No confidence in Labour party

PAUL Lewis criticised groups who had advocated a Yes vote (Letters, 8 February) and named the SNP and SWP as if these were the only ones.

However, he fails to mention the Scottish Green Party or SSP or any of the other groups such as Women for Independence, ­Labour for Independence, ­National Collective and CND. It is noticeable he didn’t comment on the unusual bedfellows advocating a No vote, as UKIP, the BNP and the Communist Party had sided with the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Labour Parties.

Mr Lewis also misrepresented the fall of the Labour Government in 1979. He may not be old enough to remember, but in his eagerness to blame the SNP he doesn’t mention that Jim Callaghan’s government (which in 1974 had only a three-seat majority) had been reduced to a minority of 15 (309 Labour, 324 opposition, one vacant seat and the Speaker). Perhaps he is un­aware that all 13 (former Lib/Lab pact) Liberal MPs and eight Northern Ireland Unionists voted with the Conservatives and that Labour’s deputy chief whip Walter Harrison allowed the Conservatives to break the normal “pairing” conventions and permitted them to have an additional vote. This was crucial as Margaret Thatcher’s no ­confidence motion was carried by this single vote.

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He also does not mention the no confidence vote occurred because Labour MP George Cunningham had introduced the controversial 40 per cent threshold rule and led another 34 Labour MPs in voting with the Tories against his party’s own manifesto commitment, thus scuppering the Scottish Assembly. Older readers will recall that people who had died, emigrated, were away on business or holiday or had moved home were counted (sometimes twice) on the register, as were many prisoners. Their inclusion made it virtually impossible to achieve the threshold. (Had a similar 40 per cent rule applied at the 2010 general election, only one of Scotland’s 59 MPs would have been elected.)

Finally, Mr Lewis forgets that Labour had opportunities in 1983, 1987 and 1992 to get rid of the Tories, but failed.

Roddy MacNeill, East Kilbride