SO Sir Keir Starmer coming north of the Border to “rebuild support” in Scotland with his intention to “oust” the Conservatives (“Starmer to visit in bid to rebuild support in Scotland”, The Herald, October 31). Is he aware that several councils are now run by Labour/Conservative coalitions?
“Keir wants to be Prime Minister of the entire United Kingdom” says to one Labour source. Really? Don’t they know how out of touch that sounds? He has successfully purged his party of dissent, thus gaining media approval from the Murdoch, Rothermere and Barclay Brothers camps, and embraced Brexit to woo Red Wall voters, but there is no indication that he knows or cares anything about what the Scottish electorate’s concerns are.
That ship has sailed – we are not here to help him get a super-majority just so he, an English leader for what is for all intents and purposes an English party, can govern England from the centre right.
Alex Salmond was right years ago when he said “the Scottish people have freed themselves from the yoke of Labour mediocrity forever” and that was when the Labour Party still vaguely resembled a party representing the concerns of ordinary people. What it has become now is utterly unappealing to Scots, who still believe in community and, like FDR, that the true strength of a nation can be measured by how it treats the most vulnerable.
Marjorie Ellis Thompson, Edinburgh
Where is the incentive?
IT’S always nice to smile in the morning, and so I did when Peter A Russell (Letters, October 31) claimed Rishi Sunak as “Scotland’s new Prime Minister”, when only six (yes, six) Scots had an entitlement to a vote in what turned into a Tory coronation. These same six 2019 Scottish Tory MPs are also what Mr Russell claims as part of a “UK” mandate to refuse Scotland the right to determine its own future governance.
You report that Sir Keir Starmer is also to come to Scotland to “rebuild” support for his Labour Party (one lonely MP). I read the article twice and at no point does Labour give any reason to switch from SNP to Labour; there is no “pull” factor, no policy incentive, nothing other than “vote Labour”.
As I have pointed out before, Scotland stopped voting Labour at a time when there was a swing toward Labour in England. If Labour hasn’t changed its “offer” to Scotland, why should Scotland go backwards? Perhaps Mr Russell could give an indication of what a Labour mandate to rule Scotland would look like. A majority of MPs in Scotland? England? What? The old imperial “we are bigger than you, dae whit yer telt”?
GR Weir, Ochiltree
Resisting a bad law
PETER A Russell writes that those “who cite the Holyrood Government’s mandate to seek a referendum must also acknowledge our UK Government’s mandate to decline one”. However, his difficulty is that while he may be correct that “unless the Supreme Court agrees otherwise, no agreement means no referendum”, he ignores two consequential problems.
First, can even Mr Russell continue to claim that in such an event the Union could be said to be “voluntary”? Would it not be more true to say that it is held together by the force of law preventing the expression of an opinion in Scotland on its independence? If so, it is important to realise that “the law” he speaks of is not God-given, some sort of equivalent of the Ten Commandments. Instead, it reflects previous decisions, whether in Parliament and in court, and in particular the structure of power in the UK. But more importantly, it is always provisional and capable of change.
Secondly, using “the law” in the way Mr Russell does implies that it should be respected, if for no other reason than because it is “the law”. However, history is replete with examples where “bad” law was resisted, eventually, in the face of protest, having to be amended or replaced altogether. Examples include demands to extend the franchise by Chartists and Suffragettes, to allow collective industrial action by trade unionists, and (more recently) against the poll tax.
Mr Russell seems content to live with the UK being held together by the force of law, which is his privilege. However, what he really cannot do is to deny those of us who consider a “law” preventing the Scottish people themselves determining their own future, as “bad” law to be resisted, just as the early trade unionists, the Chartists and the Suffragettes did in their struggle.
It is not as though that demand has no mandate, as in 2019 a large majority of MPs elected in Scotland stood on a platform of an independence referendum. Mr Russell’s response is, in effect, “the UK’s mandate is bigger than Scotland’s mandate. So there!”
Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton
Yousaf is now at odds with FM
HUMZA Yousaf is under intense and continuing pressure over dreadful Scottish NHS statistics (“NHS needs ‘five years to fix’ amid beds and staffing crisis”, The Herald October 31). It is good that he is at least not trying to pretend nothing is wrong with our NHS. He admits there are continued reductions in staffing, 6,000 nursing and midwifery posts unfilled and a huge number of beds being blocked.
This is somewhat at odds with what Nicola Sturgeon says at First Minister’s Questions. When quizzed upon all manner of NHS problems she states that there are the highest numbers of staff in the NHS ever and dismisses all other NHS questions with her standard statement that it is worse everywhere else in the UK. This particular aspect was demolished by Helen McArdle’s incisive article just over a week ago about the truth of comparing NHS areas (“The truth about the Scotland-England A&E comparisons”, The Herald, October 22). The bed blocking and lack of social care is because the SNP has so starved local authorities of funds that they cannot help much here.
Ms Sturgeon must take on much of the responsibility for all of this but admits to little and denies any meaningful culpability. So who is right about the state of our NHS: Mr Yousaf or Ms Sturgeon?
Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow
• HUMZA Yousaf said it will take five years to fix NHS Scotland. He’s 100 per cent right as long as he’s at the helm. It could be a lot less if we had a health secretary and government in Holyrood who know what they are doing.
Ian Balloch, Grangemouth
Fix mistakes of the past
OUR NHS seems to be in trouble as never before. The main reason expressed seems to involve bed shortages and, of course, Covid is usually mentioned as the main culprit.
I am unsure if most people are affected, as the politicians always are, with memory loss when trying to recall events of only, perhaps 10 years ago. Then it seemed the norm, both in England and Scotland, to address the bed shortage in our hospitals by cutting beds further. This is now the result: serious bed shortages.
Some might correctly argue that there are also staff shortages. This is true and it is difficult to argue, even among the dedicated Brexiters, that Brexit resulted in large numbers of doctors and nurses going back to their homes in Europe. It seems blindingly obvious that the mistakes of the past must be recognised before we can start to fix the problem.
James Evans, Dumbarton
Put NHS first, not Ukraine
AS is generally known, and often the hard way, the NHS is now in a worse state than ever, with hundreds of thousands suffering on waiting lists and even dying prematurely; it badly needs huge investment.
At the same time, taxpayers are having to stump up billions for weapons and other items for Ukraine, to please the deep state’s military-industrial complex (even one billion is no small sum; a billion seconds is about 32 years).
As an example of the Government’s misplaced priorities, the sundry items include 20,000 sets of winter clothing, while there are some 25,000 homeless in Scotland alone, facing the winter. According to one charity, their average age of death is under 50, and they are more than nine times more likely to commit suicide than the general population.
So, where does charity begin? We can expect nothing from Westminster, but why isn’t the SNP-led Government at Holyrood piping up on this, instead of continuing to sing from Joe Biden’s globalist-militarist hymn sheet and flying that blue-yellow flag on its buildings?
Ukraine First? Or maybe, just maybe, NHS First?
George Morton, Rosyth
Letters should not exceed 500 words. We reserve the right to edit submissions.