Readers' letters: Tory rivals should learn lesson from Edward Heath's 'dash for growth'

As Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak battle it out to be the UK’s next Prime Minister, history tells us that tax cuts, a key battleground in the debate, are the worst way to tame inflation.

As with the First World War, a global conflict is driving up prices and the best that can be said is that at least we are not facing 25 per cent inflation as was did in that war. In the Second World War inflation reached a paltry 17 per cent.

For those who favour tax cuts, recent history indicates that this could be the worst thing to do. One only has to cast an eye back to Anthony Barber, Edward Heath’s chancellor, who faced the same spectre of stagflation as we do today. High inflation was failing to drive economic growth and Barber initiated an economic policy not so far different to that which we are witnessing being debated by the Tory leadership hopefuls today.

Aiming for ten per cent economic growth over two years, in a so-called “dash for growth”, Barber cut income tax, overhauled other levies and liberalised the banking system. Government borrowing ballooned and then the bubble burst as sterling plunged in value and inflation climbed, before the Yom Kippur war triggered the oil crisis of 1973 and soaring oil prices.

Chancellor Anthony Barber's 'dash for growth' was not a success

While in other nations inflation fell, in the UK it rose to First World War levels, accompanied by two recessions.

Before the next Prime Minister looks to loosen the purse strings, the tales of Tory chancellors past should act as a clear wake-up call.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh

Unjust deserts

Those who are voting for the leader of the Conservative Party deserve the leader that they get. The rest of us don't.

Robin Sutherland, Edinburgh

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Fringe benefits

The role that former prime minister Gordon Brown and then Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson played in helping secure a No vote in 2014 independence referendum was very important. It was interesting that they both used Edinburgh Fringe shows at the weekend to provide further perspective (Scotsman, 8 August).

Baroness Davidon used the event simply to stress the much rehearsed line that another referendum was unlikely in the next ten-15 years, and the need to respect the result of the last one. She might have spoken too about a theme in which she played a vital part in the last campaign, and which Mr Brown has touched on in the light of recent events.

In 2014 she said bluntly to then prime minister David Cameron that it was important to tackle a negative sentiment growing south of the border. It could be summed up in the phrase “If they want to go, then let them go”. This had to be countered by a more friendly and positive approach broadly along the lines of “We want you to stay”. He agreed, and whilst the approach was not a vital factor in the rejection of the Yes case, it was significant. It even led to a plea by Mr Cameron that people north of the border could reject the Conservatives if they must, but it was crucial to keep the 300-year Union together.

Now Mr Brown feels the need to call for caution in the light of remarks made by Liz Truss and her supporters in the Conservative leadership race about First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. He is right to focus on the need for co-operation; for it is one thing for Ms Truss to be undiplomatic in the heat of an electoral contest, calling an opponent an “attention-seeker”. It is another to create unnecessary fears and feelings that might speed up the support for independence.

Bob Taylor, Glenrothes, Fife

‘Uppity’ Scots

Jane Ball (Letters, 8 August) achieved a new low in condescension when she suggested that we uppity Scots need to get back in our boxes and realise it’s those people in Westminster who are the ones who have been born and educated to govern, not the Scottish Parliament where representatives of all political parties have been democratically elected by the Scottish people.

By Westminster I assume she means those who are presently AWOL during the worst cost-of-living crisis in decades as two of their intellectual lightweights try to outdo each other in tax-cutting polemic and right-wing sabre rattling, purely for their tiny electorate.

And talking of Liz Truss, Jane Ball also manages a sweeping generalisation in her Truss analogy where “You can take the girl out of Paisley..”, suggesting everyone in Paisley is a “brawler”. Well, I suppose it isn’t exactly rural Sussex.

Ms Ball can feel safe in the knowledge that views such as hers do more to nudge people towards independence than any politician could, which I have a feeling was not her main intention.

D Mitchell, Edinburgh

The big issue

Brian Monteith is right to make the distinction between Nicola Sturgeon the personality and Nicola Sturgeon the leader of a failing Scottish administration (Scotsman, 8 August).

The interesting thing about the Tory leadership election at the moment is that they are debating the big issue which concerns us all and which many people are anxious or worried about. The two candidates have very different ways of approaching this – one or either of which, or some variation of them, may well be right.

But we are not talking about that in Scotland. Will the Scottish Government follow on with whatever measures are taken at a UK level, or will they use their powers to do something entirely different? There is no debate whatsoever.

Ms Truss may choose to ignore Nicola Sturgeon the personality, but she cannot afford to ignore the carnage she is creating by simply failing to do her job. Whether you like them or not, this Tory leadership election matters to all of us.

Victor Clements, Aberfeldy, Perth & Kinross

Abuse must stop

It was disturbing to read about Kevin Lang, the Edinburgh Lib Dem councillor, being grabbed by the throat while out distributing leaflets (Scotsman, 8 August). There can be no excuse for physical abuse and it's another sign of the discourse in this country getting out of hand. We have of course in recent years seen politicians killed in the UK for simply representing what they believed in.

It’s vitally important in any democracy that we stand up for the right of others to express their views (whether we agree with them or not) and to not be abused for doing so. With the cesspit of social media making discourse more toxic as people hide behind usernames and keyboards, we must strive to retain an ability to disagree respectfully.

I don't have to vote for Mr Lang or his party to respect his views, wish him well and thank him for his service to the community. I'm sure every decent person in Edinburgh will do the same.

J Lewis, Edinburgh

Golf tourism

Dornoch is the only town in the North Highlands to steadily increase its population due to golf tourism. Elsewhere the population continues to decline yet the Scottish Government refuses to give planning permission to convert an area of wasteland at Coul links, Embo, into a second Championship golf course that would double our golf tourism income.

When will the SNP listen to local councillors instead of turning hope into despair?

Duncan Allan, Dornoch, Highland

Tram alternative

The disruption, cost and carbon dioxide generated by reopening Edinburgh's tram service after 66 years, is not justified by the environmental gains, especially as not all the energy used to operate journeys will be sustainably produced.

A much quicker and less disruptive solution, with a fraction of the emissions, would have been via a fleet of the latest electric trolleybuses.

These are rubber-tyred, so the tracks would not have been needed. They cause zero disruption to other traffic, and can use batteries to leave the overhead cables and visit all parts of the city.

Trolleybuses could have been introduced in a matter of months, since the only additional equipment required would have been overhead power cables, which can be installed in a few weeks.

The admittedly slightly smaller vehicle capacity compared with heavy trams would have been a small price to pay for a rapid install period and an immediate reduction in diesel fumes, congestion and travel times.

The big question is: did Edinburgh Council consider them? If not, why not? And if they did, why on earth were they not chosen? It beggars belief. I hope the so-called inquiry spends some of its money investigating the competence of the decision-makers who spent our money.

Bruce Whitehead, Queensferry, Edinburgh

Medals tables

While the BBC and media coverage of the 2022 Commonwealth Games has been extensive, the simplistic “Medals Table” with rankings based on gold medals alone, does not aid comparisons of performances relative to country populations.

While all the “Home Nations” fared relatively well overall, looking at gold medals (two or more) won on a population basis New Zealand replaces Australia at the top of the table, with England dropping from second to ninth, Scotland moving from sixth to fifth, Wales from eighth to fourth and Northern Ireland, with five boxing gold medals, from eleventh to second.

Total medals won by these countries on a population basis also saw New Zealand ranked at the top, with Northern Ireland second, Scotland third, Wales fifth, and England ninth.

Perhaps medal tables presented for future Games would better serve the UK general public, as well as the many overseas visitors, with a column added which based rankings on medals won per million of the population.

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry, East Lothian

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