New Jersey

Why on earth should we call these people Honourable?

AFTER the Nadhim Zahawi debacle (“Zahawi attacks press after sacking chairman,” The Herald, January 30), Rishi Sunak expressed for the third time his determination to restore integrity to politics. Unfortunately, he is the leader of a party that has been at the forefront of ignoring integrity in recent years.

During the Covid crisis, Matt Hancock gave public money to acquire PSA to (a) companies recommended by Tory colleague Baroness Mone, who allegedly had a financial interest in the named companies, and (b) a finance company which were not involved in the manufacture of PPE.

During this crisis, Boris Johnson and a number of his cabinet mates attended parties they renamed “working sessions” despite drafting legislation banning such gatherings, sparking the Partygate scandal.

In addition, several of the current Prime Minister’s colleagues have been found guilty of violating the Ministerial Code – Suella Braverman, Owen Paterson and Mr Johnson; the last one is under investigation for no fewer than 18 such violations.

Mr Zahawi alleges he made a “negligent error” in his tax returns for which he was fined and which he “forgot” when interviewed for the post of Chancellor of the Exchequer. Mr Sunak, who himself admitted to his family that he had used non-resident status to avoid paying income taxes, fired him “immediately” (ie after hesitating).

There was little reaction from many members of the Cabinet, many of whom, like Jacob Rees-Mogg and Alister Jack, have spoken ardently on almost all of the above and are ready to address anyone in power.

One wonders at the double standard applied here, even for a party that, to the dismay of many respectable supporters under Mr Johnson, has become synonymous with duplicity and meanness. Perhaps it would not be unreasonable to expect that all of the above would no longer be referred to as “Venorable” in order to preserve the meaning of the word.
TJ Dowds, Cumbernauld

A home for serial liars

WILL the Tories have the courage to ditch former party leader Nadhim Zahawi as MP and force a by-election now? Unlikely.

Will Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross call for his dismissal? Again unlikely, but he freaks out so much on important issues you never know.

Will Stratford-on-Avon voters back a new MP? Possible, but still unlikely.

This leaves us totally out of touch with the rest of us from an arrogant, incompetent British government that seems to be home to some serial liars. And the investigation into Dominic Raab’s alleged bullying is still ahead of us.

The next federal election is scheduled for January 23, 2025 at the earliest.

How many Chancellors and Tory leaders can we get through in that time?

And how much more damage can they do to the UK economy?

I think we all know the answer.
andy stenton, Glasgow

• On Sunday, Michael Gove admitted that the government had given insufficient guidance on the re-cladding of high-rise buildings (“Faulty guidance allowed Grenfell”, The Herald, 30 January). A Scot from another party might have pointed out that building control regulations are stricter north of the border.

After a fatal fire at a high rise building in Irvine in 1999, Scottish regulations were revised to prevent fire from spreading through the cladding. A similar fatal fire occurred in Camberwell, south London, in 2009. The Grenfell disaster happened in 2017. Guidance and clarifications for disguises in England were only issued in 2019.

When Boris Johnson was in charge we had a procession of speakers including Mr Gove who explained (or attempted to explain) his various mispronounced statements. Recently various ministers have done the same for the misdeeds of other Rt Hon cabinet members.

This time we should believe the long-awaited apology. However, a cynic might wonder how much of the failure to tighten regulations – and save lives – is due to nationwide developers and builders making significant donations to a particular party?
JB Drummond, Kilmarock

Disruptive Attack can backfire

KEVIN McKenna is right in condemning Nicola Sturgeon (“Why is Sturgeon now acting like a cut-price Trump?”, The Herald, January 31). But I disagree with those who are calling for her to “promptly apologize” for her crude insults, that some opponents of her gender recognition reform bill are “transphobic… deeply misogynistic, often homophobic,” and even more extraordinary that some may be of them “also racist”. Their attack could backfire, both from outside and inside the SNP, both of which would be a welcome outcome.

As with her “I loathe the Tories and everything they stand for,” her statements were not rash, spontaneous outbursts. They were and are her considered views after years of careful consideration for which any apology would be untrue and therefore rightly disbelieved. When politicians are forced to apologize, they tend to use weaselly words; and a forced apology is no apology.

It is clear that the fiasco-like fiasco of this bill was caused by a majority of MSPs from all parties who could not even accept sane, logical, sane amendments, which were certainly supported by the vast majority of adult Scots, which could have ensured one more larger majority for real legal reform. These MSPs should be voted out before the next election.
John Birkett, st andrews

• CAN anyone in the Scottish Government tell us why women in prison have more rights to protection from potentially dangerous men, however they ‘identify’, than women and girls who have not committed crimes?

Meanwhile, predatory men, transgender or not, will have free access to toilets, changing rooms and infirmaries putting women and girls at risk, and many places, including Glasgow hospitals, already have this.

Does committing a crime and serving time in a women’s prison in Scotland give a woman more rights than being a law-abiding citizen? That seems to be the case in Scotland today.
Dorothy Connor, Glasgow

beginning of the end

It seems like we’re witnessing the beginning of the end. Turning the trans issue into a nationalist shibboleth will surely be seen as the worst decision the First Minister ever made.

It will cost them elections and may even see their obsession with breaking up the UK abandoned for at least a generation, if not forever. She has alienated a large number of voters, who surely now understand what others have been saying for a long time: Ready-made and unfounded complaints are no way to govern even a decentralized country.

It seems the country is coming back to its senses and imagination is being pushed aside.
Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

Can Sturgeon be brave?

It is hard to disagree with W MacIntyre (Letters, January 30) that a vote for independence should require a high threshold to ensure its outcome is truly what Scots want, rather than a reaction to a passing phenomenon (like a Tory government to reflect.)

Like him, I would prefer the two-thirds “supermajority” required in most countries and organizations (including the SNP) to change their constitution. Alternatively, a true majority could also be measured by the Electoral Superintendent’s simple formula of applying voter turnout to the percentage of votes received. In other words, 50% of the votes with a turnout of 80% = 40% for (= not). Or 60% of the votes with 90% turnout = 54% for (= success.)

What would really change this debate would be if, for once, Nicola Sturgeon took on the role of First Minster of all of Scotland and not just leader of the SNP. It would be really brave of her to stand up at her party’s forthcoming special conference and tell her members something like: ‘A Scotland at peace with itself is more important than independence and that cannot be achieved by a simple majority 50% plus 1 representing a minority of our voters. We must aim high and aim to achieve unity and independence. We need a supermajority for that.”

Unfortunately, Nicola Sturgeon’s talent lies in giving in to the lower elements of her tribe and not challenging them with the reality of what is best for Scotland. So we should not hold our collective breath.
peter russell, Glasgow

• ES regularly proposes ways to customize Indyref2 and W MacIntyre offers the latest.

If 66% were accepted as the necessary majority for success, a majority of 64% would lead to rejection. If a proposal supported by 64% of voters was rejected, would Mr MacIntyre see it as a triumph of democracy?
peter dryburg, Edinburgh

Read more letters: The Tories want us to work ’til we drop. We have to get out


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