SO that was yet another week in the life of Britain, and sadly, Scotland. It was a week which should never have happened, if members of the Tory and Labour “leadership” had shown the slightest bias towards responsible behaviour in the interests of the electorate of these islands. Several things stand out and need to be commented on.

As I watched what I could of the happenings “in this place”, throughout Tuesday and Wednesday, various things stuck out. Firstly, the superb and statesman-like contributions made to the proceedings by the SNP leader Ian Blackford. Naturally these were not commented on by the British (!) media, but were, in my opinion at least – and, I would suspect, by many others around the UK – absolutely first class, much of the time in the face of continued barracking and shameful behaviour from mainly the Tory benches.

Secondly, and I appreciate that quite a number of Scottish readers will disagree with me, but I have to admit that my opinion of John Bercow, Speaker of the House, was raised a few points, albeit from a fairly low starting point. I found his attempts to control the rabble, which at times was quite disgraceful, commendable. He was extremely fair to the Scottish members during the noisy behaviour which at times surrounded and tried to drown them out.

As to the rest; in general, the ordinary members, those with no record of holding office – or even ambitions for that – were reasonable in there behaviour, putting their views in a reasoned manner. However, when it comes to the contributions from the front bench gangs, things couldn’t really have got much worse. On Friday, a statement came out from Germany to the effect that Germany would like Britain to stay in the EU. Brave souls; if the present Westminster Government was in conversation with me I would just walk away.

Two particular members of the front bench on the Government side stood out. Geoffrey Cox, Attorney General, and the inevitable Michael Gove. There they stood at the Despatch Box ranting, raving and gesticulating, in a manner which was quite insulting to the serious situation facing all the people of these islands; their performance reminded me all too vividly of the oft-repeated performances of the participants of the Nuremberg Rallies of the mid-1930s. Histrionics about anything and everything with no relevance whatsoever to the plight in which we presently find ourselves.

Theresa May – now there is a problem. She should never have been in this situation in the first place. She was a “Remainer” – why on earth would you take on the job when the referendum went against you? She also has a most unlikeable manner of making sneering comments as she shouts at all and sundry when answering questions. All the Government’s front bench members also constantly display an extremely condescending manner to almost everyone else – apart from the DUP.

Where does it all go from here? That clock is ticking, not just to the leaving date. Just a few months away are the elections for the European Parliament; if we are still “in” the EU when the campaigning for that begins, do we take part “just in case”? That would throw a whole election campaign into the mix, right in the middle of this mess.

Extending Article 50 would seem to be an inevitable necessity to gain time to find a solution, but who can tell?

Through it all we can only hope that our Scottish Government and its supporters can steer us to a successful independence solution, when we can wave goodbye to the Tory and Labour Westminster rabble as they sail off in their version of the Mary Celeste!
George M Mitchell

WESTMINSTER has been described as the golden standard to which other nations should aspire. Was that ever true? Certainly, it is not the case now.

The UK is governed from a crumbling estate, which employs antiquated procedures; these would be amusing if they weren’t so inefficient. The quaint aspects of parliamentary procedure are a smoke screen to distract citizens from understanding what on earth is going on. Hardly benefiting democracy. This situation is exacerbated by the absence of a written constitution, so the rules of the game can be made up as and when the executive wish to take a particular course of action. Recall that Mrs May and her supporters, until impeded by an amendment with majority support, were set upon prohibiting MPs having a decision-making role on the Withdrawal Agreement. I doubt that such flagrant dismissal by ministers of democratic principles could have arisen if a written constitution were in place.

So we have a government which continues in place, despite being demolished in the most important issue for our future on Tuesday by 200+ votes. This is a minority government supported (from time to time) by the DUP. This shaky support was not achieved by rational argument, but by the offer of £1 billion. A government led by a Prime Minister whose idea of consultation is a “one-way street” – it takes two to have a conversation, something she is incapable of understanding where the consultee has a different point of view (eg. the casual dismissal of the Scottish Government’s options for Europe published in 2016).

Elsewhere, we have a mainstream media which appears to be happy to go along with the fiction that the 2016 EU referendum result was some treasured example of democracy at work. They are content to sanitise the whole affair... the fraudulent promises, the Dark Money from who knows where, the alleged unlawful gathering of personal data and its use in targeting specific people. Fair enough Channel 4 has dramatised some of this nonsense in Brexit: The Uncivil War, but how often do you hear interviewers delving into these murky waters when Leave proponents are in front of them? Where are the in-depth documentaries? Yet, we are being told by UK ministers that the Brexit vote is so significant (large) that its credibility cannot be questioned.

