Maclean, Wheatley, Millan – and Margaret Curran. Herald letter (no £wall)

AS he lives in Southall, Middlesex, Michael Rossi (Letters, April 29) may be excused in his misapprehension that SNP politicians are somehow self-denying ascetics who reject the luxury of office – he has presumably missed that Nicola Sturgeon is the UK’s highest-paid politician, having awarded herself a higher salary than that of David Cameron. However, his point that ministerial responsibility is a distraction from the “real job” of MPs does take us to the heart of the choice before Scottish voters.

Ms Sturgeon has made it clear that her party will under no circumstances put the Tories in power; and at the same time Ed Miliband has promised that he will make no deal with the SNP. This means that the SNP will be an irrelevance in the coming parliament, albeit no doubt a noisy one.

In contrast, the whole point of the Labour Party is to represent working people and the disadvantaged in society and to do so whenever possible in positions of power and influence.

Classically, the Scottish manifestation of this debate has been in terms of the Two Johns: Maclean and Wheatley. Which would you rather have, Maclean the undoubted firebrand, imprisoned for his politics, first Soviet consul to the UK, but who achieved absolutely nothing, or Wheatley, who invented council housing and transformed the lives and health of literally millions of people in a legacy which endures today?

A further example comes to mind from earlier SNP surge: in the 1970s, some voters may have been tempted to vote for that party over Bruce Millan. However, Millan went on to be Secretary of State and in that position literally invented urban regeneration in Glasgow when he cancelled the New Town programme and committed the same expenditure to the Glasgow Eastern Area Renewal (Gear) project. He then became a Labour-nominated European Commissioner and worked with Strathclyde Regional Council to create the regional development programmes which brought many millions of pounds of investment in infrastructure and training to the people of Glasgow and beyond.

The same choice faces many Scots today, most pointedly in the east of Glasgow, where the choice of the voters is whether they wish to have their voice heard at the Cabinet table through Margaret Curran or to have it confined to a nobody on the opposition backbenches?

That is the choice: do voters want the SNP, in which case their MPs will be ultimately no more than noisy self-publicists who will inevitably prove to be the proverbial empty vessels, or Labour whose men and women seek office to work hard in government to get things done, pragmatically and practically, with all of the difficulties and compromises which that entails?

Peter A Russell,


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