Readers' letters: Scotland should learn from America’s failings

It’s nothing less than extraordinary how Donald Trump has used being indicted on 34 charges to his advantage. Why Americans are not fazed by his misogyny, lies, slander and his appreciation for Putin is a mystery. Just this week he said Russia will take over all of Ukraine.

Trump’s ability to use publicity to his advantage as a strategy to activate and build on his loyal following has echoes of the SNP, where former chief executive Peter Murrell has been arrested in connection to a long-running Police Scotland investigation into the spending of about £600,000 earmarked for independence campaigning.

Mr Murrell is widely thought to have masterminded the party machine to help ensure party discipline necessary for landslide election victories but to what cost we may learn shortly.

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Trump seems likely to get the nomination from the Republican Party to be the next US president, splitting the vote of his challengers with potentially less than 40 per cent going to him. He was elected president on a minority of the popular vote so is used to gaining power by using electoral systems to his benefit.

Former US President Donald Trump arrives for his arraignment hearing in New York CityFormer US President Donald Trump arrives for his arraignment hearing in New York City
Former US President Donald Trump arrives for his arraignment hearing in New York City

The SNP also benefit from the Scottish system where constituency boundaries in their favour mean that little known list MSPs often with no long-standing connection to the area they represent balance out much of the difference but the regional nature of this means the balance of total seats with total vote share is far from exact.

Here in Scotland, the country of Trump’s mother’s birth, we are more encouraged to challenge and question opinion. I would like to think we can learn from America’s failings in continuing to support Trump in large numbers to choose carefully when we get the next opportunity. The current Scottish Government by admission of its chairman, Mike Russell, is in a “tremendous mess” and may be going from bad to worse. We urgently need an election.

Neil Anderson, Edinburgh

End of the road

The more the SNP sinks into the mire, the more vociferous the cries are from those who would seek to divide us (Letters, 5 April).

However, with Natalie McGarry, former SNP MP in jail; a question mark over whether suspended SNP MP Margaret Ferrier will lose her seat and face a by-election; Patrick O'Grady, SNP MP and former Whip having been suspended over sexual harassment allegations and, now, Peter Murrell being arrested, clearly, the SNP is not a happy place to be.

The stated intention of Humza Yousaf to push ahead with the gender bill, which is hugely unpopular and also to put the deposit return scheme into action which is described as “unworkable as it stands... (which) will cause businesses to fail” shows that this party is rotten to the core and has reached the end of the road. I think that we all know that.

All parties reach a point when they have simply been in power for two long. They become corrupt and believe that only they know what is best for the people, when the writing is on the wall. The rest of us can only watch, appalled and fascinated as they destroy themselves.

The only concern is that Mr Yousaf is intent on dragging Scotland down with him and he must be prevented from doing so. It is up to the SNP’s own MSPs to do so and the group of 15 led by Kate Forbes to bite the bullet and join the other parties in a vote of no confidence to bring the whole edifice down.

Andrew HN Gray, Edinburgh

Noisy neighbours

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Not sure who I feel more sorry for: Nicola Sturgeon’s neighbours or Scotland.

Martin Redfern, Melrose, Scottish Borders

Police probe

Given the huge police activity and overwhelming media reporting across the UK one could be forgiven for thinking that a modern-day Al Capone had suddenly been traced to a house on the outskirts of Glasgow, and that perhaps not only critical evidence of his alleged crimes but possibly the buried remains of those who had dared to cross him might be discovered at that property.

Without in any way seeking to downplay a seemingly legitimate and important investigation, is it only in Scotland where everyone, no matter their “position” or to whom they are related, are treated as “equals”, or can we expect similar police activity around each and every one of those who together have recently defrauded the UK Government (and tax-payers across the UK) of around £5 billion?

Will each person complicit in the billing of tens of billions of pounds for unusable PPE and services that failed, along with those in Westminster who promoted Tory Party cronies and friends in the award of associated contracts, face similar police and comparable media attention?

