IN her usual inimitable style Lesley Riddoch hammers home her message of the influence of the extreme right wing of the Tory Party (“Why Tory right wingers will kick out PM”, The Herald, December 20). I have long believed that the far right wing caucuses in the Tory Party, coupled with the full support of the rabid English right-wing press, are now in full control of the entire political direction of travel in England. In turn this maximum of 100 English MPs in Westminster are now decreeing the political direction of the United Kingdom’s 67 million citizens.
These fanatics, who include members of the European Research Group, the Covid Recovery Group and the Conservative Way Forward are a far cry from the former One Nation Tories like Winston Churchill, Harold McMillan, George Younger and Sir Fitzroy MacLean.
However it is also clear their rabid right-wing political writ only prevails in England. The three devolved nations in their own distinctive ways, all march to entirely different sets of political drums. It will be these factors, more than any other, that will in due course hasten the break-up of the United Kingdom.
WR McCrindle, West Kilbride.
* LESLEY Riddoch refers to “the Tories’ militant wing – those right wingers who formed a party within the Tory party long ago”.
David Fromkin refers to the self-same cabal in his book A Peace to End All Peace (published 2000, page 384). In the 1918 Liberal/Conservative coalition under Asquith and Bonar Law, they are described as follows: “Many of the Conservatives were new men, taking their seats in the House of Commons for the first time; and, of these, many were businessmen who tended toward the right wing of their party. Their political agenda was not the same as the Prime Minister’s.”
Perhaps it would have prepared Boris Johnson more effectively for high office had he read Fromkin and not the Classics.
Maureen McGarry-O’Hanlon, Balloch.
LIEUTENANTS WILL SEE THE PM FALL
I AM writing to assure Bill Ballantyne (Letters, December 23) that I am fully aware of the Prime Minister’s shortcomings and consider it insulting to suggest that I might dismiss them as unimportant. Equally Boris Johnson has many attributes, one of which is being a winner, albeit now in the past tense. His bad luck primarily stems from his lieutenants being found out, not in the perpetration of their actions. For me to deep-dive into Mr Johnson’s past and to provide full and detailed analysis of his actions over the years would take more than a few column inches in your Letters Pages of this newspaper.
I also refer to Hugh Scott Smith (Letters, December 23) and his breakdown of each of the issues I raised in my letter of December 22; they are already well documented, however I find it astonishing that he should infer that Mr Johnson wantonly allowed himself to be infected with coronavirus at a time when little was known about the virus’s transmissibility. I also have to wonder at his assumption that we can anticipate American foreign policy, or that Mr Johnson knew in advance that his Home Secretary was a bully (his words).
You cannot defend the indefensible, a point that I made in my letter relating to the Prime Minister’s bad luck and was obviously missed by both your correspondents. This bad luck primarily stems from his lieutenants being found out, not the perpetration of their actions, the consequences of which will eventually lead to his downfall. Finally, I do agree with Mr Smith’s desire for a prime minister with integrity, ability and sense of public duty. I would also add to that, one with fortitude, empathy, courage, and an element of luck.
Christopher H Jones, Giffnock.
THE BIG QUESTION OVER GERS
IT is encouraging to see that some of your nationalist correspondents have become interested in economic and fiscal matters beyond Scotland and suggest that there should be an English equivalent to GERS (Letters, December 22 & 23).
The good news for them is that the Office of National Statistics (ONS) publishes an analysis of revenues and expenditures in the UK’s Regions and Countries. Amongst other fascinating things (if that is what floats your boat) this data shows that the largest contributors to UK revenues are the people of London and the South-east; that the South-west and East of England just about wash their faces; and that all other regions and nations of the UK are beneficiaries of redistribution from the better-off regions.
These figures also show that Scotland’s position is not so much because of low revenues but because of higher expenditure – surprise, surprise, it costs more to deliver services in the Hebrides than it does in the Home Counties. (And no-one is saying “too wee, too poor etc”.) In the end, the story of the UK and revenues and expenditure across its regions and nations is that we all have access to London and the South-east’s massive revenue-generating capacity, which stems from its historic status as an imperial capital, its high levels of economic activity and productivity, its geographic position a short hop from continental Europe, and its competitive advantage as the world capital of the financial services industry.
The political question we need to ask ourselves is whether we think such an arrangement is weakness and dependency – like Margaret Thatcher and Sir Keith Joseph did, incidentally –or if we see redistribution as mutual solidarity which should be continued and indeed developed to provide more and better services where these are needed. The two sides of this argument are called nationalism and social democracy.
Peter A Russell, Glasgow.
AN OLD METHOD REFINED
ANENT the resurgence of debate about GERS, perhaps I can add a little more light to the subject.
In 1918, at the end of the First World War, a member of my family began to study accountancy. A compulsory part of his training was to study Treasury accounts, which at the time were issued separately and accurately for each part of the UK and Ireland. Almost immediately, he noticed that Scotland was contributing more to the Exchequer than we were getting back in spending on our needs, and included some debits which were of no relevance to Scotland.
In the next few years, he realised that this gap was ever-widening, and not in Scotland’s favour. At some point in the early 1920s, he was therefore not surprised to see that separate, accurate accounts were no longer issued, and each part of the UK was assumed responsible for a proportion of debits and credits of the whole, roughly in line with the population.
The current GERS figures, therefore are simply a refinement of this method, at a convenient time of low revenues from “Scotland’s oil”, for the reasons so clearly stated by Ian Lang (Letters, December 23). In line with his statements, it has in recent years been admitted that, of the number of figures used to create GERS, all but one or two are “estimates” based on population share, and include our share of “assets” such as HS2, which will never reach Scotland, and Trident, which we in a majority oppose.
Is it any wonder that my relative became a life-long believer in independence?
L McGregor, Falkirk.
FM’S DECISIONS ARE PUZZLING
NICOLA Sturgeon’s somewhat puzzling decisions rumble on. Christmas is still on but the price is New Year is cancelled. The whole point of vaccinations is being frittered away if the protection they afford to all those who have gone to the trouble of getting them is not being used. In the meantime ill people are to be seen queuing outside doctors’ surgeries in the cold and rain waiting for appointments, the ambulance service is having to rely on football matches and concerts to be cancelled to cope with the demand and A&E waiting times are still abysmal.
Where is our Health Secretary in all of this? He seems to be absent from Ms Sturgeon’s broadcasts at this critical juncture. The Scottish Government does not appear to be in control of the situation at all.
Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow.
HINDSIGHT OVER COVID
AS usual, Martin Hannan (“Six Nations in peril as empty seats return for Scotland”, Herald Sport, December 22) is judge, jury and executioner.
We all enjoy the benefit of hindsight, and I would love to see him making the hard decisions that are having to be made
in these unprecedented times. What chance of him running for political office? Ah hae ma doots.
Bill Rutherford, Galashiels.
* WITH “moronic” being an anagram for Omicron, it doesn’t leave much to the imagination what effect Nicola Sturgeon’s measures will have on the economy, not to mention the season to be jolly.
The hospitality industry need our custom. There is room at the inn.
John Burleigh, Greenock.