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IAN Blackford, the SNP's Westminster leader, has spent copious amounts of political capital attacking his opponents for a variety of sins, including moral turpitude. Boris Johnson is, of course, the ultimate bete noire, justifying, in Mr Blackford’s view, contempt and ultimately banishment to a political Hades. Like a fundamentalist preacher seized with righteous wrath, he casts Mr Johnson as the political Antichrist.
Such moralising brings out Mr Blackford like a rash at the first opportunity for scattering derision, scorn, contempt and moral outrage. He is ever quick to frenetically demand the strongest possible negative sanctions for infringement of the acceptable norms of parliamentary behaviour. The word "liar" is never far from his lips. In this he has been indulged by recently and currently-serving parliamentary officials.
What a different Ian Blackford we have witnessed recently over the Patrick Grady affair … scuttling off from relentless press reporters, executing a U-turn when faced with disclosure of uncomfortable facts in a leaked video revealing his indulgent approach to questionable SNP behaviour and refusing until pressed to offer sympathy and restitution to the victim of Mr Grady’s unwanted advances ("Sturgeon to meet Grady victim as sex pest MP hung out to dry", The Herald, June 24).
It is hard to avoid the conclusion that Mr Blackford’s default options include obfuscation, control freakery, cynical pursuit of self-interest and outright hypocrisy.
The sins of his enemies are clearly resident and increasingly prominent in Mr Blackford’s political playbook.
I will indulge myself and permit the use of one of this hero’s favourite taunts … "Not a good look is it …..(Ian)"?
(Professor) Douglas Pitt, Newton Mearns.
NOT HOW LEADER SHOULD ACT
HAVING watched on both STV and BBC news the abysmal performance of Ian Blackford attempting to defend the indefensible matter of the sex pest (Bernard Ponsonby’s justified description) Patrick Grady, I was trying to recall another recent individual performance where fudging the question, sticking to a pre-prepared script and deflection of any personal responsibility, when it suddenly came to me: Boris Johnston defending Partygate.
I see now why Mr Blackford appears in the House of Commons with sheets and sheets of A4 paper at Prime Minister's Questions as he is clearly incapable of answering anything directly that an interviewer puts to him unless he can read from a pre-prepared rant and play for time by telling us all how the process works.
Mr Blackford refers to himself in less challenging situations as "the leader of the SNP group at Westminster". Really? A leader is defined as "an individual having the ability to influence and guide followers or other members of an organisation". If that is what Mr Blackford thinks he was doing at the meeting which was recorded and subsequently leaked, I am aghast at what appears to be a case of careers over compassion by Mr Blackford, and indeed others in this group.
David Gray, Bearsden.
WHAT MORE WILL IT TAKE?
ONE now must wonder what further it will take for the voters in Scotland to come to their senses and realise how rotten to the core this SNP Government really is and the utter disdain in which it holds the electorate. Its behaviour and actions following the UK Parliamentary ruling against Patrick Grady are contemptible and demonstrate that it believes it is invincible.
The comments from Ian Blackford in an SNP group meeting that they should “give as much support as possible” to Mr Grady showed a total lack of understanding and respect towards the complainant and supported by other comments from SNP MPs. Consequently Mr Blackford and Nicola Sturgeon trot out the same old narrative, heard so often from them with regard to their numerous policy failures, that “lessons will be learned” and so all will be fine. What will it take for the SNP leadership and their representatives to demonstrate real leadership by taking responsibility for their actions and comments and do the decent and honourable thing by stepping down? I will not hold my breath.
Richard Allison, Edinburgh.
WERE COVID BRIEFINGS POINTLESS?
HAVING tested positive and now isolating in my home, and as yet another spike of Covid affects Scotland ("Covid test access may have to be extended if cases keep rising, MSPS told", The Herald June 24), I note that the First Minister seems terribly absent, having abandoned her daily briefing. It seems now that it was pointless, or perhaps it is just the inconvenient truth that our current infection rate is more than twice that of England.
Perhaps it is the justification for her focusing upon another independence referendum where she seems confident that the result would allow her to close the border and protect the Scottish electorate from all manner of ills.
It's enough to make you cynical.
Peter Wright, West Kilbride.
PM NOT GOING ANY TIME SOON
TWO by-elections lost in the north and south of England, so will Boris Johnson now face the chop, as so often in his career? If it’s down to the poodle-like Tory MPs in Westminster, then I would say not immediately.
