DECLAN Blench (Letters, January 6) seeks to point out the differences between the SNP and Labour, of which there are indeed many.

On the EU, Labour campaigned vigorously in favour of Remain – unlike the SNP, which spent more money campaigning on a local by-election than it did on trying to prevent Brexit. However, unlike the SNP, Labour believes in the democratic principle that a referendum result is not there to be overturned at the first opportunity, but should be respected as the verdict of the electorate.

On immigration, it is Labour's policy to speed up the process by which asylum seekers can be granted leave to remain in the UK and to get on with their lives as permanent residents and taxpayers. It is hard to see how anyone can disagree with that aim, except if they believe that there should no process at all to determine whether claims for asylum are genuine or not.

On nuclear weapons: Labour is the only party of UK government which has ever stood on a General Election platform of unilateral nuclear disarmament. This was roundly rejected by the electorate, and it easy to see why this was so: the basic question was "why should we give up our nuclear weapons while our enemies keep theirs?" We can be pretty certain that voters today do not feel less threatened by, for example, Putin's Russia than they did by the Soviet Union in 1983, so we will be keeping our nuclear deterrent. In this case, the SNP's policy is to do exactly that by remaining a member of a first strike nuclear alliance, but to pretend it is nothing to do with them – which is not nuclear disarmament by any rational judgment.

On electoral reform, it is Labour Party policy to introduce PR for Westminster, and although it may not be in the manifesto in the next General Election, we can be optimistic that it will come to the House of Commons, just like Labour introduced proportional systems for elections for the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales, for local elections in Scotland and for the European Parliament. This will also be part of Labour's strategy of decentralisation, which stands in stark contrast to the SNP's policy of Holyrood Knows Best.

Finally, Labour is different from the SNP in two fundamental ways. The first difference is philosophical – Labour believes that we achieve more through common endeavour than we do alone. In contrast, the SNP believes that mutual support and redistribution are weaknesses rather than the signs of a civilised society.

The second difference is political – Labour has a programme that is achievable though a lawful democratic means: transformation of the UK from the mess of Tory rule is one vote in the next General Election away. In contrast, the SNP's programme is dependent on independence, for which there is no lawful or democratic route available until Scotland's UK Government agrees – and there is no sign of that in the foreseeable future. To vote for the SNP is to believe in fairy tales, like the ones that said that doing so would "Stop Brexit" and "Lock Johnson Out Of No10".
Peter A Russell, Glasgow

Party cannot be trusted

SIR Keir Starmer has spoken bravely in the face of the Conservative Government in London planning further legislation to curtail the right of working people to withhold their labour ("Starmer insists Yes support not ‘unreasonable’ as he plots change", The Herald, January 6). However, his threat to repeal this legislation in the event that his party comes to power does not impress me much. If he really expects Scots to place our hopes for a future based on social justice perhaps he or his Scottish stooge Anas Sarwar could tell us any single clause of Margaret Thatcher's anti-union legislation that was repealed by the Labour governments of 1997-2010.

Based on the failure of the Labour Party to restore workers' rights last time it was in power I cannot trust it to have the interests of working-class Scots anywhere near the top of its agenda. My hope for a better future for Scotland lies with our independence, not the Westminster roundabout that will sooner or later put Scotland back under the control of the Conservatives even if the English electorate chooses to deliver us a Labour government led by a man whose first name is Sir in the short term.
Ni Holmes, St Andrews

Ross culpable in Tory problems

DOUGLAS Ross claims that the Tories "haven't lived up to expectations" ("Douglas Ross blames UK Tories' turmoil for 'profound difficulties'", heraldscotland, January 6); in my view the problem is that they have lived up to expectations – lots of people didn't expect them to be any good, and they've fulfilled that expectation in spades.

Mr Ross blames the Conservatives' Westminster turmoil for causing "profound difficulties for our party in Scotland". Well, that didn't help, but neither did the flip-flopping Mr Ross, from whom there appears to be not a word of contrition about his part in the debacle. Mr Ross's narrative would seem to be that a big boy done it and ran away; sadly, he just doesn't get that there is another route Scotland could take to escape from the Westminster Tories that Scotland hadn't voted for and his praise for Rishi Sunak shows that come what may, he is content to leave his party's future to be dictated by Westminster politicians.

Mr Ross should perhaps reflect that several senior political commentators are convinced that we have not seen the last of a past Prime Minister of recent times, the come-back kid who could yet return to Downing Street and be the stuff of Mr Ross's worst nightmare.
Ruth Marr, Stirling

Union has been significant

I APPEAR to have been challenged by Kevin Orr (Letters, December 6) to show the relevance of the Darien Scheme to the current Scottish constitutional debate.

I have studied the history of the Darien Scheme and found that it was a significant factor in the destruction of the separate Scottish economy and the extinction of the separate Scottish state and in the promotion of the Union of 1707. The onus of proof rests upon anyone who suggests that Darien Scheme is not relevant to the current debate as to whether that separate economy and that separate state should now be revived.

The Darien Scheme may have operated from about 324 calendar years ago but it involved a struggle between the Scottish and English parliaments, the former of which was suspended in 1707 and reconvened in 1999, which is therefore only about 30 years ago in terms of Scottish parliamentary history.

The denial of the relevance of the Darien Scheme to the struggle between the Scottish and English parliaments today is symptomatic of the widespread and irrational denial of reality which permeates the separatist argument and takes us back to the danger of emotional motivation identified by Colin Gunn (Letters, January 4).

The undeniable reality is that the Union of 1707 created a successful state which has been greater than the sum of its parts, has given magnificent service to its own people and to mankind and which has the potential for the continuation of that tradition into the future.
Michael Sheridan, Glasgow

Sturgeon hiding from the crises

NICOLA Sturgeon must be feeling very sure of herself. After a disastrous Christmas in the Scottish NHS and an ongoing teachers' strike, she wants us all to think nothing of it as she starts the new Holyrood session with a debate concerning independence.

When a politician says "Crisis? What crisis?" when there are actually multiple ongoing crises, then the electorate sits up and takes note, and not in a positive way.
Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow

Ireland not so alluring

I'VE read your respected contributors' letters comparing the sociopolitical factors affecting Scotland alongside Ireland with intrigue. D Jamieson (January 4) and Mary Thomas (January 6) seem to be convinced that here in Scotland we have missed numerous tricks in the book to our own detriment and to evidence this we need do no more than stare across the Irish Sea with regret and envy.

Sometimes actions speak louder than words. In the late nineties I became friends with five individuals from the wider Dublin area who arrived in Ayr to study at the Scottish Agricultural College. Upon attaining their higher education not one of them chose to return to their much-missed homeland to continue with adult life. Indeed, almost a quarter of a century after their graduation each individual remains in Ayrshire and they are happily settled with families of their own. Is the grass really so emerald on the other side?
Laurence Wade, Ayr


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