ONE lesson that I think no historian of twentieth century Britain would or could deny, is that for the past 100 years, the Labour Party is the only political party capable of forming a government aside from the politically dominant Conservative Party, and it has done so for a total of 33 years.

Those who thought otherwise, and in the 1980s sought to “break the mould”, learned this to their cost, and with - to the rest of us - the cost of 18 years of Tory rule.

Let us take an analogy. The person who supports, say, Livingston FC, might well pay their season ticket out of loyalty from the heart, but their head would indeed be very foolish if he or she then put a large bet on that team winning the Premier League. That will be won, as ever, by Rangers or Celtic.

Similarly, this crucial election will result either in a government led by Jeremy Corbyn, or one led by Boris Johnson with all that implies for the continued polarities of privilege and poverty. None other.

Thus, in every seat where the Labour Party has a chance of winning, every vote for a geographically marginal (SNP, Plaid Cymru) or socially marginal (Greens, Lib-Dems) party is, by default, a vote for the party which has brought us 10 years of austerity, with increasing poverty and at the same time increasing wealth for the rich, and the total chaos of Brexit.

Every undecided voter should ponder carefully on these inescapable facts, before voting on the 12th, hopefully with their heads ruling their hearts.

Ian R Mitchell,


OWEN Kelly (Letters, December 3) declares that Jeremy Corbyn is “the weakest Labour Party leader for a generation” and D. Brown (same date) claims that Jeremy Corbyn “ has no moral authority whatsoever”.

I think it is relevant to point out that, within the past generation, Labour had a “strong” leader, Tony Blair. And what did he choose to do? Oh yes, he chose to stand “shoulder to shoulder” with the so-called “leader of the free west” and invade Iraq; the dreadful consequences of which we are still witnessing throughout the Middle East and in the streets of our major cities.

Incidentally, this was a decision that was strongly opposed by Jeremy Corbyn.

As far as “moral authority” is concerned, I would have thought the overwhelming support from the party membership in two Labour Party leadership elections would have provided Jeremy Corbyn with all the authority he needs to lead the party.

Regarding the moral aspect of his leadership, his strong identification with those who have been “left behind”, i.e., “the many not the few”, should provide sufficient comfort for Mr Brown and his like.

Bill Stewart, Dunning, Perth.

IN summary, then, we have the choice of the four biggest political parties led by, in turn, a privileged buffoon, an unreconstructed Trotskyist, an economic fantasist, and another one who has not learned from David Steel’s fatal invocation to “go home and prepare for government”.

If ever there was a case for a “none of the above” option it is now. It would be nice to think it will soon be over but the real horrors may just be about to begin.

John Dunlop, Ayr.

I WONDER if Allan Sutherland (Herald letters, December 5) might by any chance be an opponent of Scottish independence.

He takes swipes at Nicola Sturgeon and the record of her administration on education and health, suggesting that Jackson Carlaw and Willie Rennie would do a better job.

His suggestion might have some merit but it is of no relevance to the arguments for or against independence.

The electorate in an independent Scotland would be free and able to elect Carlaw or Rennie to lead the country if they were of a mind to do so.

When will the people of Scotland realise that the vision of an independent Scotland as a one-party state governed in perpetuity by Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP is a myth encouraged by Unionists? Independence is a choice which belongs to the Scottish people and not to any individual or political party.

Willie Maclean,


MARTIN Redfern (Herald letters, December 5) emphasises that “more is spent on public services” in Scotland because of “the generosity of the UK government’s Barnett Formula”.

Jim Cuthbert, the economist, has estimated that had Scotland kept control of its oil revenues, but paid all its other costs – spending at the level of the block grant, our share of UK services (such as welfare), defence, as well our share of historic debt – then Scotland would be better off by £150 billion. “An outstandingly bad deal” as he has observed.

As Cuthbert has also points out, Barnett is basically a transaction and one that was never intended to advantage Scotland, but instead to equalise per capita spending in all parts of the UK. However, the same percentage increases in spending resulted in higher per capita spending in Scotland, not from generosity, but because of our relatively smaller increase in population.

