IN following the current Conservative Party leadership contest with a distinctly macabre sense of dread and foreboding, as Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak square-up and squabble over who is the authentic heir to Margaret Thatcher, I am left genuinely wondering as to the true purpose of our UK so-called political leadership.

Whilst the SNP/Greens-run Scottish Government is – like most administrations around the world – far from perfect, there is at least some semblance of working on behalf of and in the best interests of communities across Scotland.

But in watching the Sunak v Truss catfight, conducted in a petty, bitter and divisive tone while the country sinks into ever-deeper peril, it seems the real issues seriously and adversely affecting ordinary British people today are barely worthy of a mention, let alone serious analysis and debate.

On the very day London burned, and indeed since, neither candidate has seriously addressed how, if elected by a tiny, unrepresentative minority of the UK population, the existential threats of our time, such as the climate emergency and the cost of living crisis would be tackled, the candidates preferring to squabble over taxation and who can crack down (such a favourite phrase of the Conservative Party) hardest on desperate people fleeing famine, persecution and conflict zones around the world.

Yet winning the Conservative ticket to lead the party into – and quite possibly even win – the next General Election remains front and centre of Tory Party ambitions, ensuring much more of the same empty promises and even more draconian, populist political dogma and rhetoric.

But, it seems, to hell with the electorate’s concerns over the burgeoning rise in food banks, the social care and NHS crisis, spiralling fuel prices, sky-rocketing energy bills, extraordinary and rising inflation, all the catastrophic end-product inflicted on the country after a dozen years, and counting, of ruinous, self-serving and unscrupulous Conservative government.

And that’s not to mention the egregious error of judgment that was, and continues to be Brexit; the Tories even try to convince us it’s a rip-roaring success.

So we, the British and Scottish people, who ultimately pay directly or indirectly for the entire governmental firmament are treated as gullible stooges, patsies and mugs.

More fool us; whatever your views on the constitutional question, we Scots surely must, for the good of our country, act to prevent another term of the same old ineptitude, mendacity and blatant political self-interest.

Mike Wilson, Longniddry.


I DO not know how the Margaret Thatcher tribute act that is the preening Liz Truss (even down to driving a tank or wearing a Russian fur hat in Red Square), will survive the intense media scrutiny of the summer. How would she survive a grilling by Andrew Neil? Would she cope with Holly Willoughby?

The hapless visit to Moscow, which left Sergei Lavrov in giggles (our media, kindly, did not explain it but European news media mocked her mercilessly), showed how vacuous she is. She did not know Rostov was part of Russia and she muddled up the Baltic and Black Sea.

Ms Truss has long been known as a chameleon. At the LibDem conference in 1994, Paddy Ashdown said his party was finished if her motion to abolish the monarchy passed. He was relieved when she quit. Today she extols Global Britain yet, in 2016, said: "If you want an outward-looking internationally-focused country, vote Remain."

Throughout the leadership contest she has asked us repeatedly to look at the trade deals she has negotiated. Yes, let's look.The Brexiters guaranteed that we would get a free trade deal with the US. This was to reassure us that leaving the most successful economic bloc on Earth would not cut us off from the world. President Joe Biden will not countenance it, as Brexit is holding the Good Friday Agreement hostage. Meantime, we have lost £20 billion of exports to the EU.

As Trade then Foreign Secretary, she has disingenuously announced continuity deals as trade agreements, for example Canada in March 2021. Ottawa will still not let us export cheese as the EU has filled that quota. There was even a suggestion, after the US took the rug from under her, that we might join the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), but the clue was in the name. What she fails to grasp is that there are reasons why neighbouring countries work together economically.We were part of a bloc of 500 million people.

Undaunted, she announced a trade deal with Japan. It was so inferior to what we'd had, the clip of Emily Thornberry dishing it in the Commons went viral. We might trade with Indonesia, Ms Truss gushed, but the average per capita GDP is $4,000; Germany is $46,000.What will they buy? Talk of trade with protectionist pro-Russia India became decidedly lukewarm when they wanted thousands of Indians to enter the UK. "Brexit is done," she quotes the party mantra, but Northern Ireland will prove otherwise.

The reality is that, far from being Global Britain, Ms Truss has made us Little Britain.

John V Lloyd, Inverkeithing.


BRITAIN faces a national emergency according to Rishi Sunak, possibly the next Prime Minister. He goes on to detail crises in the economy, NHS and illegal immigration.

Iain Macwhirter ("Tories will bomb if the ‘human hand grenade’ becomes PM", July 24) writes: “The Tories are going down. No government can survive inflation, industrial unrest, lost wages, interest rates and Brexit chaos. Governments are there to take the blame and, after 14 years, come the next election, it is almost their duty to lose”.

Unfortunately he goes on to say: “Labour is just as bereft of economic policy as the Tories.”

Compounding our misery, there is a petition which has already attracted thousands of signatures that the current occupant of No 10 should remain in post.

Clark Cross (Letters, July 24) complains that genuine asylum seekers could have sought a better life in any one of the 27 EU countries instead of arriving in the UK, sold to them as the land of milk and honey.

Before they discover the truth, I wonder how many of us are tempted to meet and greet them with “here’s the keys to my car mate. Can I borrow your dinghy?”

Alan Carmichael, Glasgow.


IT might come as a relief to Nicola Sturgeon if the Supreme Court throws out her independence plan. She is on enough hooks already.

Matters rather closer to home are looking like overwhelming the Scottish Government. Health issues are now "front and centre", or at least they ought to be. Nothing shows up the utter complacency and ineptitude of the SNP/Green alliance like the shocking new drug deaths statistics showing a derisory one per cent drop in deaths despite the previous year's shamefully high total. Just what has the Government been doing in the last year? Is it capable of fixing anything?

Angela Constance really cannot sidestep this issue. She has failed miserably. Ms Sturgeon cannot exempt herself from blame either. The buck stops with her.

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow.


SINCE your article last month ("Alarm over new consultation aiming to take child protection services away from councils", June 26) on how the proposed National Care Service will remove many services from local authorities there has been silence. Yet this legislation is potentially disastrous for recipients of social care.

What is required for good quality adult social care is a culture of working which gives adequate support to informal carers and strengthens the social networks of the client. This requires timely specialist input (with GPs having a significant responsibility) and paid staff who have the time and training to share relevant knowledge with other professionals and share caring skills with family and friends. Organisational change will not achieve a change of culture.

Such a change will require adequate resources. This is not covered in the legislation, which looks towards a commissioning model for service delivery rather than direct provision. Commissioning will not (in the absence of a Wages Council) ensure adequate training, pay and conditions for staff. It is likely to lead to good employers, including many local authorities and not-for-profits, being unable to compete financially. The result, as in residential care, will be extensive privatisation of services as well as the loss of democratic accountability through local authorities.

There is also an issue as to the managerial capacity of the Scottish Government to handle major organisational change. So far it has spent more than £500,000 commissioning private external consultants to put together a "business case and operating models" for a national care service. This may well open the way to multi-million-pound contracts for IT and data services.

It is to be hoped that at the very least the bill is restricted to adult social care and that Holyrood looks at alternatives to further privatisation and centralisation. The present proposals are at best diversionary and at worst will lead to a significant deterioration in services.

David Mumford, Dunbar.


I HAVEN'T visited Ecclefechan (known fondly as The Fechan) for quite a while, but clearly it has potholes of epic proportions, as they are commented on all across Scotland.

Wherever I go I hear people asking: "When are they going to fill in The Fechan potholes?"

Like everyone else I ask them: when the ones in Ecclefechan have been dealt with, could my road be next?

Terry West, Dumfries.