Letters: Backing Tory rebels exposes SNP hypocrisy

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon with all 56 newly-elected SNP MPs. Picture: Jane Barlow
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon with all 56 newly-elected SNP MPs. Picture: Jane Barlow
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THEIR election promise was never to work with the Tories. Putting aside their 2007-2011 alliance with the Tories to govern in Holyrood, now the stated SNP intention is to work with rebel Tory MPs to oppose certain policies (News, 19 July). It seems that the concept of hypocrisy is not one that the SNP are familiar with.

Earlier this year the SNP passed a rule that obliged their MPs to “accept that no member shall within, or outwith the parliament, publicly criticise a group decision, policy or another member of the group” and “abide by and support the SNP’s policies”. Yet they are now prepared to work with MPs from other parties who allow their MPs those freedoms of expression and actions and to exploit that freedom that is denied to them.

We have to ask how such a restrictive rule can aid SNP MPs in properly representing their constituents if there is a clash of opinions between their own views, those of their constituents and party policy. Two recent examples in both parliaments have been the 
Fox Hunting Bill, where the SNP decided that all their members should vote against no matter that it didn’t affect Scotland and that it was a free vote.

Nearer home is the issue over the single police force in Scotland, where there is growing dissatisfaction about the concept and implementation of the policy among voters. However, presumably because of the gagging order, no SNP MSP or MP has expressed any criticism.

During and after the general election, voters were promised a stronger voice for the Scottish people. In my opinion the gagging rule represents a stronger voice for the SNP not the Scottish people.

Paul Lewis, Edinburgh

Anger at loss of Club 55 rail deals

IT IS not only the many rail cancellations that are making passengers angry (News, 19 July) but the withdrawal of the well used Club 55. This fare has been available for many years. It allowed us seniors to explore little used rail services, be it to Oban, Plockton or Helmsdale, and never was there more than a handful on these early morning trains.

It is not now possible to visit or overnight at these destinations as the former £17 fare, which had no booking conditions, now becomes £61.

The resort hotels lose out on the business as does the railway. Many of us cannot use the buses on our free passes.

Much hollow talk has been spoken about an all-embracing Club 50 which has a purchase price and will not be available before 9.30am. It might only be available online rather than the more convenient mode of purchase at stations or on trains. Maybe the new ScotRail don’t want us seniors, as the Club 50 has not yet appeared. Can Abellio not just relaunch the well liked Club 55 for the autumn after the English bank holiday?

It certainly has been a very shaky start.

Colin C Maclean, Edinburgh

Need to control foxes is a myth

IN HIS letter about the fox-hunting ban not working (News, 19 July), John F Robins writes, “the law needs to be totally revamped and then it has to be policed by the people we pay to police the law”. I agree that the law needs to be totally revamped, only John doesn’t go far enough.

The previous week’s leader states that the ban back in 2002 was “legislation with a moral purpose; the ending of a barbaric and cruel practice” and goes on to state, “this newspaper has no quarrel with the argument that the fox population must be kept under control, but this must be done as humanely as possible”. Only this is a false argument and every time I hear it or read it, I feel like screaming, because this supposed need to control the fox is a myth.

The facts are: 1. When left alone by humans, foxes control their own numbers. It’s how nature works. Anyone who knows about fox behaviour knows this.

2. Fox hunters construct artificial earths, to encourage foxes to breed.

3. Fox hunters also transport live foxes from one part of the country to another, then release them in order to ensure that they have enough foxes to hunt.

In spite of the best efforts of myself and others, these three crucial facts were ignored during the debate for the national ban. Had they been given the consideration that they deserve, that there was no need to “control” foxes would have been recognised, and that fox hunters hunt foxes to derive sadistic thrills, and that the real vermin in the countryside are the fox hunters and others who derive pleasure from hunting and killing wildlife.

Sandra Busell, Edinburgh

SNP’s key role in political progress

PROFESSOR Hugh Pen­nington correctly advises your readers that in his editorial introduction to his 1969 collection of essays on Scottish Nationalism (The Scottish Debate) the late Professor (Sir) Neil MacCormick, qualified his support for the SNP by the admission that he at that very different time remained “unconvinced of the value of [the party’s] long-term-objectives” (Letters, 19 July).

However, Professor Pennington omits to mention that in the very same essay the future SNP MEP also made the following observation, that “it seems to me abundantly clear that neither of the two larger parties is likely to take the smallest step towards any worthwhile form of self-government for Scotland... unless they are subjected to electoral pressures of a quite unequivocal kind.”

Unfortunately, almost half a century later, and despite the creation in the intervening years of the devolved Scottish Parliament with its sadly limited powers, that observation still carries considerable weight – not least in view of the new Cameron administration’s failure to support any of the amendments to the current woefully inadequate Scotland Bill, proposed either by the 56 SNP MPs or even by the still devoutly unionist Labour opposition.

Ian O Bayne, Glasgow