NOT so many Christmas jollies in Downing Street this year, I would guess. The one-man-show that is “Boris” certainly has foes to the front, but his real enemies are behind him. His cartoonish positivity and braggadocio had won over many gullible voters, but that act has worn thin. He has played all his aces: Brexit, Corbyn, vaccine roll-out, levelling-up – empty and vacuous rhetoric in the main. Even his “Brexit wars” with the French have lost traction.
His only saving grace is the lack of talent at the top of the Tory Party. Dominic Raab, Liz Truss, Rishi Sunak, Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt: the front runners all have issues that should give us pause, but one of them will probably be in No 10 by the spring –then a snap election against the plodding Sir Keir Starmer. Nothing for the rest of us to celebrate this Christmas either.
GR Weir, Ochiltree.
NO COMFORT FOR LABOUR
THE real shock of the North Shropshire by-election was the derisory vote for the Labour Party. Given all the sleaze which continues to swirl around the Tory Government, it was inevitable that voters would want to send a strong message to Boris Johnson and his administration, but if they had really wanted to change the Government, they would have voted for the largest opposition party, and both the Tories and Labour have been left licking their wounds.
So, there was no real surprise that the voters of North Shropshire decided to use their protest vote for the Conservative Party’s partner in the former Coalition Government; because if it looks like a Tory and sounds like a Tory, it probably is a LibDem.
Ruth Marr, Stirling.
* DESPITE the death of Screaming Lord Sutch in 1999, The Monster Raving Loony Party fielded a candidate in the North Shropshire by-election. I thought this slot had been filled by Boris Johnson and the Conservatives?
Amanda Baker, Edinburgh.
* CONSERVATIVE MP Roger Gale is quoted as having said of Boris Johnson, “one more strike and he’s out”.
Alan McGibbon, Paisley.
* I DO wonder if voters in North Shropshire are telling the Prime Minister to “prenez un grip” and “donnez-moi un break”.
Patrice Fabien, Glasgow.
* WHILST awaiting the North Shropshire by-election result at around 4 am the BBC World Wide newscaster repeatedly used the word imminent, albeit it sounded like eminent. So much so I sought dictionary clarification. Imminently (impending, threatening) eminently (conspicuous, distinguished). Both seemed appropriate considering the obvious electoral mood change in this particular contest.
Allan C Steele, Giffnock.
MET IS LETTING THE COUNTRY DOWN
I EXPECT many of your readers will have seen, alongside more than six million others, the hilarious, but forensic, spoof available widely online of a briefing supposed to be by Ted Hastings of Line of Duty fame on the evidence of a party being held, despite lockdown, at 10 Downing Street last Christmas. “Ted” reviews the evidence whose existence Dame Cressida Dick says does not exist of a party having taken place. As “Ted” says, among other available evidence, invitations were sent out and guests had to gain admission at the Downing Street gates supervised by her officers. Perhaps she could begin by asking the officers on duty that evening whether party invitations were produced at the gates by those seeking entry.
While the Metropolitan Police writ does not run in Scotland, it is a leading UK police force and one whose reputation therefore matters. It is more than sad when its reputation has been damaged following the Sarah Everard case and its treatment of protesters. But when its impartiality with regard to seeking evidence which might require it to challenge possible abuse of privilege is a matter of hilarity, then the need for its leader to attend properly to investigation of breaches in the law when evidence clearly exists, even if she claims it does not, is imperative. Otherwise, she brings the Metropolitan Police – and by extension the police service UK-wide – into even worse disrepute.
Ian Brown, Giffnock.
STUPIDITY OF INTEREST RATE RISE
SO the Bank of England has raised interest rates in the midst of a huge Covid infection wave, ongoing critical supply chain problems, and soaring prices due not to excess consumer demand but to the pandemic and Brexit. This makes absolutely no sense except for the wealthy few, the only people this dangerous Government cares about. For the ordinary citizen, the interest rate rise means higher mortgage payments and more unemployment with no chance of furlough being revived, since Rishi Sunak is currently vacationing at his California home, otherwise known as fiddling while Rome burns.
Is it simply stupidity that propels this nightmare of a Government or is it an active desire to harm the most people it can? Whichever it is, Scotland needs to get out of this asylum now.
Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh.
TORIES MUST PRESSURE SUNAK
WE heard at First Minister’s Questions (December 16) the Conservative opposition call for mass vaccination centres. But where would all the extra required staffing come from? The Tories were also demanding more clarity and support for businesses as a result of the return to some restrictions due to the new variant. This is now down to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who needs to assure businesses that a return to furlough if required will follow. Such a pledge would give assurance to thousands of hard-working families who are in fear of their jobs should more restrictions follow.
