Readers' Letters: Labour could be credible alternative to Tories

What does Labour at UK level need to do to become a credible alternative to modern “big state” Conservatism?
New Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves has a key role to play in Labour's bid to seize power, says reader (Picture: Hollie Adams/Getty Images)New Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves has a key role to play in Labour's bid to seize power, says reader (Picture: Hollie Adams/Getty Images)
New Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves has a key role to play in Labour's bid to seize power, says reader (Picture: Hollie Adams/Getty Images)

Ayesha Hazarika seems to think that a more pro-business stance, coupled with some strong points on the cost of living, will do the trick (Perspective, 29 October). In truth its challenges go much deeper than that.

There is the question of its leadership as Sir Keir Starmer struggles to make a mark in terms of public recognition and overall vision. To this must be added the party's stance on public/private provision of services. What exactly is it? As the next election approaches the Conservatives will almost certainly want to revert to strong support for the private sector. it will remind voters that its support for strong state intervention in the last 18 months has been a necessity to deal with the Covid crisis. It will remind people that Labour lost the last election in 2019 by promising too much state intervention. The new Shadow Chancellor, Rachel Reeves, needs to be clear about Labour' s general approach to markets.

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Then there is the controversy over the constitution. If Labour wants to stop short of independence and strengthen devolution it should be clear about its position on increased powers. It needs also to counter the Westminster government's proposals on the finance of social care south of the Border. It has a number of flaws but at least it is an attempt to cope with a matter that has vexed all administrations in the last 20 years. Labour needs to show that it can manage welfare provision more sympathetically than its opponents without presenting itself as statist and on the side of the feckless. It needs a more dynamic leadership but based around policies that reflect not just changes in work and life patterns but what voters see as the limits of state power in the post Covid age.

Bob Taylor, Glenrothes, Fife

Prove claims

A fictional narrative is being built up of pro-life campaigners “intimidating”, “harassing” and “terrorising” women attending abortion clinics. Laura Waddell is clearly set on perpetuating this myth, even repeating the utterly unsubstantiated, but politically convenient, claim that a woman outside Edinburgh’s Chalmers Clinic was hit by a car driven by an anti-abortion protester (Perspective, 28 October).Why were no pictures of the “graphic, shocking placards” provided? These vigils have been going on daily for weeks, surely a photograph could have strengthened the case? Which placards, exactly, were shocking and graphic? None have featured abortion images – the grisly truth of abortion is indeed too disturbing to display in this context. “Love protects”? “We can help”? “Pray for an end to Abortion?” Is it these? Perhaps Ms Waddell can be more precise about her accusation – or was it just hysterical exaggeration to the point of dishonesty?

How about the “ugly fire and brimstone words”? Any evidence? Recordings? Quotations? The people taking part in these vigils, including myself, are routinely insulted and abused in the most aggressive manner. The response is always temperate and respectful. In Edinburgh, the wall where vigil participants usually stand was smeared with excrement. A few days ago a man approached the group with an aerosol and scrawled "Pro-Choice" on the wall right beside them – you can go and see for yourself.

The fantasy of aggressive pro-life protesters may be founded on lies, but it's doing its job. The Parliament is to debate "buffer zones" around abortion clinics next month.

Abortion is a grave moral evil that brings shame on our nation. The dehumanisation and subsequent destruction of innocent human life should weigh heavily on our national conscience. Perhaps it already does, and that is why any pricking of that conscience is met with such vehemency.

Richard Lucas, Leader, Scottish Family Party, Glasgow

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Anti-abortion protests outside clinics should not be allowed to intimidate women...

No protection

With even the BBC now admitting Covid-19 injections do not prevent infection or transmission, the existence of vaccine passports is impossible to justify. They do not represent any assurance of health protection from anyone else attending a club or sporting occasion, all they do is surrender the carrier's personal details to third parties, without their consent. This nonsense must end, now.

Hamish Hossick, Dundee

Festive fear

I am dismayed Nicola Sturgeon has opened up Scotland to flights from every country in the world regardless of their Covid levels. Her failure is leading to 12,000 Covid deaths in Scotland by this Christmas.

