Scottish Labour is short on new ideas

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Labour’s Inverness conference (your reports) is ecologically friendly. It has recycled “One Nation” from Victorian Tories, “Putting Scotland first” from the SNP and “Narrow nationalism” from every unionist utterance over the past 40 years. I would love to be a narrow nationalist, but due to horizontal expansionism even Alex Salmond could hide behind me.

Labour’s conference may be Scottish in name, but like Edward I, Ed Miliband and the London ruling class were there to supervise Vinegar Jo Lamont, playing John Balliol. Ed managed a 24-minute speech, three of which actually concerned Scotland (I timed it), mainly attacking the SNP and saying nothing constructive. He clearly has little knowledge of Scotland and relies, parrot-like, on quoting from a crammed briefing.

He attacked First Minister Alex Salmond for saying that Baroness Thatcher was responsible for the Scottish Parliament, claiming it was Labour and the Scottish people who delivered it. We know (thanks to former defence secretary Baron Robertson of Port Ellen) that Labour reactivated this minimalist parliament to “stop nationalism dead”. It was reacting to the rise of the SNP, having done nothing for a century. Miliband doesn’t even know it is accepted across the political spectrum that devolution was a reaction to Thatcher and it is not uniquely nationalist – and he wants to rule Scotland.

He accused Salmond of 
cosying up to media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, forgetting to mention that it was Tony Blair who flew halfway across the world to spend a weekend with Murdoch. He accused the SNP of being as divisive as the Tories. If the Tories are that divisive, why is Labour dancing hand in hand with them in the “Better Together” club?

He mentioned nothing about enhanced devolution and later refused to answer a question on devolving income tax. He said nothing new or interesting. Everything seemed to be recycled from a decade ago. The sad truth is that he just does not cut it as a political leader. He has only one real political success to his name – and that was stabbing his brother in the back.

Thomas R Burgess

St Catherine’s Square

Perth

I could not agree more with Robert McAlpine (Perspective, 20 April) that to revitalise the Scottish Labour Party, it should have started with a big, positive vision for Scotland instead of concentrating on throwing mud at the SNP.

When is Scottish Labour, which I supported for several decades, going to answer to the demands of the Scottish people and not those of the Labour right-wingers in London and south-east England?

Scotland is already showing that its people do not want the English privatisation of parts of the NHS, student fees, neglect of the elderly and unemployed and especially the very expensive Trident.

Scottish Labour’s 41 MPs at Westminster seem to spend their time discussing and voting on matters only relevant to England and campaigning with the Tories for a No vote instead of working for the very different needs and values of the Scottish electorate. Is it too late to save themselves from self-destruction?

Ray Newton

Buckstone Way

Edinburgh

I thought it was an SNP conference, but it was a Labour Party conference giving much publicity to the SNP, speech after speech name-dropping First Minister Alex Salmond or lifting the name of the SNP.

Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont’s keynote speech gave a pledge “to work with the SNP to protect the poor and vulnerable from the injustice of the bedroom tax – we can protect them and we must”. Was this pledge an attempt by Ms Lamont to justify her “something for nothing” speech, perhaps trying to get her party on side?

How many Labour councils in Scotland have yet to pledge “no evictions due to the bedroom tax”? I know my council (Falkirk) has not made this pledge. Ms Lamont made mention of her opposition to Westminster having a reserve on welfare, so in her call for talks with the First Minister and the SNP, is she leaning towards independence on this issue?

Catriona C Clark

Hawthorn Drive

Banknock, Falkirk

If, AS has been suggested, Johann Lamont has been trying to appease the anti-UK side in her party with her remarks on tax at the Labour conference, that will surely be the greatest mistake ever made by a Scottish politician.

The pro-UK side are riding high in the referendum polls because – as many forecast would happen – left to its own devices, the SNP’s arguments implode one after another.

The SNP cannot win the independence referendum; Labour can only throw it away.

Alexander McKay

New Cut Rigg

Edinburgh

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