Labour’s Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Kyle has said he would be prepared to call an Irish border poll if certain conditions are met. He said he would set out the criteria required for calling a referendum, which can be held every eight years and is currently in the gift of the Northern Ireland Secretary, providing if it can be demonstrated that a majority desire this. “I am saying I am not going to be a barrier if the circumstances emerge,” he told the BBC at the Labour Party conference.
In Wales, Mark Drakeford has defended Welsh Labour’s co-operation agreement with Plaid Cyrmu. Following last year’s election, the two parties thrashed out a three-year deal to “address issues which take the greatest political and policy effort to resolve”. Wales's First Minister Drakeford said that while they did not agree on everything, they focused “on those areas where progressive parties can agree”.
The dinosaurs in Scottish Labour need to spell out the pathway to an independence referendum as the latest Social Attitude report showed that four in ten Labour supporters back independence for Scotland and in every poll a majority of all voters under 55 support independence. Time is running out for the Union.
It is completely illogical to state that you would never do a deal with the SNP to ensure a Westminster majority, while Labour happily sit in power at council level in Edinburgh and elsewhere thanks to informal deals with the Tories.
Mary Thomas, Edinburgh
This week I saw a headline – Nicola Sturgeon compares Scotland’s struggle for independence to that of Kosovo! Really, have I missed mass murder on religious grounds in Murrayfield?
Jane Drysdale, Edinburgh
Call to PM
A pandemic and a war in Europe, let alone rising prices, an energy crisis and strikes – there is more than enough to keep any government busy in Whitehall. Factor in the Conservative Party summer leadership indulgence, recess, the death of the Queen, and there has been little enough time for business in Parliament. The country seems to be heading towards a cliff, but all in slow motion. The PM was rather quiet until Thursday’s media round, but the markets have not been quiet all week, and one would have thought the Cabinet would be racing back to the office, not having more time away.
Even if the Prime Minister thinks the Chancellor’s plans first class, people need to see that Number 10 is trying to get a grip. A lifelong Conservative, I want to hear statements in the House, debate and what backbenchers and the Opposition have to say. To have three days next week with nothing happening in the Commons, while the Tory faithful is happy clapping in Birmingham, is highly unsatisfactory. This is no time for party conceit or back-slapping, it is time for serious business in the national interest. The Prime Minister should have a one-day Conservative Party Conference on Sunday, and get back to work early on Monday, the Chancellor and Cabinet alongside her.
Lester May, Camden Town, London
In the Nineties, the UK was in something called the Exchange Rate Mechanism, a kind of forerunner of the Euro currency. Our ejection from this destroyed a Tory ace card, ie, its reputation for economic competence, which helped lead to the debacle election in 1997. With the Truss mini-budget, we may be in similar terrain!
William Ballantine, Bo'ness, West Lothian
Liz Truss, like Mark Boyle, may still lament Boris Johnson’s departure but it’s her competence rather than Johnson’s trustworthiness that is on the line now (Letters, 29 September). A strident unapologetic defence of tax cuts for the rich in a budget reputedly to combat the effects of Vladimir Putin’s war is not going to stop the markets selling the pound, our pensions losing value and borrowing rates rising. Ms Truss needs to come clean about how she intends to pay for tax cuts for the rich and how they will deliver economic growth. She also needs to grasp the detail of her policies. Keeping on telling us no household will pay more than £2500 annually for energy is inaccurate, that is the cap on average for a “typical household” according to her Government’s fact sheet.Moreover, as the former governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, states, there needs to be the standard independent scrutiny of the budget by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR). Not to have a detailed published economic strategy until late November is simply not good enough to satisfy the markets. Many can’t understand how tax breaks worth £55,000 for those annually earning £1 million helps the poorest combat the cost of living crisis.Offering to work with Nicola Sturgeon to “turbocharge the Scottish economy” through accelerating North Sea oil production and building new nuclear power stations further undermines Ms Truss. She knows that Ms Sturgeon is opposed to these policies so offering this olive branch to someone she said should be ignored seems disingenuous.It’s not a great start. Ms Truss has a track record of proudly defending her views before suddenly changing her mind. Another u-turn may be imminent. If not or if she can’t explain her economic policy to the satisfaction of the markets we can expect an early election.
Neil Anderson, Edinburgh
Told you so
I see reading comprehension has deteriorated somewhat since I was last in education, judging by Crawford Mackie's missive about my good self (Letters, 30 September). “According to Mr Boyle, Boris was on the whole, just fine." Where did I say that? No Prime Minister is ever fine – for there are those “more equal than others” which any incumbent to No.10 has to placate, and Boris was certainly guilty of that as much as all others.But in comparison to the atrocious Liz Truss, Boris was a genius. Her floundering on basic economics on Radio Nottingham on Thursday came as little surprise to those who watched a 15-year-old schoolgirl wipe the floor with her on Question Time just before the Brexit vote.Back in July I warned those fixated on finding some Thatcher Mark 2 messiah that Liz Truss was not the continuity candidate but the calamity candidate. It's only taken three weeks to say, “I told you so!”
Mark Boyle, Johnstone, Renfrewshire
In the old days, there was the saying “In God we trust”. These days, it's “Good God, we're Trussed!”
Fraser MacGregor, Edinburgh
Nicola Sturgeon's fallback position on the ferries scandal is that she is proud to have saved 400 Scottish jobs. These, through no fault of the workforce, are now estimated to cost the mouthwatering sum of about £0.75m each. She could (a little bit of hindsight here, of course) alternatively have given each worker a redundancy payment of about £0.25m and still, on current reckoning, have had £200m to purchase two ships elsewhere, which would probably have been now serving the islands.
This would also have spared the Ferguson workers the embarrassment of producing a ship with fake windows and funnels just to provide a publicity launch stunt for our FM – which raises the question of the added cost of doing and then undoing this fakery nonsense. What a mess!
A McCormick, Terregles, Dumfries & Galloway
It's encouraging that 20mph speed limits introduced in Edinburgh appear to have cut road accidents and reduced casualties even without police intervention. Some of us in rural areas have not been so lucky. In my own village the introduction of a 20mph speed limit seems to show many vehicles travelling even faster than before the new speed limit was brought in. Stirling Council appears to have abandoned the project before the completion of traffic calming measures and Police Scotland is utterly useless in dealing with residents' concerns.
Perhaps one day these errant drivers will learn to respect the wishes of concerned villagers for a safe environment and show awareness of their responsibilities to the wider community.
Bob MacDougall, Kippen, Stirlingshire
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon misled the public by claiming in November 2021, “We've virtually decarbonised our electricity supply. Just short of 100 per cent of all the electricity we use is from renewable sources". Her followers have written to every paper in the land with this boast. However In 2020 Scotland produced 32,063 GWb of renewable electricity equivalent to around 96 per cent of Scotland's entire electricity consumption but this does not mean that Scotland used all this electricity since a large part of this was exported via the National Grid.
Independent reports revealed that in 2020 56 per cent of electricity used in Scotland came from renewable sources, 30 per cent from nuclear and 13 per cent from fossil fuels. The Scottish Government's spin doctors said “Scotland has a hugely positive story to tell in renewables which provided the equivalent of 96 per cent of Scotland's gross electricity consumption in 2020” and that "The First Minister was referring to Scotland’s gross electricity consumption and it was not her intention to suggest otherwise”. No wonder the Scottish Government needs 176 spin doctors costing £9 million a year.
Clark Cross, Linlithgow, West Lothian
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