IT might be assumed that I would welcome the diversity in the current candidates aiming to replace the incumbent PM. The Tory party is cock-a-hoop about this fact, trumpeting it no less. Yes, Tories have the front runner’s place for having the largest number of black and Asian MPs.

At the moment, with an ever-changing set of runners and riders, I’m wondering how far will the far-right Tory MPs and their paid-up constituents go with the idea of “diversity”. Personally, I don’t think they will. Electing another woman might be far enough, or too far for some.

But in the zeitgeist of the moment, and the family trees being revealed, would you like to hear about my late father coming here, in the 1920s and his work record? No, of course not. But there’s one big difference between my family and those Tory MPs. None of us would back the ideologically driven policies of the current Home Secretary Priti Patel, nor the mismanagement of the exchequer by the previous and current Chancellor. In fact, my father probably wouldn’t be allowed in, and looking at the antecedents of the wannabes, many of them wouldn’t be either.

The further lurching to the right by the UK is frightening to say the least, both in terms of leadership and the public’s support for Tory policies. And no matter who does emerge as the next leader, that desire to lead has birthed some pretty extravagant statements most definitely aimed at the far-right of the parliamentary party and its paid-up members.

Without a definite figure, the next PM could be “elected” into office by between 110,000 and 160,000 members out in the constituencies. It was the same process and numbers that put Boris Johnson into Downing Street. Lesson learnt by those loyal folks then? I doubt it, because the process hasn’t changed: the processes of government haven’t changed over the years either, and neither have the values of the participants.

All of the candidates have either backed BJ directly in his government or are jobbing Tory MPs. So irrespective of some minor no shows in Parliament, they have all either approved or carried out Tory policies of one shade or another.

So what role diversity in this context? Absolutely none. It doesn’t matter a jot about the diversity. It doesn’t matter in the least if you change the faces, the people. The diversity on show is a fig leaf. You’ve got to change the processes and the system and be prepared to adapt along the way.

All the candidates, irrespective of what diversity they may claim to embody, have chosen right-wing, financial gain and security, rooted in the philosophies of self first followed by espousing entitlement. Whether such “status” is gained or inherited, the very systems and processes employed have been built around and on profit, private ownership, and privateering, with an insecure workforce reliant on state “benefits” as opposed to earnings that reflect basic needs and provide for a future.

Looking different, being diverse, just doesn’t cut it. Doing different does.

But from 1983 and Margaret Thatcher through to 2019 and Boris Johnson, we’ve had Tory PMs and governments foisted on us we haven’t voted for. No change now in 2022, and as far as Scotland is concerned, the new PM, the new cabinet, won’t do different.

So I suppose the question has to be: what will we do differently over the coming months to achieve independence?

Selma Rahman


Boris Johnson reckons an independence referendum is the “last thing” Scotland would need right now (The National, July 13).

Shouldn’t Scotland be the judge of that? Isn’t that what real democracy is?

And doesn’t the Westminster establishment’s blanket denial of Scotland’s democratic rights betray we are an exploitable colony rather the inherently preposterous claim by Westminster we are a partner in the UK union?

Blackwell is right when he decries Westminster as rotten to the core.

Twelve years of Tory government and we have leadership contenders clamouring to cut corporation tax, a kickback to those who finance their vested interest.

The reality is that Johnson will skulk out of office and leave behind the stench of incompetence, corruption and greed that has seen the wealth gap never wider, even working poor having to use foodbanks, child poverty has never been higher in living memory, and the creation of a pensioner, sick and benefit dependent underclass.

The latest shameful statistic revealed is that despite Johnson’s key policy “initiative”, the pretendy levelling-up programme, we now have 225 recognised deprived housing areas, mainly north of burgeoning London, that are in such a dire state those who live there are in abject poverty, struggling to survive, have difficulty getting secure employment and transport costs are prohibitive; all on top of increases in fuel, energy and food while benefits and pensions are wholly inadequate.

Who could be surprised? It’s not the first time a long tenure of Tory government has ended in vastly reduced standards of living for ordinary folk while the rich get richer.

It’s what the Tories are programmed to do. And it’s all they ever actually succeed in doing.

Depressingly, the next Thatcher clone will be no different.

That’s why we need the referendum vote so that we can escape the wild excesses of the democracy illusion that is Westminster.

Jim Taylor


I have to agree with George M Mitchell’s letter in that we need to “all sing from the same hymn sheet”, and plan the route to independence.

