Protest no-vote

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I READ with some amusement the letter from your correspondent, Gordon Kennedy.

In his letter, Mr Kennedy demands that all those eligible to vote must do so. Does he not realise that many of us who did not vote made a conscious decision not to. Not voting sends the message that we are not engaged by the palpable nonsense evidenced by an irrelevance-based in Holywood. Mr Kennedy suggests we “get out and vote” – I certainly won’t be doing the latter but like many of my peers I intend doing the former!

Henry Richmond

Craiglea Drive, Edinburgh

Listening to the SNP devoutly claiming their mandate to govern Scotland, is it worth noting that 44.4 per cent of the electorate could not be bothered to vote.

Malcolm Parkin

Gamekeepers Road, Kinnesswood, Kinross

Nicola Sturgeon is probably correct in that she’ll get her manifesto through largely intact. She’ll simply hop from one opposition leader’s metaphorical bed to another on a regular basis, pragmatically snuggling up to form alliances. There’ll be many instances where one party will more or less agree with the nationalist stance. The crucial exception is the Greens. Their radical views on the economy and tax are a world away from the conservative Sturgeon’s.

Sturgeon, of course, needs Green support for the one cause that drives her above all else: UK break-up. And Patrick Harvie will eagerly provide this, if required in this parliamentary term – and that’s a big ‘if’.

Mr Harvie may want to be Sturgeon’s new best friend but when it comes to canny political manoeuvring, Sturgeon outclasses him by a country mile. In the unlikely event she pushes for indyref2, yes, she’ll seize his six votes. In every other respect, he’ll continue to be an uncomfortable necessity to her, awkwardly highlighting SNP double standards on the environment and weak anti-austerity policies.

Martin Redfern

Royal Circus, Edinburgh

Forget PR

Arguments for proportional representation in the UK political system are futile: first past the post is the correct method of matching votes cast to parliamentary outcome.

The PR theory involves apportioning numbers of seats to parties on the basis of votes supposedly cast in favour of them. In fact, no votes are ever gained by parties because they don’t as such contest actual elections.

Only individual members stand for office, receive votes and become parliamentarians. Their status as such is independent: otherwise, they’d have to resign their seats on leaving their sponsoring parties for any reason after election. The Scottish example of the additional member system is doubly ridiculous: besides the false recognition of votes as cast for parties, the number of seats allocated to each is supposed to establish a logical balance among them.

However, as with elected constituency members, these unelected extra MSPs, selected by the parties involved, have independence status.

In other words, they are free to transfer allegiance to any other party, thus destroying the very balance they were supposed to establish.

Indeed, given appropriate levels of seats gained overall, a sufficient number of such rebels could even bring about a change of administration.

Robert Dow

Ormiston Road, Tranent

Synonyms slip-up

Last Sunday, in a TV interview, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that the Conservative party would be on a “collision course with the Scottish population“ should they oppose a second referendum. This comment contains an astonishing assumption. It implies that Scotland’s entire population, in all its diversity, is united in the desire to become independent. But independence support (there are around 1 million pro-independence voters) and the Scottish population (more than 5 million people) are by no means interchangeable terms. Using them as synonyms is factually wrong. It also suggests that support for independence is mainstream thinking although, in reality, this is not the case.

In fact, the Holyrood election result shows that the majority of Scottish voters prefer a culture of political pluralism. Good for democracy and good for Scotland!

Regina Erich

Willow Row, Stonehaven

Get on with it

Former First Minister Henry McLeish has hit the headlines in calling for a Second Referendum. Is this not the former First Minister who, when he resigned, maintained it was a muddle, not a fiddle, over so-called Officegate business?

What Scotland needs now, with the 2014 Referendum over and a new Parliament installed at Holyrood, is to get on with making sure education, health and housing services, not forgetting police and transport, are in better shape and fit for purpose. And realise increased fiscal powers will necessitate Scotland living within its means.