David Watson, Edinburgh

Good memory

I loved the throwaway reference to the Gulf of Tonkin in the leading article about the French/UK fisheries dispute (29 October). How many readers will be old enough to remember the incident which the United States used to justify the bombing of Hanoi at the start of the Vietnam War?

KW McKay Carrbridge, Highland

Budget blunder?

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Kenny MacAskill tells us that “Scotland is just a theme park to plunder for its natural resources” (Perspective, 28 October). This at the moment that £4.6 billion is coming our way from the Budget. Not the cleverest of comments, Kenny!

William Ballantine, Bo'ness, West Lothian

Power grab

Ken Currie has obviously fallen for Tory PR smoke and mirrors over the Budget proposals (Letters, 29 October). We in Scotland pay our share of UK taxes and the reality is that in cash terms, the Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts UK borrowing will be £183 billion next year plus inflation of up to five per cent, which will eat into any promised £4.6 billion. Also, Scotland’s resource budget is being slashed by seven per cent compared to last year. Boris Johnson’s disastrous Covid decisions caused the need to borrow so much and although Scotland voted overwhelmingly against Brexit, we continue to pay a heavy price, with the UK’s GDP predicted to fall by four per cent. No trade deal with New Zealand can make up for the loss of 27 European single markets.

The direct financing from Westminster for Scottish communities and councils is a deliberate attack on the powers of Holyrood and comes from the Internal Market and Shared Prosperity funds, designed to replace cash from EU schemes that supported various projects. The Scottish Government administered the EU schemes. If London distributes this cash directly to Scottish councils, it is squeezing out the democratically elected Scottish Government and yet another Westminster power grab. Unionists may think this is a wizard wheeze but those of a Labour or Liberal Democrat persuasion should ask themselves if they consider that would be acceptable if their party was elected by us to be in power in Scotland.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh

Apocalypse now?

Amongst all The Scotsman articles warning of a climate apocalypse the latest editorial is the only one that talks common sense (28 October). It says: “We shouldn't make the mistake of trying to carry the world on our shoulders.” However, on the previous page there was Nicholas Stern making the same old dubious statements about extreme weather ("Economic case for tackling climate change is now stronger than ever"). The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has repeatedly said that there was low confidence that extreme weather events were caused by climate change. Prof Stern says that the UK has mainly achieved its cut in emissions by switching from coal to gas.

So why are we going to ban gas for cooking and heating, especially when electricity costs 5.6 times more than gas? Over the last 174 days, on average, wind turbines only supplied 20 per cent of our electricity whereas gas provided 43 per cent. Prof Stern states that finance must be given to developing countries since "it is the right thing to do''. The amount already on the table is an annual $100 billion of Western taxpayers' money but the developing nations are demanding more. Blackmail? They say they will improve their emission targets but will they? We all know the answer. However spin doctors will have the audacity to declare COP26 a resounding success.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow

Oh well

Apparently those concerned enough about Scotland’s biggest city to point out the desperate deterioration in its cleanliness, hygiene and appearance over the past ten years or so are ‘’talking Glasgow down.’’ This is of course the new Scotspeak for pointing out glaring deficiencies if in doing so they can in any way embarrass the SNP. Orwell will be turning in his grave.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

Quite the coup

So how did Nicola Sturgeon do it? Deadlines had passed to resolve the RMT rail dispute and no-one had moved. Suddenly all is well, the RMT have agreed to exactly what was on the table after all and the strike is off. Fantastic? Yes. At First Minister's Questions Ms Sturgeon rebuffed all Douglas Ross's questions but noticeably only quoted a one-year agreement when the RMT were seeking a two-year one. Ms Sturgeon has probably kicked the next and harder part of this agreement down the road by one year when the Scottish Government will be in sole charge of pay and conditions. How convenient – except for Scottish taxpayers.

Gerald Edwards, Glasgow


The news headlines say that a “convicted killer” has absconded from an open prison. A convicted killer was allowed to wander free. Can we now redefine "gullible" when it is used in connection with the British justice system, please?

Steve Hayes, Leven, Fife

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