ABRACADABRA, the rabbit has been pulled out of the hat – again. By Gordon Brown – again ("Brown unveils vision for major UK reforms", The Herald, December 5). Let’s hoist the Union Jack and stop bothering about independence.

Just as soon as Sir Keir Starmer and his English Labour Party win the next UK election, we will get lots more powers for the regions and devolved governments, and they will set about abolishing the House of Lords, as they promised more than a hundred years ago. Unless, of course, Sir Keir doesn’t fancy seeing his prospective, comfy, taxpayer-funded, retirement snoozing seat disappear.

Ever heard of the “Power Grab Prophecy”? It’s the recognition of the fact that, throughout history, the side in a conflict that fears losing promises lots of goodies to persuade their opponents to surrender, and as soon as they have, the promises and guarantees disappear in the mists. For example, the citizens of a town besieged by the English, who, on the guarantee of free passage if they surrendered, did so and were promptly executed.

We have been here before. All three unionist party leaders in 2014 swore to implement the Vow, devised by Gordon Brown, promising the nearest thing to Home Rule, guaranteed membership of the EU, 13 frigates starting to be built on the Clyde within a year, Holyrood’s status made legally inviolate in perpetuity, the Sewell Convention made law and more.

What did we get? On September 19, 2014, English Votes for English Laws, and since then Holyrood has been overruled several times, even taken to court to overturn the signing of a UN charter, we are out of the EU, the power to dissolve Holyrood still rests with Westminster, and Sewell is only a custom “normally” observed.

Are we to be conned again? Any time we meet someone who is being swayed by these rehashed promises, we need to remind them of the “Power Grab Prophecy”.
L McGregor, Falkirk

No chance of lords abolition

I SEE Gordon Brown has been wheeled out to provide discussion points on the political situation in the UK . Would this be the same Gordon Brown who made pledges to the Scottish people for a No vote in the referendum, which pledges never saw the light of day?

Sir Keir Starmer is all over the media raising the Labour Party flag as one of change and advancement. I’m afraid that flag is still at half mast.

As to abolishing the House of Lords: I nearly choked on my breakfast with laughter. The Labour Party and Conservatives have spent decades (each) putting their chums in the Lords where they can fill their boots with taxpayers' money and they want them to vote for their own abolition? As much chance as Scotland getting another referendum.

What is really the hardest and saddest part of all this is the political lack of focus on deprivation, food banks, impossible fuel costs, persecution of the poor, health care for the wealthy and the huge reduction of basic living standards. It reminds me of some books I once read – what were they again? Oh yes – Charles Dickens.

Nothing has changed since then, it appears.
Ken Mackay, Glasgow

Don't give Holyrood more powers

THE latest proposals from Labour fail to recognise the problems facing people in the country which are not about decision-making processes at a strategic level but rather about surviving the economic turmoil arising from UK and Scottish government decisions, the war in Ukraine and the excessive profits being made by multinational companies at the expense of living standards.

It beggars belief that Labour would propose giving the Scottish Parliament more powers when it has failed to deliver on ferries, education, health and other devolved areas and will do nothing to reduce the demand of the SNP and its supporters for independence.

Let us have a consultation exercise, followed by a manifesto, which will tackle the economic situation, create jobs, stop excessive profits, end tax avoidance and evasion by super-rich individuals and foreign nationals who exploit current tax rules and non-dom status, recover money from companies and individuals who supplied unusable PPE during the pandemic and have a clear, practical strategy on tackling global warming.

Once that is achieved then focus on political decision-making processes. Otherwise the proposals appear only to benefit the political classes.
Bill Eadie, Giffnock

Appeasing SNP not the answer

LABOUR’S plans for new powers for Holyrood are not the answer to any constitutional questions. We have heard all this before. Many will recall being told all those years ago by Labour that devolution would "kill nationalism stone dead". How did that work out? Labour MP Tam Dalyell and many others forecast the result of devolution in graphic detail and every single thing they forecast would happen, did happen. Devolution killed Labour in Scotland and it is only now recovering.

The problem is that the SNP has no interest, none whatsoever, in a well-run and thriving Scotland. Much the opposite. It has only one aim – look at the "de facto referendum"’ plans for example – and any well-meant proposals by Labour, or the Tories or LibDems, will be utilised in the greater battle as it sees it and then mocked and ignored as has happened time after time after time.

So, forget about more SNP appeasement; it only worsens matters.
Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

Thewliss and the branch office

SNP correspondents write regularly to criticise the Holyrood opposition parties for being, in their words, merely branch offices of their Westminster masters which they clearly think emasculates them. Andrew Learmonth's article (“Thewliss ‘could beat Flynn’",The Herald, December 5) about the contest to replace crofter Ian Blackford as SNP leader at Westminster and the desire of team player Ms Thewliss for more collaboration, not less, with headquarters, party members and party activists, makes me think of geese and ganders.
Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop

Where is the respect?

“INTEGRITY, professionalism and accountability” was the promise of Rishi Sunak on entering 10 Downing Street. Setting aside his dubious choices of Cabinet ministers, if he is indeed a man of principle then he could immediately demonstrate this by now granting a Section 30 Order.

A poll showing majority support in Scotland for the Scottish Government to hold an independence referendum next year has been quickly followed by a poll also showing majority support for this action across the UK. The Scottish Government already has a democratic parliamentary mandate to hold such a referendum and with both the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine relatively "stabilised", the only remaining excuse, albeit a poor one given it is bad decisions of the UK Government that has substantially caused the crisis, is the rampant increase in the cost of living. However, if there is any legitimacy at all in such thinking, surely it is up to the people of Scotland to decide whether or not their day-to-day concerns are best served by having the most fundamental governmental decisions made for them at a distant Westminster.

To any sincere democrat it should not be acceptable for a Prime Minister with no personal mandate leading a political party with no direct mandate in Scotland to deny the democratic mandate of the proportionately elected Scottish Government. Continuing to parrot “now is not the time” or to make reference to the previous referendum held in significantly different circumstances is not only showing a lack of integrity, professionalism and accountability, but a basic lack of respect for all the people of Scotland.
Stan Grodynski, Longniddry

Don't demonise the strikers

TORY Party chairman Nadhim Zahawi told the BBC's Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme that it was "unfair for the unions to really damage and disrupt people's lives at a time of Christmas".

Does he not understand the unions are acting on behalf of their members when they call strike action – tens of thousands of them in the NHS and other public sector jobs, who will be suffering at Christmas as a result of the cost of living crisis, increased energy costs, and because the Government is not engaging in meaningful talks?

To throw in a line that Russia's President Vladimir Putin "wants to see strikes" in the UK beggars belief.

The arrogance and ignorance of these privileged Tory ministers know no bounds.

They are prepared to let energy companies make increasingly massive profits, let their friends and colleagues put their money safely in tax havens, and then blame any disruption caused in the UK by strikes on the very workers who are struggling to survive and just want a fair and decent wage.

Am I surprised? Sadly, not a bit.
Andy Stenton, Glasgow

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