Readers’ Letters: The Conservatives’ mesmerizing spell is broken now


The magic that the Conservative Party has known since the decline of Gordon Brown is gone. Those who were mesmerized by it can no longer now believe that the strong and stable Conservatives are invincible, balanced and stable.

I have seen the country mesmerized before. The Conservatives of Margaret Thatcher’s era were the country’s favourites. But the shine was gone in the next era. Labor MPs of the Tony Blair were the ones with the Merlin touch. Politicians eleven insiders can shift to being outsiders overnight.

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Now Keir Starmer has the chance to impress. Now voters will want to listen. They will no longer say: “Oh Labor has no policies of note.” They may soon say: “Boris Johnson had the style once, but Keir Starmer has the substance.”

Boris Johnson was visiting India as MPs voted for him to be reported to the Privileges Committee

Can Labor be seen as the best party to manage the economy? Quite simply, businesses depend on consumers to keep buying so that the tough economic conditions of our times can be navigated. Leaving consumers to face a cost-of-living crisis with little government support will further hollow out our retail sector. Without realistic governing, we have a tough slide into recession.

Is the pendulum about to swing? If the Conservatives replace their prime minister and the whole cabinet, there can still be time for a new face of Conservatism to emerge. Style will no longer win. There has to be integrity and substance.

Would that the PM had the attributes of Pinocchio and there would be no doubt about when he was lying. Given that the front benches are two sword lengths apart it would be like wielding Wallace’s sword and Sir Keir would be in mortal danger each time the PM shook or shook his head.

Ronald H Oliver, Elie, Fife

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If Martin Redfern’s Unionist friends at Westminster were confident that they would win an independence referendum then they would agree to our right to determine Scotland’s future (Letters, 22 April).

Replacing Boris Johnson with another right-wing, xenophobic Tory or by Sir Keir Starmer will not move Scotland’s constitutional logjam as Labor too refuse to accept the several democratic mandates for a referendum or even improve Scotland’s economic position as, despite all the contrary evidence, both parties believe that there is no case to re-join the EU while increasing our energy bills in order to subsidize nuclear power at the expense of the massive potential of Scotland’s renewable industries.

Nicola Sturgeon’s vomit-yellow campaign coach negotiates our potholed roads in an attempt to turn these elections into a Partygate referendum.

This “Send Boris a message” strategy makes perfect sense, since everyone knows why separatists are uncomfortable discussing matters relating to local government. If (God forbid) the SNP battle-bus were to burst a tire or break an axle on one of our cratered highways, this might send an equally clear message of a different kind to the powers that be.

Martin O’Gorman, Edinburgh

Anybody with a modicum of common sense would not dream of agreeing to a contract which waived the right to a mandatory refund guarantee. It now appears that not only did the SNP lack any forethought when committing millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to the infamous ferry project but they may also have broken the law (Scotsman, April 22).

Nicola Sturgeon claimed in a recent interview that her government had been totally transparent on this issue! The Auditor General stated before the Public Audit Committee that he was disappointed at “the lack of documentary evidence around .. the lack of a full builder’s refund guarantee”. Ministerial authority would have been required before going ahead with a project in such a case when civil service objections had naturally been raised. No trace of this can be found. There may have been a breach of the Public Finance and Accountability Act. But then when have the SNP considered themselves accountable to anybody but themselves?

Moreover we now learn that a person connected with Ferguson Marine cannot give evidence because of a non-disclosure agreement! Such agreements usually require a payment to be made in order to procure silence. Have the SNP now resorted to buying people off with taxpayers’ money in order to cover up the truth about their countless failures?

Colin Hamilton, Edinburgh

The comments made by Stephen Boyle, Scotland’s Auditor General, to a Holyrood committee investigating the ferries construction fiasco are quite extraordinary. Ultimately they reveal real frustration at being unable to ascertain all the facts, highlighted by his comment “we were not able to review what we consider to be all the relevant evidence”.

Further, he comments that “lessons learned feels too glib to describe the circumstances before us as the ferries are two and a half times over budget and years late”.

What an appalling indication of the whole procurement process offered up by SNP ministers and the lame offer from the First Minister that “lessons will be learned”. It is the public purse paying for these “lessons” and the SNP’s record demonstrates that they played truant from any learning classes.

The ferries fiasco is nothing short of negligence on an industrial scale costing the hard-pressed taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds that could have been better spent on our failing NHS and education services.

It is now clear, following the comments made by Stephen Boyle, that a full public inquiry must be held in order to hold these ineffective and incompetent ministers to account. They then might just learn the lesson or, in hope, do not get their grubby paws on the public purse.

Richard Allison, Edinburgh

At a time of real and potential conflict in Europe, it is in some ways cathartic for filmgoers to be reminded of an even more turbulent time.

Rachael Davis’ article on the film Operation Mincemeat (Scotsman, 22 April) was, in my view, too generous due to the film’s length and distortion in places of what actually happened. But we need to be reminded that it is an adaptation of a complex wartime manouevre.

For nearly all the full facts we need to refer to historian Ben McIntyre’s excellent book of the same name. It described how two naval intelligence officers managed to dupe Adolf Hitler into believing that an Allied force was about to land on Greece and Sardinia, rather than the predicted Sicily, when it really intended to invade Sicily all along. This was done by planting fake documents on an illegally acquired corpse – supposedly that of a Royal Marine – and hoping these documents would find their way eventually into the Nazi hierarchy. Indeed, it worked.

The film did find difficulty explaining the network of Spanish, British and German agents involved in the ruse on one side or the other. It depicted a scene where the officers tried to “buy off” the sister of the homeless man who died of poisoning and was used in the venture (there is no evidence that encounter took place).

The film also suggests that Charles Cholmondeley – one of the main planners of the venture – traveled in the submarine to Spain to help offload the body. He did not make that journey. No doubt this was all part of the artistic license the filmmakers thought necessary to maintain audience interest.

I needed to remind myself that this was a film for general release not a documentary. But I did feel they could have done a lot better in helping to throw light on a military effort that had lasting implications for world peace.

Bob Taylor, Glenrothes, Fife

Germany’s government says that to supply Ukraine with the heavy weapons it needs would “leave the German military underequipped and unable to fulfill its obligations on Nato’s eastern flank”. What on earth does it think Ukraine is doing, as well as defending its own territory, but fighting to defend the Nato democracies’ eastern flank despite not being a Nato member?

Instead, it offers Ukraine the money to buy the weaponry itself. Can it not understand that Ukraine needs the weapons now, not in several months’ time after suppliers manufacture new orders?

Sadly, despite all its fine words and promises, Germany continues its 30-year policy of myopically and naively indulging Russia – and funding the aggressors.

John Birkett, St Andrews, Fife

What complete and utter codswallop from Alexander McKay about the levels of sectarian chanting from Hearts fans (Letters, 21 April).

Both Hearts and Hibs have a micro-minority of “bigots without the bus fare for Weegies”. Both of them are openly deplored by both sets of fans as neanderthals pig-ignorant of their clubs’ honorable history (with St Bernard’s) as pioneers of football uniting not dividing strangers.

The Famous Five’s Gordon Smith – Scotland’s greatest player – was cheered by both sets of fans after crossing from Hibs to Hearts, and still again when he went to Dundee. By contrast, the mediocrity Mo Johnston goes from Celtic to Rangers, and all hell broke loose.

There are many attempts by Old Firm apologists to paint other Scottish clubs and their fans to be as steeped in the evil of recreational bigotry as the Old Firm. They fool no-one, not just in Scotland, but worldwide.

Mark Boyle, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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