Scotsman Letters: Tories’ right-wing economic experiment dead

With the sudden panicked elevation of Jeremy Hunt to Chancellor after the catastrophic events of the last few days, one aspect of this crumbling government which has slipped under the radar slightly is the future role of the semi-comatose Liz Truss’s cabinet.

Put in place by Truss to reward their loyalty and political connections rather than for their ability, the symbolic and practical significance of a relatively “normal” Tory chancellor, who is effectively now the Prime Minister, spells the end for the ERG/ Institute of Economic Affairs/ Taxpayers’ Alliance and every other far-right influence on Truss and the post-Brexit Tory government. This was essentially an internal coup staged to oust the controlling ERG group of MPs within the Tory Party whose policies will mean long-lasting and crippling damage to the country for many years to come.Over the next few weeks, if the government survives that long, we will be seeing and hearing much less of the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg, Suella Braverman, Nadim Zahawi, Therese Coffey, and most certainly Kwasi Kwarteng and Liz Truss. The right-wing economic experiment has failed cataclysmically before it even got off the ground, despite the conditions being laid over the past few years with Brexit.If and when a new leader eventually rises from the quagmire that is the current government, there will be another night of the long knives, so redolent of the Tory Party over the years, and the malign and corrupt influence of the ERG will have have been purged from the Tory Party for many, many years, possibly forever.Given that this chaos was created without a mandate from the electorate, the only decent and democratic decision the “new” Tory Party can make is to call a General Election immediately. They owe the people of the UK that at the very least.

D Mitchell, Edinburgh

Same old...

We'll be hearing less from previously prominent members of Liz Truss' Cabinet now, says reader (Picture: Jeremy Selwyn/Pool/AFP via Getty)
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Why blame the former primary school pupil from Paisley who ended up as UK Prime Minister for the hardships we now face? She did what she has always done, pleased her party donors and devil take the hindmost.

The more emollient chap she has now brought in to tidy up the mess and reassure the financial gnomes here and abroad is set to beggar the already less well off amongst us.

“We must tighten our belts” says he. Our belts are already at breaking point. It seems evident that the triple lock on pensions, said to be sacrosanct, is no more than another empty Tory promise designed to win a vote but to be set aside thereafter. The rich may feel the pinch of soaring fuel prices, but with their money safe in offshore banks, their lifestyle will not be challenged.

But that is Tory Party policy too. “Protect the rich and let the poor rot.” One way or another the lady from Paisley still epitomises that policy, as will anyone who succeeds her from that party.

All this while we struggle to recover from the Tories’ other disastrous policy, Brexit, which is wrecking the UK economy and taking Scotland down with it.

We are lucky enough to have a choice: independence with a caring party. Why should we hesitate, for the damage and destruction being caused by Westminster seems to have no end. Lets get to it.

Elizabeth Scott, Edinburgh

Blooming fops!

You write that Margaret Ferrier is under investigation by the House of Commons watchdog for causing “significant damage” to Parliament's reputation (your report, 19 October).

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Since David Cameron's assumption of power, the actions of our governments have brought our Parliamentary democracy into disrepute and us the the joke of the world. We have liars, fops, back-stabbers, flatterers, ne'er-do-wells and people lacking in all sensitivity in positions of power. It should be impossible to bring Parliament into any greater disrepute, but some will manage that.

Keith WF Proborszcz-Maloney, Dumfries

Owning the mess

Reading in yesterday’s Scotsman more disclosures about the ongoing ferries scandal and the Scottish NHS crisis – as well as the baffling SNP abstention on the anti-abortion safe zones vote in parliament – one wonders yet again at those who believe an independent Scotland would be better governed than the UK has been in recent years. Wishful thinking or a case of “it will be OOR mess”?

Rodney Pinder, Kelso, Scottish Borders

In disarray

The disarray amongst the Tories is fast becoming matched with that in the independence ranks! Even independence acolytes who are regular correspondents to the Scotsman find themselves at loggerheads in yesterday’s edition (October 19). Stan Grodynski swallows the assurances in the latest prospectus that it will be all right on the night while Leah Gunn Barrett castigates the SNP for their failure to even understand the role of currency and for “putting the interests of Edinburgh's financial elite above those of the Scottish people”!

