THERE can be no more encouraging sight to a Labour supporter than a parade of the sanctimonious ranting of its left-wing enemies. It is a clear sign that they expect Labour to win an upcoming election, and the letter from Frances McKie (February 9) is a very fine example.

Her claim that Keir Starmer has sold Labour's soul for votes is notable in two ways. The first is her failure to recognise the ambiguity of the Faust legend: she obviously means the crude morality of the Marlowe version, and not the nuanced and humane Goethe version, in which the conclusion is that disaster lies ahead for those who do not apply their talents to what is achievable in the real world and waste them on chasing impossible dreams.

The second is Ms McKie's assumption about the nature of Labour's soul. Tony Benn used to describe Labour as "not a socialist party but a party with socialists in it". Unlike much of what Mr Benn said (Brexit anyone?) there is great deal of truth in that statement: Labour also contains and represents social democrats, centrist liberals, sectoral and niche interests (such as trade unions) and many others. The way this has been defined by Keir Starmer and before him by Tony Blair is that the Labour Party aspires to be the political wing of the British people.

Moreover, as we approach the coming General Election, it is clear that the Tories have abandoned the centre ground, and are now occupying the political territory formerly held by Ukip. It is up to Labour to ensure that the centre is represented in government and indeed that sensible voices of the centre-right formerly heard through the likes of Ken Clarke and Michael Heseltine have a political home. Some will inevitably portray that embrace of such a wide spectrum of political opinion as unprincipled. Others of us see the strength and courage to compromise and welcome diversity of policies as virtues, just as we see pragmatism as a principle in its own right. (Goethe might have agreed.) And as for "selling our soul for votes": is that not a definition of democracy itself?

Peter A Russell, Glasgow.

• FRANCES McKie (Letters, February 9) accuses Sir Keir Starmer of having “sold the soul of the Labour Party in his thirst for power”. It’s a bit of an overstatement to say that the development of policies for inclusion in an election manifesto can be construed as selling the party’s soul.

She is, however, correct in that the Labour Party must always have a profound, single-minded “thirst for power”.

In government, the Labour Party will have the power to reverse the inequalities of the current inept, avaricious and self-serving Tory Government. This cannot be done overnight and accusations of u-turns are petty and overstated.

When elected, Sir Keir and Labour will have the ability to promote the social justice which is at the heart, and soul, of the Labour movement.

James Quinn, Lanark.

Read more: Starmer has sold the soul of the Labour Party in thirst for power

Disappointed but not surprised

A VERY significant news item last week was the observation that the 1.5C [target set by the UN Conference Of the Parties held in Paris in 2015] rise in our planet’s average temperature had been exceeded for the first time ever this year.

This target is needed to avoid the climate chaos that brings floods, droughts, deserts and frozen wastes.

However as an ecosocialist I was disappointed but not surprised by Keir Starmer abandoning any pretence to care about our environment by dumping ecological commitments for this year’s election.

Norman Lockhart, Innerleithen.

The fence post tortoise

SCOTTISH politics is now in a situation where I no longer know if I should write to Letters to the Editor or to The Diary.

We have watched this First Minister go from one comical calamity to another and now he is inflicting his own incompetence upon himself.

He first came to the notice of the electorate when he crashed his scooter in the Parliament corridors in the manner of Coco the clown.

He was in charge of Transport Scotland as the ferries debacle built up steam, A9 dualling was sidelined and the A83 ignored in the hope that it would go away. In health he presided over a Scottish NHS which resulted in him having to appoint an "NHS Recovery Minister" on becoming First Minister.

As First Minister he has snuggled up to the Turkish President whose record on human rights is abominable, indeed the treatment of Kurds is generally viewed as ethnic cleansing and has recently extended this to Kurds in Syria and Iraq.

Last week he claimed he could have been the chairman of Celtic Football Club ("Humza Yousaf: 'If I wasn't in politics I'd be chairman of Celtic'", heraldscotland, February 8) as his Health Secretary, whom he backed wholeheartedly as "a man of honesty and integrity", resigned after claiming £11,000 in expenses used by his family to watch Celtic playing live whilst on holiday in Morocco, the handling of which turned out to be a possible breach of the Ministerial Code. You could not make this up.

Enough of Mr Yousaf's CV: in a past employment we had a department manager of similar talent whom our American VP described as "a fence post tortoise".

He explained: "When you’re driving along a country road and you come across a fence post with a tortoise balanced on top, that’s called a fencepost tortoise. You know he didn’t get up there by himself, he definitely doesn’t belong up there, he doesn’t know what to do while he is up there, and you just have to wonder what kind of idiot put him up there in the first place.”

I would add that there never seems to be any interest in removing the fence post tortoise, its curiosity is a matter of interest, amusement and bemusement. The usual outcome is that it is blown off by strong headwinds and walks slowly into the distance.

Peter Wright, West Kilbride.

Read more: Blame the SNP if your library or playgroup is closing

Yes backers must stay with the SNP

AS an ex-member of the Labour Party, life-long supporter of independence, and current member of the SNP, I am appalled at the drift to the right of UK politics displayed by Keir Starmer. However I have a residual respect for Labour as the party that managed to force the thin edge of the independence wedge into UK politics, whether Tony Blair realised what he was doing or not.

Watching Mr Starmer makes me wonder if he has surreptitiously adopted another policy of the Tory right that has been so successful over the years: "tell them what they want to hear, lie through your teeth if necessary to gain power, then do exactly as you please". In such a scenario independence supporters must stay with the SNP through the coming General Election to keep the Labour Party honest to its principles, even if it's a cynical honesty.

It is surely inconceivable that the current iteration of the Tory Party will win next time under any circumstances, but a substantial SNP presence at Westminster will be a boost to the independence movement and keep a Labour government on its toes. The UK back in the single market, and a re-established green agenda will give Scotland, the independence movement, as well as the UK, a boost.

John Jamieson, Ayr.

The Herald: Joe Biden pictured last monthJoe Biden pictured last month (Image: PA)

Biden should step aside

IT is becoming ever clearer that Joe Biden's political acumen and expertise are both on the wane.

His powers are declining owing to the effects of ageing and those effects are becoming ever more visible and obvious.

The biggest worry is that the gradual decline down that slippery slope could be accelerated in the intervening months between campaigning and the presidential election owing to the pressures placed upon the President with the need to face up to the international challenges and to combat the relentless efforts of truth-denier Donald Trump.

There surely must be deep concern behind the scenes in Democrat circles about how this campaign is going to play out when the sitting President is displaying more and more signs of a declining grasp of international events. If there is not a discussion already in progress on how to persuade Mr Biden to leave the fray and to ease him out without puncturing his pride, self-respect and dignity, then a great disservice will have been done to that great office.

A younger and more vibrant candidate has to be found to combat the mendacity of Donald Trump, who aspires to be the Putin of the US.

Other than that, the only hope is that the cases to be brought against the insurrectionist overwhelm him and finally rule him out of the presidential race altogether, leaving the field free for Mr Biden, despite his obvious infirmities, to stumble over the line.

Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.