IN the week that the Scottish Parliament rises ahead of a May 6 election that promises to be the most divisive and bitter in its 22-year history, its architect Donald Dewar must be turning in his grave.

So much for the chamber’s horseshoe shape, optimistic talk of a constructive level of debate and collaborative approach towards making legislation; periodically in evidence until recently, any pretence towards constructive debate and collegiate working went out of the window with the "Alex Salmond affair", although, in truth, it had been turning nasty for some time.

Despite the hopes of the people who really count – the electorate – that more civil, less acrimonious, accusatory rhetoric would prevail, in sharp contrast with the misanthropic, cynical proceedings in the self-appointed Mother of Parliaments 400 miles south, Scottish opposition politicians denied the taste of power they crave soon took the gloves off and engaged in an ugly and prolonged political brawl that shamed Scotland.

Politicians being politicians will blame everyone but themselves and their tribes, but the Harassment Inquiry sent the temperature soaring – grand inquisitors its members were not – was unable even to conduct itself with propriety, five times standing down the First Minister before finding her guilty long before her belated attempt to give her version of events.

But, notwithstanding low blows from judge-and-jury types like Jackie Baillie, Alex Cole-Hamilton and Murdo Fraser, it has been outside that pugilistic ring where the really vicious dogfight was conducted.

The pompous, almost pious tone struck by Ruth Davidson inside and outside the chamber would have been comical had it not been so cynical, serious and contemptible. Her replacement Douglas Ross pitching to fill her ringside seat as she is fitted for ermine matched her staged enmity blow-for-blow from the sidelines, openly admitting he was not interested in the First Minister’s evidence, she was bang to rights in his mind long beforehand.

The First Minister revealed herself to be no mean street-fighter when called upon to defend herself, but she at least conducted herself with a scintilla of humility and decorum her lynch mob was never – and will never – be able to aspire to.

The people of Scotland not only deserve but demand better, much better. Lest our Parliamentarians forget, it’s what we voted for on September 11, 1997.

Mike Wilson, Longniddry.


JAMES Martin's letter (March 20) is an interesting, if flawed, one, and requires a riposte. He is correct in claiming that the SNP will (unfortunately in his opinion) win the election on May 6, even though the party is mired in controversy. He ends his letter by writing "a sad indictment indeed".

But isn't this a case of the pot, the kettle and the adjective "black"? The present Westminster Government is led by a proven liar (sacked from The Times for being just that) and adulterer who won't tell us how many children he has sired. A man who promised us that we would save £350 million a week by leaving the EU – money which, he claimed, could go to our NHS. And then kicked NHS workers in the teeth by offering a measly one per cent rise. Where in fact has this £350m gone if all we can afford is a one per cent rise? We know where it went – he grossly overestimated the figure, and later admitted it.

Not only that, his Government is top-heavy with lackeys who hand out lucrative contracts with impunity to their chums, and to men who have bankrolled the party over the years. And what of international agreements, entered into honourably by past UK governments, being breached on a whim to accommodate inconstancies in the party's negotiating skills, thus tainting the UK's reputation abroad? And what of the Tory Party's attempts to prorogue Parliament in 2019, which was found to be illegal?

The Westminster Tories will undoubtedly win the next General Election despite its abject failings as a Government ruling Scotland from the Home Counties.

A sad indictment indeed.

James Gracie, Sanquhar.


AMIDST the current political brouhaha in Scotland and the daily suggestions that Scottish voters are fools, I wonder if the yardstick for the electorate might just be that the SNP is judged to have told us fewer lies than Labour and the Tories. Sad days.

Stuart Chalmers, Jackton.


SO the SNP has published an bill for a second independence referendum. Really? Yet it doesn't have time ahead of the election to publish the OECD report to show just where Scottish education is after 14 years of the SNP? Publish and be damned.

John Dunlop, Ayr.


MANY people will join me in finding it very strange that the Census in Scotland has been delayed a year because of Covid. The rest of the country saw it as an opportunity, last Sunday, March 21, to get an accurate picture while people were likely at home in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

I am convinced that this is yet another vexatious gesture to show the world that Scotland is different from the rest of the UK. Is there no end to the petty-mindedness of the SNP Government in throwing balls of cotton wool at Westminster?

Historians and genealogists will find this census disparity an enormous barrier to tracing people and family members in decades to come.

I do not have the party in power in Holyrood I voted for and earnestly hope that on May 6 I will at last become represented as a British citizen.

Bill Brown, Milngavie.


THE UK Government's approach to vaccinations is now looking as if it could be counter-productive in the long term ("UK issues warning to Europe against any ‘counterproductive’ vaccine steps", The Herald, March 22). I'm sure we all felt that securing so much vaccine so early would be good for the UK, but as has been said before, we're not safe until we're all safe, either at a UK, European or even global level. If the UK had still been a leading member in the EU it could have knocked a few heads together, but unfortunately we abdicated that role of leadership within the EU for the "world-beating" rhetoric of Boris Johnson.

As it stands, however, if Mr Johnson really wanted to get one-up on the EU he would offer our surplus vaccines, once the over-45s have been vaccinated, to Europe until the EU catches up. The point is that a slow rollout of vaccines anywhere in the world only allows variants the chance to get ahead of the vaccines. This will rebound on us when these vaccine-resistant variants reach us. There would have been a good case for the World Health Organisation to promote a manufacture-and-store policy, and then hit the virus with a coordinated programme, which might have seen the virus off once and for all, hard as it would have been to persuade the British public of that. As it is the me-first vaccine imperialism of the UK could easily make things worse for all of us in the long term.

John Jamieson, Ayr.


SADLY our European friends have got into a problem with the use of vaccines, apart from deciding late what to order their leaders then upset the system further by refusing to use the AstraZenecca jab and thus influencing their populace against it.

I can understand their frustration when they look across the Channel, but it is for them to resolve it.

The threat from Ursula von der Leyen that she would seize factories, waive patents and ban exports displays a total lack of control by the EU to the world at large, who are watching. She should also remember that one of the key ingredients of the Pfizer vaccine is made in the UK.

Stewart Little, Bridge of Weir.


HAVING heard from politicians and their medical advisors, that getting students back to school is their main priority, does closing some schools for the May election not undermine that message? I would have thought that there any plenty of empty council buildings that could have been utilised.

Jim McSheffrey, Giffnock.

Read more: Letters: Why must there be a different rule for Scotland?