Out in the real world MSP Neil Gray tries to assure us that the plans are not written on the back of a fag packet while Robin McAlpine, former director of Common Weal, describes them as "utter pish"! Even the most ardent of separatists would surely accept that the latest blueprint has been greeted with far more condemnation than approval. Independent commentary from such as economist John McLaren, the Institute for Fiscal studies and the Fraser of Allen Institute is critical of the lack of clarity on key issues such as borders and currency.

Both Liz Truss and Nicola Sturgeon currently find themselves forced to defend ill-conceived and insubstantial economic blueprints. The only difference is that Ms Sturgeon is more experienced and more pugnacious in the art of camouflaging hokum.

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Colin Hamilton, Edinburgh

Not so elite

What an extraordinary contribution from Leah Gunn Barrett around the economics of a Scottish currency (Letters, 19 October).

She blithely assumes the people would change their sterling pounds into “Scottish” pounds (really?) and her plans work out that we will have no national debt! Further, the rest of the world will be happy to trade with us and lend to us in a multi-currency fashion!! However, it is her last paragraph which is the most troubling.

It is worth pointing out that the Financial and Business services growth sector employed around 226,000 people in Scotland in 2020, accounting for 8.9 per cent of employment in Scotland. At least 30,000+ are in Edinburgh with a further 3,500 in accounting, auditing and tax consultancy. By their nature, these are very well-paid jobs and contribute handsomely to the the “tax take” of the Scottish Government.

However, Ms Gunn Barrett declares “It is time the SNP leadership stops putting the interests of Edinburgh’s financial elite above those of the Scottish people”. Who on earth does she think are “Edinburgh’s financial elite”? They are the “Scottish” people too, doing well-paid jobs, paying their taxes and supporting many other jobs across Scotland. Her comments are nothing short of fanciful.

Richard Allison, Edinburgh

Look to history

Supporters of independence seem to be keen to reintroduce a Scottish currency. Perhaps it is worth reminding Leah Gunn Barrett of the dismal fate of the pound Scots. When it finally became defunct in 1707 with the Act of Union it was replaced by the pound sterling at a ratio of 12:1. Maybe history will repeat itself.

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Barry Hughes, Edinburgh

Victorian values?

I fully agree with Robert Cairns’s letter “Enough ‘shame’ ” about slavery and exploitation across Scotland ([email protected]).

However, it has not gone away. What have today is modern slavery with low wages, rising costs and a centralised government that advocates a smaller state, which effectively means less spending on welfare and the NHS. Employees are being asked to work for a pittance while the shareholders of these industrial empires receive massive incomes through the sweat of the worker.

In many cases, such as within the call centre industry, workers’ rights are being denied in areas such as holidays and illness. Additional pressure is added through threats and sanctions to people’s jobs if they do not perform to a certain standard or if they do not return to work when ill their sick pay will be stopped. This results in added stress and increased mental illness.

These sweat shops are indicative of what the Tories have been advocating since the implementation of Thatcher’s free market economy. A return to Victorian values. Longer working hours, low pay and poor conditions.

Slavery has not died, it has just been modernised, and Liz Truss’s answer to rising inflation is that the workers should work harder. Thankfully Britain no longer has an Empire

Michael Donaldson, Plains, Airdrie

Nightlight robbery

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I couldn't agree more with Archie Lawrie when he says energy supply should be nationalised (Letters, 19 October). In the first six months of 2022 ScottishPower made profits of £924 million. In 2021 ScottishPower, EDF, Eon, and British Gas made profits of £9.5 billion. National Grid made a profit of £3.4bn. Why are these companies not using some of these profits to reduce energy costs?

The fact is that there are natural monopolies which should be owned and run by the state. Energy supply is one such monopoly. The railways and the postal service are others. The idea that “the market will always provide” is risible, as the banking crash of 2008, and the undermining of the mini-budget of 2022 show.

William Loneskie, Oxton, Berwickshire

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