YEARS ago my late husband and I were involved in management training and development, and latterly, as a university lecturer, I taught business students about leadership. We agreed that despite the millions of online references on how to be an effective leader, most of it was just that: bullshit. And that became our favoured term for most of the hype around the subject.

The whole leadership issue has become mixed up with hero worship and charisma – whatever the latter term means! Morons like Boris Johnson see themselves as “great leaders” in the Churchill mould – who in fact was far less of a “great leader” than the Tories would have us believe – and ignore the fact that successful revolutions don’t tend to be won by great leaders, but by the efforts of a whole lot of dedicated individuals. As more thoughtful academic researchers observe, leadership is not a quality possessed by certain individuals, but a set of behaviours and decisions taken, sometimes by one person and sometimes by a dedicated group.

I would point out to my students that if the fire alarm went off, I would definitely be in the lead, yet I could hardly be compared with Napoleon! In fact I have seen so much nonsense written about charismatic individuals whose acolytes would be quite happy to follow them over a cliff, that when I can, I use the term “decision maker” rather than leader.

Every political party – even our own dear SNP – has individuals who no doubt see themselves as having leadership qualities, and provided they also work for the good of the whole party we can usually let them get on with it – as long as no cliff jumping is involved! But the unfortunate side of this leadership business is that recently I’ve heard several long-standing SNP members tell me they are resigning from the party, often to join Alba, because Nicola Sturgeon didn’t “possess the appropriate leadership qualities”. Now, personally, as I may have hinted, I have no interest in Nicola behaving like Boudicca, or a female Scottish version of Asterix the Gaul – nor did I join the SNP when I did because of the then “charisma” of Alex Salmond. I joined the party because I believed then, as I do now, in its commitment to achieve independence in the right way. Sometimes it makes decisions that I’m not convinced about, such as the emphasis on transgender rights at the potential expense of others, but overall when I try to put myself in the shoes of our decision-makers I know I would be struggling to know what was the right decision. And, of course, Nicola has to be the ultimate decision-maker regardless of her own, understandable, doubts and fears.

I will be pretty peeved if I am not alive when the day of independence finally arrives, but if I am, I won’t be thanking any great leaders, but rather the leadership efforts of generations of dedicated activists to get us there.

Dr Mary Brown

THE efficient scribbling of your Taliban propagandists Kevin McKenna and Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh (The National, August 25) will, no doubt, curry favour in certain quarters.

So ardent are both to cleanse the blood from the hands of the death squads of Islamist fascist imperialism that they launch themselves at a gone-tomorrow politician and hate figure of the hard-left. This is but a brief halt in their rearwards march in their taking of the fight to the long-dead dust-enshrouded miscreants of history. It can be but a brief interlude before they turn their fire on the stone-dead statues of those now out of favour.

How unlike the schoolgirls of Afghanistan who march towards Taliban bullets in their search for an education. How unlike the all-female Kurdish brigades of Iraqi Kurdistan, the Daughters of the Sun, who take the fight to the slavers, rapists, torturers and murderers of Islamic State.

In one of the most malignant and dispiriting paragraphs I have ever encountered in The National, Ahmed-Sheikh summarises the fascist barbarians of the Taliban as the least ruthless and most patriotic of the nihilist obscurantists of Islamist imperialism. How easily does she glide over the bullet-punctured bodies of Afghan schoolgirls and Pakistani schoolboys, the victims of Taliban executioners.

Her article is illustrated by a photograph of those 2003 marchers protesting the overthrow of the murderous fascist dictator Saddam Hussein (below). Among those not visible in the splenetic, hate-filled countenances of this photograph were the teachers, trade unionists and other opponents of the Saddam Hussein regime shovelled into mass graves as fast as his Baathist death squads could manage. Not visible in the photograph were the citizens of Kuwait, murdered by Husseins’s army, the victims of Hussein’s Anfal genocide, nor the legions of Iraqi and Iranian soldier cannon fodder for the lethal brutality of the Iran-Iraq war.

The National:

Don’t expect the warriors of Stalinism and Trotskyism to waste a tear, nor a single footstep in memory of those victims of the legion atrocities of Islamist fascist imperialism; for these are the wrong kind of victim.

The trail of blood shed by the sanctified butchers of Islamist theocracy circles the globe. Likewise, the trail of ink spilled by their adherents and propagandists.

Should McKenna or Ahmed-Sheikh ever find themselves exiled from the columns of The National, shed no tears, for they will not want for employment elsewhere.