My own personal view is that over the next few weeks, during the Holyrood summer recess, the party leaders of the independence parties get together and hold a summit meeting and start thrashing out some sort of policy and plan of action.

Firstly, we need to have candidates from all the independence parties – at least nominated – if we are to stand on one issue and win over 50% of the vote, and hopefully wipe out the Tories in Scotland at the same time.

That also means that we need one recognised leader of the group, and someone in the mould of Dennis Canavan, who led the Yes Campaign in 2014, instead of the leaders from the various independence parties. The sooner we can start to do this, the better, as who knows when the next General Election will be held now.

As to how long can the “English Nationalist Party” aka the Conservative and Unionist Party keep blocking a referendum, they need to be reminded each time they say no, that it was their own party that brought in the European Convention on Human rights, led by their Attorney General, David Maxwell Fyfe, MP.

These people, and I include Anas Sarwar and Keir Starmer, also need to be reminded of Protocol 1, Article 3: The High Contracting Parties undertake to hold free elections at reasonable intervals by secret ballot under conditions which will ensure the free expression of the opinion of the people in the choice of legislature.

Nowhere in the Article does it say it is 30 or 40 years between elections – and a referendum is just another form of election, in this case for the legislature of our choice. The norm is that elections are held between four and six years. It is now eight years since we last looked at the question.

Alexander Potts


Oh no! A PM has resigned. We are about to be insulted by honours for his friends. Is it too late to plead: NO RESIGNATION HONOURS? This resignation was made without honour by a man without honour. Anyone who thought he should go should NOT accept one of these worthless mentions on his roll of dishonour.

Nic Bullivant


The Sewel Convention which occasionally demonstrated some respect for democratic principles within these islands was trampled upon by a neo-fascist Tory Government.

Yet, the “convention” of Prime Minister’s Resignation Honours appears to be unquestioned, in spite of the PM breaking the law and presiding over a sleaze-ridden and blatantly corrupt government.

How can it be acceptable that such a person, who has repeatedly lied in office and is not even trusted by his own Tory MPs, gets to stay in power for a further two months courtesy of a privileged faction of those MPs, and is allowed to request the monarch bestow more honours on others subject only to the scrutiny of the House of Lords Appointments Commission and the Honours Committee of the Cabinet Office?

This is a man who rammed through a peerage for his friend, Evgeny Lebedev, the son of a former KGB agent, in spite of concerns raised by MI5, and is rumoured to be considering having a peerage bestowed on his incompetent “personal aide” and inappropriately titled “Culture Minister”, Nadine Dorries.

The anachronistic House of Lords is in itself an affront to egalitarian representation of the peoples of the UK and should be swiftly consigned to history, but in the meantime surely the Labour, SNP, Liberal Democrat and smaller parties can at least work together to bleach the dark stain of Resignation Honours from the scorned Westminster parliamentary system masquerading as democracy?

Stan Grodynski

Longniddry, East Lothian

The reason given why a Highland community is celebrating a victory over a salmon farming company (July 12) was because of the threat to wild salmon and sea trout. The Friends of Loch Hourn (FOLH) say that scientific modelling found that the planned changes to the local farm about which they objected would produce increased numbers of sea lice which endanger wild fish populations in the area. This is modelling based on preconceptions, not on fact.

Actually, rod catch data which the Scottish Government scientists use to assess stocks of wild fish show that since the farm first arrived in the area, catches of salmon and grilse have increased rather than showing a decline. Even FOLH’s own data confirms this. They highlight a restocking programme which began before the farm arrived showing local fish stocks were already in trouble.

What FOLH choose to ignore is that salmon returning to all Scottish rivers has been in decline since the 1970s. One out of every four salmon leaving Scottish rivers used to return. The number is now one in 25 and critically fishery scientists still don’t know why. More importantly, this decline has impacted all rivers across Scotland, including those hundreds of miles from any salmon farm.

They also ignore the fact that since records began, 984 salmon and 2049 sea trout have been caught and killed from the River Arnisdale for sport. This is from a river that has a typical annual catch of 30-40 salmon a year. Since 1952, anglers have caught and killed about 5.9 million wild fish in Scotland, and they now wonder why there are none left. Rather than accept any responsibility, the wild fish sector has made a scapegoat out of the salmon farming industry and now the FOLH has too.

Dr Martin Jaffa

Callander McDowell