I READ Professor Wardle’s letter (“Scots need a competent and accountable administration”, May 24) and briefly wondered if he and I were living in parallel universes.

Consider: crime levels sitting at their lowest since the 1970s; a food and drink industry that nearly doubled in size in ten years; delivery of critical infrastructure such as the Queensferry Crossing, the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route and the railway to Galashiels; pupils leaving school with more qualifications than ever before; and new benefit payments specifically designed to tackle poverty and social disadvantage.

Professor Wardle may regard these achievements as a dreadful record in office, but the Scottish electorate obviously don’t. Last year, they voted by a substantial margin to keep the SNP in power with support from the Greens.

I won’t dwell on the professor’s ad feminam attack on the First Minister – pitiful though it was – so that I can respond to two other issues.

Firstly, could a Labour or Conservative government ever give “sufficient priority” to Scotland? Of course not. This would be electoral suicide, because English voters (primarily in the south-east) would ask why their priorities weren’t being given the same attention, and promptly vote them out of office.

Secondly, on independence. Holyrood now has a greater number of independence-supporting MSPs than ever before, and they were elected on manifestos explicitly committing to a referendum.

No doubt Professor Wardle dislikes devolution. He clearly dislikes the current Scottish government even more. But if he would welcome “heightened intervention from Westminster”, then it appears that Professor Wardle dislikes democracy, too.

Is this a reputable position for a man who professes to have academic instinct and training?

David Patrick, Edinburgh.


AS one of those whom John Milne (letters, May 24) may be referring to as “largely incapable of demonstrating the aforementioned political maturity called for by Mark Smith”, I find it extraordinary that he can say he “stopped reading the contributions to your Letters Pages on the constitutional issue” some time ago.

All this, while earlier endorsing Smith’s argument that “a sign of a society’s political maturity is when two sides can speak to each other with mutual respect and work together when necessary”.

How is that possible when you don’t read both sides?

Like Mr Milne, Professor William Wardle’s argument is based on a similar asserted certainty. He writes: “Failure to appreciate the lessons of history leads to unsound forecasting”, but which lessons? Whose interpretation of history? Many debates turn on contended interpretations of history.

But, not deterred, the Professor claims: “Facts are what they are and should be capable of shaping judgement”.

Let’s take Brexit, a fact as the UK has left the EU, as an example. Was it a good or a bad thing? Many consider it a bad thing, but there are still those who would defend it, asserting our independence, taking control of our borders, no more European Courts etc.

So, a single fact but many judgements. Facts need to be interpreted in order to act as a basis for judgement, which will often be a matter of, sometimes passionate, debate.

Peter Russell’s conclusion to our last debate on your Letters Page was that the differences between us “[boiled] down to a clash of philosophies”, a conclusion for which I think there is much to be said.

Certainly, it is a conclusion that is more encouraging to debate than either Mr Milne or Professor Wardle’s contributions.

Both the Professor and Mr Milne start out from the certainty of their own conclusion – independence would be a disaster – and basically condemn anyone who does not agree with them.

This comes into even sharper view in Mr Milne’s final sentence, where he cites not just the “incompetence of the SNP Government”, but the “obvious incompetence of the SNP Government”.

Not much scope for debate there!

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.


THE Prime Minister’s parliamentary response to Sue Gray’s report reminded me of the scene in Casablanca, in which Police Captain Renault (Claude Rains) declares that he is shocked – shocked – to find that

gambling has been taking place in Rick’s Bar, and adds that he will collect his winnings later.

Kenneth Fraser, St Andrews.


BORIS Johnson’s admission that he was “humbled” by the report is every bit as full of humbug as was Rupert Murdoch’s notorious statement, “This is the most humble day of my life”, when he addressed MPs on the subject of phone-hacking in 2011.

You just cannot believe anything that this PM, who is utterly devoid of principle, says. Naturally he has no intention of resigning. Where is his sense of responsibility, of owning up to one’s mistakes? When will the Tories develop a conscience?

S. Henderson, Glasgow.


I AM concerned that there has been so much comment on the Prime Minister and staff breaking the Covid rules while the rest of us obeyed them. This misses the point.

We, who did the right but very difficult thing, obeyed them to prevent ourselves and our loved ones and friends from contracting a deadly virus. I did not see my only remaining relative in hospital who later died, so I do know how it feels.

It is not a matter of they did it so we should have done whatever we wanted too. They risked their own lives, and those of their colleagues and their loved ones, all for a party. Whether it was work-related or not is irrelevant.

The buck stops with the man at the top and he should do the decent thing and go.

D. Connor, Glasgow.


SUPPORT for the SNP depends on its ability to achieve a referendum, according to Professor William Wardle. How long do we have to endure this tiresome stuff?

The SNP cannot achieve a referendum; only the people of Scotland can deliver independence by demanding it in sufficient numbers by one means or another.

If the SNP helps to bring this about, well and good; but responsibility rests with our nation and not with the FM or her party.

The only name on the ballot paper will be Scotland.

Willie Maclean, Milngavie.


IN his very succinct article (“So was there even a plan for ScotRail after nationalisation?”, May 24) Brian Wilson clearly set out a damning critique of the state of the recently nationalised ScotRail.

Similar to most areas of life that this SNP administration involves itself in – from policing to education, from transport to the economy and everything else inbetween – Ms Sturgeon and her ministers are shown to be completely incompetent and out of their depth.

Whilst I have no great liking of unions holding the general population to ransom, it seems to me that in this instance their case is sound, in that the railway system seems only able to function properly when train drivers agree to overtime and working rest days.

Apart from the obvious problems with this practice, surely there is a safety issue also in play.

When you factor in that drivers average earnings are over £50,000, topping out at over £80,000 in many cases, you wonder why on earth there is a shortage of recruits in the first place.

Until this mess is sorted out, as usual it is the public and business that will bear the brunt as ministers swan about in their chauffeured cars and Abellio executives watch on, like the rest of us, in disbelief.

James Martin, Glasgow.


THERE’S an old, rather cruel, joke the Australians used to tell: How do you give a New Zealander a small company? Give him a large company and two years.

So give the SNP a large rail network and a month and guess what? You have a small rail network!

How on earth did they think they were capable of running a rail network?

Hubris perhaps, given their huge success at running Prestwick Airport – oh yes, and the Ferries. Scotland deserves much better than this hopeless, deceitful administration.

Iain Walker, Bearsden.