Keith Steiner

SCOTTISH Tory headboy Douglas Ross has once again proven he is as useful as a glass parachute (Douglas Ross ‘making Scots poorer’ with support for Universal Credit cuts, August 26).

Westminster’s puppet in Holyrood insists that it’s moral that people with nothing should get even less. All to pay for the trough that the greedy Tory donor class can gorge on.

Ross has very publicly backed the colonial Westminster government’s decision to cut Universal Credit by £20 per week. This will mean destitution and starvation for many of the poorest and most vulnerable, including children.

However, like all Tories, Douglas Ross simply doesn’t care. All he wants is for the Westminster expenses gravy train to continue with him and other Unionist failures on board.

The National:

Ross was like an obedient dog. Remaining silent while incompetent, lazy clown Dominic Raab sat sunning himself in Greece during the Afghan evacuation.

Right now, thanks to Tory greed, stupidity, incompetence and arrogance, the UK supply chain is close to collapse. This is entirely down to Brexit and austerity. The Tory government’s own Yellowhammer papers predicted this would happen.

Tory rule and Brexit are best summed up by the appointment of Ian “England is an island” Botham as trade envoy to Australia. This is a man who by his own admission knows nothing about trade.

The “Scottish” branch of the Tories has no meaningful purpose. It exists to convince people even stupider than Douglas Ross and Annie Wells that their best interests are served by being a colony of Westminster.

Alan Hinnrichs

I LIKED the proposal from Joanna Cherry MP that the debate on the Gender Recognition Act reform should be discussed by a Citizens’ Assembly.

I have observed the public slagging match which has been going on around this issue with increasing frustration and developing anger, that this issue should be taking up so much Government attention at a time when the Scottish Government needs to be focused on the pandemic and independence. I am pretty sure I am not alone in my frustration about this.

I have refrained from commenting on this, because I do not want to add to the mountain of debating time that has already gone into this and also because I have not given this matter a lot of thought and attention and so would not want to express views which were not from a sound foundation.

What is abundantly clear to me is that this issue is already generating a lot more heat than light and the debate is unhealthy. This is never a good idea in democratic discussion.

Most people In Scotland today, I believe, would accept that a person’s sex, or sexual orientation, should not lead to discrimination against them in society, and that would apply to people who are in the process of transferring from one sex to another, and I consider myself in that category.

However, ensuring that people have “rights” in society can only be provided with a legal framework, if we make sure that any such rights do not infringe the existing rights of others. We have the freedom to drive our car on the public highway, but we are not “free”’ to drive on any side of the road, we must stick to the left. This is a restriction of our freedom, but a means of extending our freedom to drive safely on the road.

If we want to extend rights and freedoms for people then this we should do, and having this issue discussed and debated in a Citizens’ Assembly would be a very good way of looking at this from every angle and taking account of all the implications for the reforms required. That seems to me to be an eminently sensible way of dealing fairly with this matter.

Andy Anderson
Address supplied

SO Alister Jack says “we can have indyref2 if polling consistently about 60% to have a referendum” (First Minister rejects Jack’s ‘60%’ bar to back fresh indyref, August 28). How kind of him when a very short time ago his response was the usual “now is not the time”, “Covid pandemic”, “Covid recovery”, etc etc. The Tories and their moving goalposts. I have no doubt if we got to 60% they would decide it would have to be 70%, or even “we will count all those who don’t vote as no voters” – they have form for this, remember.

Also this week we have Annie Wells, health spokesperson for the Tories in Scotland, telling us (Yousaf takes Wells to take on NHS plan, August 28) the SNP plan is flimsy even though it contains manifesto pledges – Tories are obviously not used to manifesto commitments being fulfilled – but she claims Tories will spend more though “we can’t put a figure on how much we are going to spend or where we’re going to generate that”.

There we have it: Jack and his moving goalposts. Annie with more “but we don’t know how much or where it will come from”, but in the meantime the poor will get poorer with the cut in Universal Credit and the people in Afghanistan will continue to suffer because of our incompetence.

Winifred McCartney

IT might be interesting to your readers to know that when doing Tuesday’s quick clues crossword puzzle in The National we were stumped by the name of Jim Morrison’s band – The Doors.

Once we knew what it was, its source in the phrase “The Doors of Perception” sprang to mind. This was used by Aldous Huxley in his book based on the fact that the drug mescalin causes the sublime mystical state through a function of the adrenalin gland. However, the origin of the quotation is William Blake, the English poet, in his work The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell: “If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.”

We have started to wonder if all the clues in the puzzle are loaded with such layers of meaning and if the composer of it is a retired professor of literature who was a follower of RD Laing.

Iain WD Forde