Alister Jack’s stance is straight out of Donald Trump playbook - Readers' Letters

I am yet again struck, but hardly surprised, by the arrogant and misguided authority with which the Secretary of State of Scotland, Alister Jack, parrots the UK Government line that there should not be another independence referendum in Scotland “for a generation” (Scotsman, 7 November).

Scotland Secretary Alister Jack walks through Downing Street ahead of a cabinet meeting
Scotland Secretary Alister Jack walks through Downing Street ahead of a cabinet meeting

This is straight out of the Donald Trump playbook and it is of course not for Mr Jack, Mr Johnson or any other UK Government minister to decide whether there should be another referendum north of the border. We live in a democracy and this is a decision for the Scottish people.

One can however recognise the Tory government’s concerns, as over the course of the last few months opinion polls, now 12 in total, have shown that the majority of Scots are now in favour of independence.

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Mr Jack and his colleagues need to remove their tin ears and listen to what the Scottish people are saying.

Professor John Curtice is absolutely right when he notes that Boris Johnson cannot “bind” the Scottish electorate, who have the “right to be fickle”.

If the electorate decide that they wish to back another referendum, and they give the SNP an overall majority at the next Scottish Parliamentary elections, then it would be foolish in the extreme for Westminster to ignore this.

Alex Orr

Marchmont Road, Edinburgh

Governor General

When Alister Jack claims that the UK Government would ignore the democratic wishes of Scotland for another 25 to 40 years, I can’t make my mind up whether he is a 1950s Governor General talking down to the natives or a mini Donald Trump who ignores the last three SNP electoral mandates for another referendum as they are somehow based on illegal votes.

Last December, the Tories had a “once in a generation vote” general election to stop Indyref2 and lost badly in Scotland.

The UK Government signed the Belfast Agreement which set seven years as the period after which a referendum result could be revisited and all Holyrood parties signed off the Smith Commission which stated “It is agreed that nothing in this report prevents Scotland becoming an independent country in the future should the people of Scotland so choose”, without any generation or lifetime caveat.

Claims that it is up to the UK Government to decide whether or not there should be another independence referendum are also contentious as it has never been determined in law.

Mary Thomas

Watson Crescent, Edinburgh

Echoes of 1930s

Henry McLeish’s article “Biden must now heal deep wounds in America” (Scotsman, 7 November) carries a positive note, that democratic parties can recover. It might not be so simple.

History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes. Trump is faithfully copying a playbook that ruined a great nation and brought a continent to its knees. It starts with a powerful personal brand. He uses his fake tan and thatch top for instant recognition. He lies so he can create a stab in the back conspiracy. Inciting violence will allow him to create a blackshirt-type of private militia. His next logical move is the creation of a private “news” channel, a delivery mechanism for Trumpian propaganda. By politicising his personal media brand, a Trump channel ensures access to his loyal fan base and gives Trump the power over future re-election over every Republican. This would transform the GOP into Trump’s own, private political party.

The echoes of the 1930s are too strong to be a coincidence. Mark Twain understood people. He would see what is happening in America today.

John Young

Moray Place, Edinburgh

Breaking the rules

May I be the first to congratulate the Democratic Party in successfully managing to sneak well over four million fraudulent ballot papers into counting centres under the vigilant eyes of an army of electoral officials and a prying media.

One can only feel sympathy, though, for the outgoing President Donald Trump who has been a stickler for the rules.

D Mitchell

Coates Place, Edinburgh

Sanity returns?

I've read many letters and articles lately about the outlook for the UK and Scotland under a Trump or Biden presidency. Trump views ranged from it being a continued, disastrous, chloride chicken-fed, corrupt, totalitarian rollercoaster to acknowledgement that, for all his failings, he at least addressed the issues surrounding NATO payments, the emergence of China as the dominant superpower, unemployment, Korea, and the excesses of climate change policy, wokeism and BLM.

Biden has been viewed as the death of a post- Brexit UK-US trade deal, his Irish roots somehow a benefit to the SNP, and an example of the paucity of talent, inspiration and leadership in the Western political class.

