THERE is little doubt that the advent of the appalling pandemic we are currently living through was regarded as a business opportunity by those in the Westminster government and their associates who lack any conscience or moral compass when the chance to become wealthier comes along.

The Midlothian MP Owen Thompson is correct to view the awarding of public contracts related to the pandemic to Conservative party donors and friends as merely the thin end of the wedge when it comes to the sad reality of just how far present and future corruption could be allowed to go without legislative restraint.

The Conservative government has utilised emergency coronavirus regulations to lavish million-pound contracts – directly or loosely related to fighting the virus – to an array of individuals and companies that finance their party, backed the Brexit deal or happen to be family friends.

READ MORE: Conservative ‘corruption’ puts UK politics at major turning point, SNP MP says

Last week’s High Court ruling that found Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s department guilty of a lack of transparency over corona-related contracts – hidden behind royal news by most of the media outlets – should hopefully open the floodgates to reveal the extent of the corruption that Mr Hancock and his Cabinet colleagues have presided over. Most governments of the last 100 years or more have experienced scandals involving dishonesty to a greater or lesser degree yet they may well pale into insignificance compared to the breathtaking cesspool of deception and unethical practices carried out by the Johnson administration.

Just as in previous emergency situations in UK history like the First World War, members of the government have unscrupulously taken advantage of a full-blown crisis to enrich themselves, friends and their party. Their penchant for cronyism will, I fear, merely be the tip of the iceberg and must start alarm bells ringing about the very real possibility of their hijacking of the Internal Market Act and the damage to Scottish devolution and the prospect of independence.

As the cavalier squandering of Scottish taxpayers’ money on the ludicrous Union Unit shows, this is a Westminster government out of touch with the political mood of the Scottish people but, even as the embers of the empire die out, not prepared to engage in meaningful dialogue with the Scottish Government and content to foster centralisation and self-interest whatever the cost. The UK may be a dying dinosaur, but we must beware of just how devious and brutal it could be in its death throes.

Owen Kelly

IN response to Mr Purves’s letter (February 22) regarding voting on the SNP list, he forgets one simple point. Yes, members can rank the list candidates in their order of preference, but the leadership of the party has decided to ignore legal advice and has guaranteed that for half the regional lists the top spot will go to a BAME candidate and for the rest it will be a disabled candidate – irrespective of the number of votes they receive.

This means that the members get to choose the also-rans in this contest with the leadership fixing the contest to favour candidates that meet specific BAME or disabled criteria. Surely it would have made sense to include some condition, such as ensuring such candidates received a minimum level of votes? What makes this worse is that it’s also been decided that candidates can self-identify as either BAME or disabled – it’s actually a mockery of those with real disabilities. It’s this fixing of the list that has led to many SNP members choosing not to take part in this fraud and will lead to many more not voting SNP on the list.

Barry Hughes

I AM at a loss to understand the reasoning behind the letter by Mr Woodcock (February 22), who seems to claim that it will be Alex Salmond’s actions that could derail independence. Mr Salmond is the innocent party in this. He was the one who was the subject of a flawed judicial review, which he won, and he also then cleared his name in court from the allegations made about him. Mr Salmond deserves the right to be heard – something that has been denied him.

If we fail to get independence then you have to look at the current leadership of the SNP, which has done nothing since 2014 to improve our chances of success. Following a bizarre policy of allowing the UK Government to block a referendum, failure to tackle concerns over currency, and failure to prepare for a future referendum, ultimately the cause has stalled. If Mr Woodcock wants to blame anyone, he should look at Ms Sturgeon.

John Fraser
Port Glasgow

PRIOR to the forthcoming elections, can I suggest that the SNP use some hard facts on the UK Government’s arms trade to help promote Scottish independence? The UK is the third-largest defence exporter in the world, an export industry that gets little mention in the press. We make money from killing people. According to Government figures, “The UK’s largest defence export market is the Middle East, responsible for an estimated 58% of orders between 20005-2015; with Saudi Arabia importing £68.61bn of defence from UK, from 2006-2015.” Along with the slashing of the UK foreign aid bill, and huge increase in military spending due over the next five years, these are sobering facts that receive too little attention.

Donna Buyers

READ MORE: Neil Oliver claims SNP have 'made a fool of Scotland' in furious attack

NEIL Oliver’s vicious criticism of Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP and the Scottish Government is typical of certain British nationalists. I would possibly take them more seriously if they offered an alternative positive vision for the future of Scotland. But they never do. Only tedious negativity and relentless ranting. For a supposedly intelligent, educated man, Neil Oliver should be better than this. It’s not the SNP that are making a fool of Scotland.

Alasdair Smith