I want to leave this apology for democracy and be governed by an independent and modern Parliament in Edinburgh, supported by a written constitution; this should happen irrespective of any Brexit outcome.
Roddie Macpherson

LIKE most people I have been puzzled by the behaviour of the Prime Minister. Her behaviour seems to be a total contradiction to her public position. But I now see a chink of light. Could it be that she has actually been hiding her true intentions? Could it be that she is really a hard Brexit enthusiast and that that has been what she is determined to bring about? If that is the case, then her public posture of having been (initially) a supporter of Remain was a pretence devised to ensure her own career advancement when she thought that Remain would be the result of the referendum. That would explain the red lines – devised deliberately to be mutually contradictory. It would also explain her refusal to extend Article 50. She doesn’t want to get more time to find a solution.
Hugh Noble

MAY threatened no Brexit – therefore remain – to get her deal through. The tactic failed miserably when her deal was hammered in a historic defeat on Tuesday evening. Now, in the aftermath, despite promising to listen to all sides, she categorically rules out another EU referendum or even a customs union. In the face of near total rejection, she still seems to be clinging to a version of her deal. I once had a deaf dog, Jinky the Springer Spaniel, that was a much better listener than Theresa May.

By retreating inside her red lines again, May puts her own narrow interests ahead of the country. Corbyn too shows little inclination to move on from his failed election wish in order to save us from Brexit. There seems to be only one UK wide way out now. SNP, LibDems, the Green MP and the remainers in the two larger parties must form a coalition, however informal, to put national interest first. They’ll have to move quickly against the clock, and on balance, the selfishness, on both a personal and party basis, within the Tories and Labour, may prevent this occurring. We’ll find out within a matter of days whether this route is viable.

In the meantime, Nicola Sturgeon is playing a canny game. My hunch is that she’s just awaiting an upturn for independence in the polls following this latest and most severe Westminster omnishambles. I have a sense that the highly impatient and the more cautious and hesitant Scottish nationalists are aligning at this point in history. Now’s the day, now’s the hour.
David Crines

THERE seems to have been very little mention in the media regarding the implications of Brexit on the UK financial sector, or the “City”, as they like to be called.

Why is this I wonder? Could it be that a deal is quietly being proposed while the rest of the country is in turmoil regarding the issues of the backstop, access to the customs union, job losses, and food and medical shortages?

If discussions are taking place, surely they should be made public so that the country as a whole can understand what is happening, especially if payments are being proposed for access to the EU market post-Brexit?
Ronnie MacDougall

IT seems that we face a Brexit problem. And I see that my party leaders have decided on a number of the lines they believe should be followed on settling the matter. First, they believe that we take “no deal” off the table. That is, in my humble opinion, the same as telling a union leader that when he goes into negotiations with an employer he must accept the best, or only, deal the employer is willing to offer. Really?

Second, they now demand a second referendum. So, when we get the next referendum on independence, and that one we win, will we not expect Westminster to demand another one if what we assume follows does not happen? And, having insisted on the sovereignty of the Westminster Parliament, how do we deal with that Parliament’s refusal to carry out the decisions of the, previously thought, sovereign Scottish people?

Lastly, and ultimately, they still talk about Brexit while being quite clear otherwise that they still want all the powers over Scotland that Westminster would then have (post-devolution) – independence ... while being clear that an independent Scotland would return many of those independent powers to Brussels and the EU – in fact, the abandonment of independence.

I, for one but hopefully not alone in the SNP, refuse to accept the logic, good sense, or political honesty of all these positions.
Gerry Fisher

SELMA Rahman (Long Letter, January 18) has a valid point of principle about the SNP not taking up Westminster seats if there is an imminent/Brexit General Election, but I reckon the time for black-balling that imperial establishment is NOW! We are not being respected as a sovereign nation. Time now for indyref2. Devolution is STILL suspended in Northern Ireland. WHY? WHO has gained the most from the non-decision making at Stormont? Definitely not the Northern Irish electorate, who voted to remain in EU. The FM has steered a steady course within the SNP. I have 100% trust in Nicola’s judgment as to when the final battle begins.
Ronnie Imrie