THERE was a recent biography of Boris Johnson by Tom Bower with the title The Gambler. That’s just what Johnson is doing, gambling with his extensive Cabinet reshuffle. The ace of jokers has reshuffled his pack of jokers, replacing like with like.

A Prime Minister usually reshuffles his Cabinet to fire or demote incompetent or under-performing ministers, replacing them – hopefully – with talented rising stars within the party. Not so with Boris Johnson. Behind the grandiloquent grandstanding and braggadocio, Johnson is a rather insecure individual. Sir Max Hastings, Johnson’s former boss at The Daily Telegraph, once observed that Johnson, “like most showmen, is weak in character”. Johnson takes umbrage at any slight, whether real or imagined.

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When he became Prime Minister in 2019, Johnson took the opportunity to settle some old scores. He sacked some influential big beasts from what had been Theresa May’s Cabinet: people who had backed his rival Jeremy Hunt or criticised his approach or policy decisions or even questioned his ability as a politician. Dominic Grieve, Greg Clark, David Gauke and Philip Hammond were all fired. David Lidington resigned rather serve in Johnson’s ministerial team. Amber Rudd resigned as Work and Pensions Secretary. Johnson replaced them with Brexiteers and right-wingers noted for their loyalty rather than their ability.

Reshuffling a Cabinet has its own inherent dangers. A Prime Minister makes enemies because in some cases he bringing an end to the ministerial careers of some very ambitious people. When the Ides Of March does arrive for Johnson, as it will, those former ministers will have their revenge and it will be brutal.

Sandy Gordon

NOWADAYS we live our life in headlines and soundbites and three-word slogans etc. The SNP/Greens coalition government at Holyrood seem to have now made a major blunder (Ferry row after Scots shipyard is overlooked for building islands’ new vessel, Sep 15).

If good publicity, propaganda even, is good for the independence cause then bad publicity, propaganda even, will have an opposite detrimental effect? Non?

Well I see that the shipyard that the Scottish Government “owns” has been excluded by not being invited to tender for new ferries.

The headline reads badly and someone (CMAL director of vessels Jim Anderson maybe? Or a senior minister?) needs to say why Ferguson Marine have not been invited to tender.

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If they didn’t win the contract because there was a better tender from elsewhere then fine, maybe it’s hard to argue, but to not even be asked to tender can’t be right. Can it?

There are likely good reasons why they have not been invited to tender but I refer to my opening statement about headlines etc, and someone needs to explain the reasoning behind not inviting Ferguson Marine to tender. Otherwise the opposition will have a field day, and the reputation of this Scottish Government will be badly tarnished.

So I look forward to hearing from Scottish Government and/or CMAL as to why shipbuilding work will be abroad rather than here.

All in the name of good communication and reputation-building, you understand.

George Archibald

THE “best of the best” said Kate Forbes when describing Ferguson Marine management on a fleeting visit just several weeks ago. Did she come with the knowledge of ferry orders going abroad – Romania, Poland, Turkey – yet still made that statement?

What has that enormous pay packet to the “best of the best”achieved? Don’t argue competitive tenders. We are no longer in the EU, so no hassle there. Don’t argue best value for the Scottish purse. People on the dole will cost more than any paltry savings made in foreign yards.

Don’t argue we don’t have the workers. Provide well-paid work with guarantees of year-on-year orders and the workers will come while we build our own skill force once more.

READ MORE: Fury as ferries to serve Scotland's islands set to be built abroad

Take Inchgreen dry dock into public ownership to give space for Ferguson to do the work. There is no will. Why not? The people of Inverclyde have been and are being betrayed by those in whom we placed our trust. No wringing of hands. No excuses. Nothing would please me more than to be proved wrong by a united front forcing a reversal of this calamitous decision. Heads should indeed roll.

Alba showed the possibilities and the way forward at their recent conference but sadly we have a visionless/perverse/feart/uncommitted/compromised (you choose or add your own) government.

Isobel Delussey
via email

I NOTE with disappointment that the delegates at the SNP conference voted overwhelmingly to conditionally agree to the Westminster government’s proposals for so-called “freeports” despite this being one strand of The Boris’s strategy for dismantling devolution. (Call for freeports to pass key conditions, Sep 13). Yes, I agree that if imposed, these conditions are essential, but I would have expected outright opposition and tactics to thwart their imposition.

READ MORE: No freeports in Scotland without six key guarantees, SNP members say

Surely there will be a need for planning consent for change of use and designation and new infrastructure? That would be an opportunity for citizens near and far to raise objections. Would it not also be grounds for the Scottish ministers to “call in” unwelcome and inappropriate planning applications?

Willie Oswald