Love Thy Neighbour (part 2.)

THE various responses (Letters, December 19) to the aside in my earlier letter on loving thy neighbour (December 18) had prompted me to write a very lengthy reply: it included references to Father Christmas, Arthur C. Clarke and my mother, as well as the fall of the Berlin Wall and my beliefs as a liberal atheist.

However, my old pal Alastair Galloway (Letters, December 20) has enabled me to cut through all that verbiage with his reference to the Holy Scripture that is Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland – the Book of GERS, if you like (located in the New Testament between Revelation and the Acts of Nicola Sturgeon.)

To be serious, that GERS shows Scotland in deficit to the rest of UK is only of secondary importance. I would support the principle of redistribution if the flow was the other way: that Scottish revenues were shared and pooled with the less well-off parts of Tyneside, with the valleys of Wales, and the chronically depressed parts of Belfast, for example. In the same way, one of the reasons I voted for Remain in the Brexit referendum was because the UK is a net contributor to EU funding according to our means as a larger member state, providing much needed investment to lagging areas, especially in the newer member states.

For Mr Galloway and his fellow Nationalists, GERS and what it represents is a barrier to independence. To others (like myself) it is an indicator of the successful partnership between regions and nations in the UK. That is the difference: some of us see such sharing and pooling as a success and a strength and a Good Thing in their own right, while Nationalists see them as weakness and failure.

Nationalism seeks differences, barriers and walls,while social democracy seeks to dissolve them by concentrating on what we have in common and how we can support our neighbour.

Merry Christmas everyone, and a Happy New Year (when it comes). Let us all try to live better together in 2019.

Peter A Russell,

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Herald letter: Labour and Independence – Love They Neighbour.

YOUR correspondents (Letters, December 11 & 17) debate why and why not the Scottish Labour Party should change its policy so as to support Scottish independence. There are several very good reasons, which really should be obvious.

The first is that the Labour Party believes that “by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone”. In other words, its philosophy is one of mutual support and co-operation, and indeed of loving our neighbour as ourselves. For my part, I cannot see how any Christian can simultaneously support that commandment and Scottish independence. (No doubt I will be enlightened by those who believe that the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland are not our neighbours.)

In practical terms, this philosophy means that Labour supports the continued redistribution of UK resources, currently running from London and the southeast to parts of the country where revenues are lower and/or services are more expensive. As the Scottish Government tells us, Scotland is now consistently a beneficiary of this system. It would be illogical for Scottish Labour to turn its back on this major source of funding for public services and jobs in Scotland.

Secondly, in no time in my 41 years of membership of the Labour Party, 33 of them in Scotland, have I ever known anyone in any branch or affiliate bring forward a resolution that it should support independence. If these have occurred anywhere, they have obviously been defeated. Even in the 2014 referendum campaign when a “Labour For Indy” group popped up, it was found to be a handful of nobodies, whose main publicity photo comprised SNP activists pretending to be Labour members. Just why should Labour change its policies if its membership does not want it?

Peter A Russell