Readers' letters: Natalie Elphicke MP at home in Keir Starmer's right-wing Labour

The famous quote “you’re judged by the company you keep”, came to mind when noting the defection of former Tory MP, Natalie Elphicke, to Labour.

The colourful Dover MP, famed for her rather right-wing views, has unexpectedly crossed the floor to join the ranks of the Labour Party (Scotsman, 9 May), where she clearly feels more at home.

Initially highly critical of Labour’s plans to tackle immigration, Ms Elphicke was also previously suspended from the Commons for trying to influence the judge linked to her former husband, Charlie Elphicke, who was found guilty on multiple counts of sexual assault.

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Ms Elphicke also famously apologised to footballer Marcus Rashford for claiming that he should spend more time in his day job rather than campaigning against child poverty.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer welcomes former Conservative MP Natalie Elphicke in his parliamentary office in the House of Commons following her defection to Labour (Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer welcomes former Conservative MP Natalie Elphicke in his parliamentary office in the House of Commons following her defection to Labour (Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer welcomes former Conservative MP Natalie Elphicke in his parliamentary office in the House of Commons following her defection to Labour (Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)

Even in comparison with other Tories, her views are starkly on the right and she has consistently voted to make it easier to remove someone’s citizenship and has almost always voted for stronger laws and enforcement of immigration rules. It is indicative of how far to the right Labour has veered, that Ms Elphicke should find this a more appropriate home than the current Conservative benches.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh

Terminal rot

The bizarre defection of Natalie Elphicke MP to a party she despises, judging by her pronouncements of the recent past, encapsulates the terminal rot at the heart of this nation.

We have Conservatives who don’t conserve; Labour for the work-shy; Liberals wishing to make views outside of their self-righteous bubble illegal to express; Greens more interested in alternate lifestyles than ecology, and Reformers who want regression (the least said about the poundshop gangsters of “nationalism” and “unionism” on the Celtic fringes, the better).

Parties are no longer vehicles for ideals, but teams competing to win power for its own sake by any means necessary, masquerading under titles whose sole purpose is to retain those voters to whom blind “brand loyalty” dictates their vote. Decades ago, men like Michael Foot and Enoch Powell threw away glittering careers in journalism and academia because their sense of duty to the people of this country brought realisation their talents were best served in Parliament, building that better tomorrow promised as just reward for the sacrifices of World War II.

Now the Commons and Lords suppurate in a miasma of self-service and hubris, of parasites never missing a meal while their constituents queue at the food bank. In every street of every settlement, we’re now seeing the denouement of a society without morals or scruples.

Mark Boyle, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

Jumping ship

The close proximity of the UK's two establishment parties on Gaza, Brexit, nuclear weapons, the two-child benefit cap and myriad other policies is illustrated by the recent defection of two Tory MPs to the Labour Party.

Years ago, the Liberal Democrats would have been deemed a more natural home for estranged Tories but Dr Dan Poulter and Natalie Elphicke doubtless considered them too left wing in comparison with Sir Keir Starmer’s outfit! The big question is, will this trickle of disillusioned Tories become a flood as the general election looms ever closer?

Alan Woodcock, Dundee

Fringe benefits

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Every year as the Edinburgh Fringe approaches we hear begging bowls being vigorously rattled and requests for funding and accommodation, even in recent years strident demands that the city council rescinds its justified policy on restricting short-term lets.

Every year we hear dire predictions about the decline and ultimate death of the event. Every year, however, the Fringe seems to become bigger and more overwhelming.

Your article (9 May) exposes the hype behind this annual shroud-waving. The number of shows is already up ten per cent on last year, with hundreds more expected to be added before August.

A period of silence from the directors and promoters of the annual extravaganza would be welcome.

Robert Cairns, Ceres, Fife

Third World?

We were on Holiday in India recently. The Times of India reported that in the latest fiscal year India had constructed more than 23,000 kilometres of highways.

I reflected on our numerous and on going iterations regarding the A9 and wondered which of the two countries could really be described as “Third World”.