If Chris Coons, the Delaware senator tipped to be Joe Biden's Secretary of State is anything to go by, doomsayers on either side may be confounded and we can all be relieved and perhaps uplifted. In his interview on the Marr Show yesterday he was invited to address the two main issues, Boris and Brexit.

He described the PM as agile-minded, engaging, educated and forward looking on diversity and climate change. Based on the period between December and the end of March this year, I would agree. Challenged about Brexit and a US trade deal he invoked the many years of alliance and friendship between our countries as a good platform for a rational negotiation and agreement.

I felt I was watching the kind of person I would want to see as US President; rational, highly intelligent, plain-speaking, steeped in experience with a reputation for bi-partisanship, someone you can believe in. When asked by Andrew Marr, he described Joe Biden in similar terms. If he is an example of the kind of administration that Biden will put together we may not like it all but we might see a more even-handed approach to America's leadership of world democracy and some solutions to their own turmoil.

Allan Sutherland

Willow Row, Stonehaven

Taking the biscuit

This weekend I treated myself to some updated nostalgia – “caramel” Blue Riband biscuits.

They were tasty but the best that could be said was that Nicola Sturgeon should speak to the makers about reducing the 'R rate', as Nestlé have got the art of reduction down to a fine art. I suspect the next issue will include a free magnifying glass!

James Watson

Randolph Crescent, Dunbar

Pointless vox pops

May I heartily endorse the views expressed by Margaret Austin (Letters, 7 November) about the epidemic of useless vox pops on TV, and indeed radio, news programmes.

Hardly a broadcast goes by without cutting from the newsroom to some hairdresser in Bolton, or a publican in Cowdenbeath or a person wandering down some high street on a shopping expedition (no offence to hairdressers, publicans or shoppers in general!).

Why anyone should imagine that the random views of these citizens might be of interest to the viewer or listener is a complete mystery to me. Indeed, as Ms Austin suggests, these views are unsubstantiated and often contradictory. and potentially dangerous.

Brian Bannatyne Scott

Murrayfield Drive, Edinburgh

Troubled times

In his column, "SNP doesn't have its problems to seek" (Scotsman, 7 November), John McLellan says: "On Sunday morning, Scottish Conservative Leader, Douglas Ross was ahead of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon by demanding that the UK furlough scheme be further lengthened into Scotland if the country went into full lockdown." This must go down as grotesque piece of distortion of reality worthy of a place in the lexicon of Trumpisms.

Mr McLellan is a veteran of the newspaper industry and an inveterate media watcher. He must know that the SNP have been calling for the extension of the scheme in Westminster and from Holyrood for months. He must know that Mr Ross voted against an extension in Westminster and at Holyrood, on his watch, the entire Conservative group voted against an extension.

Anyone watching Mr Ross's performance in Westminster when he was reduced to giving the Prime Minister a blatant cue to agree to his proposition could see that giving the Scottish Conservatives the credit for the change of policy was a transparently obvious piece of choreography.

Meanwhile as troubles mount for the SNP ahead of the Scottish elections, the 12th consecutive poll supporting independence indicates that they could win 70 seats in Holyrood. Ah well, with troubles like these.

Gill Turner

Derby Street, Edinburgh

Double standards

How dare Nicola Sturgeon sermonise on Twitter about the importance of respecting democracy, in support of her demands for indyref2.

Referencing the US election, the SNP leader rightly observes that “power doesn't belong to politicians – it belongs to the people”, She is a lifetime career politician who, since it became clear on 19 September 2014 that she'd lost the “once in a generation” independence referendum, has campaigned virtually daily for its rerun. 84.6 per cent of us – that's us “the people” whom Ms Sturgeon claims so much to respect – voted, with a clear majority rejecting her separatist dreams.

Ms Sturgeon is therefore, I suggest, a democracy denier. She has zero right to virtue signal on respecting democratic principles and process. Beyond double standards.

Martin Redfern

Melrose Roxburghshire

Slapped down

Ahh – I can rest easy. I thought it was a ban on SNACKing. Hooray for Holyrood!

Steve Hayes,

Aithernie Court, Leven, Fife


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