HERE comes yet another Scottish Labour leadership contest where the two candidates deny the people’s right to choose their own future (“Lennon says Labour should push for Devo Max not block Indyref2”, The , January 19). Devo Max, medium or lite – it all comes down to Scotland being ruled by another country’s government.
This Sir Keir Starmer-backed “solution” means Westminster would control defence and foreign policy so Scotland will continue to be saddled with nuclear weapons on our soil, be forced into foreign wars, have no control over trade or immigration, and have to remain outside the European free trade area. Westminster would continue to set the pension rate, which is the lowest in the OECD, and impose further penury on the population through Universal Credit and the bedroom tax. And most significantly, Westminster would retain the power of the purse, meaning Scotland would not have the ability to borrow and invest in its economy and people. And who really believes Labour would actually deliver after so many broken promises?
Being part of this so-called Union has been a disaster for Scotland. We have the lowest life expectancy in western Europe, our oil wealth was squandered, we’ve been forced out of the EU, our fishing industry has been decimated, the Internal Market Bill will strip power from Holyrood.
Unionists claim Scotland is being subsidised by London. If they really believe that, then why hold onto us? Let us go. Let England be Little England, and let Scotland get on with the task of building a fairer, more equal and outward facing nation.
Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh EH10.
LABOUR VOTERS DESERVE BETTER
IN an utterly depressing development it has emerged that the only two contenders for the leadership of the Scottish Labour Party are Anas Sarwar and Ms Monica Lennon (“Lennon to stand against Sarwar to become the next Scottish Labour leader”, The , January 18). Since the welcome departure of Jack McConnell from senior Labour ranks some years ago and, as history will depict, the beginning of the demise of Labour in Scotland, the party has lurched from one ineffectual leader to another which has cumulatively over the years consigned Labour to no more than a fringe party with little or no effect in party politics in Scotland. The news of Messrs Sarwar and Lennon as the heir apparent is further and deeply disappointing news for Labour voters in Scotland who surely deserve better. For any serious political observers it is painfully obvious neither possesses the attributes, experience or remotely the presence to win back a fraction of the voters looking for a new political home.
No sooner has the party removed Richard Leonard, a decent man but nonetheless someone who made zero impact in politics here, than we find ourselves staring down the barrel of another leadership battle that will ultimately lead to oblivion in political terms.
In terms of Indyref 2, this can best be described as a penalty kick for the SNP with the goalkeeper facing in the opposite direction and, despite the presiding Government being in freefall by all sensible measurements, it is still on a home run due to the dismal standard of opposition here in Scotland.
Sir Keir Starmer and his Westminster cohorts will, quite rightly, share the burden of blame and, make no mistake, he is complicit in any decisions of this nature in the wider UK party. As things play out we will witness the unedifying spectacle of a new Labour leader going nowhere fast in Holyrood.
Kenneth Morrison, Paisley.
TWO-THIRDS WIN NEEDED
THE latest Survation opinion poll suggests that 51 per cent of Scots are in favour of independence. If this truly reflects the whole Scottish population, it is outrageous to think that Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP could rip Scotland out of the UK with a slender “50% + 1” majority. For a “once-in-a-lifetime” decision of this importance, a two-thirds majority should be required. In my local golf club, even to change the simplest of aspects of its 120-year-old constitution requires a two thirds majority.
Ian Forbes, Glasgow G41.
MAKE VOTING COMPULSORY
ALEC Oattes (Letters, January 18) asserts that of the voting systems currently in place – in UK national elections we have first past the post and in Scotland for electing MSPs we use the d’Hondt form of proportional representation – neither is fit for purpose.
The answer proposed by Mr Oattes is that elections run under a system of proportional representation that “gives a more accurate result”, whatever that means.
However, whatever system is deemed to be the fairest and most appropriate, surely there is no denying that for democracy to work properly and for the result to be truly deemed to be the democratic choice of the people, all of the electorate must vote.
To this end we should adopt an Australian model where voting is compulsory and where those eligible must cast a vote either in person or by post. Spoiling your vote would be perfectly in order for those of our citizens that way inclined, but not participating because you couldn’t be bothered would not.
There is no valid reason why this change should not be implemented, and of course it should apply to referendums as well if any are needed.
James Martin, Bearsden.
WAS PROTEST NECESSARY?
MANY people will share the frustration of the fishermen parking their lorries outside Downing Street in protest against Brexit-induced red-tape and governmental ineptitude (“Fish export companies protest in Whitehall at Brexit chaos”, The , January 19). I am not aware that they actually delivered any fish – rotting or otherwise – to the Prime Minister. Should we be concerned that their action may have stretched the definition of an essential journey as prescribed by the Scottish Government?
Harald Tobermann, Edinburgh EH6.
HOW WILL BIDEN TREAT BRITAIN?
MICHAEL Settle (“Biden will set course for climate-friendly American recovery”, The , January 16) touches on whether President Biden will give any priority to starting to rebuild what some apparently now call the “not so special relationship”.
One example would be to negotiate an early comprehensive trade deal with the UK. Mr Settle reminds us also of how proud Joe Biden is of his Irish roots, and I wonder whether subconsciously those sympathies have influenced him adversely in his view of the UK. There was a glimpse of his apparent disdain caught on TV during the lead-up to the presidential election. A BBC correspondent tried to call a question to him as he walked past. Mr Biden paused, turned and said “BBC? I’m Irish”, walking away without another word.
Another indication of Mr Biden’s opinion of the UK could well be the fate of the bust of Churchill sitting presently in the Oval Office in the White House. When Barack Obama became President he had it removed, only for Donald Trump, to his credit, to restore it when he took over. Perhaps in the coming days and weeks someone could have a look and report back? Better to be forewarned as to what to expect.
Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop.
*AS the horrors of the Trump era draw to an end and incoming President Biden draws up his programme for action to restore the United States to its former stature in the world, might I suggest that he begin with commissioning a baseball cap with the slogan “Make America Sane Again”?
Richard H Allison, Edinburgh EH12.
WILL WE LEARN COVID LESSONS?
WHY do so many Scots still believe that we have coped well with the coronavirus pandemic? Is it really just down to self-delusional political point-scoring over the English?
Compared with other European countries of a similar population size we are in fact doing worse. At the time of writing Scotland has recorded 957 deaths/100,000 population after a positive Covid-19 test. Figures for our neighbours in Europe with similar population sizes are Norway (95), Finland (111), Denmark (296), Ireland (501) and Slovakia (616).
As we are now entering a period of a few weeks with critical numbers in hospitals and intensive care units we will sadly see this gap widen further.
Why was there no inquiry into the mistakes made during the first wave? Will we enter a third wave without learning the lessons of the first and second waves?
Robert Stuart, Rhu.
SERVICE FROM THE ARMY
READING of the involvement of the Army in the push for the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines (“Covid jabs rollout delayed by ‘patchy’ vaccine supply”, The , January 18) had me recall my National Service days in the mid-1950s. Training at Stirling Castle we were given our first jags for smallpox, cholera and more at the medical centre in the building that was then named Argyll Lodging, situated just below the castle esplanade. With our training sergeant bellowing: “Don’t dare collapse or pass out or you’ll find yourself on a charge,” we lined up in a column along a passageway, left arm bared, hand on hip; on reaching an open doorway a hand holding a needle would appear, jabbing us effectively. “Next!” All very quickly dealt with. They did change needles, didn’t they?
This is hopefully not what awaits the recipients of vaccinations at centres being set up and even if Army personnel are still in attendance to some degree, they look more kindly souls than they did in the times I recollect.
John Macnab, Falkirk.
Under-fire Labour needs the deputy to ride to the rescue