John Wright, Edinburgh

Shameless Swinney

It is just 15 months since the SNP leadership election, when Kate Forbes MSP stood for the position which she ultimately lost to Humza Yousaf. She has now been appointed Deputy First Minister by John Swinney, the new Scottish First Minister.

However, 15 months ago during the leadership campaign, John Swinney commented about Kate Forbes’ religious beliefs, saying: “If Kate wants to set out those views, with which I profoundly disagree despite being a man of deep faith, then the party [SNP] membership will make their judgement about those views and whether they think those views are appropriate for someone to hold if they are leader of the SNP and First Minister”. It now seems that the “deep faith” expressed by John Swinney has been “parked” to one side and Kate Forbes’ views are indeed “appropriate” to hold the position of Deputy First Minister.

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Finally, it is worth noting that the SNP party membership so cherished by Mr Swinney 15 months ago had no say whatsoever in the appointment of Kate Forbes as Deputy First Minister. Ultimately this is an utterly shameless and entirely self-interested appointment. It also reflects poorly on Kate Forbes in accepting the role.

Richard Allison, Edinburgh

Sinking ship

The most outstanding thing about John Swinney’s cabinet is the apparent lack of talent. The ‘continuity’ thread leading from Nicola Sturgeon still exists and therefore we can expect much of the same.

There was no re-arranging of chairs on the decks of the Steamship SNP as it hurtles towards the political iceberg and one must assume that those on board, who have cast their lot with Captain Swinney, will happily go down with the sinking ship. Even Kate Forbes didn’t take to the lifeboats, which will disappoint some of her supporters. They say that a week in politics is a long time but a further two years of this lot will seem like an eternity.

Bob MacDougall, Kippen, Stirling

Blooming bollards

I was in Edinburgh’s Charlotte Square recently and was appalled to see the mass of bollards now in place in what was once called “The most beautiful square in Europe”.

The vociferous cycling lobby seems to be determined to ruin Edinburgh, both visually and practically and to what end? There are rarely cyclists seen in the defined lanes and yet the city is being hung drawn and quartered to meet their unexplained needs. This is not Amsterdam and yet the determination of the few seems to be compromising the life of the many, both in terms of access and the visual delights that once were ours to enjoy. When will this expensive vandalism cease?

David Gerrard, Edinburgh

Maxwell’s exit

Doug Clark (Letters, 9 May) is spot on with his description of James Clerk Maxwell as one of the greatest mathematical physicists of all time. After all, Einstein said that all he was doing was following the Maxwellian programme.

But drawing the First Minister’s attention to Maxwell is dangerous, because it might cause him to think that continuing the current SNP policy of giving universities a hard time wont have deleterious effects.

The two universities in Aberdeen, King’s and Marischal Colleges, were united in 1860 by Act of Parliament, and when a subject had two professors before the fusion, one was let go. In physics (Natural Philosophy) it was Maxwell who lost his job, explaining why he did much of his groundbreaking work in London and Oxford.

Hugh Pennington, Aberdeen

Action at last

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Sir Iain Duncan Smith has tabled a series of amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill that would lead to those riding bicycles, e-bikes, e-scooters, unicycles and “personal transporters” facing tougher penalties if they injure or kill pedestrians.

Politicians must support this Bill or face the wrath of the public who have seen too many rogue cyclists and e-scooter riders causing deaths and injuries and avoiding adequate punishment since today’s law is based on a Victorian 1861 law for “wanton and furious driving” intended for riders of horse-drawn carriages. This only provides for a maximum of two years in jail whereas today a motorist can face a life sentence.

Already numerous deaths and serious injuries have been caused by bikes and e-bikes, which are legal on the roads but not on pavements, and private e-scooters which are not legal in the UK but which are blatantly being ridden with little police intervention.

There are one million privately-owned e-scooters just awaiting government approval to legally swoop on to our roads and illegally on to our pavements. This Bill will provide the opportunity to introduce identification, compulsory insurance and a road tax for these modes of transport.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow, West Lothian

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