However, even ex ante, matters are unlikely to get better and perhaps worse. Since the Scottish Parliament secured income tax powers, the block grant is reduced by the income tax raised here, indexed in line with the growth in per capita income tax receipts in the rest of the UK.

If per capita Scottish tax increases by more than, or the same as, the rest of the UK, then fine. However, if less than the disposable income of the Scottish government will decline and either it will have to cut spending or increase tax to compensate. Both will diminish the level of economic activity and thus per capita income tax – a vicious circle.

In future the Scottish Government face two perils. First, that the indexation of income tax will substantially reflect conditions in London, which on almost any measure of economic activity is way ahead of most other UK regions.

Secondly, that the powers of the Scottish Government over economic activity are limited, having no powers over monetary, or most fiscal policies. Business and trade are reserved, and so too are employment law and immigration.

Thus Mr Redfern is wrong about the past, when we were subject to an “outstandingly bad deal”, but also about the future where with limited powers we are expected to significantly vary the historic level of economic performance, from within the UK, and, if not, suffer expenditure cuts which will only make matters worse.

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.

IT is a measure of the way things are with this SNP administration that you report today (December 5) on nationalist ministers being “sued by their own ferry firm”. If that does not illustrate the mind-boggling general incompetence of the SNP, little else will.

In the same edition of the Herald, Alison Rowat (“Holding our politicians to account is a duty not a bore”) asks, very pertinently: ‘’Why does it take an election for the SNP to feel the heat of interrogation?’’ Yes, quite. Many feel exactly the same way.

Perhaps what is left of the opposition parties in Scotland could hire Andrew Neil to come up for the duration? As it is, the nationalists have free and unquestioned freedom to do exactly as they please and to question is treasonous and anti-Scottish.

Alexander McKay,


DURING the current general election campaign, green virtue-signalling is higher up the agenda than ever before.

I have an idea. Why don’t the 1,229 members of Westminster and the devolved assemblies trial a green lifestyle? They could remove their gas heating in favour of ground source heat pumps, eat meat just once per week, only travel on non-fossil fuel transport, and give up single-use plastic. And they could have a special smart meter fitted which rations electrical consumption when wind plus solar generation is below average.

They could get back to us on how it went just before the 2024 general election, and then we could have a people’s vote on whether we want to do likewise.

Geoff Moore,

Braeface Park, Alness.

I AM a great admirer of Andrew Neil because of his in-depth research and attention to detail. However, he lost a Brownie point or two during the Jo Swinson interview when, in support of an argument, he stated that 52 per cent of the population voted for Brexit in June 2016.

In actual fact only 35 per cent of those eligible to vote in UK parliamentary elections actually voted to leave. Looking at Scotland on its own, things were slightly different in that 58 per cent of voters did not vote to leave, a statistic that I haven’t heard quoted too often. I do wish that interviewers and interviewees were robustly challenged more often when they are factually incorrect.

Alan McGibbon,

Corsebar Road,


TUESDAY night’s Scottish leaders’ debate on STV was lively and the format was effective - except when participants talked over each other.

I wonder, though, what the point is of having Nicola Sturgeon on any more of them.

Any challenge to her or her government is met with ‘The Tories….’. She could not answer Richard Leonard’s perfectly reasonable question on what the set-up costs for a separate Scotland would be, reinforcing his point with figures from a world-renowned economist. So she resorted to “The Tories…”. All heat and no light.

Jill Stephenson,


THE IFS report which predicts prolonged austerity if Scotland opts for independence merely reinforces the findings of the SNP’s own Inclusive Growth Commission of May 2018.

The SNP’s Commission predicted that there would be a budget gap which would be extend for at least a decade after the fatal vote and that the gap would be closed by cutting public services, i.e. prolonging austerity.

These findings are the reason the Inclusive Growth Commission Report was delayed for eighteen months, launched without fanfair and promptly buried by the SNP hierarchy who find its analysis, and the facts which support it, a wee bit embarrassing, to say the least.

Alex Gallagher,

Councillor (Scottish Labour),

Ward 8,

North Ayrshire Council