Herald letter: angry again…

I SUPPOSE it is flattering that such lengthy responses (Letters, October 30) have been generated by my quite reasonable observation (Letters, October 27) that if people are unhappy with the effects of government policy – in this case regarding families and poverty – they should blame the Tory Government at Westminster for the reserved issues and the SNP at Holyrood for the devolved ones.

However, there a few observations which I would like to make about the responses of Messrs GR Weir and Alasdair Galloway.

Mr Weir takes the opportunity to lay the blame for all of the problems of Ayrshire and (it seems) the entire industrial decline of the area on the Labour Party. If this was indeed the case, it would be expected that the voters of Ayrshire would have punished Labour much earlier than actually happened: the miners’ strike was in 1984-85, but according to Mr Weir, the voters waited 30 years (until 2015) to notice. And when they did so, they elected as their MSP Jeane Freeman – who had been at the heart of Labour policy making before turning her coat. (For what it is worth, I blame the decline of Labour in Scotland on a catastrophic failure in its politics surrounding the 2014 independence referendum, rather than its local and UK polices.)

Mr Galloway is even more fanciful: he suggests that the Yes vote in the 2014 referendum would have banished poverty from Scotland forever.

Here is some news to him from the real world. A Yes vote would have meant Scotland leaving the EU as well as the UK in March 2016 (evidence: the letter from Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission to the Scottish Parliament of March 2014); there would have been no currency union with the remainder UK (evidence: repeated statements of UK Government); Scotland’s revenues would not have benefited from oil at the fictional price of $113 per barrel (evidence: today’s price $76); and Scottish public services would be worse off by an annual sum of more than £10 billion redistributed from the rest of the UK (evidence: the SNP Scottish Government’s GERS publications). All of these factors would have had a disastrous effect on the economy, and made poverty in Scotland both much more acute and much more widespread.

In contrast, Mr Galloway (and Mr Weir and the rest of the SNP and its dupes) offer the fairy dust of independence, underpinned by wishful thinking and best-case scenarios. We have had to put up with too much magical thinking from the the Nationalists, and it is time that they were brought to account for their failings at Holyrood as much as the Tories at Westminster.

Peter A Russell

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Herald letter. In Some Anger.

YOUR front page article on starving Scots families raiding bins for food (“Starving families raid skips at night for food”, The Herald, October 26) will shock every decent-thinking person, and will make them long for the days of the Labour governments, when millions of children were taken out of poverty by policies that included the introduction of Working Families Tax Credits and the National Minimum Wage.

Now, however, we have a Tory UK Government which appears determined to make the poor, including families, suffer for its own incompetence and prejudices. At the same time, we have an SNP Scottish Government which has extensive powers under Part 3 of the Scotland Act 2016 to top- up existing welfare benefits, and to create new ones, but which fails to do so.

That the SNP refuses to act stands in contrast to the way in which, before 1996, Labour-run regional councils did all that they could to counter the effects of the then Tory governments. We can only imagine what they would have done with the current powers of Holyrood, but they would certainly not have sat on their hands. The Tories are literally driving the poor to eating out of bins, and the SNP are sitting by idly, sometimes complaining, but watching it happen all the same. A plague on both their cold-hearted houses.

Peter A Russell

Couple of letters I had in the Herald…

5th October:

ALLISTER Mackie (Letters, October 3) is entirely correct to point out the likely catastrophic results of a hard Brexit. I am sure that he would agree that the Brexit mess could have been avoided if more people had voted for Ed Miliband to be prime minster in 2015 rather than for other parties, thus avoiding David Cameron’s EU referendum altogether. That, of course, is water under the bridge.

We need to look to how the catastrophe can be avoided while adhering to the voters’ choice to leave the EU. It seems clear that the only option that would do so would be a European Economic Area (EEA) arrangement, most easily through membership of the European Free Trade Association (Efta).

This is the only solution that meets Labour’s six tests and there is evidence that many on the Tory benches would support this solution. Add the SNP, Plaid Cymru and Northern Ireland parties and it becomes possible that this is the only option to command a parliamentary majority.

The time has come for the Opposition to lead the call for Efta/EEA and for the minor parties to follow that call. As a gesture of goodwill, it would also make matters much easier if Nicola Sturgeon used her party’s forthcoming conference to withdraw her empty threat of a second independence referendum in Scotland. We voted in the Brexit referendum as a single electorate, and we need to face its challenges as one.

Peter A. Russell

Today (Less elegant than usual, I am afraid.)

IT is always nice to see readers such as Alasdair Galloway (Letters, October 9) noticing my correspondence. However, he is sometimes a little mistaken about what I have actually written.

First, I do not claim (Letters, October 5) that the Labour Party advocates membership of the EEA and of EFTA: I said that in my view the only Brexit solution that could meet Labour’s Six Tests would be such an outcome. I too am disappointed that my party has not been clear in its policy and hope that it is the very clever Sir Keir Starmer who is in charge, rather than the perhaps slightly less clever Mr Corbyn. Time will tell, but a bit of leadership in a clear direction would not go amiss.

Secondly, my statement about people voting in 2015 other than to elect Ed Miliband as Prime Minister was a reference to the whole UK in a national General Election. The prospect of the SNP influencing a Labour-led Government was understandably anathema to many voters in England, but more LibDems voting Labour and indeed pro-Europe Tories across the UK voting Labour to avoid a referendum would have done the trick, and a Brexit referendum would have been avoided.

In contrast, Mr Galloway appears to think and judge events only in terms of the narrow spectrum of Scotland and Scottish Nationalism. And as his comments show, when people do that, they can very easily come to entirely the wrong conclusion.

Peter A Russell,