Readers' Letters: Tactical voting offer is worth taking seriously

I hope Scottish Labour and the Lib Dems respond positively to the Conservatives’ tactical voting offer (Scotsman, 3 April).

The SNP and Greens are up in arms but in the 2021 Holyrood elections it was their industrial-scale tactical voting pact which transformed the Greens’ 34,000 first-past-the-post votes (out of 2.7m cast) into 220,000 regional votes and eight regional MSPs and enabled the SNP to stay in power via the Bute House Agreement. By contrast the Lib Dems got 187,000 first choice votes, 137,000 regional votes and only four MSPs.

There was also, however, a tactical voting billboard, ad van and social media campaign by pro-UK groups such as Scotland Matters, The Majority and Scotland In Union which, according to Sir John Curtice, denied the SNP an overall majority. He described it as "a collective effort – at least on the part of unionist voters, who on the constituency ballot demonstrated a remarkable willingness to back whichever pro-union party appeared to be best placed locally to defeat the SNP”.

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It wasn't perfect but by denying the SNP their predicted landslide or even the seats that would have saved their overall majority, it contributed to Kate Forbes’s defeat in the SNP leadership race due to the threat that the Greens would pull out of the Bute House Agreement if she was elected.

Should opposition parties join forces to defeat SNP candidates?Should opposition parties join forces to defeat SNP candidates?
Should opposition parties join forces to defeat SNP candidates?

Unoffical tactical voting in three recent council by-elections also ensured victories for each pro-UK party

What Scotland really needs is the opposition parties to develop compelling, vote-winning polices that encourage people to vote for them, but we still need a united, pro-UK electoral front to halt the nationalist necrosis eating away at Scotland.

​Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

Better band

Proposals by the Conservative and Labour Party to urge their voters to support whoever’s party is most unlikely to unseat an SNP MP at the next general election should hardly come as a surprise.

The Better Together band are being reunited, in a scenario already being played out across the country where they are supporting each other in numerous council administrations.

There is indeed little difference between the two parties, and it is hardly unexpected that the band is being brought together for this tactical voting exercise. Indeed, it never really broke up.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh

Faith and therapy

As a member of a faith group, I would like to distance myself from any attempt to remove the ban on Conversion Therapy (Scotsman, 3 April).

I have it on the best authority that LGBTQ people will not suffer damnation in the afterlife, and that authority is Jesus, who supplies a very different type of conversion therapy and must despair over what is done in his name by faith groups.

Ian Petrie, Edinburgh

Blasphemy rules

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The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has instructed marketers to “avoid causing religious offence during Easter”.

It spells out nuances of offence: Jesus in a bunny costume is deemed acceptable as the advertiser had intended to “highlight the commercialisation of Easter”; not so the promotion of a sex toy with the words “res-erection”.

The ASA is independent and follows guidance constructed by its sister company The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP).

Its self-awarded stamp of approval on a product therefore is sought by marketers purely for purposes of credibility and sales.

We know the Christian Easter story is only one of many celebrations of rebirth at this time of year. Surely consumers who are “offended” by an advert will simply not buy the product?

Is it really the job of an independent standards agency to arbitrate on blasphemy?

Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society

Colonial theory

I feel I must respond to Ms Jill Stephenson’s attempt to re-educate Ms Leah Gunn Barret on a number of disciplines gemane to Scottish affairs (Letters, 1 April).

Despite much international opinion to the contrary, Ms Stephenson regards the notion of the “colonisation” of Scotland” as “absurd”. To support this view she asks which British Colonies sent MPs to Westminster. Answer: Irleland!.

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She is correct in stating that native Scots participated in the “colonising project” as indeed they do today at all levels of society. This, of course, is a central plank in British policy when colonising territories. This technique of capturing the native upper classes is proverbial. Ms Stephenson’s grasp of colonial theory is limited, I suspect.

