MIKE Wilson (Letters, March 23) asks what Donald Dewar would have thought of the goings-on in the Scottish Parliament. I knew Donald a bit (although not as well as many) but I would say that he would have been pleased to see a Scottish Parliament with at least some of its members prepared to hold the executive to account, even if the ruling party MSPs lacked the backbone to do likewise.

And to those who are now telling us that Nicola Sturgeon has proven herself to be the best-est and most truthful politician the world has ever seen, I say two things.

The first point is that when faced with a verdict from a hand-picked unelected pillar of the establishment taking evidence in private and one from elected representatives from a broad range of parties meeting in public, I would always choose the latter. I would also suggest imagining if the person under scrutiny was Boris Johnson: if a judge he appointed for the purpose cleared him and a cross-party Parliamentary Select Committee condemned him, which would we consider to be a whitewash and which to be a more valid outcome?

The second point is that in 2014 and for many years before, all of those people who are now so convinced of Ms Sturgeon's probity were in the same way convinced that her predecessor was a jolly fine well-met chap who could be trusted too. His name, in case they have forgotten, was Alex Salmond.

Peter A Russell, Glasgow.

* I HAVE no axe to grind on behalf of Nicola Sturgeon or any other politician for that matter, regardless of their political stripe. However, when it comes down to having to choose between an opinion expressed by a highly respected independent, internationally renowned barrister and that of a Holyrood Committee of Inquiry populated it would seem (in the majority) by metaphorical kangaroos, I know in which of those opinions I am happier to place my trust.

Alastair Patrick, Paisley.


NICOLA Sturgeon and her party complain that the Holyrood report is "partisan", the product of a majority of non-SNP committee members. But wasn’t it always likely to be party political when it comprised only party politicians? If Ms Sturgeon had really wanted a non-partisan inquiry, she should have appointed a judge-led one, with full judicial powers and penalties at its disposal. It is not yet too late to have such an inquiry.

This is just another blunder made by Ms Sturgeon throughout this whole affair. Her supporters may crow about her having been found by James Hamilton not to have breached the ministerial code. But is this the best Scotland can do? To have a Government which has been shown up as thoroughly incompetent? Is that really a recommendation for voters in May?

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh.


MIKE Wilson is right to draw attention to Ruth Davidson and Douglas Ross for dispensing blame before even considering the evidence. And Mr Ross is at it again today. He is reported as saying, in the aftermath of an independent report exonerating the First Minister ("Nicola Sturgeon cleared of breaching Ministerial Code", The Herald, March 23): "Either we respect the fundamental principles of democracy or we don't." So let's take him at his word.

Mr Ross allegedly leads the Scottish Conservatives but there is no such independent party, it is merely a branch of the UK Conservative and Unionist Party. Therefore his leader is Boris Johnson. When have we heard Mr Ross lecturing Mr Johnson on the fundamental principles of democracy? And Mr Ross will, since the founding of the Scottish Parliament, be the first leader representing a major party not to put himself up for election in a constituency. He is relying instead on the proportional representation system his party fought against for many years. Is he frightened of rejection by the electorate?

Ruth Davidson, memorably described by Mike Wilson as pompous, almost pious, is no better. One can completely understand her desire to escape politics to devote more time to her family but then she accepts a political job in London, 400 miles away which, if done properly, will take her away from her family for even longer. Moreover, she accepts this job from Mr Johnson, a politician she has candidly admitted is low in her regard. We are told she will be used in the fight against independence, a sort of unionist Mons Meg siege cannon to be brought out when necessary, but she will no longer have a democratic base for her interventions.

Mr Ross and Ms Davidson are rapidly becoming the Holy Willies of politics, laughably protesting the almost non-existent virtues of their own party whilst searching eagerly for faults in others.They are the ones ignoring one of the fundamental principles of democracy, namely when in a hole, stop digging.

Ian McKee, Edinburgh.


I AGREE with much of Mike Wilson’s well-argued letter, not only in his condemnation of Ruth Davidson’s and Douglas Ross’s attempts to have the First Minister judged guilty before even having a chance to make her case, but also with his conclusion that the people of Scotland not only deserve but demand better, according to what we were promised on September 11, 1997.

The most revealing part of his letter, however, is where, in comparing the actions of Scottish opposition politicians to the “misanthropic and cynical proceedings” at Westminster, and their consequent shaming of Scotland, he correctly, though critically, ascribes their unacceptably partisan behaviour to their being “denied the taste of power they crave”.

Given that the current Scottish electoral system, admittedly much fairer than that for Westminster, was designed, in the interests of “constructive debate and collegiate working”, to avert the likelihood of one party having an overall majority – and given that this system has never, as originally promised, been subsequently reviewed and is clearly not working – it is understandable, if not excusable, that elements of the failings of Westminster are evident here in Scotland.

From our experience of the last 14 years we need a revision of the present system to one which delivers a more accurate and proportionate reflection of the will of the Scottish people. If the SNP, as appears possible, wins a majority in May, it will claim the election result as equivalent to a referendum in favour of independence, which on several counts it will not be.

At present I, and many others like me, am unrepresented, either in my constituency, or in my region, by the person or the party I voted for. While all systems have their disadvantages, there is here a democratic deficit which is unjust as well as fundamentally failing. It is time for a review, which would also be setting a long-overdue example to Westminster. We get the standard of politicians our system allows.

Robert Bell, Cambuslang.


THE Nicola Sturgeon/ministerial code row rumbles on. Oh yes she has, oh no she hasn't, oh yes she has. One thing is certain, a spotlight has been shone on the inner workings of the SNP at Holyrood and it is not a pretty sight. No one takes the blame for anything and the taxpayer foots the bill regardless.

The audience will get a chance to have its say on May 6 about this new Holyrood blockbuster, the Pantomime Act. They might want their money back.

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow.


IRRESPECTIVE of the politically charged Harassment Committee, Nicola Sturgeon has been cleared by the Hamilton independent inquiry. Amid endless vindictive political opposition she has conducted herself with courageous forbearance, continuing her exemplary leadership during Covid and Brexit. So now it's back to business.

As the UK Government increases nuclear weapons in Scotland, the Scottish Government is passing legislation strengthening children's rights. While child poverty and food banks persist, the UK is spending tens of billions upgrading its Trident submarines and nuclear arsenal. This underlines the divergence between a social democratic Scotland and a Tory Brexit Britain.

The public spectacle of Alex Salmond versus Ms Sturgeon has been a distraction fired by the furious invective of Tory leaders Ruth Davidson and Douglas Ross, aided by senior Holyrood civil servants – and by Peter Murrell. Make no mistake, with the Holyrood elections in a few weeks, the stark choice is between Boris Johnson's Brexit Britain, which we did not vote for, or building a better future in a nuclear-free independent Scotland.

Grant Frazer, Newtonmore.

*I WONDER how many times Nicola Sturgeon has to beat Douglas Ross, Murdo Fraser, Margaret Mitchell, Jackie Baillie et al before she gets to keep them and put them on her mantlepiece?

Stewart Falconer, Alyth.

Read more: What would Donald Dewar think of the tawdry opposition antics?