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry, East Lothian

Mr Ed’s return

Humza Yousaf isn’t the only politician who can hardly string a sentence together without saying “of course”, but he may be the biggest culprit, as in “... it’s a live police investigation and of course I wouldn”t comment on a live police investigation, what I will say of course is...”.

Of course, as Collins Dictionary says “of course” is used to emphasise that “something is normal, obvious, or well-known, and should therefore not surprise the person you are talking to”.

Perhaps he was inspired by the theme tune Mr Ed, the 1960s comedy about a talking horse – “a horse is a horse of course, of course and no-one can talk to a horse, of course, that is, of course, the horse of course is the famous Mr Ed”, especially the last line: “Go right to the source and ask the horse, he’ll give you the answer that you endorse, he’s always on a steady course, talk to Mr Ed.” What better recommendation for the continuity candidate?

He might be in the First Minster’s saddle but it won’t be an easy ride. He seems to stirrup controversy needlessly and there are many hurdles along the way that prevent stable government. Already pundits are wondering how long his rein will last, and with that eager filly Kate Forbes the bookies’ favourite to replace him he must of course be wondering how to halter.

Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

Minority interest

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Murdo Fraser (“This Easter, be grateful for religious freedom we enjoy in this country”, Scotsman, 5 April) wished all readers a peaceful and Joyous Easter “celebration of our risen Lord”.

He seems to have forgotten that, according to last year's Scottish census, only 37 per cent of the population is Christian, while almost 60 per cent have no religion. For the latter, Christ is not their “Lord” and most probably don't believe that Jesus “rose from the dead”. They know it’s impossible.

Mr Fraser addresses a minority constituency and misjudges public opinion. Even many Christians do not accept Jesus’ divinity or resurrection. In any case, the evidence for the latter is questionable. Jesus’ message of repentance was contingent on his expectation of the imminent and magical arrival of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth, when everything and everybody would be changed. In this he was mistaken and the Kingdom did not appear. Later, Christianity mistook Jesus’ intention, encouraging a belief in a divine and mythical Christ.

Steuart Campbell, Edinburgh

Care comparison

While Bob MacDougall (Letters, 6 April) is right about Covid being a major factor for increased cancer treatment waiting times, he should at least acknowledge that Humza Yousaf had more of a grip on the situation than his counterparts in England and Wales. The 71.7 per cent 62-day referral figure in Scotland is much better than England’s 61.8 per cent or 52.9 per cent in Labour-run Wales.

In Scotland 94.1 per cent of patients are treated within 31 days from the decision to treat to first cancer treatment. Also, the number of cancelled operations have fallen to almost zero and monthly A&E figures have improved for the second month running to be 23 per cent better than NHS England.

The House of Commons Library briefing on 13 March 2023 reported that ambulance response times in England have risen, with the average response to a Category 2 call at over one hour 30 minutes in December 2022 while the most recent Scottish Ambulance Service equivalent is around nine minutes 15 seconds.

Perhaps the police could spend time recovering some of the £21 billion of public money identified by the National Audit Office that the UK government has lost in fraud since the Covid pandemic began and redirect it towards our hard-pressed NHS.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh

Tickets please

If the Stagecoach driverless bus, commencing on 15th May, from Ferry Toll Park and Ride in Fife to Edinburgh Park train and tram Interchange, has a safety driver and a “bus captain”, is it really a driverless bus?

John V Lloyd, Inverkeithing, Fife

Brexit bonus

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If, as reader Barry Tighe (Letters, 5 April) suggests, Brexit proves indeed to be the much-needed kick in the pants that the EU needs to reform itself that would be wonderful.

The misguided attempt to create a United States of Europe to balance the United States of America failed at the first hurdle because the two set-ups are respectively chalk and cheese.

The USA has a common language, a common legal system and very largely share a common ethic and culture. By contrast about the only thing the Europeans (outwith the UK) and Americans have in common is that they all drive on the wrong side of the road.

As a very keen Brexiteer I would be delighted to rejoin a union of sovereign countries based solely upon a free trade and mutual defence pact.

Tim Flinn, Garvald, East Lothian

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