Letters - Time for Sturgeon to take TV break?

Nicola Sturgeon may well be “finding it much harder to cope with Covid”, but here is the real problem. If you are the one who goes on television day after day, needing several hours to prepare and then more time to debrief afterwards, it is going to wear you down.

Thursday, 8th October 2020, 7:30 am
Should Nicola Sturgeon share 'burden' of briefings?
Should Nicola Sturgeon share 'burden' of briefings?

In a time of difficulty, no leader gets so close to the grinding detail for fear of losing track of the big picture, but this is what is happening now.

We know from the TV row a few weeks ago that 95 per cent of the population don’t watch this programme, so the central plank of a communications strategy is not working properly. People have switched off, and as a result, incidences of the virus are rising again. The First Minister is like the little boy who cried wolf every day. The people got so used to it, that they didn’t notice when the wolf did come back.

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The solution is to delegate the task of daily updates to someone else, or a variety of people. The Health Minister would be the obvious choice. There may be others as well, although we do have to assume that by keeping this job to herself, she doesn’t have much confidence or trust in those around her.

But change she must. We are only at the beginning of another eight-month stint at this. If the First Minister cannot cope, then, inevitably, it won’t be long before the public decide they don’t want her, no matter how essential she may think she is at present. It is the effectiveness or otherwise of government messaging that dictates how well we will come through all this now.

VICTOR CLEMENTS

Aberfeldy, Perthshire

Mystifying MP

Although Nicola Sturgeon quite rightly said Margaret Ferrier MP should resign and she has had ample time to do the honourable thing, there is currently still no sign of that happening. Ms Sturgeon has repeatedly hammered home the message that it’s very important that you stay at home if you have symptoms that may be caused by coronavirus, and that household isolation will help to control its spread. Ms Ferrier, for a reason only known to herself, ignored that advice and risked infecting so many people by her irresponsible actions.

On the plus side, the longer she resists resigning as an MP the more embarrassment is heaped on the SNP, especially when every day her dear leader stands up with her team and spouts the tired old Covid messages. Could there be dark forces at work here regarding her apparent reluctance to resign? Could the reason be that if a by-election was called a certain Mr. George Galloway would be standing for his new Alliance for Unity Party? In the current climate, how interesting would that be?

MIKE MILLER

Craigievar AvenueCarron, Falkirk

Test politicians

As we negotiate our route through the financial challenges created by the Covid pandemic, we should ask: do our politicians have the requisite skills and understanding? Tuesday’s Financial Times carried a letter advocating that MPs “take a mandatory, examined (marks published) course in the basic principles of risk and finance.”

It’s not just MPs who require such training. MSPs and councillors equally need to raise their game. And, yes we should know how they perform, rather than be allowed to treat any training as a box ticking exercise so beloved of the public sector.

Robert Miller-Bakewell

Whiterigg, nr Melrose

It’s ferry unfair

The Scottish Government has talked about providing fair ferry funding for replacement of the internal ferries in the Northern Isles for the best part of ten years years but absolutely nothing has happened. Not one penny has been given for new ferries, many of which are now old and badly in need of replacement. On the West coast all ferry replacement is paid for in full by Scottish Government funding via CAML (Caledonian Assets Marine Ltd ).

I would contend that this represents unfair ferry funding rather than fair ferry funding. The whole country should be treated in the same manner by our Government rather than pork barrel politics being in play, but this is clearly not the case. The fact that the Northern Isles do not send any SNP MSPs or MPs to Holyrood or Westminster is, I am sure, coincidental.

Jack Watt

St Ola, Orkney

Bag of wind?

Someone has led the Prime Minister to believe that all the UK electricity demand can be met by wind power ("Scotland's offshore wind success could put it at fore of PM's green energy plan”, 7 October).

Perhaps, but not reliably and reliability is what is needed forelectricity supply. Generation from wind power fails if there isinsufficient, or even too much, wind.

