MURPHY’S Law states that “if something can go wrong, it will!” This is a lesson that I think all politicians, particularly those who look forward to an independent Scotland, should understand.

Basically, it means that for all (political) proposals there can be uncomfortable and unexpected outcomes, and knowing this, we should be prepared for such events.

One way of doing this is to adopt the ”critical friend” approach.

This would mean that policy proposers should lean on the advice of an individual, or more likely a small standing committee (critical friends), whose job it would be to analyse proposals and to look for likely problems.

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It is not for the critical friend to offer advice that could offset these problems; only to highlight problems. It is then for the original proposers to consider this advice and possibly modify their proposals or devise responses to possible future hostile questioning which might otherwise blow the proposals off course.

The critical friend should not be some junior member of staff, but should be a senior person – perhaps some elder statesman – who through past achievements has demonstrated competence. This could be an important role for someone of the stature of Mike Russell.

These are some examples of past, well-intentioned SNP proposals and actions, where the outcomes are not always completely favourable but the problems have clearly not been anticipated.

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  • The ferries which are currently running late at costs which are significantly higher than initially anticipated.
  • The Gender Recognition Reform Bill.
  • The 20p deposit plans for non-reusable bottles and cans.

Can I say that I have considerable sympathy for the background thinking to each of the above, but I don’t think things are going well, are they!?

The current Westminster government seems to fall into the trap of not being prepared almost on a daily basis, and their normal response seems to be to deny or to “tough things out”. I want our Scottish Government to be better than this and to welcome and listen to criticism, not stifle it.

We should anticipate problems, solving them before they arise.

Alex Leggatt

I AM a retired medical practitioner and qualified theologian. I recognise the personal dilemma politicians face when having to navigate the difficult path between holding to one’s personal moral convictions and exercising a role as a political leader. In that difficult place it may be helpful to see a subtle distinction between ethics and morality.

Morality is what guides the way we behave with integrity as an individual. Ethics, on the other hand, guides and is focussed on the way that collective bodies behave and how a community as a whole relates together. I very much hope, therefore, that the future leader and first minister, if being a person of a particular faith conviction, will be able to make that distinction within themselves. What Kate Forbes needs to do in the forthcoming debates is to make that much clearer than she did initially.

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So far as morality is concerned, whilst supporting the right of an individual to identify themselves in a way that gives them personal integrity, I think the bill that was passed by the Scottish Government does need amending to gain wider approval by the public as a whole, and particularly by those of diverse faith convictions.

So far as ethics is concerned, Jesus was far more concerned about justice for the poor, oppressed and marginalised than sexual morality. In this day and age the marginalised includes the transgender community. In fact his teaching on marriage and divorce was much more focussed on achieving equal rights for women at a time when they were denied the right to divorce than on anything else.

Ken Webb (Rev Dr)

IT seems men dressed in strange attire have the power to mumble something over some olive oil (probably in a dead language) and transform it into Chrism. This consecrated oil can then be used in the most sacred and mysterious part of the forthcoming Coronation ceremony. Also, in Edinburgh Castle we have the Stone of Destiny ready to move south and play its part on the big day. It’s all coming together folks, the magic oil and the “wee magic stane” – the main ingredients for the Coronation are well and truly in place!

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But hang on, the magic oil and the magic stane are surely relics from a belief in the Divine Right of Kings – a doctrine abandoned centuries ago.

So let’s get real. To paraphrase the late, great Betty Boothroyd, it’s about time we all grew up!

Bill Drew
Kirriemuir, Angus

SCOTTISH Borders Council is making available £50,000 to fund Coronation events. My own local councillors are not permitted to give our £125 share to a food bank. Perhaps we should instead send a councillor to London (the fund having paid the train fare and precious little else) to wave a saltire at the new king as he passes. Or perhaps the council should give to a more worthwhile cause, maybe funding libraries or books or musical instruments for schools – anything but paying for the celebration of money being wasted on a meaningless coronation in England.

Tony Kime