Labour's woes

AS ONE who was born and bred in the Socialist heartlands of West Fife, I am often asked '“ and often ask myself '“ how was it possible that the once-proud Labour Party not only lost their 'safe' mining-area seats in West Fife at Westminster at the last national election but were totally annihilated leaving Labour heading towards political oblivion? And at the forthcoming Holyrood elections, Labour are expected to lose virtually all of the first-past-the-post constituency seats.

Labour’s present leaders seem destined to consign the party into the political wilderness yet we are reminded often that we should not vote against Scottish Labour simply because of the policies of Blair and Brown. Even if we could forget the terrorist legacy of the multi-millionaire Socialist who led us into one ill-thought-out US sponsored conflict after another, it is harder to forgive and forget Brown and the Labour ex-First Minister Jack McConnell who between them championed enthusiastically private finance initiative – this Labour-implicated toxic legacy is expected to cost Scottish taxpayers a total of £30 billion for many years to come and its horrendous implications sees thousands of Edinburgh pupils denied their basic right to education at such a critical stage in their life.

So the choice on 5 May is simple – do you vote for the party that supports Trident, the House of Lords, austerity and now PFI or the SNP that wants to scrap Trident and the House of Lords and fight against austerity? Better together? Don’t think so.

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John G Mitchell

Direcleit, Isle of Harris

Lost focus

For some time now I’ve had the feeling that The Scotsman is in the pro-indy camp and tries to hide behind soft words designed to impress impartiality. However, your editorial “To stay or not to stay…” gives the lie to that stance.

Nicola Sturgeon knows that the only way to get her troops behind her is to promise them a re-run and the saltire blinkered will fall into line, she knows she can’t win an independence referendum but she is well aware what’s she’s up to and so do you. Editorials by respected journals and hand wringing by unionists keeps her in the limelight on a subject which is as dead as Monty’s Parrot disguised with the emperor’s clothes. She is nakedly teasing all who bite the bait

The other party leaders should simply ignore her or laugh at her whenever she mentions it.

Stan Hogarth

Palmerston Place, Edinburgh

Nicola Sturgeon is a highly regarded political operator. Her slick PR team is relentlessly effective. But has she made a tactical error in being too honest in her manifesto?

She admits she’ll spend her next parliamentary term – in its entirety, if necessary – working hard to convince the majority who disagree with her ambition to break-up the UK. We’ve watched the SNP lose focus on the economy and public services time and again over the last five years as it obsessed over the constitution. Now it seems the next five will be the same.

It’s astounding anyone opposed to breaking up the UK would vote for a party whose overarching objective to break up the UK. But, while Nationalist support has weakened somewhat lately, opinion polls still suggest 200,000 or so opposed to independence may well vote SNP – or Greens – and, in doing so, usher in another five wasted years of constitutional wrangling.

Martin Redfern

Royal Circus, Edinburgh

Queen question

One thing lacking in the celebrations of the Queen’s 90th birthday was any update of the SNP’s position with regard to the monarchy.

The SNP conference at Rothesay in 1997 passed a motion that any future SNP government would put the question of the monarchy to a referendum. That motion has never, to my knowledge, been rescinded and if so must remain party policy. There was a very strong republican, anti-monarchy element then prominent in the party, led by Roseanna Cummingham, now a minster in the current SNP administration.

It would seem that the monarchy question, along with much else, has been conveniently kicked into touch. These once principled and proud republicans and anti-Nato campaigners now apparently meekly wait for the next diktat from Bute House. High office and ministerial cars apparently overcome principles and honesty.

Alexander McKay

New Cut Rigg, Edinburgh

Bank vote

I would invite any shareholder of the Lloyds Banking Group to join with me to vote out the group chief executive Antonio Horta -Osorio for the AGM on Thursday 12 May 2016 in the EICC Edinburgh over his role in overseeing the Bank of Scotland.

My branch here in Bonar Bridge of Bank of Scotland is now only open for five hours on a Tuesday (10-3pm) with the nearest Bank of Scotland a 22 miles round trip to Lairg or a 28 miles round trip to Dornoch.

