THE question of resignation by Government ministers has been in the news as a result of the intensive attention given recently to the activities of Matt Hancock. Ministers have been known to resign from time to time on a matter of principle, such as Aneurin Bevan in 1951 over the imposition of charges on the NHS and Robin Cook in 2003 over the invasion of Iraq. Matt Hancock’s resignation does not fall into that category . He had to go because he had failed the country, the Health Department, his family and himself. Moreover, he had little support among his fellow Tory MPs.

It says much for the ineffectiveness of the leadership of the Prime Minister that he declined to sack Mr Hancock, accepted an apology and indicated earlier that the matter was closed. Of course, this is the Prime Minister who refused to sack Priti Patel, Home Secretary, after she was found to have broken the Ministerial Code over bullying issues. Boris Johnson is obviously not a man who looks to set high standards of personal behaviour nor to seek to maintain them.

It remains a mystery, at least to me, how developed and otherwise civilised countries like the UK and the Unite States can have finished up in recent times with leaders like Boris Johnson and Donald Trump. Perhaps, the United States has learned its lesson.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.

UK has cohort of talent

WATCHING the Andrew Marr Show on BBC1 (June 27) prompted me to speculate who would succeed as Prime Minister when Boris Johnson's time is up. The bookies' favourites are Rishi Sunak and Michael Gove, but now Sajid Javid has made a comeback and Jeremy Hunt, who was interviewed on the programme, is still around.

I couldn't help thinking that there is a much stronger cohort of seasoned, able political leaders in the UK than in Scotland, where it's basically Nicola Sturgeon or bust.

Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven.


THERE was little doubt that Matt Hancock had to go as his behaviour as Health Secretary was completely unacceptable when he was asking the people of this country to strictly follow the rules. As always in these matters all the hard work he had done as Health Secretary is washed away with his embarrassing resignation.

The only good thing to come out of this sad situation is the appointment of Sajid Javid as the new Health Secretary. He has a great track record as an excellent MP and a man of some considerable ability who holds out for with what he believes in.

Dennis Forbes Grattan, Aberdeen.

* I’M told that Mr Hancock’s dalliance lasted 30 minutes. Hancock’s Half Hour?

Gordon Casely, Crathes.


YOUR article on Holyrood being recalled over the summer to update MSPs on Covid-19 (“MSPs set for Covid recall over summer”, The Herald, June 24) prompted me to check for how many days our MSPs actually sit in Edinburgh. Oh I know we see them in the chamber posturing and preening on the telly, but when are they actually doing anything? My cursory investigations suggest that the Scottish Parliament only sits 120 days a year; does anyone take a register of attendance, especially during virtual sessions? Are they really sitting playing Freecell or doing online shopping?

Perhaps in days of yore when the speed of a horse dictated where and when one could physically be and messages were carried by a man with a fiery stick there may have been a valid reason to minimise the number of actual sessions in a central location, but these days most of us in the real world are expected to work at least every weekday 11 months of the year.

One needs to be a combination of a detective, a forensic accountant and have the patience of a saint to understand the Government website, but it appears that 129 MSPs have a base salary of £64,470 and there’s a budget of up to £129,700 a year to employ support staff for each MSP; what do they all do, I ask? If one rounds that up it gives a rough figure of £25 million, yet the total projected cost for the whole shebang next year will be £110 million, one assumes by the time constituency costs and expenses are added in. I wonder where the other £85 million goes. Do we get value for money? I hae ma doots.

David J Crawford, Glasgow.


HERALD readers are constantly being berated by a few of your columnists plus several of your letter writers about just how “bad” the Union is and, unsurprisingly, just how “good” independence will turn out to be. The huge problem here is that one of these “states” exists, hence can be criticised, while the other does not.

To promote independence the way forward must be crystal clear. It cannot depend on others, like the EU, nor on hugely enhanced details in every best/worst case scenario to make it look better in the case of the former. The 2014 White Paper on Scottish independence had these catastrophic flaws therein, never mind what has transpired since. It was rejected by the Scottish population for a good reason. It was a wake-up call.

Independence must therefore remain a highly speculative affair no matter how passionately some of your readership might be convinced about it. If it is not at least demonstrably economically sound it is a non-starter. The leadership of the Scottish Government must move on to solving current problems. Goodness knows we need these fixed first.

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow.


THE most tactful thing I can say about David Leask and Stewart McDonald is that they suffer from a severe case of tunnel vision exacerbated by an acute deficiency of historical perspective ("Why people on both sides of the constitutional divide are at risk of being duped", The Herald, June 25).

As someone who has observed the propaganda activities of the British state and its associated supporting institutions for more than 60 years, I find the uber-anxiety about real or supposed Russian online "disinformation" to be risible.

Anyone with moderately left, anti-nuclear, anti-colonial, anti-apartheid, pro-independence views over that period experienced massive hostile propaganda on a daily basis. This was not only at the crude tabloid level but, as we now know, we had the CIA funding of cultural magazines like Encounter and book publishers throughout the world. Large numbers of BBC staff and certainly anyone involved in current affairs had to be vetted by the British security service until this was exposed in the 1980s. These are only little examples. There were and are massive US and UK security/propaganda budgets. The core duty of the British security services is to secure the British state – they wouldn't be doing their job if they did not seek to undermine the independence movement.

The most absurd claim was that Russian trolls influenced the Brexit vote. As if they were better at it than the Sun, Express, Mail and the like. The history of disinformation and the production of hysteria leading up to the Boer War, the 1914-18 war, the Vietnam war, the Iraq war was ably carried out by press barons and the military-industrial complex. The Russians are comparative amateurs.

I doubt if journalists today have any time to frequent pubs but if they still do, I would love to hear the patter around the Leask/Macdonald proposal to send journalists into schools to teach pupils about misinformation. Who should we put in charge of the programme, Rupert Murdoch or Paul Dacre?

Isobel Lindsay, Biggar.


NEW South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has retained a proportionate approach to Covid, imposing stay-at-home orders only on the worst-affected areas. Australia’s “Iron Lady” has put lockdown-happy states and nations like Scotland to shame by standing up to fearmongering health “experts” demanding a complete shutdown, leaving millions free to live an almost normal life.

Unlike Nicola Sturgeon, she has defended personal freedoms, protected business owners and kept the economy functioning – the state has kept on top of the virus with superb contact tracing. Her determination to face down the more hysterical elements of the media and fiercely pro-lockdown advocates in pseudo-medical quangos has rightly earned her comparisons with Margaret Thatcher.

Dr John Cameron, St Andrews.

* DOES anybody still listen, or care, to what Nicola Sturgeon says any more? There are only so many convoluted permutations of groups of X and bubbles of Y allowed to meet in level 2 inside or outside in level 3, if over 12 with friends or neighbours or under 12 with families but only if there is an R in the month, then you take away the number you first thought of – unless you’re attending a football match or street demonstration it’s OK, but banned if it involves travel to or from England. Simples.

Allan Thompson, Bearsden.

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