Lessons of history

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NO DOUBT about it, Richard Tawney was one of the towering intellects of the 20th century. He had good cause to be worried about the future of the Labour Party when he was writing in 1932, considering the times he was living in: the worldwide impact of the Wall Street crash, and Ramsay MacDonald’s betrayal and subsequent expulsion from the party the previous September. That Labour prime minister’s creed was clearly not at one with many of his Cabinet.

I would not blame Tawney for failing to foresee that a mere 13 years later Labour would win a landslide victory and create the NHS and the welfare state. Not much lack of creed there. But, pursuing his theme regardless, Gerry Hassan (Perspective, 24 November) compares the upheavals of the 1930s with the 
affairs of the Co-operative Bank in the present day. Call me an optimist if you will, but might I suggest that if we got through all that in the 1930s, we can surely overcome the revelation that someone most of us had never heard of before had been a poor appointment and mismanaged a bank that has a long history of ethical conduct. 

As for us elder Scottish Labour figures, when we see party leader Ed Miliband taking on Rupert Murdoch, but Alex Salmond having nothing to say, we feel quite cheery about that.

Let Gerry Hassan enjoy his pessimism about us, if it keeps his mojo going.

Maria Fyfe

Ascot Avenue

Glasgow