MUCH correct criticism has followed the comments made by Tory donor Frank Hester about Diane Abbott. His disgusting and dangerous comments (if true as alleged) have rightly been called out as not just rude but racist, sexist, misogynistic and bloody dangerous.

There is pressure for the Tory Party to return his donation following his comments. The party, unsurprisingly, are resisting giving up such a large chunk of their cash reserves with a General Election looming. Good suggestions have been made that Diane Abbott should have a say in which charities this cash should be given to.

Dream on, I am afraid, because as such donations are legal under our law, I cannot see the Tories voluntarily give up this scale of funds. This leads me to the point of this letter. Why do we allow rich individuals to make such donations to our lawmakers?

Hester’s company enjoys very lucrative government contracts. Do we suspect an advantage here, in which we normal citizens cannot enjoy? Are we all, rich and poor, equal under the law? It seems not.

Why do we allow such donations to our lawmakers to be legal when there is a clear conflict of interest? Try offering a “donation” to a parking warden as inducement for not issuing a parking fine or a policeman to avoid a speeding fine and (correctly) you will face the force of the law. A £10 million donation to the people you rely on to award your business, however, is OK!

It’s time to stop this obvious advantage to rich people by restricting donations to political parties to a more modest £10 per month or so, a donation which we all might make. The trouble is our UK “democracy” is based on parliamentary democracy, giving the largest party absolute rule after a first-past-the-post constituency election. It is up to the winning party to enact the law that would severely reduce the donations they receive.

Another conflict of interest? Another good reason why our citizens should actively participate in the process of governing between elections.

Campbell Anderson


LESLEY Riddoch asks in her Thursday column “Can Scotland afford to play along?”


PMQs on Wednesday was an abomination. Seeing Diane Abbott standing up at every opportunity (46 times, according to one website) while the serried ranks of Labour MPs remained seated (except for at least two female Labour MPs) in the expectation that Diane would be asked to speak, was an example of Westminster and the Speaker in action (or inaction!).

Lesley asked: “Did the posse pay the Speaker another visit?” As she answered in the next sentence, they didn’t need to. “Has Sir Lindsay so completely internalised Starmer’s preferences that direct contact isn’t necessary?” Indeed so. It has been obvious for months.

The Speaker is holding on for the next Starmer-led government to ensure his passage into the Lords. One need only look at his recent “behaviour” towards the SNP motion etc to see his strategy, and it isn’t nice. I’m not one for conspiracy theories but this is so obvious.

Despite Flynn’s “much-admired” leadership (and I am included among those admirers), there is a limit to the patience of Yessers and SNP voters. They will “openly doubt that the SNP can hold anyone’s feet to the fire” and increasingly agree with Alyn Smith’s interpretation of Westminster as “a sick pantomime”.

Time to leave, or at the very least, not turn up to PMQs as long as “Sir” Lindsay Hoyle is in the chair.

Paul Gillon


THE fiasco of the House of Commons Speaker over the SNP’s Opposition Day debate when no vote was allowed on the SNP’s own motion was bad enough.

But to have a Prime Minister’s Questions where the main topic was the verbal attacks on former Labour MP Diane Abbot and the only person not allowed to contribute – despite standing up 46 times to get noticed – was Diane Abbot shows this Speaker has clearly lost the plot.

Anyone in Scotland watching the Commons will be aware of his strong anti-Scottish views – condemning our MPs for clapping but remaining silent when others do it. He is clearly not independent of either the government or the opposition and is trying to make life easier for both of them.

Westminster is a complete shambles and I fear the SNP MPs are wasting their time there, playing by rules that are interpreted by someone who actively dislikes them.

Unless they are prepared to use tactics to disrupt the House of Commons and make this antiquated parliament hear Scotland’s voice, they would be better served campaigning for independence within their constituencies.

Cllr Kenny MacLaren


THE previous Speaker of the Commons, John Bercow, raised the ire of the Government on many occasions. He carried out his job without deference to the powers that be and thus was denied the usual title, as a reward , when he retired. No fear of that happening with the present one, Lindsay Hoyle Hoyle’s desire to avoid giving the Government and main opposition party red faces makes a mockery of the “honourable member” form of address used in that place.

His recent behaviour merely adds to the disdain for Parliament and its goings-on held by much of the general public.

The treatment of the representatives of Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland shows the place for what it is – an English place where their establishment figures can display their arrogance and contempt for those considered “others”. How much longer must we put up with this?

Drew Reid

Carronshore, Falkirk