INEVITABLY, and correctly, there is much interest in whose “fresh face” Jackson Carlaw might have had in mind as his replacement when he said: “I just think that the issues I would like to see us fight on, and as someone who is a trooper for the Conservative and Unionist party, I have come to the conclusion that a fresh face after all of this is behind us is the right person to lead us into that election”.

The first issue with that is that “all of this is” not “behind” us, not by a long way.

Carlaw’s election was only confirmed on Valentine’s Day this year, so he has been in the job for just over five months, and thus if we accept his assurance that he had been thinking about resignation “for some months”, he must have considered resignation after three months in the job. So, what is going on?

We may find guidance elsewhere in that quote. What did he mean when he spoke of “the issues I would like to see us fight on”? I wonder what they might be?

For instance, we know he was a staunch supporter of Remain. Was he perhaps not enough of a convert to Leave to satisfy, for instance, the Prime Minister’s consigliere, Dominic Cummings, who in the last few weeks has been responsible for the resignations of the Cabinet Secretary, and two department heads?

So the leader of the Scottish party may be part of “clearing the decks” for once the UK leaves the EU completely, with or without a trade deal.

Otherwise we are forced to take seriously the consideration that Carlaw’s fellow Conservatives at Holyrood, all by themselves, came to the conclusion that he was not the man, within five months of his being voted in.

The Conservative Party, at least in Scotland, has historically not been a “sacking” party, so why have they acted so soon? Is that a dagger I see before me? Or is it Cummings?

The clearly briefed criticism of Carlaw, repeated compliantly by so much of the Scottish media, is strongly redolent of Cummings’s modus operandi: Mark Sedwill’s perceived faults as Cabinet Secretary were likewise commented on when he resigned.

Carlaw’s resignation, and the “reasons” being made public, therefore pose as many questions as answers and it seems to me that to understand this, we need to look furth of Scotland.

Alasdair Galloway,


WITH Tory Unionist supporters lining up for their “gongs” amidst Machiavellian political manoeuvres, fact is definitely stranger than fiction.

The mercurial Jackson Carlaw suddenly resigns and the stringent Douglas Ross is ready to take over. Mr Ross was the Scotland Office minister who resigned over the Dominic Cummings affair, when Cummings went to Co. Durham during the coronavirus lockdown.

Then again perhaps MSP Miles Briggs, who admitted that the UK government’s coronavirus response had been a “shambles”, should be considered. But we all realise that with the blessing of Boris, robust Lady Ruth will be back marshalling the ever-decreasing Tory troops in Scotland attacking the always patient St. Nicola.

However with the tragic report from the Office for National Statistics that England had the worst excess death rate in Europe during the first half of 2020, I believe all UK politicians must concentrate on containing this deadly pandemic to the exclusion of all else. Indeed Professor Robert West, a scientific adviser to the UK government, has said Westminster can learn from Scotland’s approach to tackling coronavirus “as they have a zero Covid strategy which appears to be working”.

Grant Frazer,


I THOUGHT Jackson Carlaw was doing a good job of getting “tore in” to Nicola Sturgeon at question time at Holyrood.

A new Scottish Conservative leader will in no doubt be elected quickly as we are only a few months away from the Holyrood MSP elections and the political tensions are growing fast.

The First Minister need not gloat over the Conservative leader resigning as she has her own range of problems looming, what with the Alex Salmond enquiry coming soon and the launch of a new independence alliance party threatening to dilute the SNP vote. Not to mention a stronger Scottish Labour Party determined to recover seats in the central belt.

Dennis Forbes Grattan,

Bucksburn, Aberdeenshire.

THE problem the Conservatives have in the shifting political agenda in Scotland is that, while their core policy is for individuals to take responsibility for themselves and to stand on their feet, they abhor the principle of independence which would create a country comprising such people.

Callers on BBC Scotland’s call-in programme saw Ruth Davidson as the answer and they welcomed her rumoured return, if only to stand in at First Minister’s questions at Holyrood.

But she was part of the problem. Her extravagant claims about electoral success at raising the Scottish contingent at Westminster to 13, out of a total of 59 seats, were unjustified, even if that number bailed Theresa May out of trouble as she effectively lost the election – and seven of those went out next time around.

How could the Conservatives ever expect to survive when their sole strategy, tactic and policy was to keep repeating the mantra “We must save the Union; we must save the Union”? That would be fine were they to have backed that up with their vision for Scotland, but there was none.

How Davidson thought the votes would pile up for the Conservatives when she issued an election pamphlet bearing 29 references to independence or separation, but not a singe policy proposal, I do not know.

In fact, she was no better that those in the so-called Scotland-In-Union faction and their mindless criticism of the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon. They all must by now see the folly of their ways: the SNP goes from strength to strength.

It is strange how so many career politicians have opted for a secondary tier of government in a devolved Scottish parliament, which Tony Blair likened to a parish council, when they could have real jobs and real accountability were Scotland to be independent.

What precisely is it that has frightened them off? It could be interpreted as defeatism – they may be assuming that the SNP would rule supreme for ever. Not so; there is a school of thought that, after independence, the parties would have equal opportunities to be elected to govern – it might even be the Conservatives.

Douglas R Mayer, Currie, Midlothian.

I WAS surprised that Jackson Carlaw abandoned his somewhat combative style as interim leader of the Scottish Conservatives when he became leader in his own right. Perhaps Covid wrong-footed him. He has at least been sufficiently self-aware to recognise his shortcomings, which is more than can be said for the Scottish Labour leader, Richard Leonard.

Douglas Ross has been mooted as the next Scottish Conservative leader. No-one can doubt his fighting spirit and combative style in debate. He could well be the shot in the arm that Scottish Conservatives need.

Nothing, however, will make much impression at Holyrood unless the three pro-union parties stop competing with each other and agree a list of common candidates for the election next May.

For too long, the SNP has been in the ascendant because their opponents’ votes are split three ways. Making common cause in what is, for Scots, an existential crisis, would bring no shame to any of these parties, whatever their opponents might say. It would bring them much-needed credit with the anti-nationalist sections of society.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh.

THE latest list of nominees for membership of the House of Lords has been rightly criticised as an attempt by Boris Johnson to stuff the Upper House with his cronies.

However, it is not just the Tory Party which nominates people to the Lords.

According to the UK Parliament website, the Tories currently have 242 peers, the Labour Party have 174 and the Liberal Democrats have 89.

In recent years, the influence of peers has in some respects increased. When I chaired the Scottish Parliamentary Group in1980-81, there were 44 Scottish Labour MPs.

It was only on a rare occasion that the attendees at our meetings would include one or two Scottish Labour peers and I do not recall any of them ever voting on Group decisions.

How things have changed. Now there is only one Scottish Labour MP but, according to Scottish Labour’s website, there are 24 Scottish Labour peers. This raises questions about how the Scottish Parliamentary Labour Group can be described as democratic, when only one of its members was elected.

The House of Lords is at best an anachronism and at worst an affront to democracy.

Some of the current members used to be ardent supporters of the abolition of the Lords but they have now apparently abandoned their principles in exchange for an ermine robe and £323 per day plus expenses.

I have even heard some of them trying to justify their stance by saying that they accepted membership of the House of Lords so that they could vote for its abolition. Aye, right! Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas.

The House of Lords has around 800 members, none of whom is elected. It is one of the largest and most undemocratic legislatures in the world. The Westminster Establishment will never agree to its abolition but thankfully its writ will not run in an independent Scotland. Bring it on!

Dennis Canavan,