A WEEK is a long time in politics and what a week we have had.

The sacking of Home Secretary Suella Braverman MP set off an avalanche not just in Downing Street or through the House of Commons, but in the whole country and even further afield. The appointments that followed were certainly a demonstration of arrogance and contempt towards the country.

Arrogance was evident in the appointment of David Cameron, one who does not even sit in the House of Commons, treating the country with contempt if ever. This David Cameron was the one who inflicted so much damage on the country, so much pain and suffering, the architect of 10 years of austerity which had a crippling impact on so many of our public services. It was David Cameron who persuaded the LibDems to agree to increase tuition fees in England – a real incentive for the next generation – yet as I write this letter, David Cameron is back in government.

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The Prime Minister didn’t stop there, however, as his appointment of a minister without portfolio in Esther McVey is breath-taking when we consider the damage Ms McVey inflicted on millions in her previous role as work and pensions secretary. Let’s remind ourselves of her quote in 2018: “Some people will be worse off under Universal Credit, but they can take on more work to increase their income.”

Breath-taking arrogance, to say the least, yet Ms McVey has just been brought back into Cabinet by the PM! In those two appointments alone, the PM and his Government are sending a clear message to the country – we are not listening and we believe in austerity. The appalling figures recently revealed by The Trussell Trust regarding the issuing of 1.5 million emergency food parcels from April to September of this year obviously sits comfortably with the Conservatives in government.
Catriona C Clark

RISHI Sunak made David Cameron Foreign Secretary, as part of his Cabinet reshuffle. Unsurprisingly, Suella (Cruella!) Braverman was well and truly shuffled oot the team. This was portrayed by the press and media as a move to the “centre”. So the guy who from 2010 to 2016 presided over the decimation of the living standards of the poorest, most vulnerable folk throughout Scotland and the UK is now considered to be a respectable moderating influence on government!

The next UK election will likely be a contest between the wrongly perceived “respectability and moderation” of Sunak and Cameron against the wrongly perceived “respectability and moderation” of Starmer and Reeves. What an awful prospect for those in Scotland who have been battered from pillar to post since 2010. They will be quite rightly yearning for a drastic positive change to their living standards, not a few crumbs from the table of a potential “steady as she goes” Labour government.

The National: Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves with party leader Sir Keir Starmer after making her keynote speech during the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool. Picture date: Monday October 9, 2023..

Of course, the rich and powerful – due to their newfound compliant pal leading the Labour Party – will be perfectly relaxed about this scenario which has effectively been engineered by the real power in the UK, the dreaded right-wing press and media. Some might even say remarkable puppetry (ie: Do this and we will make your life hell, do that and we won’t!) When – as is highly likely – the Tories lose the election, it appears that the “swivel-eyed” hard Brexiteers will anoint Braverman as leader of a “New” Tory Party which will herald a base Trumpian approach to politics. This populist approach may well attract many votes from previous Brexit voters from the “Red Wall” and other areas. If they achieve power, the outcome will be the same as Brexit, though. The rich and powerful will stay, well, rich and powerful!

So I have a plea for those fellow ex-Labour voters, like me, who saw the light many years ago and switched to the SNP and supported independence. If, for whatever reason, you now feel inclined to vote Labour at the next UK election, or are maybe just swithering, given the foregoing, please think again! Read the runes! Be careful whit ye wish fur! Ye quite rightly saw the light. Dinnae gaun back tae the gloom!
Ivor Telfer
Dalgety Bay, Fife

I WAS astonished reading Jim Fairlie’s piece in last week’s Sunday National.

Levelling blame for the depopulation of rural Scotland on Brexit overlooks perhaps the greatest scandals ever wrought on our rural populations.

I mention of course firstly the well-documented Highland Clearances but more recently the continuing demise of farming opportunities and consequent rural depopulation throughout Scotland since the unfortunate decision by the EU to avoid capping of agricultural financial support to farmers and landowners. Tenanted land, houses and steadings taken back into occupation by estate owners when opportunities arise have been and are still ongoing since our farming industry representatives succeeded in securing no capping to subsidies – a sociological and political disaster for rural Scotland!

It has not gone unrecorded by The National and elsewhere that Labour MSP Mercedes Villalba has a determination to see a capping on landownership – and rightly so, in my opinion – while those who thought the SNP were the party hell-bent on land reform can be forgiven due to unreasonably slow progress on that front.