Jim Craigen

Downie Grove, Edinburgh

On Trident

John McTernan claims that the trade unions foisted a policy of non-renewal of Trident on Kezia Dugdale and ensured it was part of Scottish Labour’s manifesto (The Scotsman, 
7 May).

This is incorrect and ignores the fact GMB Scotland has consistently argued the case for the Trident successor programme.

The Trident successor 
programme is crucial to defence manufacturing and with it thousands of highly skilled jobs on the 
Lower Clyde, Upper Clyde and Rosyth. Indeed, at Rosyth we already have members working on components for the 
successor programme. It is creating employment and sustaining employment in 
Scotland.

Trident is an emotive subject but it is not a devolved issue. The debate on renewal at the Scottish Labour Party Conference was always an utter indulgence while the party had more pressing priorities – economic fragility and unemployment, local government cuts, the oil and gas crisis, continued manufacturing decline, new powers for Holyrood and of course, Scotland’s constitutional future.

After last week’s election result, rather than backing a policy that would see the organised working-class – the very people Scottish Labour should be supporting – consigned to the unemployment scrap heap, perhaps Scottish Labour will reflect on its position and re-channel its energies into defending these vitally important and highly skilled manufacturing jobs.

That’s certainly what thousands of workers across Scottish defence-related industries want to see, as does GMB Scotland.

Gary Smith

GMB Scotland Regional Secretary, Fountain House, 
Woodside Crescent, Charing Cross, Glasgow

London bias

During the Scottish Parliament elections Ruth Davidison and her Conservative candidates made great efforts to lambast the SNP and what it saw as a “centralisation” of services.

This struck me as rather strange, given that her colleagues at Westminster have just proposed to shut the Business, Innovation and Skills office in Sheffield and move 247 posts to Whitehall.

Such action is, of course, slightly hypocritical, and contradicts the notion of the so-called “northern powerhouse” – London gets higher public spending per resident than any other area of the UK including Scotland, other than Northern Ireland, because so many civil servants are based there

This “London-centricness” of thinking is further exemplified by the further removal of jobs from Companies House in Cardiff to London.

Ruth Davidson should reflect on her comments on “centralisation” and speak to colleagues south of the Border to see what the Conservative Government there is doing.

Alex Orr

Leamington Terrace, Edinburgh

Be clear, Labour

A party in Scotland that is confused about its position on the constitution and confuses voters about its position on tax is unlikely to make much of an impact. That is the position Scottish Labour got itself into and its deputy leader Alex Rowley is right to focus on that (“Labour should fight for Home Rule”, 9 May). In the Holyrood election campaign leader Kezia Dugdale was no doubt sincere in arguing for more taxes to finance better services. But this proved to be out of touch with the public mood. People voted in the main for those parties who made their position on tax clear, and who wanted to keep them down, certainly for those earning below £43000. When it comes to people’s take home incomes, there is a world of a difference between what people might say they are in favour of and what they are prepared to vote for. Most voters believe at heart there is still room for dealing with waste in terms of public expenditure rather than putting taxes up. This is a reality Labour must face.

On the constitution, Mr Rowley is correct in arguing for a much more coherent approach – that of home rule, close to the federal approach. The only drawback is that these clothes can very quickly be stolen in the heat of public debate, even by the SNP. It may feel that the federal approach is the way forward if polls suggest continuously that independence will not be supported in a second referendum. However that may be, there is a need for something close to absolute precision about Labour’s stance. Unless voters can be clear about what Labour actually stands for, it will tread a lonely path toward oblivion.

Bob Taylor

Shiel Court, Glenrothes

Reject fudge

It comes as no surprise, Iain Duncan Smith’s announcement that Germany vetoed David Cameron’s plans on putting an emergency brake on immigration, and instead of standing up for Britain, he accepted this “deal”, a fudge which does nothing to deal with the huge problem of EU immigration which is putting immense strain on services in Britain.

This shows how much influence Germany has in the EU and how little power and respect Britain has. With all this scaremongering about European peace being threatened if we leave the EU, I believe if we stay peace is threatened by the controlling, domineering Germany.

Gordon Kennedy

Simpson Square, Perth

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