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Letters: Tory Government's contempt for democracy has been underlined – HeraldScotland

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Glasgow 11°c
Malcolm Offord
I WAS brought up to think of the UK as the epitome of justice; with a neutral civil service; that we lived in a democracy.
But this Government has ripped up the rule book by attempting to prorogue Parliament (and misleading the Queen); dismissed a host of senior civil servants for not being amenable enough; proclaimed its willingness to rip up international treaties; dishes out state contracts to party cronies; is a Government led by a man who is a proven liar, with a record of casual womanising, racist commentary and enabling anti-Scottish hate speech.
Now we find that a millionaire seems able to purchase a seat in the legislature (for life) and instantly becomes a minister in the Government (“Appointment of Tory donor as Scotland Office minister branded ‘a disgrace’”, The Herald October 1).
Are we living in Russia? No, this is the UK trying its best to make the list of the “most corrupt countries”.
GR Weir, Ochiltree.
ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF CRONYISM
IT was striking to note that a life peerage and ministerial position costs just under £150,000. I of course refer to the donation made by Malcolm Offord, who has been appointed a life peer and Scotland Office minister.
Putting aside the fact that Prime Minister Johnson did not find any suitable candidates in the ranks of Scottish Tory MPs to appoint, it should be noted that Mr Offord was rejected at the ballot box in this year’s Scottish Parliamentary elections. This is yet a further example, if any were needed, of cronyism and a continued contempt for democracy.
Westminster is however no stranger to such “cash for honours” scandals in the last century, rewarding those with deep pockets. They dogged the premierships of David Cameron and Tony Blair. Even before this there was Harold Wilson’s infamous “Lavender List”, which listed businessmen Mr Wilson had chosen to honour in his 1976 resignation list. David Lloyd George, the Liberal PM, found himself embroiled in a major “cash for patronage” scandal over his resignation honours list in 1922.
Mr Lloyd George was accused of raising funds for his party through the sale of peerages. These were arranged through political fixer Maundy Gregory, who sold peerages “ranging from £10,000 (more than £400,000 today) for a knighthood up to £40,000 for a baronetcy.
The scandal led to the passing of the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act in 1925, and Gregory would eventually become the only person to be convicted under the Act, continuing to falsely offer honours to the wealthy and connected into the 1930s.
Given the cost of a peerage under Lloyd George, Mr Offord’s £150,000 donation seems a rather paltry sum.
Alex Orr, Edinburgh.

THE SNP HAS FAILED YET AGAIN
IF there is one thing we can rely on from this Scottish Government, is it grand announcements. Who can forget the fanfare of the Queensferry Bridge, the “launching” of the Glen Sannox and the opening of the Royal Hospital for Sick Kids? All opened prematurely in order to get the PR coverage and their photo opportunity. Who gets het up about a bridge that gets lanes shut to allow for two years of snagging? Who is bothered about a ship that has painted-on windows and who can really complain about a hospital that can’t provide safe ventilation for its vulnerable patients?
Which brings us to its latest calamitous launch of the NHS vaccine passport app. John Swinney and Angus Robertson were hardly able to contain themselves on Thursday in Holyrood when asked where the app is. “It’s on the app store” they cried with various hand gestures implying those questioning them should run along.
Yes, the app may be on the store but it is yet another failure by the SNP. It dosn’t seem to realise that it’s not enough to make an announcement, you need to deliver the goods. The golfer Ian Poulter need not worry that any of the SNP will steal his nickname of the Postman as they certainly don’t deliver.
Jane Lax, Aberlour.
* THERE is an inevitability about how things will turn out with every new SNP plan or initiative. The fact that Opposition leaders and others with no political leanings are calling the introduction of the vaccination passport app a “farce’’ will surprise few. It was rushed out and, again, not thought through. The guiding principle behind its introduction appears to be that it is not what the English are doing.
When every act, every initiative taken by the SNP, is driven primarily by (a) how to differentiate from our neighbours to maximum effect and (b) how will it help towards the far greater and infinitely more important raison d’etre of the SNP – the break-up of the UK – these faux pas will continue indefinitely.
Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.
NOTHING IS REALLY FOR FREE
MAX Cruickshank (Letters, September 30) goes on at some length about the evils of privatisation, specifically in the health service. His letter is generally a confused narrative of everything he perceives as unjust in a far from perfect system.