Instead of demanding action from the First Minister, whose hands are tied due to a lack of devolved powers, Douglas Ross should be directing his demands to the UK Treasury.
Catriona C Clark, Falkirk.
DOES Nicola Sturgeon do her own shopping in a supermarket? We now have the return of the queues, one in one out, keep to the left signs and all the palaver that Scots thought was over. The air of desperate resignation just before Christmas is palpable. If the Omicron figures start to shoot up with more serious consequences (yet really to occur) then grudging acceptance will prevail. If, however, this turns out to be a storm in a teacup then the storm will not go away.
Do SNP politicians really realise just what they are expecting from a very weary public?
Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow.
* At least the latest developments in the Covid saga have helped to clear up what governments and scientists mean when they assure us that “we have to learn to live with Covid”. It obviously translates as “run like hell, and hide”.
Dave Henderson, Glasgow.
WE NEED STRONG LEADERSHIP
AS the world faces the perils of global warming and pandemic and the folly of Vladimir Putin’s aggressive expansionism, it would be well if we had leadership in the West who began to understand the dangers we face. We need people who understand history beyond the Grecian wars.
The appalling prospect before us is that by reason of international treaties the United Kingdom will be drawn into war over the Ukranian issue, just as we were over the assassination of a crown prince in Sarajavo. The dreadful prospect exists that Mr Putin’s aggressive behaviour will draw us into a third world war. It requires great leadership and understanding of both history and diplomacy to mitigate the risk.
It is not a risk that merely affects our young men in the trenches, but all of us, given the probability of entire populations being exterminated by nuclear warfare. At this time we require strong and trustworthy leadership. We have it in Scotland: in the UK it is appallingly missing. I do not want my sons or grandsons to become cannon fodder to keep Boris Johnson or his acolytes in power. We urgently need to be rid of them.
KM Campbell, Doune.
NORMAL SERVICE RESUMED AFTER COP26
CHINA’S top economic policymakers led by President Xi Jinping have met to review Beijing’s economic work over the last year and to set the tone for the country’s path in the year ahead. They decided that given coal’s dominant role in China’s power generation and consumption, clean and efficient use should be made of the fuel in the years ahead and any phasing out of fossil fuels must be “based on” safe and reliable alternative sources of energy.
The distinguished economist and scientist Zhang Xiaoqiang further underlined the role of coal, saying that even if China reached its carbon peak in 2030, thermal power generation would still be 60 per cent of the total. About 70% of China’s electricity at present comes from thermal power obtained burning fuels such as coal, gas or waste. He emphasised that climate targets come with no guarantees and must not undermine China’s development.
President Biden’s administration has U-turned on its initial efforts to crack down on US fossil fuels and is encouraging domestic oil producers to boost output and drill on existing leases. With voters “hurting at the pump”, oilmen are being advised to “take advantage of the leases you have, hire workers, get your rig count up”. The word from the White House is the famous old Republican mantra “drill, baby, drill.” COP26 is yesterday’s news.
Dr John Cameron, St Andrews.
DON’T BELIEVE DOOMSDAY TALES
RECENT news reports stated that the enormous Thwaites Glacier in Western Antarctica, frequently dubbed as the “Doomsday Glacier”, is continuing to break up at an alarming rate. Dramatic images of collapsing ice shelves are portrayed as irrefutable evidence that reinforces the message of impending climate catastrophe and rising sea levels caused primarily by human carbon dioxide emissions.
Various areas of reputable scientific research have revealed that the real causes of this ice loss are most likely related to the discovery of four vast sub-glacial lakes and many previously unidentified volcanoes. These are located along the long Western Antarctic Rift and create sub-glacial hotspots with a heat flow three times the global average. These geological factors are believed to be “lubricating” the base of the ice, hastening its movement and fragmentation, simultaneously releasing massive pulses of fresh water which affect ocean temperature and currents and may even disrupt global climate systems.
It’s time media outlets reported the full facts.
Neil J Bryce, Kelso.
ALL GREEK TO ME
I HAVE just heard, for the umpteenth time, Omicron mispronounced as Omnicron and Omicrom – this on BBC TV and radio as well as STV.
Why is the Greek alphabet being used to name these variants and where were Beta and Gamma? Did we unknowingly pass through nine others before Omicron hit?
In addition to the virus are we being infected by classicists? What was wrong with A, B, C and so on?
Isobel Hunter, Lenzie.