She then offers some patronising remarks on modern monetary theory and the concept of a wellbeing economy and the wisdom and efficacy under pinning it as espoused by her adversary.

Finally from colonial theory and economics our teacher turns her attention to international constitutional law. She defines the function of the international court of justice as to settle legal disputes submitted to it by authorised UN organs. This is precisely what will apply to Scotland when she formally asks the Decolonisation Commitee to acknowledge the democratic deficit in Scotland, where for decades the people’s political will and choice has been thwarted and repeated and robust mandates for costitutional change have been ignored.

I must reassure her that the relevant UN commitee is aware of Scotland’s plight and anticipates receiving in the not too distant future an appication from the fast-growing popular movement for liberation and the workings of a new cross-party consitutional convention.

Dr Andrew Docherty, Melrose, Scottish Borders

Flawed models

Separatists ramble on ad nauseum about how a “liberated” Scotland would become like the Nordic countries or Éire. With a changing political landscape, these fantasies are unravelling.

Ireland (with Europe’s second-highest levels of wealth inequality) is currently run by an alliance of three very diverse parties which combined for the sole purpose of keeping out Sinn Féin, whose ruinous economic policies are indistinguishable from those of the SNP.

The Kingdom of Norway is not in the European Union and derives much of its wealth from oil and gas, whilst the Scottish Government hopes to end North Sea drilling in the near future.

Denmark and Sweden are also constitutional monarchies. Although in Copenhagen Social Democrats still govern, they have been obliged to form a coalition with centre-right Venstre and the liberal Moderate Party.

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In 2022 Sweden elected the conservative Moderate Party, supported by the right-wing, Euro-sceptic Sweden Democrats.

Finland has just replaced its “progressive” government with the pro-business National Coalition Party, which at the time of writing is in negotiation with the far-right Finns Party.

So from amongst the shrinking pond of role-models for a Scottish socialist utopia, this leaves non-EU Iceland. Well, we certainly have a couple of things in common, such as shared Norse heritage and fishing industries.

Unlike their Icelandic counterparts, however, the nationalists controlling Holyrood want to literally decimate coastal communities by banning trawler access to ten per cent of our fishing grounds; all for the sake of keeping their increasingly militant Green allies on board.

Martin O’Gorman, Edinburgh

April fooled

It is surely a measure of the state of politics in Scotland today that I read the entire story about a statue planned for the former First Minister without realising it was a hunty gowk joke.

Thanks to Alexander McKay (Letters, 3 April) for his enlightenment.

Rodney Pinder, Kelso, Scottish Borders

Ditch fossil fuels

Contrary to what some people think, the sooner the use fossil fuels is relegated to the history books the better and safer for humankind.

Gas, oil and coal are polluting, finite, hostages to the vagaries and machinations of foreign suppliers and perhaps above all an abuse of irreplaceable and high value chemical feed stock.

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The obvious and available alternative to all three is electricity: an inexhaustible energy that can be indigenously generated in a dozen reliable ways often using the free, clean and green infinite resources provided by a judicious mix of wind, wave, hydro, tide, solar, ocean currents and as Nikla Tesla believed, exploiting the difference in potential between sky and land often seen in the form of lightning.

Huge advances in storing electricity are being made and its transmission to every part of the nation is almost complete.

We shall have to resort to these anyway when fossil fuels run so why wait? Any further investment into fuels that are filthy, foreign, fickle and finite is foolish.

Tim Flinn, Garvald, East Lothian

Referendum rules

Stewart McDonald (Scotsman, 1 April) is slightly wrong in describing the 1979 devolution referendum; he says 52 per cent voted for devolution yet it did not go ahead because of the turnout rule.

The truth is that, in this single issue referendum, slightly over one third voted in favour, under one third voted against, and one third couldn't be bothered to vote at all.

To say devolution was the will of the people is misleading. Only a third wanted it, and such constitutional, single-issue polls must have safeguards.

William Ballantine, Bo’ness, West Lothian

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