SNP ‘insults democracy at committees’

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Douglas Turner (Letters, 13 March) asserts that I “can only see the prospect of erosion of democracy when it relates to the SNP”. Not so. I oppose, for example, the principle of an unelected second chamber at Westminster and fully support Ed Miliband’s proposal to scrap the House of Lords and replace it with an elected senate representative of all regions.

I wonder if Mr Turner would accept that the SNP’s record in the context of what is the equivalent of a second chamber at Holyrood is also an affront to democracy?

The committee system has become, under the SNP, an instrument of policy and not what it was meant to be – a check on the government of the day. Committee reports, for example, on policing in Scotland, on potential membership of the EU and on educational attainment have been subject to significant doctoring by the SNP in an attempt to stifle potentially damaging criticism. Witnesses invited to give expert evidence have been hectored and even, on occasion, silenced. Would any Nationalist be prepared to mount a defence of such ­conduct?

On his claim that I have not read the Smith Commission report, I am sure he knows as well as I do that the proposal in question stated simply: “The functions of the British Transport Police in Scotland would be a devolved matter” (Paragraph 67). The mechanism, however, for achieving this is not specified. The SNP propose to pursue their usual centralising strategy by incorporating BTP functions into Police Scotland rather than having a separate, independent body as is the ­position at the moment. That is the point at issue.

Colin Hamilton

Braid Hills Avenue

Edinburgh

Brian Wilson’s article on a  Labour deal with the SNP at Westminster (13 March) contains two major errors.

Firstly, he repeats Labour’s misleading mantra that the biggest party at Westminster forms the government. This is utterly false as it is the party that commands a majority in the House of Commons that forms the government. At a post-election press conference in 2010, Jim Murphy said that as the sitting Prime Minister, Gordon Brown had the “constitutional and moral right to try to form a government”. Labour then entered into talks with the Lib Dems in a bid to cling on to power, despite having fewer seats than the Tories.

Secondly, it is mendacious propaganda to claim the SNP cut a deal with the Tories in 2007. The SNP formed a minority government despite Gordon Brown and Ming Campbell’s bid to conjure a secret backroom deal in London to thwart the preference of Scots voters. To illustrate the point, in many local councils Labour has formed a formal coalition with the Tories to stop the largest party, the SNP, from governing. 

More importantly, Nicola Sturgeon has promised that the SNP will not support a Tory government and the more SNP MPs that are elected, the better the deal Scotland will get from London.

CALUM STEWART

Montague Street

Edinburgh

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