Sup with the devil

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The Labour-Tory alliance referred to in Euan McColm’s article (Scotsman, 17 August) is nothing new as after the 2012 Scottish council elections Labour lined up with the Tories in numerous local authorities to form the administration thus thwarting the largest party from taking control.

How they can sell this prospect next year when it is the UK Tory austerity cuts that has squeezed the Scottish Government’s funding of vital local public services is beyond my ken.

After May’s Scottish elections, when Labour was reduced to only three constituency MSPs, Kezia Dugdale had the gall to ask the SNP to work with “a progressive party” rather than with the Tories, yet opposes any progressive alliance at Westminster where Theresa May is likely to have 150 more seats than Labour in 2020.

The fact is that the SNP has replaced Labour as the mass social democratic party in Scotland and following Jeremy Corbyn’s re-election we may well see the Blairites setting up a separate Labour Party.

Rather than encouraging tactical council voting, Labour in Scotland should be honest and have a formal alliance with the Tories in a new Scottish Unionist Party with the appropriate acronym as they sup with the devil.

Mary Thomas

Watson Crescent, Edinburgh

In his article Unionists will unite with noses held, Euan McColm is stating the increasingly obvious.

It’s wrong, but in Scotland what matters above all else in politics is the constitution. Not education, the NHS nor the emergency services but the issue of independence. You’re either for it or against it. It drives everything SNP politicians do and, to a lesser extent, the Scottish Tories.

And it determines how most of us vote – and, however many votes those who oppose independence are given in any one election, these days they will rarely use them to back the SNP, a party driven by a single issue they oppose.

As we saw in the last general election, the first past the post system was kind to the SNP because there was essentially only one independence party standing, with unionists votes diluted across three parties. This year’s Holyrood election, with a combination of constituency and regional seats, by losing the SNP its majority, edged closer to reflecting what Scotland thinks.

It’s beyond doubt that, in next year’s proportional representation based council elections, increasingly savvy anti-independence voters will finesse the voting system to their advantage.

Martin Redfern

Royal Circus, Edinburgh

Blame old folk

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon must be angry with the Scottish old folks that voted heavily against independence in order to secure a solid financial future for themselves as part of the United Kingdom.

The predicament she faces in ever winning an independence referendum could only be resolved by baring Scottish voters over 60 the right to vote which even she would realise is, like independence, only a dream.

Dennis Forbes Grattan

Bucksburn, Aberdeen

Labour burns

The argument put forward regarding democracy in the Labour party by Alan Hinnrichs (Letters, 17 August) is very strong.

The right of party members – recently recruited en masse and numbering in the tens of thousands – to decide the leadership is undeniable. No-one disputes his points and he would have won the technical argument without the liberal use in his letter of every far left cliché known.

What was not mentioned is the 9.3 million who voted Labour and elected MPs at the last general election.

The vast majority of these were not questioned about whom they thought best as leader and they rely on their chosen MP to use their judgment and vote for them.

Every opinion poll would suggest the majority of the 9.3 million thinks entirely differently from Mr Hinnrichs and those on the far left.

And in fact they show they would much prefer Theresa May as Prime Minister to either Jeremy Corbyn or Owen Smith.

General elections are won and governments formed by and through the centre. Alan Hinnrichs’ politics only strengthen the Conservatives and virtually ensures unopposed, semi-permanent Tory governance of our affairs.

What Mr Hinnrichs is arguing for is who will lead the next pointless and useless anti-austerity or anti-war march and wave banners and chant, while others do the governing.

Those on the far left play the fiddle while Labour burns.

Alexander McKay

New Cut Rigg, Edinburgh

Power plan

I am grateful to Ian Moir (Letters, 18 August) for drawing my attention to £10 billion of energy costs and tax hikes inevitable in an independent Scotland which had not been identified by George Kerevan in his “painful” austerity forecast.

But perhaps Mr Moir is failing to remember that English energy users would continue to pay the 92 per cent of renewable subsidies even after independence. At least, that’s what the SNP tell us!

But the claim that we would live in a “more prosperous society” would not figure in a second SNP referendum campaign. How could it? It was not swallowed in 2014 and would be laughed at now.

So Nicola Sturgeon’s new narrative seems to be to admit that there may be economic woes ahead but to contend that they will be entirely due to the fall out from Brexit.

Let’s ignore any existing pre-Brexit harsh economic facts such as the collapse in the oil industry, a £15 billion deficit and zero growth in the first quarter of this year.

Instead of focusing on the problems we face right now and which the SNP have failed to deal with rather continue the patently pointless jaunts around Europe in order to keep the Brexit pot boiling. And don’t let any inconvenient truths get in the way of powerful bout of rhetoric.

Colin Hamilton

Braid Hills Avenue, Edinburgh

Viva corruption

William Loneskie (Letters, 15 August) thinks that the European Union is ‘undemocratic and corrupt.’

On two occasions, while visiting Germany, I have needed medical help. Thanks to our common EU membership, I was treated without charge, but with skill, speed and courtesy.

More recently I served as interpreter for a German lady who needed hospital treatment after breaking her arm while in Scotland on holiday.

Once again, the care provided was speedy, skilful and polite.

If this is corruption, I would like lots more of it,

John Coutts

Ladysneuk Road, Stirling

Land-lords

With reference to the death of the Duke of Westminster and his son’s succession I would offer a word of caution in response to the letter of 13 August.

The French came up with a “remedy” to the effect that all children get a share. They now have an agricultural industry in which all landholdings are too small to be viable. This has been addressed through the common agricultural policy which was imposed on the other members when the European Union was formed.

We don’t want our agricultural land broken up to the extent that it becomes a burden on the taxpayer.

In any event the late Duke of Westminster was no fool, despite not being admitted to Eton, and I have no doubt his daughters are not paupers.

John Kelly

High Street, Dalkeith

‘Sport’ debate

With the grouse killing season under way, it is heartening to see how many people now oppose this “sport” because of the harm it does to animals and the environment.

From killing wildlife – including foxes, stoats, corvids and even protected birds of prey – to torching the precious peat uplands to encourage heather growth, shoot operators’ every act is aimed at maximising the number of grouse to be shot.

But “managing” the land in this way is unsustainable. Burning the peat not only releases CO2, which contributes to climate change, but also dries out the land and reduces its ability to absorb water, which can contribute to flooding.

Defenders of this “sport” claim that it has economic benefits and creates jobs, but they conveniently fail to 
mention the millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money being paid to grouse moor operators.

Happily, anti-grouse-shooting sentiment is growing massively as shown by the response to Animal Aid’s recent Week of Action Against Grouse Shooting and the 100,000-plus signatures on a League Against Cruel Sports petition calling for a ban.

Readers can find out more about the campaign against grouse shooting by visiting www.animalaid.org.uk/go/grouse

Fiona Pereira

Campaign Manager, Animal Aid