AFTER Nigel Farage's robust launch of his party's election campaign last week, he has now resiled from that position to concentrate on Labour constituencies and, by so doing, has squandered his political capital.

Whether or not talks were held behind closed doors to bring about this volte face, it is quite clear that these right-wing parties are intent upon securing a working majority for a Boris Johnson government.

This could so easily backfire in that the electorate will see Mr Farage's about-turn for what it it is, a naked and brazen attempt to produce a no deal departure when Johnson's government, if elected, fails in its negotiations with the EU, a distinct possibility.

His capitulation to this compromise, no matter how it is dressed up, has undermined his reputation as a straight and fearless talker.

Mr Farage can now be caricatured as a man of straw rather than as a man of steel, though he will do his best to portray himself as the catalyst for Conservative control.

This should galvanise Remainers to redouble their efforts to stop this unholy alliance from winning the day.

There is now afoot a titanic struggle between principle and Machiavellian pragmatism.

Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.

IN his excellent letter (November 9) Owen Kelly says that traditional Conservatives must carefully reflect on what kind of country they wish to live in before voting in this election. He is right, but this does not only apply to Conservatives, it applies to all of us.

It particularly it applies to the Scottish Greens, I believe. The Greens in Scotland have done less well than their party in England and Wales have done, and appear once again to be entering an election without careful reflection of their long-term objectives.

Scottish Greens have the advantage of the Scottish electoral system, which, because of its proportionality aspect, is of great assistance to small parties, if they use it wisely, and indeed, without which the Greens in Scotland would hardly exist today.

The Greens in England do not have that advantage, yet they have managed to get an MP elected, and returned in the difficult first past the post system in England, while with the advantage of a more proportional representative system in the EU elections they got seven MEPs elected with 12.5 per cent of the vote – which the Scottish Greens could not match, they got only eight per cent of the vote and no MEP elected.

In this General Election the Greens in England and Wales have tied up a deal with the LibDems and Plaid Cymru which means that they can’t just put up candidates everywhere, but where they do put them up, they have a much better chance of success. Their careful reflection offers their members the enhanced opportunity to achieve one of their objectives (anti-Brexit) while assisting their electoral chances and saving them lost deposits.

By contrast the Scottish Greens, because of a failure to carefully reflect, have nothing to offer their members other than the certainty that they will win no seats, and that they will lose deposits, that they will enhance none of their objectives, and may indeed undermine some of their own objectives by assisting Tories to gain seats, and they will undoubtedly damage their long-term reputation for the future by their lack of forethought. Yes ,Mr Kelly is right democracy is not just about exercising your vote, it’s about exercising your judgment about the kind of country you want and where you want your political party to be in the future.

Andy Anderson, Saltcoats.

I SEE Nicola Sturgeon, for once grounding her election campaigning helicopter, is now talking up her climate change concerns. Perhaps she's also worried about sharing nationalist votes with the Greens, who are standing in many more Scottish constituencies than ever before?

Martin Redfern, Edinburgh EH10.

THERE are times, like the dismantling of the Berlin Wall, which define the age we live in. This election could be one of those for this country, and its constituent parts. It is certain that either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn will be the next Prime Minister, and it would be difficult to find two people less suitable for the role. Mr Johnson finds facts and truth difficult, and bluster is subject to 24-hour scrutiny: Mr Corbyn has lost trust within his own party and the wider public. I suspect I will not be alone in finding Jo Swinson “not my cup of tea”, and Nicola Sturgeon looks and acts as if power has become its own burden (though her party thrives). Mr Johnson looks a cert to “win”, in spite of himself. The finest act Mr Corbyn could now commit would be one of self-sacrifice, which might actually give Labour a decent chance of winning. But if Mr Johnson does win, he will find it a Pyrrhic victory as the consequences of Brexit take hold and his popularity plummets? I suspect Ms Sturgeon will step down when he refuses Indyref2, and he will be faced with a more vigorous SNP challenge. He should hope for a large majority: he might need it.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.

PHIL Tate (Letters, November 9) claims that if Labour wins a majority, or if it can govern as a minority with the help of other parties, or if it can then persuade the EU to grant another extension for another referendum, then the SNP "house of cards" will collapse. Frankly, there are too many ifs in his hypothesis.

