Letters: SNP’s record of achievement is why voters backed them

I read Professor Wardle’s letter (“Scots need competent and responsible administration”, May 24) and briefly wondered if he and I lived in parallel universes.

Consider: crime levels at their lowest since the 1970s; an agri-food industry that has almost doubled in size in ten years; the delivery of essential infrastructure such as the Queensferry Crossing, the Aberdeen West Ring Road and the railway to Galashiels; students leaving school with more qualifications than ever before; and new benefit payments specifically designed to tackle poverty and social disadvantage.

Professor Wardle may regard these achievements as an abysmal record in office, but the Scottish electorate obviously does not think so. Last year they voted by a substantial margin to keep the SNP in power with the support of the Greens.

I will not dwell on the Professor’s ad feminam attack on the Prime Minister – as pitiful as it is – in order to be able to answer two other questions.

First, could a Labor or Conservative government ever give Scotland “adequate priority”? Of course not. It would be electoral suicide, as English voters (mainly in the South East) would ask why their priorities weren’t getting the same attention and quickly vote them out.

Second, on independence. Holyrood now has more pro-independence MSPs than ever before, and they were elected on manifestos explicitly committing to a referendum.

There is no doubt that Professor Wardle does not like devolution. He hates the current Scottish government even more. But if he would welcome ‘increased intervention from Westminster’, then it seems Prof Wardle doesn’t like democracy either.

Is this a trustworthy position for a man who claims to have academic instincts and training?

David Patrick, Edinburgh.

ONE FACT BUT MANY JUDGMENTS

AS one of those whom John Milne (letters, May 24) can describe as “largely incapable of demonstrating the aforementioned political maturity demanded by Mark Smith”, I find it extraordinary that he can say that he “has stopped reading contributions to your Letters Pages on the Constitutional Question” some time ago.

All of this, while endorsing Smith’s earlier argument that “a sign of a society’s political maturity is when two parties can talk to each other in mutual respect and work together when necessary.”

How is that possible when you don’t read both sides?

Like Mr. Milne, Professor William Wardle’s argument is based on a similar asserted certainty. He writes, “Failing to appreciate the lessons of history leads to wrong predictions,” but what lessons? What interpretation of history? Many debates revolve around contested interpretations of history.

But, without being discouraged, the professor affirms: “The facts are what they are and should be able to shape the judgment”.

Let’s take the example of Brexit, a fact when the United Kingdom left the EU. Was it a good or a bad thing? Many consider it a bad thing, but there are still those who would defend it, asserting our independence, taking control of our borders, no more European courts, etc.

So, one fact but several judgments. The facts must be interpreted to serve as a basis for judgment, which will often be the subject of debate, sometimes heated.

Peter Russell’s conclusion to our last debate on your letters page was that the differences between us”[boiled] up to a clash of philosophies”, a conclusion for which I think there is a lot to be said for.

This is certainly a more encouraging conclusion to debate than the contributions of Mr. Milne or Professor Wardle.

Both the Professor and Mr Milne start from the certainty of their own conclusion – independence would be a disaster – and fundamentally condemn anyone who disagrees with them.

This is even clearer in Mr Milne’s last sentence, where he cites not just ‘the incompetence of the SNP government’, but ‘the obvious incompetence of the SNP government’.

Not much room for debate there!

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.

WE WILL ALWAYS HAVE DOWNING STREET

The Prime Minister’s parliamentary response to Sue Gray’s report reminded me of the scene in Casablanca, in which police captain Renault (Claude Rains) says he is shocked – shocked – to find that

the game took place at Rick’s Bar and adds that he will collect his winnings later.

Kenneth Fraser, St. Andrews.

HUMBLE ? PULL THE OTHER, BORIS

BORIS Johnson’s admission that he was ‘humbled’ by the report is just as hoaxed as was Rupert Murdoch’s notorious statement, ‘This is the most humble day of my life’, when he spoke to MPs about phone hacking in 2011.

You simply cannot believe everything this prime minister says, who is totally unprincipled. Naturally, he has no intention of resigning. Where is his sense of responsibility, of admitting his mistakes? When will conservatives develop a conscience?

S. Henderson, Glasgow.

PM SHOULD DO THE DECENT THING

I am concerned that there have been so many comments about the Prime Minister and staff breaking Covid rules while the rest of us were obeying them. This misses the point.

We, who did the right but very difficult thing, obeyed them to prevent ourselves and our loved ones and friends from contracting a deadly virus. I didn’t see my only remaining relative in the hospital who later passed away, so I know how that feels.

It’s not a question that they did, so we should have done what we wanted too. They risked their own lives, those of their colleagues and loved ones, all for a party. Whether it’s work-related or not doesn’t matter.

The buck stops with the man at the top and he should do the decent thing and walk away.

D. Connor, Glasgow.

MORE TIRING WORDS ON INDYREF2

SUPPORT for the SNP depends on its ability to win a referendum, according to Professor William Wardle. How long do we have to endure this boring stuff?

The SNP cannot get a referendum; only the people of Scotland can deliver independence by demanding it in sufficient numbers by one means or another.

If the SNP helps to achieve this, so much the better; but the responsibility lies with our nation and not with the FM or its party.

The only name on the ballot will be Scotland.

Willie Maclean, Milngavie.

DEALING WITH THE RAILWAY DISPUTE

IN his very succinct article (“So was there even a plan for ScotRail after nationalisation?”, May 24) Brian Wilson clearly delivered a damning critique of the state of recently nationalized ScotRail.

Similar to most areas of life in which this SNP administration involves itself – from policing to education, from transport to the economy and everything in between – Ms Sturgeon and her ministers are proving utterly incompetent and overwhelmed.

Although I don’t much like unions holding the whole population to ransom, it seems to me that in this case their case is justified, insofar as the railway system only seems to be able to function properly when the train drivers accept overtime and rest days.

Besides the obvious problems of this practice, there is surely a security issue also at play.

When you factor in that average driver earnings are over £50,000, reaching over £80,000 in many cases, you wonder why on earth there is a shortage of recruits in the first place.

Until this mess is sorted out, as usual, it’s the public and businesses that will bear the brunt of it as ministers cruise around in their chauffeured cars and Abellio executives watch, as we all in disbelief.

James Martin, Glasgow.

SCOTLAND DESERVES SO MUCH BETTER

THERE IS a rather cruel old joke Australians used to tell: how do you give a New Zealander a small business? Give it a big business and two years.

So give the SNP a big rail network and a month and guess what? You have a small rail network!

How the hell did they think they were capable of running a rail network?

Hubris perhaps, given their enormous success in running Prestwick Airport – oh yes, and the ferries. Scotland deserves much better than this misleading and hopeless administration.

Iain Walker, Bearsden.

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