NEIL Mackay laments what he views as the demise of Scottish Labour ("The Scottish Labour Party, 1900-2014: An obituary", The Herald, December 8). In writing of the end of that political force, it is inevitable that he considers its beginning, which brings in Keir Hardie, "a boy from Lanarkshire", founder of the Labour Party. There are aspects of the life and work of that iconic figure which are so patently absent from many within the Labour Party ranks today and that dearth has played a major part in its slow downfall and damaging lack of appeal.

Let me give two examples to illustrate what I mean: first, Hardie described himself as follows – "I am an agitator. My work has consisted of trying to stir up a divine discontent with wrong." Where in the Labour Party today in Scotland or elsewhere does one see such persuasive vibrancy and intensity?

Second, Bob Holman, once described as "The Good Man of Glasgow", wrote in his biography of Hardie: "Hardie never ditched his commitment to, understanding of, friendships with, and empathy for working class people." Any doubts about the Labour Party’s loss of these qualities of commitment, understanding, friendships, and empathy were dispelled certainly in England by the building of the electoral Blue Wall to replace the Red Wall at the last General Election. In Scotland, of course, the Labour Party has the additional and persistent complication of dealing with the SNP. Notwithstanding that, here too it could do much to brush up on the qualities of which Hardie never lost sight.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.

I SHARE Neil Mackay’s sadness at the demise of the Scottish Labour Party. The end has been a long time coming and I commend a book: The Strange Death of Labour Scotland, by Gerry Hassan and Eric Shaw, Edinburgh University Press 2012. It details the arrogance, hubris and sense of entitlement that brought a once-mighty party down.

I get a small mention in the book, describing my attempt to become a Scottish Labour MP in 2001. I certainly wasn’t desperate to be an MP; I was in a good profession, which paid a lot more than an MP’s salary. But I believed in fairness, in justice, in equality of opportunity and, most of all, in tackling the many discriminations that work against those who aren’t born white, male and affluent in our stratified society.

My mistake was to believe that Labour, the party whose leaders spoke so eloquently about those things that mattered to me, was actually rooted in those values, as it had been in its early days. It took years to discover, and years more to accept, that Labour isn’t the party I thought it was. I looked at some of the housing estates in Glasgow and Paisley where I campaigned for Labour and wondered how they’d been allowed to become so run-down when a Labour council had been in power for decades. The answer eventually dawned: many Labour politicians had been too busy enjoying the perks of their positions to bother with their constituents.

There were some good Labour politicians and former Labour MP Tom Clarke (Letters, December 4) mentioned four MPs, including Dame Anne Begg (not Ann, Tom) and Douglas Alexander. But four out of 56 isn’t a good average. Many others were dead wood, convinced they only had to wear a red rosette to be elected. In my case, I was selected by constituency members as Labour’s 2001 candidate for Strathkelvin and Bearsden, Sam Galbraith’s old seat that he’d held with a 16,000 majority. However, I was rapidly deselected by Labour’s National Executive Committee for reasons that were never revealed, but which Hassan and Shaw thought were to do with the fact I wasn’t a crony.

It didn’t end well for Labour. The candidate the NEC levered in won in 2001, but lost four years later to Jo Swinson. This wasn’t a unique case, and Labour now reaps what it sowed.

Doug Maughan, Dunblane.