Readers' letters: No hope of radical change with 'oven ready' Keir Starmer

Your editorial on Keir Starmer and his visit to Estonia (Scotsman, 22 December) will surely be greeted at Labour HQ as yet more evidence that he is “oven ready” for Downing Street and that since The Scotsman has spoken of him in glowing terms the recent claims of Brian Wilson and Rachel Reeves of a Labour “surge” in Scotland must be true.

Resplendent as he looked in his army fatigues – much gravitas added to an already very grave (and permanently perplexed) visage – only about 12 days ago he was rushing through Glasgow Central, terrified at the Glaswegian welcome he received.

I fear that like the odious Johnson, his impending premiership will consist of numerous photocalls in lab jackets, hard hats and fatigues (note to all politicians from Thatcher to Dukakis to Bush to Blair: posing on tanks and in military outfits and flak jackets makes you look silly, especially if you haven’t served). Curiously ,John McCain never posed in such gear as a US presidential candidate, only as a POW.

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Sartorial advice aside, I fear that Starmer and his thoroughly purged and now anaemic party offers little in the way of radical or transformative measures to help the Scottish people. The biggest and bravest thing that we can do would be to chart our own future as an independent and peaceful nation, a force for good in the world. The other way hasn’t worked, and we can wear our own clothes.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer visits the Tapa NATO forward operating base in Estonia close to the Russian border where he and shadow defence secretary John Healey saw exercises and met soldiers (Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer visits the Tapa NATO forward operating base in Estonia close to the Russian border where he and shadow defence secretary John Healey saw exercises and met soldiers (Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer visits the Tapa NATO forward operating base in Estonia close to the Russian border where he and shadow defence secretary John Healey saw exercises and met soldiers (Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)

Marjorie Ellis Thompson​, Edinburgh

Jobs for the boys

It is of little surprise that Mike Russell is now formally appointed by Holyrood to be the next Chair of the Land Commission.

When are we going to see an end of “jobs for the boys” in Scottish politics?

If Mr Russell had any sense of conscience, he would have stayed on as President of the SNP to sort out the incredible mess that this political party has made in Scotland.

So the message seems to be, if you want a sinecure for life, then join the SNP and get appointed to ministerial jobs irrespective of the necessary competence and experience necessary to properly discharge responsibility.

An utterely disgraceful episode in Scotland’s recent political history.

Derek Farmer, Anstruther, Fife

Cash grab

I was amused by Fraser Grant’s apparent anguish (Letters, 22 December) regretting that the SNP administration had only limited income tax powers and couldn’t control such governmental revenue streams as VAT, National Insurance or Corporation Tax.

What? Imagine the utter chaos if Yousaf, Robison, Matheson, et al could get their hands on any more of our cash!

Martin Redfern, Melrose, Scottish Borders

New Clearances

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Alison Campsie’s illuminating article about Danish Billionaire “Anders Povlsen and the changing the face of a Highland village” (Scotsman, 21 December) prompts a number of personal observations.

Knowing Tongue and the surrounding area well, I can’t help thinking that his quiet, sensitive stewardship and care for the natural world has been a great deal better than that of the Scottish Government.

Anders Povslen has done much more to defend our rapidly-diminishing, wild and precious places than the Scottish Government has ever done. These hauntingly beautiful landscapes are our greatest asset, and the very soul of our wellbeing.

The Scottish Government has handed over our incomparably beautiful scenery to be systematically trashed by foreign-owned wind industry multinationals. Hundreds of towering turbines and pylons piercing Highland communities. What a disastrous legacy that has turned out to be, the new Highland Clearances.

Returning from a summer cycle up glorious Glen Feshie, shortly after the Povslen family tragedy, we met Anders Povslen driving to the Lodge and were greeted with courtesy, a welcoming wave and a cheery smile. Contrast that with the contempt for the Highlands by our SNP government in the pockets of the ruthless wind industry!

It’s not who owns the land but how they look after it that is crucial. Our magnificent, unspoilt Highlands should be treasured and valued.

George Herraghty, Lhanbryde, Moray

Murderous strategy

In the 1940s it was decided to extinguish German industry in the city of Hamburg. It wasn’t possible for citizens to dodge the flames and flying debris, but that was war and collateral casualties were acceptable. The Nazi authorities tried to protect the population, unlike Hamas in Gaza, for whom civilians are cover and camouflage.

Does anyone believe Hamas will stop firing rockets at Israel if a ceasefire takes place? They could have stopped doing that any time in the last 20 years. What strategy do they have? The murder and ultimate desecration of human beings. Civilians are their strategic target.

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Has that ever happened before? Actually yes. It was customary up to the 17th century to massacre entire city populations after a victory.

But in modern warfare does that happen? If Hamas are involved it does. If the Russian Federation is involved it does. So what does a ceasefire mean to people like Hamas? It means regrouping and coming back later to slay more civilians. It is a war of racial hatred.

Tim Cox, Bern, Switzerland

Cutting skills

It’s a matter of some regret that the SNP/Green government is axing the Flexible Workforce Development Fund which has enhanced the skills of thousands of Scottish workers (Scotsman, 22 December).

This government action is surely short-sighted as a highly skilled and motivated workforce is better placed to meet the economic challenges of the future.

Bob MacDougall, Kippen, Sirling

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