I DON’T really post my thoughts publicly. However, I thought I would, for once, air a few of my thoughts on the direction of the country and politics.

I am making this on the back of my own interactions and knowledge, and my view and assessment is that our democracy is at its greatest risk ever.

Our politics is now focused solely on gotcha moments, where we try to catch politicians and parties out to score points, rather than get to issues that matter most and how we can, collectively, make the country better for all those that live here.

This applies to all parties and governments, and isn’t just a Scottish or UK issue. We can’t even discuss how to share best practice or scrutinise what would work best, or what has failed, without those in politics, both elected and in the background, trying to fling mud on opponents and divert attention.

READ MORE: A united Scottish independence movement will only have to win once

The rise of social media has also driven politicians to see and act on what would make the best social media clip or soundbite, but how does this help people? How does this reactive politics implement change? Have we lost the idea of what makes a politician at any level? Being elected is a great privilege, and the main role is to represent those that they are elected to represent.

Many in politics, not all, need to be reminded that they are legislators, not performers, and not to encourage abuse and bring down the tone of politics. This goes for all those supporting parties, activists, party machines, those elected at all levels and the media.

We can’t continue focusing on party and personality nonsense when our country and society face great challenges ... yes, there can be a series of issues which are contributing to these challenges of which politicians are responsible for, but rather than a social media clip, what are the responses to these challenges and how can that be debated in an objective way? Of course there is no way that everyone will agree, but it should be debated objectively. There are elected members from all parties who are excellent at representing their constituents and areas, and there are absolutely awful ones in all parties as well. There is an inconsistency and postcode lottery in the talent of local representatives.

Of course, social media should be used to keep constituents updated on what an elected member is doing on your behalf. It is, however, full of vile abuse and disinformation and misinformation, which is contributing to the outcomes of elections and swaying opinions based on falsehoods. This is unfolding across the western democratic world.

It is a right of constituents to hold their representatives to account, but it has crossed over the territory into abuse and threats. This has only got worse since the pandemic and Brexit. The media have a duty to report and scrutinise action of governments and elected politicians, but they are also complicit in stirring hatred up. Politicians are human, they have families and staff that often see the abuse and threats most. It touches every element of their lives. This goes for elected members from all parties, at all different levels.

We are going down a path where we are losing the most talented and competent people in government because of the level of abuse, threats and the political scene descending into subjective nonsense and mud-slinging.

Politics is no longer about issues or debating ideology. We often condemn the US for being polarised politically, but this also applies to us. We may look across the pond with judgement, but we should look closer to home.

We have become so reactive and have short-term thinking ... rather than leading change, we are reacting to it.

Democracy is at its greatest risk because of this. We are going to be left with those most incompetent and ineffective making decisions over our lives because of the way we as a society treat those elected to represent us. This coincides with how reactive we have become which has been aided by social media, gotcha politics and a media which enables this.
Ben Munnoch
via email

I WRITE of Sir Lindsay Hoyle (below) and his future boss Sir Keir Starmer – that is, once Hoyle sees there is no way he can continue as Speaker with dignity and credibility and returns as a backbench MP on the Labour benches.

The National: Sir Lindsay Hoyle (UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/PA)

The story from the Westminster gossip columnists runs something like this. A quick tete-a-tete huddle between the Speaker with a senior Labour member was interrupted without prior invitation, by he who wants to become the man of the moment, for every moment.

There were no threats issued during this cosy little session. No less a person than the man of every moment has assured us of this, and he is an Honourable Man.

So, a very nervous-looking Speaker took his place and announced a change to the normal running order, a change that ignored all advice sent in a letter to him by his clerk. The Speaker chose of his own volition and without any pressure to ignore that advice. In doing so, Kid Starver was off the hook again.

Did Hoyle pause and think through what were likely to be the consequences of these decisions, or did he think they might pass unnoticed? People did notice and were not mightily pleased with him.

The little huddle in Mr Speaker’s office, we are told, considered the safety of MPs to be paramount. Some observers may believe that to be true. The huddle does not appear to have considered the safety of little children facing a continued onslaught of more bombs and bullets in the place in Gaza where they had been directed “for their own safety”.

Forgotten in the aftermath of uproar following those deliberations in the Speaker’s huddle and his decision to set aside the advice of the clerk, was the October 7 attack upon Israel that was so abominable in its perpetration that no words have been invented to convey its obscenity. Also forgotten is the collective punishment meted out to those too blameless to have had any involvement. No child attacked Israel, yet they number around half of the 30,000 dead from the IDF’s non-targeted retaliation.

We now have Labour’s motion passed by default and not a vote, for a ceasefire that is not immediate and without any reference to collective punishment.

We also now have a Speaker who will not be able to stand without a chorus of loud guffaws when he is asked to make a ruling. He has only his seat in the Lords to look forward to.

To that must be added an increased scrutiny of the machinations of the Labour leader. This is a man who appears to have taken Boris the Covid-lockdown-parties man as a model. Boris inflicted a cull of any potential rival capable of independent thought and who might later challenge him. The cull of every left-leaning Labour member conducted by Sir Keir bears a striking resemblance to that.

Hoyle will go sooner or later. Why should the one who absolutely did not threaten him or pressure him remain?
Jim Coll