Westminster’s moral compass has gone awry - Readers' Letters

With more leaks reported that two other parties took place in the PM’s house during lockdown (Scotsman, 14 January), albeit without Boris Johnson’s attendance but with presumably his approval, the time has come for each of us to take stock of Westminster’s moral compass and processes: are they up to the job?
Boris Johnson faced a hostile reception from some MPs at this week's PMQsBoris Johnson faced a hostile reception from some MPs at this week's PMQs
Boris Johnson faced a hostile reception from some MPs at this week's PMQs

The Ministerial Code is supposed to provide us, the general population, with a degree of confidence that the power we have "given” to Westminster to manage our affairs, is not going to be abused, or used against us. It, Westminster has squandered that confidence, not just over the last few weeks, but over a significant period.

There is a huge litany of breaches where the PM has been told he has broken rules and he has apologised or his party has been fined, but he has continued on his merry way in his term as PM. We should remember that he had previous for his behaviour and been fired from a couple of important jobs before becoming a politician.

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Taking stock, there is no one above the law, and leaders should lead by example.

Many writers and commentators have been reticent about criticising high-profile or net wealth individuals, due to the power they can exert to control media and legal systems.

What can we In Scotland do to reclaim control? Nothing, The 2016 EU Referendum proved it. Also, comment in the media by Jacob Rees-Mogg shows what the Westminster government is not a British government, it is a thinly-veiled English government with a few add-ons called Scotland; Wales; Northern Ireland; Gibraltar, etc.

So for Scottish Conservatives the message is clear: you would have more control in an independent Scotland than you have now or in the United Kingdom.

Alistair Ballantyne, Birkhill, Angus

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Weighty issue

So, Jacob Rees-Mogg has described Douglas Ross as a “lightweight,” in his dismissal of the Scottish Conservative leader’s call for Boris Johnson to resign. More than that, he then went on to contrast Alister Jack, Scottish Secretary, with Ross, describing Jack as a more “substantial and important” figure (Scotsman, 13 January).

In other words, Westminster’s man in Scotland, the overseer, is of more importance than the leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, the man that is doing more than anyone north of the border to try to persuade Scots of the benefits of staying in the UK.

Rees-Mogg’s statement was so wrong in so many ways and will do nothing to persuade Scots of the value of their country to the Union. Scotland is already regularly derided as a drain on resources, taking more out of the UK than it puts in. His comments sadly reflect what many already believe: that Scotland means nothing in Westminster politics.

Stuart Smith, Aberdeen

Union doomed

Whether Boris Johnson survives or not is of little consequence following the arrogant remarks of Jacob Rees-Mogg, highlighting Westminster's utter contempt for Scotland. Furthermore, due to the disaster of Brexit, the mis-management of Covid and the endless lies and corruption of Boris and his government, the break-up of the Union is now sealed.

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It has indeed become an affront to democracy that the people of Scotland should believe that the British government represents them.

Finally the outdated imperial state of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is dissolving. This is not because of the Scots, Welsh or Irish – it is the arrogance and ignorance of English nationalism that is causing the break-up of the UK. It can't happen soon enough.

Grant Frazer, Newtonmore, Highland

Old school ties

Jacob Rees-Mogg is quite right to describe Douglas Ross as a lightweight compared with Alister Jack. After all, Alister Jack went to a public school and Douglas Ross didn’t.

By the way, has anyone seen Alister Jack recently?

Michael Grey, Edinburgh

Pot and kettle

You have to laugh at Nicola Sturgeon highlighting the viciousness of London versus Edinburgh Tory infighting over Boris Johnson's party attendance last May.

Let's not forget the recent deep rift between SNP MPs in Westminster and Sturgeon's allies, primarily Edinburgh-based. A rift so deep that led to two former senior SNP MPs, Alex Salmond and Kenny MacAskill forming Alba, a breakaway nationalist party. Pot and kettle, Ms Sturgeon?