It would take too long to deal with all the rather naive points he makes, so I will instead just say that anyone like Mr Cruickshank who thinks we get free prescriptions, pensioner and (soon) under-22s travel, university education and optical services – he forgot the baby boxes – is living in a parallel universe.
The truth is of course that the old saying that there no such thing as a free lunch still holds, as all these services are paid for from general taxation, which of course in Scotland is the highest of all the UK.
James Martin, Bearsden.
CHANGE RULES ON ARRESTS
THE circumstances surrounding Sarah Everard’s kidnap and murder by Wayne Couzens are spine-chilling (“Dick facing fresh calls to resign as Everard killer is jailed for life”, The Herald, October 1).
What a horrific torment and nightmare this young woman must have undergone when she became aware she had entrusted her personal safety to a man masquerading as police officer.
It is now incumbent upon the police authorities to issue information to the public on what constitutes an official arrest and what the potential arrestee would expect to see and be told when confronted by police officers with the power to arrest a suspect.
It should not be the case that a solitary police constable can be allowed to make such an arrest. There should be two officers in the event of such an arrest and, if there is a vehicle involved, it should be a readily identifiable police car.
Unless the arrest is being made by detectives in plain clothes who would be travelling in an unmarked car, the arrestee should see two police officers in uniform on such an occasion.
Also the potential arrestee should be allowed there and then on the spot, unless the arrestee has acted in a violent manner necessitating physical restraint, to make one phone call to a relative or close associate to inform them of their whereabouts and why they have been taken into custody.
The police officers should also have shown their warrants to the arrestee.
Handcuffs should not be necessary, unless the suspect has shown clear signs of becoming violent.
When arresting anyone, officers should be equipped with body cams to record what was happening in the course of the arrest.
Unless those prescriptions are in force, members of the public should not acquiesce in the demands made by any officer in any jurisdiction if those safeguards are present.
Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.
ARE WE A CIVILISED SOCIETY?
THE truly civilised society is one that cares for everyone in its population, especially the sick, unemployed and the elderly.
One must question how many countries in our “civilised western society” with the exception of some of the Scandinavian ones have real concern for and, in many cases awareness of, this deprivation. In the meantime the rich get richer and the poor poorer.
In most African countries and in many poorer countries throughout the world, people with at least a reasonable income help the poor and needy with no thought for themselves even when corrupt governments are lining their own pockets (often with money given by western democracies).
Ian Turner, Bearsden.
WIND FARMS ARE HITTING TOURISM
I AM intrigued by the new VisitScotland campaign for visitors to embrace “slow travel”. They want tourists to go to one place instead of whistle-stop tours round Scotland. Unspoilt islands feature high on their list. Could it be that they have finally realised wind farms affect tourism?
A Government study in 2012 said between 18% and 32 % of visitors think wind farms have a negative effect on landscapes.
In March 2015 a Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) report showed the scale of areas affected by turbines had more than doubled in the past five years, from 19.9% in 2008 to 45.9% in 2013. The Scottish Government stopped this particularly useful exercise of a wind farm footprint map. I wonder why?
International visitors decreased across Scotland by 7% in 2019 with no explanation. Foreign visitors can choose to holiday in other countries free of turbines. Perhaps they were doing just that.
Please consider Dumfries and Galloway, which is one of the worst afflicted by wind farms. It has 490 turbines. In 2019 overall visits increased nationally by 17% and decreased 7% in Dumfries and Galloway, a difference of 24%. The spend increased nationally by 16% and decreased in Dumfries and Galloway by 13%, a difference of 29%.
Shutting the door after the horse has bolted and is still bolting springs to mind. How can ordinary people stop this economic suicide and destruction of their greatest asset, its scenery?
Celia Hobbs, Penicuik.
KEEP UP THE GOOD STANDARDS
THERE has been a lot of press coverage of late regarding the EU making a big push for all mobile phones to have a standard charging cable. This is a great idea and no mean feat with manufacturers already having so many different chargers on the market, but hats off to them for trying.
Can I suggest that the same approach should be adopted with newer products, ones which we all expect to be mass-produced in the future? They can start with the charging cables for electric cars.
Paul Morrison, Glasgow.
Read more: Unionists see SNP Government as the practical exam for indy
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