Letters: Independence would do huge damage to the poor. That's why Labour opposes it

·7-min read
Labour threw its weight behind the No campaign in the 2014 independence referendum
Labour threw its weight behind the No campaign in the 2014 independence referendum

IT is touching that so many of your correspondents have the best interests of the Labour Party at heart (Letters, May 10, 11 & 12), although I suspect they probably neglect to express that concern in the best way that they could – namely by actually voting for it in elections.

On the question of where Labour has gone wrong, it is clear that the party's support nosedived in the 2014 referendum campaign. My view – from inside both the Better Together campaign and the party itself – is not that Labour suffered because it did not support independence. Rather, the opposite was the case – it suffered because it did not champion its own past achievements in Scotland, which were part of its many achievements in the UK as whole. Furthermore, by 2014, Labour was only party whose USP was that it was the party of the whole of the mainland UK; this was both a potential vote-winner for the party and a responsibility to be upheld. Sadly, the then leadership recognised neither that opportunity nor that duty, and responsibility for much of what followed must be laid at the door of Ed Miliband, and of whatever genius strategists were advising him.

With regard to the question of Labour supporting independence, I previously offered my advice on how to approach the membership of one's local party but that seems to have been missed or ignored. To set it out more simply for the hard of understanding, the best way to achieve this end is for activists to follow the route taken by those who successfully advocated devolution in the 1980s. They set up a genuine campaigning movement within the party, and proceeded to persuade their comrades from the grassroots up. Comrades like the late Bob McLean and others tirelessly spoke to constituency parties, they held fringe meetings at annual conference, and they sought to change minds with argument and reason.

It is true that those who want Labour to be a nationalist party will have more of an uphill struggle. This is because independence would mean an end to redistribution from the wealthy south-east of England and London to Scotland, and in turn massive cuts in public expenditure. This would bring about extensive losses of jobs and services for the least well-off, and would be to reject the very DNA of a party founded on mutual support and solidarity. But they of course are always welcome to try.

Peter A Russell, Glasgow.

HOME RULE MUST BE AN OPTION

LESLEY Riddoch ("Old style of UK politics isn’t going to wash any more", The Herald, May 9) is absolutely right that Westminster insouciance about the separatist movements in Scotland and Northern Ireland won't wash.

I have previously written about the need for a Scottish referendum with independence and home rule as the choices. By home rule I mean that the default should be transfer of power to Holyrood unless there was a pressing argument for its retention in a new UK government with 49 per cent representation from England and 51% split either evenly or pro rata between the Celtic nations. The function of the UK level would be outward-looking (defence, foreign policy, currency and so on) and administration of a centrally-held pot for regional levelling-up programmes.

Denial of independence or independence winning by default would leave sizeable minorities dissatisfied and probably disinclined to comply with the outcome. This could result in violence in Northern Ireland if not elsewhere. A key to democracy is acquiescence with a result by the losing minority. I believe home rule would find acceptance with a sufficient majority and acquiescence with most of the minority in a referendum.

So how about four individual referenda, one in each country as I would hate to have the English feeling left out, between these two choices? Correctly presented, Boris Johnson or his successor could enjoy the cake of statesmanship, stability and a sound political basis for moving forward which we so sorely need.

John Murdoch, Innellan.

IN CHARGE OF OUR OWN DESTINY

I WAS flabbergasted at Alistair Easton’s suggestion (Letters, May 12) that the SNP is merely "a tartan version of Boris Johnson and his Brexiters". Likening the left-of-centre, socially-just policies of the SNP to the extreme right-wing policies of the Conservatives at Westminster is breathtakingly insulting.

Leaving the European Union (against the wishes of the voters in Scotland) has been traumatic and damaging for us all, but the concerns Mr Easton has should Scotland leave the United Kingdom can be somewhat negated because there will be one massive difference when negotiations get under way. Scotland will be part of the negotiation team, and will be putting the interests of Scotland front and centre of those negotiations, unlike the Brexit negotiations which sold Scotland’s fishing rights and stitched up so many trade deals.

Much has happened since all the unionist promises of 2014: a global pandemic, years of austerity and the worst welfare cuts since the Second World War, the climate change crisis, refugee crisis and a war in Europe to mention just a few things. Mr Easton suggests we live in a "complicated interconnected world" – a world in which Scotland must play her part and protect her citizens, something that is somewhat constrained while she remains part of the UK.

Catriona C Clark, Falkirk.

COME CLEAN ON FERRY CONTRACT

AN email has been found and a sheet of paper has been waved dramatically in Holyrood ("Swinney was consulted before contract awarded to Fergusons", The Herald, May 12). However, we still don’t know why the ferry contract for hulks 801 and 802 was awarded to Fergusons.

The best solution for Nicola Sturgeon is to come clean and admit that it was a political decision. She obviously wanted to make a positive announcement to the sycophants at the SNP conference. Admitting her incompetence and saying that “lessons will be learned" will be forgiven or ignored by the nationalists and their activists who will continue to peddle fantasy economics and Braveheart and Brigadoon visions of a seceded Scotland.

James Quinn, Lanark.

HEALTH NOT AN SNP PRIORITY

HEALTH Secretary Humza Yousaf seems rather content that Scotland's chronic shortage of GPs, at least 800 promised, can be achieved by 2027. That is five years from now, whilst the problem is most serious at the moment. At the same time, Nicola Sturgeon has often stated that Indyref2 must take place by 2023, a mere year and a half at most. Is it not simply shocking that the good health of all Scots is so very far down the SNP's list of priorities?

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow.

MPs ARE FED UP WITH BLACKFORD

SOME may question the talents of the SNP leader at Westminster, but Ian Blackford certainly has one unique skill, where he outmatches anyone else I have seen in years of watching proceedings there. When he rose to speak in the Queen’s Speech debate, the House emptied in a rapid rush for the doors, in a way I have never seen before. It quite literally was almost empty of almost all but the SNP group in seconds.

It may well be that his never-ending and relentlessly repetitive grievances and bluster have reached the places where no other has and become unbearable. He must be thrilled to see how popular he is with other MPs.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.

ENHANCING OUR REPUTATION

IT is sad, but predictable, that Jill Stephenson (Letters, May 12) should decry Nicola Sturgeon's visit to the United States, where Ms Sturgeon will deliver a keynote speech at the influential Brookings Institute think-tank in Washington, and hold talks with company executives. Scotland has strong trade ties with the US, and one of the purposes of the First Minister's visit is to further build upon and strengthen those ties.

Ms Sturgeon's initiatives in the US and around the world which enhance Scotland's reputation abroad are to be welcomed. Ms Stephenson and other unionists give the impression that they want Scotland to know its place, and to stay in it, as a provincial backwater of the UK, its interests "championed" by Boris Johnson. What a terrible thought.

Ruth Marr, Stirling.

* ALISON Rowat ("Don’t forget to send a selfie from America, First Minister", The Herald, May 12) writes of the Scottish Government's grandly-titled Global Affairs Framework( GAF). Have the authors of this document not realised the irony in the pronunciation of this new acronym?

David Miller, Milngavie.

WHEN THE TRUTH HURTS

OVER the recent past year I believe I have found the reason for the current state of politics in the UK, Europe and throughout the world: truth decay.

Perhaps some scientist could develop a paste and brush?

Ronald H Oliver, Elie, Fife.

Read more: Labour must think hard about where it has all gone wrong

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