Readers' Letters: Scotland needs an independent Labour Party

Now that it is clear following Sir Keir Starmer’s latest comments that the Labour Party no longer considers democracy in Scotland important, or even relevant to his personal ambitions for the UK, will the 40 per cent of Labour Party supporters in Scotland who support self-determination finally act according to their fundamental political principles as espoused by founder Keir Hardie?

While Anas Sarwar masquerades as a “true socialist” it is obvious that the Labour Party in Scotland is in effect merely the “branch office” of a party primarily serving the interests of the voting public in England. It is time for Gordon Brown, Henry McLeish and other prominent long-time servants of the party to wake up to the realisation that no form of genuine federalism is going to happen and the only truly progressive route forward is to work to establish an Independent Labour Party that endorses Independence.

Failing to rise above any remaining anti-SNP prejudices will simply invite more party members to join one of the established independence-supporting parties, which will likely in turn represent their socialist principles in a first proportionately representative independent Scottish parliament.

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry, East Lothian

Sir Keir Starmer's Labour Party no longer considers democracy in Scotland important, says reader (Picture: David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)Sir Keir Starmer's Labour Party no longer considers democracy in Scotland important, says reader (Picture: David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
Sir Keir Starmer's Labour Party no longer considers democracy in Scotland important, says reader (Picture: David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Careful now

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As the Scottish Government is planning to donate £5 million to other countries by way of reparations for having invented the Industrial Revolution, I hope they are aware of the ammunition they are giving to those who would wish to reduce the Barnett Formula.It would seem to them that if the Scottish Government can afford such a gesture then the Formula is too generous.

C Lowson, Fareham, Hants

Climate clowns?

The revelation that Scotland's claim to have 25 per cent of Europe's offshore wind power potential is false will come as no surprise to observers monitoring the credibility and transparency of the Scottish Government. With the true figure reckoned to be in the 4-6 per cent range, one must ask whether the failure to update this statistic has been intentional or can be put down to incompetence.

Such false figures certainly helped Nicola Sturgeon's grandstanding on the world stage as she rubbed shoulders with similar self-styled “world leaders” in Egypt seeking emission agreements which could have been finalised via Zoom and not required so many carbon footprints.

Climate change is a major threat to the future of the planet and its inhabitants but the most worrying aspect is that the major polluters don't seem to be interested in taking it seriously, making Scotland's contribution to fighting climate change nothing more than a drop in a plastic polluted ocean.

Bob MacDougall, Kippen, Stirlingshire

Sturgeon’s travels

Murdo Fraser writes about the travels of our First Minister, just back from Egypt (Perspective, 9 November). Will we be seeing her jet off to the forthcoming football World Cup – you never know? Pity about the day job though.

William Ballantine, Bo'ness, West Lothian

Legal trip?

Two things occurred to me about our First Minister's persona non grata trip to COP27. The first is whether she would have rushed to attend if it had been hosted by a country which insists on women wearing the burka. It kind of defeats the self promoting virtue signalling selfie somewhat.

More seriously, is the misuse of funds for purposes outside the delegated powers of a devolved authority paid by Scottish taxpayers illegal or a challengeable misappropriation and application of public funds which should be taken up by the appropriate review authority ? If so, can the relevant parties please act?

Fraser MacGregor, Edinburgh

Splitting headache

The current proposals for the Westminster constituencies in Scotland need to be looked at again if they are to embrace the principles of the Boundary Commission. These include special geographical considerations including particular size, shape and accessibility of a constituency. Local government boundaries are also a consideration under the principles, as are local ties that could become endangered as a result of changes.

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My own area, Falkirk, an historic town, is effectively having a cut through the local authority, with some parts of Falkirk being moved and joining parts of Clackmannan, and other parts moved over to be in the new Bathgate & Linlithgow constituency. With few transport links, it makes no geographical sense and splits communities. Falkirk’s Westminster seat should embrace the boundaries of Falkirk Council for numerous reasons and practical operations. The Boundary Commission need to embrace community ties going forward, not sear them!