Even as a supporter of independence and the SNP I would be reasonably happy if his theory came to pass, at least in the short-term, but Scotland's best and maybe only hope for a prosperous future is to separate itself from the social, economic and political bourach that England has become. Sadly, three ifs don't make a Labour Government. This coming election will be a turning point for the UK, and Scottish voters must put Scottish interests first.

John Jamieson, Ayr.

PHIL Tate insists that “the SNP needs to win an election with majority support from Scots electors to prove that there is appetite for Indyref2”. Compare this to the 2016 EU referendum, which was made possible by the Conservatives winning a majority of seats on 37 per cent of the vote. In contrast, Mr Tate’s view is the SNP would need to go much further, winning not only most votes, not just a majority of seats, but a majority of the electorate.

However, just in case the SNP should somehow overcome this obstacle Mr Tate insists the referendum must take place before Alex Salmond is tried, since in advance of a trial the usual compromising, licentious insinuations can be put forward by an ever-obliging media, without the risk of a not guilty verdict. Leaving aside why the sexual proclivities (unproven) of a senior independence-supporting politician should have any relevance for our independence, is there not still a presumption of innocence, even for Mr Salmond?

Mr Tate identifies the SNP as the source of the forthcoming election, even though with only 35 members the SNP could only be a small proportion of the 438 MPs who actually voted for it. However, Mr Tate’s hope is that Labour win a majority or survive as a minority government supported by other smaller parties. But, who might these be? Hardly the Liberal Democrats given their opinion of Jeremy Corbyn, and I suspect we can discount the DUP, though buckets of cash could change minds. Hardly the hated SNP, as the intention is for an agreement with the EU (to leave – revoking the Article 50 letter requires no negotiation) and hold a second EU referendum with Remain on the ballot, which will bring down “the house of cards which has been built by the SNP”. It is, though, particularly troublesome for his argument that his letter appeared the day after a Yougov poll showing the Labour vote not just in decline, but in serious decline in some regions of the UK, including Scotland.

Opposition to independence is an honourable position, though I disagree with it. However, Mr Tate’s letter supports frustrating a second referendum by making demands not made of similar votes, and, failing this, to manipulate the debate and vote in ways that are both unfair and unscrupulous.

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.

I OBJECT to the suggestion by Mark Smith, that antipathy to Jo Swinson may be rooted in sexism ("From spled to splarge: new words to help you cope", The Herald, November 8). I can assure you that mine is broad-based and rational, applying equally to Willie Rennie, Alex Cole-Hamilton, and others. The LibDems are unique in British politics for their self-righteous pomposity and repeatedly grubby, if wholly unmerited, land grab of the moral high ground. This is only matched by their collective amnesia when it comes to the cold facts of their noxious coalition with the Conservatives 2010-15, collaboration thus with the worst of austerity, the unrelenting attacks on our vulnerable citizens, and the voting record of the aforesaid Ms Swinson whose enthusiasm for this agenda even outmatched that of notorious Tories, such as Michael Gove. It is not worth mentioning their hypocrisy on second referenda as that will only inflame other depressing debates.

Donald Gillies, Glasgow G14.

FRASER Grant (Letters, November 8) tries to smother all criticism of failing SNP education policies by piling on stories of higher grades and rising pass rates (Letters, 8 November). But all his figures are results of examinations set here and marked here, often by teachers who are happy to see their schools appear to do so well. The opposite picture emerges when measures of attainment in comparison with other countries are employed. The Pisa international league tables are based on standardised assessments in literacy, numeracy and science and over the last 10 years Scotland has slumped from being in the top 10 to 24th place.

Far from being the success story that the SNP is peddling, the Pisa results show clearly that educational attainment in Scotland has gone down dramatically over the 10 years while the SNP has been in charge. And what does it intend to do about it? Why, take us out of the Pisa comparisons, of course. That way there are no more plummeting results and no more evidence of SNP incompetence in the running of our education system.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon used to say that education was her top priority and that we should judge her on it alone. Well, the results have been disastrous year on year and if she meant what she said, she should have resigned long ago. No wonder she rants endlessly about Brexit and independence – there are too many awkward questions and accusations with any other topic.

Les Reid, Edinburgh EH15.

IN the forthcoming election please could we have two boxes for the SNP? One for SNP without independence and one for SNP with independence.

John Spence, Airdrie.

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