Endless austerity

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S Beck (Letters, 12 January) is clutching at straws in trying to defend the SNP’s failure to spend all of its budget last year.

If imposing a cut of £444 
million was “prudent housekeeping”, as he claims, then why does Angus Robertson (your report, same issue) deride Labour’s plans to reduce the deficit as “austerity economics”?

Would Mr Beck not agree that cutting £15 billion would be “prudent housekeeping” on a truly epic scale.

Moreover, Mr Beck’s suggestion that the SNP cut was not simply the result of incompetence or oversight but an intentional policy raises the possibility of an even more sinister explanation. During the referendum, as now, SNP rhetoric included regular remonstrations against “austerity economics” and the effect upon the most vulnerable in our society.

And yet all this time they had £444m tucked under the mattress which could have been used to help to improve the situation. Did the SNP choose instead to deliberately sell Scotland short just so they could keep up the appearance that there was some truth in their mantra of disaffection?

Colin Hamilton

Braid Hills Avenue

Edinburgh

There can be little surprise that Ed Miliband has refused to formally rule out a coalition agreement with the SNP (your report, 12 January). The real question is what could the SNP bring to such an arrangement?

If they had left open the possibility of working with the Conservatives, then they could perhaps have had a stronger bargaining position.

Their current position means they’d have to back Labour or be criticised by the Scottish left for letting the Conservatives back into Downing Street.

Ed Miliband would have them over a barrel.

Nonetheless, if the SNP say they hope to influence Labour’s policy agenda, they need to outline what they oppose, what their alternative is and how Scotland would benefit. Simply pretending that the SNP’s mere presence in government would “end austerity economics” is 
fanciful.

(Dr) Scott Arthur

Buckstone Gardens

Edinburgh

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