Nor is it true that wind power is “cheaper than coal and gas” ifyou factor in the necessary back-up generation required for times when there is insufficient power from wind. That might require generation from stored electricity, an added cost. No mention of the environmental damage created by wind farms.

Wind generation is also unsuited to base load generation. Thatwould require something weather-independent, like nuclear, which got just one mention in the PM's speech. So is the government stilladvocating the continued deployment of nuclear power? It's actions on the matter so far have not been encouraging.

STEUART CAMPBELL

Dovecot Loan, Edinburgh

Labour exchange?

Fraser Grant must be very young. He tells us (Letters, 7 October) that Parliament is “a body that consistently ignores Scotland’s democratic voice”. He seems to be unaware that every Labour government since the last war has been elected in great measure due to Scottish Labour votes, without which the UK would never have had the left-wing, destructive administration which brought about the Winter of Discontent at one extreme and Tony Blair at the more reasonable end of the spectrum. SNP voters are simply Labour voters manqués and most will have been responsible for more than one Labour Government of the UK. It is because Labour lost its way that the SNP has their votes, but once Richard Leonard gets his books, the SNP will need to watch their backs.

Members of the House of Lords have more experience in more fields of endeavour from industry, enterprise, the arts and sciences than any other parliamentary body in the UK, and probably in the world. However, Mr Grant seems unhappy about the amount that its members are paid, a whole £323 a day (wow!) for their expertise, but seems rather less voluble about the amount that Nicola Sturgeon, whose real world work experience as a solicitor amounts to about four years’ worth, gets paid £151,721pa, which is more than any other politician in the UK. Why does he not complain about that?

ANDREW H N GRAY

Craiglea Drive, Edinburgh

Minority report

We have all seen the damning findings of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse which reports that The Church of England has, for years, put its own reputation before the protection of children. Still to be prescribed by the IICSA, however, is the absolute need for mandatory reporting of all abuse, and independent oversight of the church’s own safeguarding.

The CofE is a minority religion and one of many in the UK, so though its leaders are now making the right noises, it must be disestablished and certainly never again allowed to mark its own homework.

NEIL BARBER

Edinburgh Secular SocietySaughtonhall Drive, Edinburgh

An explanation

Stuart Stephen (Letters, 7 October) has asked if I would like to explain my remarks that the elections held in Scotland since 2014 have been won by independence-supporting parties. I hope this helps.Mr Stephen lives in Scotland and presumably votes in Scotland, but doesn't appear to know how our parliamentary democracy operates. In Scotland we have two systems. In General Elections we have first past the post (FPTP) voting in all 59 seats. In Scottish parliamentary elections we operate under the d’Hondt system of proportional representation, with 73 FPTP constituencies and 56 regional list seats.In the 2015 General Election 56 out of 59 seats were won by the SNP. In the 2017 GE, the SNP won 35 out of 59 seats. In the 2019 GE, the SNP won 48 out of 59 seats. In the 2016 Scottish election, the SNP won 59 constituency seats and six on the regional lists. The Greens also won six on the regional lists, making a total of 71 seats out of 129 for independence-supporting parties.Mr Stephen has provided us with statistics relevant to the electorate and not the turn-out which fail to take cognisance of one salient fact. The winners of parliamentary majorities are defined by the number of people who actually turn out to vote. He also makes particular reference to the independence referendum, where he reminds everyone that only 37.6 per cent of the electorate voted Yes. He omits to mention that only 46.7 per cent of the electorate voted No. What was it they say about statistics?

GILL TURNER

Derby Street, Edinburgh

Chauvinism

The BBC 6 o'clock News reported on Tuesday that Sir Roger Penrose had been awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics, for his work on Black Holes, but tacked on at the end the fact that he shared it with two foreign scientists. No names (Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez, actually) and no photos. It would have taken no longer than a few seconds to right that. The same bulletin gave us Boris Johnson wittering on about "a thousand years of this country being undefeated", positively Trumpian in its exceptionalism and irrelevance.

Douglas Ross is right to worry that England will gift independence to Scotland by its arrogance and chauvinism.

David Roche

Conachar Court, Perth