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