Readers Letters: Labour wrong to rule out coalitions with SNP

Now that the dust is beginning to settle after the latest council elections, it is increasingly puzzling that the Labour Party is opposing forming formal coalitions with the Tories or SNP, despite such arrangements existing in the last term.

The election resulted in a total of 27 out of 32 councils with no overall control, with the SNP and Labour each securing a majority in one and independents forming a majority in three. This nonsensical "no coalition” pledge is most recently being played out in Edinburgh, where it is clear Labour’s leader on the council wants to continue its partnership with the SNP, but Labour HQ has overruled this.

Labour accuses the SNP of not valuing councils and undermining local democracy, yet in the same breath they clearly do not trust council colleagues to decide what is best for their own areas. Labour should also have been clearer to voters in its own campaign material that in the vast majority of cases it had no chance of being in administration given the PR electoral system.

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Despite making moderate advances at the election the irony is that Labour, which aspires to form the Scottish Government, will inevitability be in administration in considerably fewer councils than previously.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar is opposed to 'formal coalitions' with other parties (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Alex Orr, Edinburgh

All together now

There was not a hint at either of the hustings I attended that the LibDem candidates would seek or go into a council coalition with the Tories.

All across Scotland they profited hugely from disgust at the Tories yet we now see them negotiating in places to actually join up with them and put them in control. I gave them a vote in my ward in Argyll (after the SNP) where I believe there is the option of a progressive coalition with the SNP (the largest party) and the Greens and some Independents. I hope they have the good sense to take it.

Dave McEwan Hill, Dalinlongart, Argyll

Turn to light

Having just returned from a river cruise which terminated in Berlin, I was struck by the German Parliament’s Reichstag building, designed by Norman Foster, with its huge glass dome meant to signify transparency in government.

Compare that building to our Holyrood Parliament design with its upturned boats and monastic MSP cells with minuscule windows. Although a Labour project, it’s a perfect design for an SNP government hell bent on secrecy; whether it be ferry contracts, hospital infections or the educational performance of our schools. It’s time the upturned boats were righted and the failures of this SNP government exposed for all to see!

George M Primrose, Uddingston, Glasgow

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Royal timewaster

Watching the Queen’s Speech read by the Prince of Wales I could not help but be struck by what an enormous waste of time and money it was, as well as all the symbols of English nationalism. It was like a D'Oyly Carte operetta. Let’s get real. Let the PM read out HIS government’s programme and save us a lot of time and money

Colin McAllister, St Andrews, Fife

Round the bends

A few years ago the Scottish Government made a fuss about completing the dualling of the A9 between Perth and Inverness, which was to be carried out with some urgency. On a recent trip north I noted that there are still 71 miles which have not been dualled, and there is currently no work underway other than some boreholes being drilled. At this rate of going we will have run out of oil before completion. Perhaps we could be informed of planned procedure, if there is such a thing. Or will this become A9Gate?

Meanwhile on the A82 between Tarbet and Inverarnan, a road which purports to be a trunk road but is actually little better than a narrow bendy cart track, nothing is happening despite us being told years ago that it was to be widened. In the summer months long vehicles struggle to pass each other at the many sharp bends and the resulting queues mean that it takes an hour to travel a few miles.

It's time to get serious about our infrastructure.

Richard Lyon, Kirkmichael, Ayrshire

Capital’s shame

Arriving in Edinburgh by car at the weekend, I was reminded how little regard the city's council have for the impression poorly maintained roads make upon visitors. The neglect is immediately apparent when turning onto the A90, where I have to wonder if the 50mph limit on the dual carriageway is an effort to limit damage to vehicles navigating the fractured road surface.

In addition to the various potholes and general decay is the cycle lane on Queensferry Road. I assume this was submitted as an April Fool's joke and passed by someone with no sense of humour.

Whoever poorly served voters felt compelled to choose in last week's local elections must do better, Edinburgh's roads are shameful.

