When opposition loses its purpose

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William Ballantine (Letters, 23 January) overlooks the difference between opposition for its own sake and calling a government to account.

We have the example of the Edinburgh trams fiasco which the Holyrood parties insisted on pushing through because the then SNP minority regime was against it.

I wonder about the accountability factor among unionist parties’ supporters who saw their MSPs incurring the vast sums involved (£700 million going on £1 billion) in Edinburgh at the expense of, for example, the much-needed A9 improvements. The despair was palpable.

In the wider context, there was much for the SNP to oppose. Labour’s devolution settlement was inept.

We lacked adequate powers over the Scottish economy, yet we were expected to deliver on economic measures such as employment. We recall when employment increased, the so-called Scottish secretary soon claimed credit, but when they fell, Alex Salmond was asked what he was going to do about it.

The much misunderstood Barnett Formula imposed a shortfall on our block grant funding, yet Conservative MPs for English constituencies never stopped complaining: For how much longer will our taxpayers have to subsidise these Jocks?

What explains the sweeping aside by the SNP of the unionist parties, and their unprecedentedly high ratings in the polls this far in to their spell in office?

Meantime, we await with interest the general election result, and the delivery or otherwise of the “vow” and the Smith proposals, with Evel hovering about in the foreground.

If that falls by the wayside, who will be leading the protests: the SNP, or the Scottish unionist parties?

And will it be a case of genuinely calling the new Westminster government to account, or just opposition for its own sake?

With the tactical voting proposed by Donald Lewis (also 23 January) of having, say, Conservative and Labour supporters voting for their traditional enemies, only to dump the SNP, it’s a wonder they will get any candidates to take the trouble to stand.

Douglas R Mayer

Thomson Crescent