathematical physicists of all time, James Clerk Maxwell. Let us hope that our new First Minister is also as fanatical about all things mathematical.

Doug Clark, Currie, Edinburgh

Rural ruin

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Last Thursday a debate took place in Holyrood to address the concerns or rural residents of Scotland have about SSEN's plans to cover the countryside with industrial junk to enable, in the words of SSEN, “thousands more onshore wind turbines”. Around ten per cent of the MSPs were in the chamber, despite most being urged by their constituents to attend.

SSEN’s proposals are a national matter, not just a rural one. SSEN’s proposals, if permitted, will bring about the greatest changes to the culture and the Scottish landscape in the last 200 hundred years. And the damage will continue, as rural Scotland becomes the dumping ground for energy projects.

John Mason MSP, believes “scenery doesn’t pay the bills”. Kate Forbes MSP, believes tourism and renewables are a healthy mix. Yet it is undebatable that scenery pays the bills for thousands of people living and working in rural Scotland and tourists do not visit to see 868-acre substation sites (near Beauly, in Forbes’constituency), cross-hatchings of mega-pylons and over-head lines, hydrogen plants, solar farms, mega-pump storage facilities, or battery storage units. These monstrosities are being proposed all over the country, with applications coming in by the dozen, weekly, because rural Scotland is now a Klondike.

Scotland is being treated like a developing nation – a cheap place to invest, exploit the resources, ignore the “natives”, and fill the money bags of shareholders whilst paying little or no taxes. None of this junk is for the people of Scotland. We are expected to suffer the destruction of our natural environment, the loss of value of our businesses and homes, the loss of use of prime agricultural land, the deterioration of our mental and physical health, and we have to accept the ruin of our children’s and grandchildren’s futures in rural Scotland.

Denise Davis, Founding member of Communities B4 Power Companies, Kiltarlity, Highland

Rabbie robbed?

Did Friedrich Schiller plagiarise Burns? In John Suchet’s Classic FM broadcast celebrating the 200th anniversary on 7 May of Beethoven's 9th symphony, he mentioned that in 1803 Schiller had changed the previous words in his Ode to Joy to “Alle Menschen werden Bruder” (all men will become brothers), now renowned in the glorious final movement of that symphony.

As Robert Burns had written his great poem A Man’s a Man for a’ That in 1795, ending with “That Man to Man the warld o’er Shall brithers be for a’ that”, it is surely possible that Schiller had read and was possibly an admirer of Scotland's national poet.

John Birkett, St Andrews, Fife

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