IN the early hours of May 6, 2016, I watched as the Holyrood election results began to come. The North Lanarkshire results were of interest to me, particularly Airdrie and Coatbridge. In Airdrie, Alex Neil was defending his seat on the back of some criticism over a number of local issues, Plains railway station being one close to home. He was expected to win comfortably, as were the SNP, at least in the early stages. Reports of internal fighting had reached the media though and there was reportedly much tension within the local party as candidates jockeyed for position on the regional list. In neighbouring Coatbridge Labour’s Elaine Smith was the incumbent and had been the constituency MSP there for many years, but locally Labour were in free fall.

As the results came in it became apparent that while Alex Neil had retained his seat the SNP overall had done rather badly, and that some of the list candidates who had expected to merely turn up for the coronation would not actually be going to the party at all. In Coatbridge, Fulton McGregor took the seat from Elaine Smith. Smith had other ideas however and had secured a high placing on the party list; in effect her salary was assured either way. To me something was clearly rotten with the system when it could be played this way.

We, the Scottish people, are told that we have a democratic parliament – if we do not like the government or our elected representative we can vote them out. Clearly that is not the case. It is entirely undemocratic that 45 MSPs across all parties became MSPs after having been rejected by the voters in their respective constituencies. In some cases those rejected were the incumbents. The latter circumstances are of course the most insulting to the electorate, for no matter how poorly performing or out of touch a sitting MSP may be, if they are valued by their respective parties, or know how to work the system, they cannot be got rid of by the voters.

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In my view, to prevent this from occurring constituency candidates should not be allowed to be placed on the regional list and should gain office on merit; the electorate must have the right to reject a candidate and for that rejection to mean something. Furthermore, to prevent manipulation of the list, I’d like to see the ranking system removed. If a party gains for example three list places, those three posts should be drawn at random from the list submitted by each party.

In addition to the above, the actual system of regionally allocating members fails to truly represent the percentages of votes cast nationally, creating an imbalance to the detriment of the smaller parties, and this needs to be reviewed to reflect the national balance. For example in the May 2016 election the Scottish Green Party gained 6.6 per cent of the vote share which equates to around eight MSPs, and for which they only gained six seats.

I feel that in the years since 1999 when the first elections to the reconvened Scottish Parliament took place there has been no examination of the system itself to ensure that it is delivering a fair and representative system which reflects the will of the Scottish people, and that such a review is long overdue. It’s not in MSPs’ personal interests to do so, which is why any pressure to reform the system must come from us, the electorate. To this end I have submitted a petition through the Scottish Parliament petitions system which is now live.

If you agree that our Scottish electoral system is in need of reform then I would urge you to please sign the petition which can be found at the link below where you can also add your own comments and suggestions, all of which are welcome.

http://www.parliament.scot/GettingInvolved/Petitions/reformthescottishelectoralsystem

Jim Cassidy, Edinburgh

I WOULD like to add a few more names to that of Thomas Blake Glover, of Scotsmen who have been influential in Japanese history (Letters, The National, July 19).

During the 1860s, the government of Japan began to build lighthouses to facilitate trade and navigation, and hired Scottish engineer Richard Henry Brunton to oversee their construction. He realised that the new lighthouses would need to be designed against frequent earthquakes and persuaded the government to recruit British scientists to try and predict, and possibly mitigate, their effects. John Milne, an English geologist and engineer, was hired in 1874 as a professor of geology and mining, and in 1878, James Alfred Ewing was appointed professor of physics and engineering at Tokyo Imperial University. Born in Dundee in 1855, Ewing was an expert in magnetism, and travelled to Japan in 1878.

Ewing earned a degree in engineering at the University of Edinburgh after first studying at Cambridge University. Before going to Japan, he spent time at sea on the project to lay a cable from Brazil to the West Indies. Ewing left Japan in 1883, the year he wrote the Treatise on Earthquake Measurement With Japanese colleagues, Milne, Ewing and another Scot, Thomas Lomar Gray, who was appointed professor of telegraph engineering, devised the prototype instruments which evolved into the modern seismograph which is generally credited to John Milne. Born in Lochgelly, Fife, in 1850, Gray was a Scottish engineer, scientist, educator and foreign advisor to Japan, noted for his pioneering work in seismology. He graduated in 1878 from the University of Glasgow with a BSc in engineering. At Glasgow, he was awarded the Cleland Medal for An Experimental Determination of Magnetic Moments in Absolute Measurements. This medal was awarded every two years to a student of physics for the best essay on a prescribed subject. It is now presented annually to the most distinguished student in the Ordinary class of Physics.

He went to Tokyo in 1879 where he was appointed Professor of telegraph engineering in the physical laboratories at the Tokyo Imperial University. The three scientists formed the Seismological Society of Japan (SSJ) in 1880, but Ewing and Gray, who designed the most important of the early instruments, unfortunately left Japan shortly afterwards. Gray took up the post of professor of dynamic engineering at Rose Polytechnic Institute of Technology, now Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana in the United States. Ewing returned to his native Dundee to work at the recently established University College Dundee as its first professor of engineering.

Lillian King, Westcroft Way, Kelty

SO the Donald has had a massive hissy fit over the failure of his party to pass a seriously flawed health care act in the good USofA. The so called “Obamacare” by all accounts wasn’t the greatest piece of American legislation but it was a serious attempt to give poorer citizens some form of health care.

What Trump tried to replace it with was a system that was even more skewed towards the richer citizen, and some would struggle to afford health care and the poorest would have none at all. The very fact that this man even tried to short change his fellow country men and women all in the name of corporate profit is highly questionable, and ethically very dubious, but do not be at all surprised if the major insurers were not on his donations lists at the time of the election!

Trump’s reaction shows a distinct lack of political savvy on his part, and leads one to believe he thinks that being president is just an extension to The Apprentice, where, ostensibly, he got his own way and had the final say. He has now realised that in order to succeed on Capitol Hill one has to use very different tactics other than naked bullying, and he has been found severely wanting in those skills!

It is not beyond the bounds of credibility that Trump has become bored with the exercise and believes he can just fold up the company and move on. No one in the USA should dissuade him from that belief. The sooner he lets someone with the credentials and the desire to be the president for anything other than the greed-orientated motives he currently displays the better for that country, and ultimately, the rest of the world!

Ade Hegney, Helensburgh