I APPLAUD the SNP's leader at Westminster in his call to urge accountability on the Prime Minister and his special adviser for their power-grabbing antics during the recent Cabinet shake up. (“Call for Cummings to face House”, The Herald, February 17). I share Ian Blackford's concern that we are now in an era where key decisions in government are being made by unelected officials and advisers with little or no moral compass or responsibility. Boris Johnson's style of leadership is lazy; his inattention to detail and lack of scrutiny are well known. In addition, his supercilious inattention to the minute operations of government allows a great deal of authority to fall to the Machiavellian Dominic Cummings, his special adviser.

The attempted bullying and subsequent resignation of Sajid Javid, the former Chancellor, demonstrate an increase in the power and political leverage now held by Mr Cummings. He has become the Thomas Cromwell to King Boris's reign and the Cabinet will increasingly be an acquiescent talking shop, wholly under his control and offering little or no resistance to his political direction as he manipulates the indolent Prime Minister's alleged vision to supplant it with directives of his own with no accountability.

There is a high level of apprehension in Government circles at present regarding one of Mr Cummings’s leading aides, Andrew Sabisky. Mr Sabisky may well represent the top of a substantial iceberg with regards Dominic Cummings and his inordinate influence over the decision making of the Prime Minister. The Labour Party has called for Mr Sabisky to resign following publication of his extreme views on eugenics, women and female genital mutilation, though the party in power appears to be ambivalent about his immoral and antediluvian views.

Be under no illusion, Mr Sabisky and his fellow advisers are key people in government who are responsible for turning the philosophy of Mr Cummings into practice, including social policy. Like a medieval fiefdom, Parliament and Cabinet will be increasingly sidelined at the expense of democracy and transparency. We have a Prime Minister of questionable morality, a limited conscience and the work ethic of Homer Simpson. The real power broker in the UK is Dominic Cummings who dominates a supine but media-friendly Prime Minister and will exploit his many weaknesses to guide the country down his post-Brexit de- regulated but deeply flawed Utopia.

Be afraid, be very afraid.

Owen Kelly, Stirling.

"A STATE which dwarfs its men, in order that they may be more docile instruments in its hands.... will find that with small men no great thing can really be accomplished" (John Stuart Mill, On Liberty). So what about a prime minister who fills his Cabinet with sycophants and yes-men? While Boris Johnson's Cabinet reshuffle clearly serves his greed for power it also shows a dangerous lack of foresight.

Ann Marie Di Mambro, Glasgow G12.

THE nightmare on Downing Street continues. Whilst media attention was distracted by the PM's "call and response" game at the first reshuffled Cabinet meeting last week, Rishi Sunak, the new Chancellor, informed fellow ministers that all departments had to find five per cent savings so the money "could be used on other priorities". During the General Election campaign the PM appealed to the electorate not to be judged by his predecessors' austerity measures, he did not approve of them. So how should these cuts be interpreted?

It's another lie of course, we should all know better by now than to question his promises. The future is further spending cuts, including to the Department of Health (the NHS) and to the Home Office (which includes the police) so Boris Johnson can spend money on ... the NHS and the police.

Paul Shaw, Dunblane.

I READ with considerable interest the comments by journalists and political pundits on the departure of Sajid Javid as Chancellor as both a victory for No 10 and a consequential diminution of the role of the Treasury as the guardian of the public purse.

Reference has also been made to the historic stand-offs between previous Prime Ministers and their Chancellors as if this was a necessary and indeed healthy part of the workings of the UK Government.

The emerging view is that the consequence of this “clipping the Treasury’s wings” will result in a weakening of the effectiveness of Central Government specifically because the Treasury will not be able to put a brake on/stop future ideas and developments.

Although this message is loud and clear, I read little in the way of evidence demonstrating the historic effectiveness of the UK Treasury in the overall management and direction of the UK economy.

The ability to stop ideas and initiatives because of their funding needs has, it could be argued, proved to be a major weakness in the UK Government’s ability to both anticipate trends and to be fleet of foot in generating innovative policy and spending solutions as well as the ability to create and mobilise whole government solutions to the wicked issues that bedevil our society.

If the strengthening of the role of No 10 results in a new capability, a new capacity to develop and implement a clear long-term strategy for the world’s fifth largest economy beyond the current and somewhat embarrassingly limited mantra of 40 new hospitals; HS2; 10,000 additional police officers and so on then all well and good.

One can only hope.

George Thorley, Carluke.