Jim needs to get off his high horse and take a serious look at what is happening throughout his constituency, to where he farmed and beyond. More farmers means more families living and working in the countryside, more available to support neighbours, local industries and services – the ones he claims are crying out for help.

The irony is while we are out of the EU, now is the time to apply strict capping of financial support to farming businesses in Scotland. We need to repopulate the countryside with working families on farms and crofts from the funds saved by gifting less to established farmers and estates – as currently they are free to swallow up neighbouring vacated farms and collect even more public funding. Meanwhile, global billionaires are developing holiday lets and leisure estates.

Criticising Westminster in this instance might be politically convenient but currently, so is barking up the wrong tree and does rural Scotland no favours.
Tom Gray

RISHI Sunak has announced an “emergency bill” to decree that Rwanda is a safe country (despite the United Nations and 140 other organisations declaring it perilous for refugees). If this bill is passed, then, as if by a miracle, the UK Parliament will apparently have turned a repressive country with a dreadful human rights record into a paragon of virtue just by declaring it so.

With this hitherto unremarked power of magical thinking to bend reality to the will of a few hundred Tory MPs, will they now pass legislation to make North Korea a liberal democracy, Iran a secular monarchy and Russia an eco-friendly defender of national self-determination?

But why stop there? If 300 Tories decide to legislate to make the Austro-Hungarian Empire the rightful sovereign ruler of central Europe, then at one stroke at least six current members of the EU will join Britain outside of that hated organisation. Perhaps some of the more unmoored right-wingers might lobby for Narnia to be declared a rogue state, Westeros to join Nato and Mordor to become a Partner for Peace.
David White

THE SNP, quite rightly, were created to fight for Scotland’s independence. Over the years, they have gained momentum to the point of becoming an apparent long-term government of Scotland in its own parliamentary building.

That’s fine by me. But what the SNP government is not is an elected government with the right to tell Scotland that we will join the EU through immediate negotiations after the confirmation vote for independence, however that is determined.

In the same way that Scotland voted not to leave the EU through the Brexit vote, so we have the right, being “sovereign”, to vote on whether Scotland should join the EU. If Scotland, through a referendum, voted for rejoining, then and only then can our Parliament begin its negotiations.

It’s good that Humza Yousaf has at last displayed a knowledge of other similar small European nations within the EU and how they are more successful but differ from Scotland. However, his article on November 13 is not so much a revelation to the readers of The National as it might be to Humza himself.

Lesley Riddoch has been writing about this now well-known information in The National for a very long time. Her book Blossom is also another informative resource, providing a social and economic history, and what is possible for Scotland given a change of attitude by both the government and us citizens.

So yes, I applaud Humza’s article in The National and his important comparisons with Ireland, Denmark and Sweden, all of which (and more) are referred to by Lesley Riddoch over her many paragraphs in The National. But do not include joining the EU as part of the initial up-and-coming UK election. Independence, yes, but it is our choice for later where joining the EU is concerned.
Alan Magnus-Bennett

I WANT to say a big thank you to all of the Highland Council planning committee members (NPAC and SPAC) who objected to SSEN’s proposed infrastructure on the Isle of Skye, and in doing so should legally be triggering a public local inquiry (PLI). This is when SSEN can be cross-examined, and whether or not there is a “need” for the infrastructure can truly be established.

Unfortunately, there are concerns that protocol will not be followed and a PLI will not take place. Some believe this is down to SSEN putting pressure on the Highland Council, and indeed the Scottish Government’s Energy Consents Unit, to ignore the verdict and press on with what the multinational company says must happen across Scotland to reach net zero. Despite numerous formal requests to SSEN for evidence that this infrastructure is required, the multinational – 75% owned by SSE, the largest wind farm developer in Scotland – SSEN has refused to answer the questions accordingly and to prove the need for all of this proposed infrastructure. Perhaps some councillors are beginning to see this drive by big energy to develop mega pylons, super-substations and more and more massive wind farms for what it really is – another big money spinner by big energy.

It is of the utmost importance that councillors demand of the Scottish Government the PLI Skye deserves. To not deliver this is the greatest slap to the public’s face. It makes a mockery of local democracy, calls into question the need for local councillors (if they are simply ignored by centralised government) and deprives constituents of the opportunity to defend their environment, their properties, their livelihoods and their children’s future. It is vital that Highland councillors continue to stand up for their constituents, make their voices heard by the Scottish Government and not be broken by the relentless pressure put on them by SSEN and big energy companies.
Denise Davis
Communities B4 Power Companies