Hamish Hossick, Broughty Ferry, Dundee

No mandate

I’m puzzled by the conclusion of Alastair Stewart when he tells us that the SNP has a moral mandate for a second referendum, as they “win” elections (Perspective, 10 May). He knows that the divide in Scottish politics is between nationalism and unionism. The SNP may be the largest party, but that does not make nationalism the most popular choice. As he must know, the nationalist vote largely goes to one party, whilst the unionist vote goes to three parties, hence the SNP comes out the biggest. Last week, nationalism gained just under 500 seats, and unionism got just under 600 seats – no mandate for a referendum here!

William Ballantine, Bo'ness, West Lothian

Dragging on

Alastair Stewart lists all the SNP election wins but doesn't draw the obvious conclusion that this is because the non-SNP vote is spread between the other parties. This indicates that SNP supporters vote always about the constitution while others vote on things that matter in their daily lives and for the party they think can best deliver on them.

He mentions that the SNP won 463 council seats but not that parties usually in favour of staying in the UK won over 100 more. On a turnout of around 45 per cent (abysmal when you consider how councils affect our daily lives) the SNP got less than half the vote. Yes, the SNP has lost only one vote – the referendum – but this was because it was a one-subject poll with two opposing views. Is this really going to drag on and on instead of politicians putting their efforts into improving the present day lives of many in Scotland?

Ian Lewis, Edinburgh

Mere blips

Perhaps my genes are showing, but I welcome the reunification of Ireland for much the same reason as I support the existing unification of Great Britain: islands should not be divided politically.

Look at the cases of Hispaniola (Haiti/Dominican Republic), Cyprus and others. The divisions are purely artificial, unnatural and clearly counterproductive of human happiness, a mere blip in the history of those lands and embarrassing evidence of human stupidity.

Tim Flinn, Haddington, East Lothian

Soft touch

It seems rather ironic that members of a ScotRail unit set up to counter anti-social behaviour on trains should themselves come under attack from youths (your report, 11 May). The incident points to the inadequacy of measures being taken by the authorities and the absence of a deterrent effect within our justice system. We know that an under-staffed Police Scotland has lost yet more valuable officers, and can only assume that the British Transport Police has similar resource problems.

Coupled with a justice system viewed as “soft touch” by most people, the general public can look forward to a future in which a disruptive minority will continue to cause concerns for travellers.

Bob MacDougall, Oxhill, Stirlingshire

No gamble

Your front page headline of 10 May proclaims: “Starmer gambles Labour leadership over ‘Beergate’ ”. Starmer is gambling nothing, he knows perfectly well that the police will shy from finding him chargeable in view of his “pledge” to resign if found to have acted unlawfully. They will take the easy way out and simply pronounce that the evidence is insufficient to institute proceedings against Sir Keir Starmer.

David Hollingdale, Edinburgh

Bug screening

In response to the report on 5 May, and the letter on 7 May from Jim Sutherland, I have noticed the difference in windscreen angle for years! I just had my 1970 Morris Minor out for a run to Stirling and collected over 100 bugs on the screen with more on the front of the car. My modern Toyota collects very few on the same stretch of road. Proof you are right, Jim!

Flora Leckie, Cardross, Dumbarton

Power point

Frances Scott claimed that Hinkley Point C, the new nuclear power station being built in Somerset, is one of several major projects in England funded by UK taxpayers, including those in Scotland (Letters, 9 May).She is mistaken. This project is funded by EDF (Électricité de France) and CGN (China General Nuclear Power Group). In effect it is being funded by French and Chinese taxpayers.Moreover, its cost overrun is estimated to be £2.9 billion, not £5bn and it has yet to be determined how delayed the completion will be.

Steuart Campbell, Edinburgh

(This letter was published on 10 May; we reprint it at Mr Campbell’s request as an edit changed his meaning. Our apologies.)

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