He will only quit when his future prospects are assured, so I would guess a peerage will be available, and the chairmanship of a major company is lined up for him. Something with lots of media coverage, and the ability to bask in the glow of the luminosity of his vast ego.
His dismal tenure in office (he has trashed every norm of government conduct) will have seen the UK slide down all international rankings, whether it is inflation, quality of life or even basic trustworthiness, but that is the price we have paid for electing a man who was never fit for high office (and everyone knew).
GR Weir, Ochiltree.
PAYING THE PRICE OF BREXIT
NEWS that Sir Keir Starmer is ruling out freedom of movement with the EU if Labour wins the next General Election is clearly disappointing, but not unexpected.
Labour is now clearly just as bad as the Tories on Brexit, which is exacerbating the cost-of-living crisis, costing Scotland's economy billions of pounds in lost trade and harming our NHS through increased costs and staffing shortages.
Free movement, alongside the wider benefits of EU membership, are essential to growing Scotland's economy, boosting living standards and supporting the staffing of our public services. As a result of Brexit, it is clear that the UK is lagging behind other countries.
The irony was that Sir Keir’s announcement was made at the same time as a report from the Resolution Foundation found that Brexit has damaged Britain's competitiveness and will further reduce productivity. It is also set to leave the average worker poorer than they otherwise would have been, with real pay set to be £470 per worker lower each year on average than it would otherwise have been.
Reinforcing these horrendous economic statistics, according to the OECD the UK is set to have the lowest economic growth of the G20 nations next year, except Russia.
We deserve better than this economic sabotage, and it is heart-breaking to see freedom of movement, one of the EU’s greatest achievements, stolen from Scotland despite our vote to remain.
Alex Orr, Edinburgh.
SUPPORT ALL OUR SCHOOLS
CATRIONA Stewart writes concerning the question of school league tables ("When we redefine a ‘good' school , we’ll have equality", The Herald, June 24). The subject over the years has been controversial because of the methodology adopted in their formulation and the ways in which they are interpreted. She refers to the "myth" that schools where pupils achieve exam success are the best schools. I agree with her when she states that such thinking is "shallow" and "snobbish".
I believe it to be to the credit of The Herald that from time to time it provides publicity to a range of schools. The advantages some children have over others during schooling are fairly clear, such as supportive parents, the availability of tutoring, peer group competition, and classes being able to proceed with fewer disciplinary issues. I am not suggesting that the areas outwith the leafy suburbs are devoid of supportive parents.
It is of importance that encouragement and recognition should be accorded to schools where teachers work with children with impressive commitment in what can be difficult circumstances and where children are successful sometimes against the odds.
Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.
We ought to encourage schools where children are successful against the odds
COST-CUTTING LEADS TO FLOODING
I NOTE an extremely welcome letter from Andy Cartwright (June 24) debunking the World Health Organisation's doom-laden predictions that Glasgow is facing increased flooding and heat stress due to climate change. Flooding in the UK has taken place because councils, to save money, did not routinely clear drains. The dredging of river beds was also curtailed with predictable results.
In one case dredging for sand and gravel was refused because of a colony of Depressed River Mussels. Now it is the flooded homeowners who are depressed.
Clark Cross, Linlithgow.
PUTTING CARLSBERG TO SHAME
IT was interesting to read of the "all completely recyclable" beer bottles that Carlsberg is to launch on a wide market. ("Probably the best bottle in the world ...", The Herald, June 23). Made with a wood-based fibre shell and a lining of plant-based Polyethylene Furanoate, Carlsberg says that the materials can all be completely recycled.
I have two Tencel underslips made from the wood of the eucalyptus tree and worn alternately since 1978. They are my favourites as Tencel is recyclable, is anti-static, drapes beautifully and I cannot find slips made from Tencel now. They have survived more than 40 years of wear, washing and mending and although maybe looking a bit tatty round the edges, a bit like their owner I suppose, we get along very nicely.
Here's wishing success to the new Carlsberg completely recyclable beer bottles ... every little helps; but it is the water tap for me.
Thelma Edwards, Kelso.
JUST TRY IT...
I SUSPECT that the headline on Alan Simpson's article, "Minister in charge of elderly does not instil confidence" (The Herald, June 24) caused a few wry smiles. I am sure that I speak for many readers of advanced years when I suggest that we would energetically raise a finger or two in the direction of any government minister who thought that he or she was "in charge" of us.
Eric Begbie, Stirling.