There is much to be said for a pact be­tween Labour and SNP


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I WEL­COME the call by my old col­league and friend David Martin MEP for a Labour SNP coali­tion (“Labour stal­wart calls for coali­tion with SNP”, The Her­ald, Septem­ber 15). I also wel­come the pos­i­tive re­sponse by Alyn Smith, the SNP MEP. When I was an MEP be­tween 1994 and 1999 there was a vis­ceral ha­tred of the SNP in Labour ranks; in­deed, one MEP re­fused to even travel in the same car as SNP MEPs.

How­ever, 20 years on the po­lit­i­cal land­scape have changed and, as David Martin points out, Labour and the SNP are run­ning ma­jor coun­cils such as Ed­in­burgh and my lo­cal coun­cil­lors tell me there is lit­tle that di­vides them. Also, the Scot­tish and Welsh gov­ern­ments are fight­ing hard to gain the pow­ers be­ing re­turned from Brus­sels to their ad­min­is­tra­tions rather than to Lon­don.

The ma­jor di­vide that re­mains is the ques­tion of in­de­pen­dence but that can be set­tled only by the Scot­tish peo­ple at a fu­ture ref­er­en­dum. In the mean­time, a Scot­tish Labour Party mov­ing to the Left un­der new lead­er­ship could forge new al­liances with the SNP on Scot­tish is­sues whilst SNP and Labour MPs at West­min­ster could form a pro­gres­sive pact against the Tories, the real en­emy.

I have been a mem­ber of both Labour and the SNP and I can say there is lit­tle that di­vides most mem­bers in val­ues and pol­i­tics, other than the na­tional ques­tion.

As David Martin and Alyn Smith know from the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, progress of­ten hap­pens when you work across the party di­vides. In­deed, the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment with its com­mit­tee sys­tem was set up on the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment model. Alex Row­ley, the act­ing leader of Scot­tish Labour, has shown a more con­cil­ia­tory tone at First Min­is­ter’s Ques­tions than the yah-boo ap­proach of Ruth David­son and Kezia Dug­dale. Let’s hope that this new mood can make the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment and Scot­tish pol­i­tics more grown up to con­cen­trate on mak­ing Scot­land a bet­ter so­ci­ety.

Hugh Kerr, Whar­ton Square, Ed­in­burgh.

DAVID Martin is right to sug­gest that Scot­tish Labour has much in com­mon with some in the SNP. How­ever, it re­mains the case that there is a sin­gle and defin­ing is­sue that di­vides the Left and cen­tre-left in Scot­land.

That is­sue is, of course, in­de­pen­dence and it is clear that one of the par­ties must con­cede its stance if there is to be an ac­com­mo­da­tion.

There is an easy way to de­cide which should do so: the SNP needs only to ac­cept the out­come of the 2014 ref­er­en­dum and sus­pend the rel­e­vant clause from its con­sti­tu­tion.

Then and only then can co-op­er­a­tion be con­sid­ered.

Peter A Rus­sell, 87 Munro Road, Jor­dan­hill, Glas­gow.

THE fact that the SNP has lost around 500,000 votes since the in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum and is propped up by six Green MSPs who, be­tween them, se­cured 13,172 first pref­er­ence votes in the last Holy­rood elec­tions sug­gests in­de­pen­dence is not im­mi­nent. The SNP has been found out.

Add to this its va­pid stew­ard­ship of a de­cline in Scot­land’s so­cial, ed­u­ca­tion and eco­nomic health and you could be ex­cused for think­ing that, af­ter 10 years and with four still to go, it is time for a change of gov­ern­ment.

The ob­sta­cles are great: there would have to be a vote of no con­fi­dence and an al­ter­na­tive gov­ern­ment in wait­ing.

This could be achieved if the Greens ac­cepted the moral un­fair­ness of their cast­ing votes with such flimsy pop­u­lar sup­port and if other par­ties fol­lowed the Tories and started de­vel­op­ing poli­cies to wrench this coun­try back to re­al­ity and pros­per­ity.

All I see is Labour in dis­ar­ray and some of its num­ber cud­dling up to Na­tion­al­ists, pos­si­bly eye­ing a coali­tion to see both par­ties through to 2021.

Scot­land needs and de­serves bet­ter than this.

Al­lan Suther­land, 1 Wil­low Row, Stone­haven.

KEITH How­ell has the tiny Scot­tish tail wag­ging the huge English dog (Let­ters, Septem­ber 15). His lat­est wheeze ac­cuses First Min­is­ter Ni­cola Stur­geon and Brexit min­is­ter Mike Rus­sell of “not car­ing about the of the whole of the rest of the UK”. Does he think that the English are in­ca­pable of look­ing af­ter them­selves?

It is not as if they have grounds for griev­ance, the word he at­tributes reg­u­larly to the Scot­tish at­ti­tude. The whole Union­ist West­min­ster gov­ern­men­tal regime has been geared to the in­ter­ests of the English; hardly sur­pris­ing since they form the bulk of the UK pop­u­la­tion.

Suc­ces­sively, Con­ser­va­tive and Labour gov­ern­ments started to wake up to the Na­tion­al­ist threat in the post-war years with the rise of the SNP. So they poured ex­tra money into Scot­land. By 1979, we had a 20 per cent per capita fund­ing ad­van­tage over Eng­land. But that did not quell the threat.

Co­in­ci­den­tally, with the run-up to the 1979 de­vo­lu­tion ref­er­en­dum, the Labour gov­ern­ment in­tro­duced the Bar­nett for­mula, whose ef­fect was to start to re­cover our spend­ing ad­van­tage. The im­pact is ex­em­pli­fied by the ac­tions of the Labour-led coali­tion in the first de­volved par­lia­ment, when it started to short-change lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, keep­ing back money for cen­tral ser­vices and leav­ing no op­tion but the 61 per cent rise in coun­cil tax when in­fla­tion was low.

It must have come as a shock to the Union­ist par­ties when the SNP swept to power. Wear­ing a fi­nan­cial con­sul­tant’s hat, Keith How­ell would have been jus­ti­fied in re­mon­strat­ing with these par­ties for hav­ing fool­ishly squan­dered so much money on Scot­land and fail­ing in their ob­jec­tive.

So long as some of that fund­ing re­mains, it is disin­gen­u­ous for it to be re­garded as part of our so-called deficit. Why do the Union­ist politicians refuse to talk about it? Why should we have to re­sort to Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion leg­is­la­tion to as­cer­tain the de­tails?

Dou­glas R Mayer, 76 Thomson Cres­cent, Cur­rie, Mid­loth­ian.

THE re­cent grandiose speech by Jean-Claude Juncker, Pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, pro­mot­ing the idea of a uni­tary Euro­pean su­per­state may well have made many Re­main­ers in Scot­land think again.

This was yet an­other blow to Ni­cola Stur­geon’s cease­less at­tempts to use Brexit to ag­i­tate for a se­cond in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum. It in­creas­ingly ap­pears that the First Min­is­ter back­ing the wrong horse.

Martin Red­fern, Wood­croft Road, Ed­in­burgh.


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