Catriona C Clark, Banknock, Falkirk

Back nurses

I was happy to see that the Royal College of Nursing had decided at its conference recently that it could take industrial action to defend its members’ living standards.

I remember arguing with RCN members in the early 1980s that they should support other nurses, organised in STUC-affiliated unions, in the fight for decent wages so they could feel valued members of society.

When I was a nurse in the old Glasgow Royal Infirmary we really depended on the solidarity of coal miners, local tobacco and biscuit factory workers, amongst others, to bolster our fight against Thatcher's neo-liberal economic policies. It was not too difficult to identify collectively really essential work as everyone has vulnerable friends and relatives.

We all benefit from the efforts of public sector workers, including cleansing and postal services. Now the case is probably stronger and it is even more important that the Scottish Parliament shows on whose side it is. We need to see what applauding during the pandemic really means in practice today. I hope that whatever the RCN ballot result, it will be enough to elicit a serious pay offer that will put words about defending the NHS into reality and practice.

Norman Lockhart, Innerleithen, Scottish Borders

Cruel procedure

In 2008, the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland wrote to health executives informing them that ritual circumcision was to be provided on the NHS. “In the interest of the wellbeing of the child”, he wrote, the procedure would be carried out under general anaesthetic by a paediatric surgeon in one of four specialist paediatric centres. One of these is in North East Scotland and it continues to condone this unacceptable practice.

At a time when necessary paediatric operations are being delayed due to staffing and bed shortages, surely we should not be performing unnecessary, painful and irreversible operations without consent from the children?

People in Britain are rightly outraged by the thought of ritual female genital mutilation. Why do we acquiesce to the mutilation of male genitals?

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“In the interest of the wellbeing of the child” male circumcisions should be limited to those very rare medical indications where non-surgical treatments have failed.

Boys should not be harmed because of the religious or cultural beliefs of their parents.

Bill Ledingham, Drumoak, Aberdeenshire

Tongues tied

I was interested in your article asking whether Scots was a language, a dialect or just slang (7 November). A TV programme repeated recently saw a St Andrews academic set out her definition of a language, and she considered that there were two options. The first definition was that if two people were speaking, and each could not understand the other, then they must be speaking a different language. As an English speaker who can understand 99 per cent of Scots, and can usually infer the other one per cent from the context of the discussion, this definition doesn’t seem applicable to Scots and English.

The other definition is that it is a different language if someone says it is a different language ie it is political. People like to preserve their distinctiveness, and this is certainly the case in Scotland today. It is intertwined with politics. Appearing to be different is important, and political activists who don’t speak Scots will try to persuade us that they can.

The Ulster Scots minister and poet Rev W F Marshall (the Bard of Tyrone and who had as good an understanding of the language as anyone) had, however, a different explanation for the relationship between Scots and English, by which he meant the modern English that we speak today. His view was that Scots, Ulster Scots, Doric and a whole host of dialects found throughout the British Isles were in fact the building blocks or foundations of the English language that we know today, which has taken words, phrases and ways of saying things from a wide variety of sources, and this has happened organically as people travelled and mingled together. You can see how quickly we adopt French words, for example, so why wouldn’t English incorporate different expressions and sayings from closer to home, creating the rich and fluid language that we know today?

Modern English is therefore an accumulation of all these influences, so while we may speak differently, we can still all broadly understand one another. The language that arose from a common source and then diverged in to distinctive variations, then converged again, absorbed much of this variation, and reinvented itself. This explanation doesn’t regard Scots as inferior to modern English, but says it is an essential component of it. Was it not said the most perfect Queen’s English was spoken in Inverness? We should not doubt that we have made our contribution to what is now a world language. English was not made in England.

Victor Clements, Aberfeldy, Perthshire

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