Martin Redfern, Melrose, Scottish Borders

More fool us

There is a famous saying, dating to the 1600s, which notes: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”

It was something that struck me given the recent antics of Prime Minister Johnson. While much attention has been clearly focused on his personal behaviour, as uneasy as it may be the fact that he was elected as Prime Minister maybe provides a moment of reflection for those who voted for and continue to support him.

Mr Johnson’s serious character flaws were well-known to everyone prior to “partygate”. His public and private life is littered with a litany of lies he has told, all very well documented. Yet, despite this, he was elected as leader of the Conservative Party and ultimately as Prime Minister with a not inconsiderable majority.

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It is oft quoted that “the government you elect is the government you deserve”. Those complicit in elevating Mr Johnson to the role as Prime Minister of the UK, well aware of his character, may want to take some time to pause and reflect on whether this is truly the outcome they wanted.

For those in Scotland there is a simple question: “Is this really the best we can do?”

Alex Orr, Edinburgh

Learn lesson

It is ironic as well as disappointing that some contributors to these letters pages continue to make derogatory remarks about "Scottish education” while someone who represents the pinnacle of “British education” has been found wanting on so many levels, not least of all in the areas of professional competence, moral integrity and compassionate humanity.

It is evident that although all political parties in Scotland supported the introduction of Curriculum for Excellence, some who write to this newspaper still apparently do not understand that state education in Scotland reflects more ambition for our children than the simple assessments of the past.

Academic advancement is of course very important, but neglecting the wider development of our youth not only betrays them but betrays society. Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, who attended Eton before studying at Oxford University, epitomises many of the serious limitations of a private school education when children are removed from local communities and often from the day-to-day realities of modern living confronted by the general public.

There is good reason that the OECD has been broadly supportive of the Scottish Government in making the bold decision to aim higher in the education of our children and future generations and this latest party debacle at Westminster should hopefully enlighten some who seemingly struggle to appreciate the aspirations for Scottish education of both the OECD and the Scottish Government.

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry, East Lothian

Above the law?

The Scottish legal establishment has now responded to the Scottish Government's proposals regarding the regulation of lawyers (Scotsman, 12 January).

The proposals recommend creating a single regulator, accountable to the Scottish Parliament. A fit of territorial mania produced this response from the judiciary: “The judiciary will resist with all its strength this and any other attempt by government or parliament to remove the court's regulatory powers.”

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That act of hostility to the democratic process clearly implies the following: only lawyers can modify the existing system regarding the regulation of lawyers.

Pervasive self-regulation suits the courts, QCs, advocates, solicitors, sheriffs, the Law Society of Scotland and the Faculty of Advocates and no tawdry democratic process can ever be allowed to subvert that very cosy arrangement.

Access to justice in Scotland is soiled by the fact that self-regulation ensures that the frequently deplorable conduct of lawyers is excused. The trail of ruined cases and the consequent complaints from clients helps to explain the origin of the Scottish Government's proposal to remove self-regulation and replace it with a single regulator, accountable to parliament.

The Scottish Government must not succumb to the hostile antics of the legal establishment. Improving access to justice depends on the implementation of the aforementioned proposals.

Thomas Crooks, Edinburgh

Erroneous claims

In his article “Serious cost of dropping our green strategy” (Scotsman, 13 January), Richard Dixon of Friends of the Earth makes ever more ludicrous claims including his latest that "the cheapest electricity that energy companies can make or buy now comes from renewables".

If this is the case why has no renewable generator been built without subsidy ultimately imposed on our electricity bills?

All wind, solar, biomass etc generators are subsidised in one way or another. Drax alone receives almost £1 billion per year and many offshore wind installations receive over £100 per MWh generated ,which is over 10p per unit of electricity (kWh) in consumer terms!

Please stop misleading the public with far-fetched and erroneous claims Dr Dixon.

Dr GM Lindsay, Kinross, Perth and Kinross

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