NOW into its fourth year, the Grenfell Inquiry is laying starkly before us the disaster that deregulation can create. Despite all that, the narrative, as the campaign for Brexit took fire, was that deregulation would set business free from the shackles of the EU. Yet within that perspective there was clearly a strong whiff of hypocrisy.

Today the Westminster Government is putting put in place regulations aimed at restricting the activities of trade unions even further. It has repealed a key trade union law which means businesses will now be able to pay agency workers to cross the picket line while strikes are under way ("Unison in legal bid to halt new strike staff law",The Herald, July 23), and Liz Truss, said by many to be Prime Minister in waiting, has pledged a further crackdown.

With the Tory Government in thrall to its right wing, we are witnessing another example of one law for the workers and another for business. Since 1979, the Thatcherite tendency has been to eliminate the influence of the unions by harking back no further than the onset of the 1970s when trade unions had access to 10 Downing Street, which did not sit well with those who who wished business liberated and untrammelled. It is that version of recent history Conservatives love to peddle, thereby ignoring how, why and when trade unions came into being and the struggles faced by workers against strong opposition from business barons to develop in that direction.

That history in our schools has become a fringe subject where the emphasis is upon patch topics and singularly aimed at the Second World War may well account for the failure of many in the electorate to underestimate the importance of trade unions.

Trade union bosses are portrayed by right-wing propaganda as barons, Marxists and anti-modernisation, an easy sell to those who have not had the opportunity to delve into the history of the workers' movement and so swallow hook, line and sinker the pathetic narrative churned out ad nauseam by ministers like Grant Shapps.

"We are all in it together" plays no part in that meretricious propaganda. We must resist these concerted attacks on the trade union movement.

Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.


IN the 1970s and 80s inflation-driven cost of living increases were more or less compensated by pay rises. If mortgage rates go up to the seven per cent that has been predicted in the Tory leadership debate, this won't be possible.

The average full-time salary in the UK is £31k and the average mortgage is £135k. Every one per cent rise in interest will cost £1,350 per year, so a rise of rates from the current two per cent to seven per cent will mean finding an extra £6,750. The combined rate of income tax and National Insurance is 33%, which would require a pay rise of more than £10k, or around 33%. The above assumes only one earner per family and not creeping into the 40% tax band.

Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven.


THE chemicals sector is facing a staggering £2 billion hit of post-Brexit red tape as the UK sets up its own regulatory regime, twice the cost of initial industry estimates. UK companies previously spent £500 million complying with the Brussels regime over the past decade, winning access to 27 countries.

Now, a Government impact assessment has put the central estimate for the costs of registering chemicals on a new UK database, known as UK Reach, which often duplicates existing registrations with the EU, at £2bn. The UK regime would be far more costly than the EU Reach system, with companies as already noted spending £500m.

While Tory leadership hopefuls Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss have promised to review all retained EU law and scrap excessively onerous rules, replacing it with homegrown UK regulation is proving more costly and disruptive.

The soaring cost of UK Reach emerged after the Treasury admitted last week that the UK’s Brexit divorce bill could rise to £42.5bn – up to £7.5bn higher than initially estimated.

A post-Brexit bonanza eludes both the City and the EU, and the UK will in the medium term be four per cent poorer than if it had stayed in the EU, according to the independent Office for Budget Responsibility. This is set to knock £80bn off the UK’s gross domestic product and about £40bn off exchequer receipts.

The promised benefits of Brexit have, hardly unsurprisingly, failed to materialise six years after the Leave vote, while new border controls have hampered trade and been blamed for contributing to travel chaos at the port of Dover.

The gift of Brexit just keeps on giving, but not in the way those advocating Leave vowed would happen.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh.


IN her letter (July 26) accusing the SNP of hypocrisy over the Supreme Court case regarding an independence referendum, Jill Stephenson seems to misunderstand the separation of powers doctrine.

The Lord Advocate is the Scottish Government’s legal adviser and as such does not and cannot assume a political role in offering advice, whether to the Scottish Government or to the Supreme Court. Her remit is to argue whether an advisory referendum is legally permissible within the terms of the Scotland Act without prior permission being required from Westminster.

In 1994 Strathclyde Region held an advisory referendum amongst its residents on water privatisation which was not opposed by Westminster. So there is a legal precedent for an advisory referendum to be held within a region of the UK without the need to obtain the consent of the UK Government beforehand.

However, there is also a political dimension which the Supreme Court has to embrace given that a referendum also encompasses the rights of the citizens as expressed via a democratically elected parliament at Holyrood or by individual or interested parties. The SNP as well as any other party is therefore entitled to make a political representation to the court to argue for or against the democratic mandate in a way that the Lord Advocate cannot.

Robert Menzies, Falkirk.


PETER A Russell (Letters, July 27) diverts from addressing the essential point with my reference of the previous day to the Belfast Agreement – that seven years is accepted by the UK Government as an appropriate period of time for repeat referenda in Northern Ireland. Of course other factors may come into play in determining the exact timing but the principle, or precedence if preferred, has clearly been established in black and white for referenda in the UK.

It does not aid constructive debate when words are taken out of context or people are misquoted. Claiming that even the staunchest Better Together supporters “did not expect” Brexit in 2014 does not have the same meaning as “no-one envisaged” Brexit in 2014 and seeking to exploit one’s own broader wording to make a political point would upsettingly make a disingenuous soon-to-be former Prime Minister proud.

Even the limited Smith Commission recommendations were not honoured in full by the UK Government and it seemingly takes a particularly creative mind to state that “all parties happily agreed” to the powers negotiated as some form of justification for the Scottish Government not now having the facility to hold its own constitutional referenda.

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry.


I AM somewhat taken aback that Guy Stenhouse ("SNP ‘democratic deficit’ line is for the terminally stupid", The Herald, June 27) regards me as “terminally stupid” simply because I think there is a democratic deficit in the UK, but I content myself with the thought that those who resort to such puerile insults are tacitly accepting that they have already lost the argument.

Fred Shedden, Glasgow.

• LAST week's View From The Edge by Brian Wilson (“Why the food security issue needs a new Dig for Victory campaign”, The Herald, July 19) was remarkable for its absence of any mention of the SNP and all its work. Mirabile dictu.

Unhappily Mr Wilson in this week's column ("The petty dishonesty that now passes for leadership in Scotland", The Herald, July 26) returned to his vitriolic hatred of the First Minister and the SNP Government.

How sad.

Ian Sloan, Bathgate.

• ONCE again an excellent and insightful article by Brian Wilson. Always the voice of reason in all the political hysteria.

Dorothy Connor, Glasgow.

Read more: Inept Tories have handed the next election to Labour