Michael Baird

Dornoch Road, Bonar Bridge

Priced out of Iona

My wife and I are standing outside Iona Abbey: but we are not going in. We are 86 and 83 years old, so the journey has been a real trauchle and this may well be our last opportunity: but we are not going in.

The cathedral and abbey buildings have had a fundamental importance in transforming our lives since we first gazed and then entered them when in our teens: but this time we are not going in.

At the age of 16, the realisation that the mason rebuilding the medieval refectory block was a volunteer who had given up his Edinburgh wages for the summer months, knowing the difficulty he would have finding work for the winter back home, helped turn me from the prevailing view that chasing money was the way to a satisfying life. In later years, I found myself sledgehammering concrete for the floor and laying felt for the roof of the museum block, then digging the ditch needed to get the island’s new water supply into the Abbey.

Standing at the locked gate, I stare again this year in horror at the price listed for us to go in so that we might resume our annual practice of praying here for Iona, our family and the peace of the world. I do not remember having to pay before praying in Chartres or Vezelay, in Moscow or Istanbul.

Iona Cathedral is not “a stately home” opened to make money for its owners. With Historic Environment Scotland now having taken over as Trustees, I trust the blanket charging policy in recent years can be replaced soon by an arrangement that respects the raison-d’etre of this particular heritage.

(Rev) Jack Kellet


Girls’ maths fear

Gosh! Girls fear mathematics more than they fear boys, or so you tell us (Fear rather than talent affects girls’ mathematics, 22 April).

I don’t know how that’s measured but surely these must be fearsome boys. Is this only in co-educational schools?

Steuart Campbell

Dovecot Loan, Edinburgh

Views on Obama

It is intriguing to note the negative reaction by those backing Brexit to Barack Obama’s proclamations on the advantages to the UK of it staying in the EU.

Boris Johnson , Iain Duncan Smith and Nigel Farage have poured scorn on thpresident. This is of course rather odd, given that in the Scottish independence referendum many of those same individuals now so critical of the his intervention either welcomed it on that occasion or said nothing.

It clearly smacks more than a little of hypocrisy and lacks credibility to be critical of this intervention on the EU referendum, but to have stayed silent when it came to the Scottish independence referendum.

Alex Orr

Leamington Terrace, Edinburgh

Climate of change

The Australian Attorney General, George Brantis, has asked a simple but devastating question about climate change science.

“If the science is settled, why do we need research scientists to continue inquiring into the settled science?”

Politicians in the UK need to ask the same question and save taxpayers money by immediately stopping the salaries and research grants of our climate scientists and their support staff.

Clark Cross

Springfield Road, Linlithgow

Beacons of hope

Why did Her Majesty the Queen light a thousand beacons? Was Gondor calling for aid?

Mark Boyle

Linn Park Gardens, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

Diabetes pledge

I was heartened to see the SNP manifesto promise to increase the provision of insulin pump therapy to 6,000 people living with type 1 diabetes – over 20 per cent of those in Scotland living with the condition.

Scotland has the third highest rate of type 1 diabetes in the world. Insulin pumps can help them better control their blood glucose levels.

Greater access to pumps is something JDRF Scotland, the type 1 diabetes charity, has been calling for. The technology for such pumps is part of an evolving success story of type 1 diabetes research.

What drives many of us with type 1 is the prospect of a cure and with every new research project that goal comes another step closer. In Scotland we have a wealth of expertise in the life science and biotech sectors. We have 19 universities and higher education institutions, top talent and world-leading research facilities.

Now, more than anything, we want to see this great national resource take up the challenge to help find the cure.

That’s why we are calling upon the candidates in the Scottish Parliament elections to sign a pledge to commit their support for more research. By signing the #type1pledge they will not only be helping the many thousands in Scotland affected by this life-changing condition but also helping to secure Scotland’s reputation as a world class centre for medical research.

Peter Jones

Chairman, JDRF Scotland Development Group