HOME Secretary Priti Patel has announced that the UK Government intends to “crack down” (favourite phrase of authoritarians) on asylum seekers, especially those who arrive in the UK by illegal means ("Patel announces clampdown on asylum claims in major overhaul", The Herald, March 24). Frankly, you have to wonder how she arrived in her present post when she shows such ignorance of the realities, though I suspect the blinkers she wears are worn deliberately.

These are asylum seekers she’s targeting, not economic migrants. Asylum seekers are people who have lived in fear for their lives because of their politics, religion or sexuality. They may well have spent time in hiding or on the run in their home country; they will often have been in prison, where they’ve been brutalised, tortured or raped. They don’t willingly pay people smugglers every last penny they can muster to transport them in flimsy dinghies across the English Channel. They do it because they are desperate.

And what reception will the UK Government give them? They’ll be told they didn’t follow the appropriate procedure, didn’t fill in the correct paperwork, didn’t follow the regulations set out clearly on the Home Office website. This plan follows on from the Government’s decisions to slash the overseas aid budget, in breach of the UK’s own law that commits to 0.7% of Gross National Income; to cut aid to starving families in Yemen; and to greatly increase spending on nuclear warheads and on sending an aircraft carrier to the Far East to demonstrate British military might.

Well, not in my name. Years ago, Theresa May, future Home Secretary and Prime Minister, suggested that the Conservatives could be seen as “the nasty party”. For many of us, that was a statement of the obvious: the Tories were, are and always will be tarnished by a nasty, authoritarian, small-minded, British nationalist streak. Lebanon hosts 1.5 million refugees from Syria, more than 20 per cent of its population, yet we have a Government that intends to crack down on the few tens of thousands of asylum seekers who come to the UK each year.

I gave up on Westminster a long time ago. Holyrood isn’t perfect, but it’s our best hope for living in a country to be proud of, rather than ashamed of.

Doug Maughan, Dunblane.


SEVERAL times every day my wife and I drive our 14-year-old severely autistic son around our small town.

Even before Covid there were and are no services and very little support to meet our son’s needs. It is so difficult to know what is going on in the mind of my non-verbal son. We have fought losing battles for his rights for a decade and we’re often tired and near breaking. Both he and we have been let down, strung along and used by a succession of people, politicians, governments and policymakers. The political events of the last months have been truly awful in Scotland. Dreams of a better country that respects its citizens and ensures those who require help do not fall through the net, raised then dashed on an angry, bitter sea of division and self-interest.

Last night I innocently tried to engage my son by counting the flags in gardens across our town. Long after my son had lost even a glimmer of interest I had counted 20-plus flags (a notable increase from the norm). There were a dozen Saltires and eight Union Flags, many recently and hastily erected. I felt so sad and empty as I looked at my son locked into his closed-off world. Myself a previously vocal supporter of independence, I felt ashamed. Ashamed of what we have become and ashamed of those we fail.

Duncan F MacGillivray, Dunoon.


ONE rarely has the pleasure of hearing a politician talking from the heart like a human being rather than an actor reading from a script. Patrick Harvie’s contribution to the no confidence debate pulled no punches. He asserted that the process had compromised the interests of the women who raised the action against Alex Salmond in the first place and that Ruth Davidson’s motion combined with constant leaking of information from the investigating committee was crude party-political skulduggery. I agree with him that it has been an ugly opportunistic attempt to damage the reputation of the First Minister, the Scottish Government, the SNP and by association the case for Scottish independence.

As Mr Harvie indicated, what must now happen is that the person or persons responsible for the leaks is identified. I find it impossible to believe this was the work of a rogue individual and none of their colleagues was aware of developments; who knows, they may have been following instruction from others. To me the whole tawdry affair reeks of the stench of UK corporate politics realising that the constitution of Holyrood, that was deliberately constructed to ensure that it could never have an executive with a mandate to pursue the cause of independence, has failed its primary purpose.

The Conservative Party via Ruth Davidson's motion deliberately attempted to destroy our First Minister ("Sturgeon calls for end to ‘toxic’ climate in politics", The Herald, March 24), so we must demand that the newly-elected Scottish Government itself goes scalp-hunting with a judicial inquiry in public into the leaks from the committee. Enough of “in camera” meetings and the public being kept in ignorance of the behaviour of those who represent us; these are not celebrities, they are our employees. The culprits must be named and shamed and the facts laid bare for all to see; if nothing happens then democracy is dead.

David J Crawford, Glasgow.


NICOLA Sturgeon has easily “survived” a vote of confidence led by the Scottish Tories. Can the Tory leadership of Ruth Davidson and Duncan Ross say the same? Their lack of political nous and street smarts has shown them up as the lightweights they undoubtedly are.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.


IT is interesting to note that after the First Minister's appearance at the Holyrood harassment inquiry, the SNP claimed a rise in its membership. This strange paradox shows a disturbing trend toward celebrity politics rather than competent leadership.

It matters not to some that the Scottish Government made a rip-roaring shambolic pig's ear investigation of the harassment inquiry, but only that Nicola Sturgeon, in the opinion of James Hamilton, did not break the ministerial code while misleading parliament.

It seems Ms Sturgeon's popularity in her daily TV briefings rubbed off on her inquiry appearance.

We should not lose sight of the fact that the start, middle and end of both sides of this debacle is wholly owned by the SNP.

It is hardly an endorsement of our now-tarnished quasi legal/political quango that is Holyrood.

Allan Thompson, Bearsden.


IN all the reports I have read, before, during and after the multiple inquiries into what will forever be called the Salmond/Sturgeon affair, one name leaps out every single time: Leslie Evans. She should have been sacked as soon as the botched case against Alex Salmond, that she had such a heavy hand in, collapsed.

I cannot think of any reason why Ms Evans has been allowed to remain in post after such disastrous mismanagement causing so much division across the country.

Celia Judge, Ayr.


GIVEN the First Minister's "genuine failure of recollection", it is fortunate Nicola Sturgeon was at home on April 2, 2018, when Alex Salmond and his colleagues arrived on her doorstep.

Ron McMurtrie, Currie.

* CAN any Herald readers help me identify any phrase more ineffectual than "lessons will be learned?" Just curious.

Bert Peattie, Kirkcaldy.


I NOTE that Andrew McKie in his column on House of Lords reform ("Calling for reform of Lords is as traditional a part of British life as Trooping the Colour", The Herald, March 23) makes no mention of the SNP, whose policy is not to appoint members to an institution which it rightly recognises as profoundly undemocratic in its makeup.

Mr McKie further claims that "almost every party" is in favour of reform. This I somewhat doubt, but if we allow it to be the case for the benefit of argument, then it follows that the simplest and most effective strategy is for all parties to adopt the policy of the SNP and stop appointing new members. A serious discussion could then be had on the future – if any – of the second chamber.

I also note that Mr McKie makes no mention of outright abolition, nor the merits of a unicameral system, but there is certainly a case to be made for that too.

Alan Jenkins, Glasgow.

Read more: The verdict to trust most is the one from Sturgeon's peers