OWEN Jones’s portrayal of Kate Forbes, with the newest crime attributed to her inscribed on a placard and hung about her neck – Forbesism – as he firmly shuts her into the stocks, is a distortion indicative of a populist mindset (Forbes could yet shape Scottish nationalism in her own image, Mar 31).

A readiness to classify Ms Forbes as a bearer of balm for sorely tested social reactionaries, as the nemesis of those of a “progressive disposition”, and as some recent iteration of the “Tartan Tory”, is somewhat typical of the polarisation engendered by a darksome populism that seeks to scapegoat opponents, blackguarding them as those who have no appreciation or concern for the “real” values held by the “people”.

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Mr Jones is agitating, attempting to cast Ms Forbes as the enemy on the current political scene, throwing out his slogans, stirring up negative emotions, and raising banners decrying the indifference to social justice that he unfairly apportions to her.

Something akin to amnesia has perhaps affected his selective take on Ms Forbes’s values. He seems unable to recall that, during the campaign, she unhesitatingly declared a preferential option for the poor, her wont for a fairer society, a Scotland in which poverty has become history. Her economic policy was to be the platform for the distribution of wealth that would help the one in four children who currently experience want. Maybe that doesn’t fit the definition of “progressive” which he prefers.

“Progressiveness” – as Mr Jones references it – is, of course, a concept much used and abused. It proffers yet another banner that can be utilised by the devotees of the populist cause. It is a notion that has been hijacked, hybridised, and hogged by those who would claim to have Scotland’s best interests at heart. It might be contended that the Greens – and those who have unreflectively embraced their agenda, as well as their language games – use the notion as if they were its sole custodians, its only interpreters. Populism can be said to find comfort in the company of nihilism, and nihilism with its empiricist boast disdains faith.

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Perhaps here, in the fission resulting from the encounter between that singular understanding of “progressive” and faith, is the fuel powering the attacks on Kate Forbes, the energy behind the rancour that met her candidacy in the leadership contest. So “progressive”, thus received, renders the comprehension of the broadest view of reality difficult, if not impossible. Truth and the dignity of persons can soon become subordinate to the aims of a particular group with the right slogans, the most colourful banners.

Perhaps the Gender Recognition Reform Bill might be read through this optic, an instance when the dignity of women and girls was rendered subject to a particular ideological cause, a group asserting its own aims at the cost to the rights of others. A piece of legislation over which a few obsessed with little critical thinking, and which had only a partial or partisan view of the gestalt and of the human reality being threatened.

Contrary to Mr Jones’s espoused position on political life in Scotland, Ms Forbes constitutes hope not ambiguity, promise not threat, newness not mediocrity.

A toast, then, to the First Minister “over the water”!

Patrick Hynes
Airdrie, North Lanarkshire

MEAL do naidheachd! Appreciate the new Gaelic item (’S Mithich Dhuinn Guthan nan Gàidheal a Chluinntinn, Apr 2). Very helpful to us learners.

Sam Laird
Alicante, Spain