ALASDAIR Galloway (Letters, February 17) is absolutely correct that at the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections the SNP vote exceeded its total vote at the 2011 "tsunami" election when it achieved what Mr Galloway rightly calls the "impossible" majority. In addition, when Mr Galloway refers to the historical fact that the 2016 elections did not result in an independence referendum, may I remind him (and Jim Sillars, who stated in his letter of January 13 that "the level of support for independence in 2016 was not strong enough for the SNP to demand Indyref 2") that the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections were held several weeks before the EU referendum, before Scottish voters knew that they were to be taken out of the EU against their will, and that the assurance given to us during the independence referendum that only by voting No could Scotland guarantee her place in Europe was worthless. Moreover, the SNP's 2016 manifesto acknowledged that there would not be a second vote on independence unless there was a change of circumstances such as Scotland being taken out of the EU against our will. Following that, the SNP won the majority of Scottish seats at Westminster at the 2017 General Election, and last December Nicola Sturgeon put Indyref2 at the heart of the SNP's campaign, and won another "tsunami" election.

Boris Johnson has nevertheless declared that there won't be a second vote on independence and like Mr Galloway I wonder as to "what sort of electoral result would be enough" in order that one be held. One thing is clear; there is no use looking for democracy from the Scottish Tories' new leader Jackson Carlaw, who is "totally opposed" to another vote even if opinion polls show voters in favour of one, even if voters keep voting for the independence-supporting parties and even if "growing numbers" of members in his own party support a second independence referendum.

Mr Carlaw has slammed the door on putting Scotland's future into Scotland's hands, preferring to keep Scotland's future in the hands of Mr Johnson despite Scotland decisively slamming the door on the Prime Minister only two months ago.

Ruth Marr, Stirling.

IN his desire to persuade Westminster to agree to Indyref2 , Alasdair Galloway asks “where do we go next?". Apart from disassociating myself from being any part of his “we”, as sovereignty rests with the people, rather than seats in Holyrood, permit me to respond to him by wheeling out my view that it is the people he has to persuade before the Scottish elections in 2021, and the only true reflection of his success or failure in that will be the total number of votes cast for the parties standing respectively for or against Indyref2. I am unable to see the relevance to any of this in his reference to the votes cast only by Conservatives in the EU referendum.

Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop.

JACKSON Carlaw needs to mind his language.

In January of this year he said: "I've spent the last 18 months taking on Nicola Sturgeon. I'm asking our party to let me spend the next 18 months taking her down."

At the launch of his leadership campaign one of his four objectives was "Beat the SNP". More recently he has declared that "the SNP is an evangelical, faith-based cult".

Not only has Mr Carlaw managed to be offensive to women, people who have a religious faith and SNP members and voters, he has set a tone which is misogynistic, adversarial and deeply disrespectful.

The political discourse needs to be better than this. Political discourse has been described as "the formal exchange of reasoned views as to which of several alternative courses of action should be taken to solve a societal problem".

Reasoned views are exactly what we need from politicians of all parties, and if Mr Carlaw considers himself a leader then let's hear some positive suggestions for what it is possible to deliver rather than deficit-based rhetoric. To simply hurl insults with macho bluster gets us nowhere and suggests that Mr Carlaw is not up to the job.

Carol Vanzetta, East Kilbride.

ROBERT IG Scott (Letters, January 17) explains why "the people of Scotland voted against the SNP" in the 2014 referendum. I lived and voted in west Fife in 2014 and the SNP did not feature on the ballot paper I received. Perhaps they had different ballot papers in north-east Fife. My decision to vote Yes for independence had nothing to do with the SNP and everything to do with the the surge in support for Ukip south of the Border. I cannot understand why so many Scots seem to swallow the Unionist myth that Scottish independence would mean perpetual rule by the SNP in stark contrast to my belief that the SNP would appeal to very few after independence.

Willie Maclean, Milngavie.

AT the Glasgow Labour leadership hustings ("Three's a crowd", The Herald, February 17), Rebecca Long-Bailey demonstrated how little she understands the constitution's dominant role in Scottish politics. If she becomes Labour leader and, as a consequence of her constitutional stance, Labour at Westminster and Holyrood back Indyref2 on the SNP's timetable, the Tories will surely strengthen their position as the principal opposition party after the 2021 Holyrood election, with Labour losing yet further ground.

Scottish independence voters will invariably back the real thing, the SNP, not Labour, that has form for prevaricating on this issue. As the Scottish Greens are already, Labour would become another Nicola Sturgeon pawn.

Martin Redfern, Edinburgh EH10.

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