YOU report Linda Fabiani giving a brusque goodbye to Alex Salmond, as though he is to blame for his non-attendance at the parliamentary committee for which the term “inquiry” has never been applicable (“Convener puts it in writing to issue former first minister a frosty farewell”, February 10).

Ms Fabiani must believe that the whole nation has heads that button up the back.

Mr Salmond’s lawyer has explained in great detail to her and her colleagues that the Crown Office, an arm of the Scottish Government they are supposed to be examining, has threatened to prosecute their client if he informs the committee of all he knows.

Requests for the committee to exercise its authority and provide legal protection to him, one of the main witnesses, have not been acted upon.

As well as not providing the legal protection asked for, Ms Fabiani has ensured that Mr Salmond’s own evidence will not be published, thus making sure it cannot appear in any report the committee issued.

This is beyond farce, given that it is in the public domain. One begins to wonder if the committee’s heads button up the back.

By her actions, and that of the majority she mustered, Ms Fabiani has managed by accident, if one is charitable, to prevent Mr Salmond giving evidence in legal safety, then blaming him for not turning up. Heads she wins, tails he loses. Just perfect for the governing party of which she is a member.

That brings me to a point given scant attention. How is it that Ms Fabiani, an SNP MSP, a former minister sacked by Alex Salmond, is chair of an historic inquiry into the SNP government?

Many believe that this so-called inquiry was set up to fail. Many more, as I have found, now believe it was run to ensure that Alex Salmond would not give evidence that is damning to those at the highest levels, both elected and unelected.

People shocked at the ineptitude of Ms Fabiani’s committee, and seeing the direct threats to Mr Salmond’s liberty if he dare publish and be damned, have called for a proper inquiry, a judicial one.

The problem is that the very Government which would have to set it up is the one we have, and it obviously has too much to hide.

Jim Sillars, Edinburgh.


IT was with a great deal of alarm that I read on the front page of the Herald (February 10) that following the debacle of Salmond’s failure to attend the Holyrood inquiry that the team would now “set its sights on Nicola Sturgeon with a vengeance”.

If this is true then we should all be fearful for justice.

Surely the Holyrood inquiry team is there to establish justice and not become a lynch mob? My understanding is that their purpose is to find out what went wrong in the past and not set out to change the governance of the future.

If one thing impacts on the other then so be it but the team must be clear in their primary purpose.

If members of the team find that their ability to fulfil that remit is obscured by personal prejudice then I think even at this late stage they should withdraw.

I would bring the attention of all the main players in this farce, whether they be team members or witnesses, to Shakespeare’s famous play, The Merchant of Venice.

Here we see acted out, quite clearly, the difference between justice and vengeance. We should equally take on board the tragic consequences of acting from a basis of the latter.

George Kay, Burntisland.


H BUCHANAN’S plea (letters, February 10) that we all move on from the Alex Salmond affair appears to have gone unheeded by Ruth Davidson and Jackie Baillie, both of whom squandered their slots at First Minister’s Questions on the subject.

With Covid disrupting all our lives it might have been expected that Ms Davidson and Ms Baillie would have wanted to ask questions on that subject, perhaps on the vaccination programme; but then, that’s going very well, so not much to moan about there.

As the First Minister is to appear before the committee of which Ms Baillie is a member in a few days’ time, the public would be forgiven for presuming that the committee meeting would be a more appropriate platform for Ms Baillie to put her questions.

As for Ms Davidson, one can only conclude that it is asking questions about who knew what and when that has earned her the title of Baroness.

I can’t think of anything else she’s done that could be used as an excuse for awarding her a seat in the House of Lords.

Ruth Marr, Stirling.


ROBERT IG Scott’s letter (“SNP has failed Scotland and must be kicked out of office”, February 10) contains many assertions, while being fact-free.

He lives in Scotland, but appears to think that the country is a basket case. Well, it’s quite a basket, containing 34 per cent of the UK’s natural resources with less than nine per cent of its population.

Scotland has a more diverse and resilient economy than the rest of the UK, which is heavily dependent on business and financial services (33 per cent of GVA in 2016).

Oil and gas constituted 11 per cent of Scotland’s GVA.

Perhaps Mr Scott would explain how the UK benefited Scotland by banning publication of the McCrone Report, because it would reveal that North Sea oil would “transform [an independent] Scotland into a country with a substantial and chronic surplus”.

A chronic surplus! The definition of “unprincipled” behaviour, but one which suited UK interests.

Also, how does Norway, with about the same level of reserves and the same rate of extraction, have a trillion-pound Sovereign Wealth Fund, while the UK management of this asset has accumulated a zero fund?

The ratio of electricity transfers from Scotland to England, compared to those in the reverse direction is 25 to 1. Scotland’s economic prospects are sound.

The UK is a highly unequal society. In 2018/19, the Scottish Government spent £125 million trying to mitigate the harm of Westminster’s cutting of welfare benefits.

The UK had the highest proportion of people in poverty in the EU: 23.3 per cent (Eurostat 2018). Finland, a country with few natural resources, apart from trees and a highly-educated citizenry, had the lowest at 11.7 per cent.

Incidentally, Finland’s standard of living has outstripped the UK’s for decades. It is countries such as Finland, Denmark and Iceland to which we wish to aspire, not the failing UK state.

The question which unionists fail to answer is this: why do Westminster governments seek to hold on to Scotland at all costs, despite, according to them, it being a basket case, requiring continual subsidy? Particularly, as in the case of Tory governments, they are loathe to part with money not going to their pals.

Those who support independence for Scotland see a country full of potential, which is currently held back by a damaging democratic deficit, to which unionists have no answer.

Roddie Macpherson, Avoch.


TOM Gordon reports (February 9) that MSPs on the justice committee agreed with Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf that there should be no exemption for hateful speech in the proposed Hate Crime Bill, just because it takes place in a private dwelling. That decision should bring a chill to the heart of every citizen of Scotland.

Mr Yousaf’s motives are undoubtedly laudable. It is the practicalities of achieving his aim, without in the process also damaging personal liberty, which cause concern.

Are future fireside chats and after-dinner conversations to be put at risk of being censored lest strongly held beliefs, even if eloquently or perhaps humorously expressed, cause offence to the listener?

In an open society, as opposed to a totalitarian state, there is no right not to be offended. Freedom of speech is precious, as is what drives it – freedom of thought. Should this bill become law, George Orwell’s Crimethink – “The intellectual actions of a person who entertains and holds politically unacceptable thoughts” – comes a step closer.

Bob Scott, Drymen.


PROPONENTS of a four-day working week are economically illiterate.

As a result of the measures taken to combat Covid-19, this country is in a deep recession. The national debt has been increased by over £400 billion in a single year. A great many businesses have failed. As soon as the furlough scheme ends, unemployment will rocket. The tax base has shrunk while the public sector’s demand for funding will continue to grow.

The last thing the country needs is for labour costs to be pushed up, which will result in many more business failures and even more unemployment. We need to reduce the costs of starting up a business and of employing people.

Only by restraining the public sector and by growing the real economy can we get out of the current economic crisis.

Penny Ponders, Edinburgh.