Miliband on weak ground with attack

It is astonishing that Labour leader Ed Miliband should choose to attack the SNP on the difficult question of the cost of living (your report, 30 December).

This would appear to be particularly weak ground in the light of the review of charging that his party is currently carrying out in Scotland under Professor Arthur Midwinter.

I wonder what the effect on household incomes here would be if there was no council tax freeze, prescription charges were reintroduced for those under 60 and not on benefits, tuition fees came back, and changes to the concessionary travel scheme meant that pensioners were charged for their bus trips.

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There is a majority SNP government in Holyrood today largely because these charges do not exist. Mr Miliband should tread warily on two counts: he should be wary about reintroducing them, and he should be wary of accusing others of lack of concern for the erosion of household incomes.

Ironically, in the Dunfermline by-election in October, Labour took an equivocal stance on all this. It seemed to work. But the problem has not gone away.

It remains to be seen whether the Nationalists can exploit Labour’s divisions on the matter in the forthcoming election campaign in the Cowdenbeath constituency.

Ed Miliband may feel that he is on to a winner by promising an energy price freeze if Labour is elected at Westminster in 2015.

But this promise has already been shown to be fraught with practical difficulties. It might appear shallow in the light of the concrete achievements on freezing charges in the Holyrood Parliament.

Labour’s serious divisions on this matter might be cruelly exposed in the headlights of the various polls due between now and the next general election.

Bob Taylor

Shiel Court

Glenrothes

David Cameron and Lord Forsyth rightly rejected criticism of Alistair Darling’s low-key approach to the debate about hiving off Scotland from the United Kingdom.

When faced with histrionics from an opponent it is surely better to remain composed and rational rather than employing his chosen weapons of emotional obfuscation.

For the past three centuries we have been happily married to the other nations making up these islands and it is up to those who demand divorce to make the case for so doing.

But the polls show that leaving the UK is a minority choice on which most Scots made up their mind years ago and will not be persuaded by Alex Salmond’s last-minute antics.

The First Minister craves a televised barney with David Cameron in which he can rant about Eton rather than economics and the Prime Minister should have nothing to do with it.

(Dr) John Cameron

Howard Place

St Andrews

I wonder if other readers have noticed the strong resemblance between the arguments for independence and the arguments for religious belief. Yes campaigners and believers both rely heavily on assertions that have little or no basis in fact. There is no more certainty in the statement that there was a historical figure called Jesus than in the claim that an independent Scotland would automatically become a member of the European Union.

Both sides lure in naive bystanders with the promise of utopia which they cannot guarantee – eternal life for the faithful and a miracle economy for Nationalists. Many other examples of wishful thinking come to mind.

That great Scot and rationalist David Hume – who, like his country, flourished under the Union – had no time for the illusions of religion. I doubt that he would have had much patience for the SNP’s daydreams either.

Martin Foreman

Craigend Park

Edinburgh