Letters: We don’t need a lucky PM, just one with a shred of integrity

I REFER to Christopher H Jones’s letter (December 22), in which he says Boris Johnson has been unlucky.

As a young man a much older and wiser colleague advised me: “When things go wrong, don’t blame bad luck. When you analyse why things did not go as planned, you will find that it is the result of a poor decision or an error of judgment. If decisions are based on sound judgement and careful thought, luck has very little to do with how things turn out.” The advice was couched in far less polite terms, more appropriate to an industrial environment than to the pages of a national newspaper, but nevertheless has served me well over the years.

Mr Johnson did not contract the virus because he was unlucky; he caught the virus because he visited a hospital where Covid-19 patients were being treated and shook hands with everyone.

The scandal and public outrage with regard to an advisor wilfully breaking rules he had helped frame were not the result of Mr Johnson’s bad luck but rather the consequence of hiring an advisor who thought the rules did not apply to him and of Mr Johnson encouraging that view within Downing Street.

The appointment of a Home Secretary who was later accused of bullying was not the result of bad luck but was the direct result of appointing a bully to the post of Home Secretary.

Similarly, the appointment of a Health Secretary who was unwilling or unable to follow the rules imposed on the rest of us by Mr Johnson’s Government must surely be blamed on bad judgement rather than bad luck.

That the American withdrawal from Afghanistan came as a surprise to Mr Johnson is more attributable to poor analysis of US Government policy than mere bad luck.

I cannot accept that the tragic deaths of asylum seekers in the Channel was due to the Prime Minister’s bad luck. It was the direct and foreseeable result of a policy which seeks to close all legal access to the UK for asylum seekers.

The scandal surrounding the North Shropshire MP was not only that he broke lobbying rules but that Conservative MPs with the knowledge and connivance of Downing Street tried to overturn the findings of the Parliamentary Standards Committee by changing the rules. Was it bad luck or poor judgment in deciding to attempt a rule change?

Napoleon may well have preferred a lucky general to a good general. For my part I would rather have a Prime Minister with integrity, ability and a sense of public duty rather than the present occupant of 10 Downing Street, irrespective of how lucky or otherwise such a Prime Minister might be.

It is clear that Mr Johnson’s days at 10 Downing Street are numbered, but to those who think that any Conservative successor will be any better I can only observe: “You’ll be lucky”.

Hugh Scott Smith, Edinburgh.

* IT is revealing that Christopher H Jones attaches so much importance to “good luck” as a prerequisite for the post of Prime Minister. Was Mr Jones blind to Boris Johnston’s character, his compulsive lying, egotism, selfishness, lack of fidelity and sense of entitlement?

These qualities have been demonstrated throughout his career and personal life and some have been evident since his time at Eton, as his school reports record. Were these not all very good reasons to disqualify our present PM from any position of responsibility, far less one of high office? Was Mr Jones really unaware of Boris Johnson’s long-standing flaws or was he only too aware but considered them unimportant?

Is it not the case that some of Boris Johnston’s personal attributes have driven his behaviour and decisions and contributed in no small way to two years of “bad luck”?

Bill Ballantyne, Kirkcudbright.


LESLEY Riddoch (“Why Tory right wingers will kick out PM”, The Herald, December 20) makes mention of the Covid Recovery Group, a self-appointed “expert group” within the Conservative parliamentary group. If anything sums up the arrogance of the Conservative Party, it is this group of right-wing zealots. Their influence over the Government is frightening and I would suggest actually anti-democratic.

Willie Towers, Alford.


THE First Minister expressed her “worry” in the Scottish Parliament about the spread of the Omicron virus and as a result, introduces further restrictions from December 26 (“Football crowds limited to 500 fans under Covid rule”, The Herald, December 22). Yet on the same day, her deputy, John Swinney, admitted that the Scottish League Cup Final held at Hampden Park just two days previously was very likely a “super spreader” event.

One therefore has to ask why she did not make crowd restrictions immediate, but instead allows all football fixtures being held on Wednesday (December 22) to have no crowd restrictions if the Omicron strain is so devastatingly infectious? Will it be worse four days later and further, will Omicron not be present at venues holding private wedding events, where she has excluded any restrictions?

It is abundantly clear that the First Minister is in cahoots with Mark Drakeford, the First Minister of Wales, who surprise, surprise, is today making further announcements containing likely additional restrictions. Should the evidence appear to show that the Omicron virus is less dangerous than Delta although more transmissible, will Nicola Sturgeon act quickly and decisively to remove restrictions? Don’t hold your breath whilst she holds the levers of control over our daily lives and continues to make her decisions driven by political dogma.

Richard Allison, Edinburgh.


LAST week, SAGE modelling predicted 200,000 Covid cases per day nationally. The current figure is 95,000. The severity of the infection in vaccinated and/or otherwise healthy people is both mild and of short duration. The South African Covid advisory committee on Sunday recommended both a cessation of contract tracing and a quarantine period for close contacts. Data from Denmark indicates that infection with the Omicron variant is 60 per cent less likely to result in hospitalisation than the Delta variant.

There is scant evidence (apart from the hypothetical assumptions made by Government epidemiologists and mathematicians) that Omicron will “overwhelm the NHS”. Further, applying movement and gathering restrictions which are based on waves in which the population was neither vaccinated nor had any previous viral exposure stretches credulity and can only serve to undermine public support and compliance with regulations.

The enormous emotional, educational, societal and financial carnage caused by the current ill-conceived directives is not justifiable on the available evidence.

Christopher Greenhalgh, Bearsden.


STUART Swanston (Letters, December 22) asks why there are no comparable GERS figures for England which would be known as GERE; permit me to elucidate. Conceived in 1992 under the Government of John Major, they were designed purely as a political expedient to show Scotland’s finances in the worst possible light, coinciding with a particularly low oil price. This would then show how Scotland gained more from the UK Treasury than it put in. Their purpose was an attempt to resist an increasing demand for devolution. It is reported that Ian Lang, Secretary of State for Scotland said: “I judge that this is just what is needed at present in our campaign to maintain the initiative and undermine the other parties. This initiative could score against all of them.”

It is little wonder that to this day, the political farce of GERS is retained in the unionist armoury, as no alternative annual figures have been provided from the independence side of the debate to allow comparison of two fortune tellers.

Alan M Morris, Blanefield.

* STUART Swanston makes a vital point. We should be able to see separate accounts for each nation, with a disaggregation of the central costs from UK structures, resources and liabilities, based on non-financial and existing levels

Such transparency will allow us to judge the benefits of national institutions and how government is spread across the nations.

Allan McDougall, Neilston.


I WATCHED both the statements of the Chancellor and the First Minister about funding for those most affected by this latest terrible dilemma and ask the many nationalists who write in your Letters Pages if the Auditor General was correct in saying: “The Scottish Government needs to be proactive in publishing comprehensive Covid-19 financial reporting information which clearly links budgets, funding announcements and spending levels. This will increase transparency in the Government’s financial reporting in an area of significant parliamentary and public interest” (“Scottish ministers told to be ‘more transparent’ over spending of Covid billions”, The Herald, December 17).

And if so, will those who support nationalism concede that the UK Government on this issue of funding should be congratulated and the Scottish Government condemned for lack of transparency and honesty as stated by the Auditor General?

Sir Brian H Donohoe, former Labour MP, Irvine.

Read more: I was a fan, but sadly it’s time for unlucky Boris to go

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