THE biggest take-away from the Lee Anderson episode ("Deputy PM: Anderson would have kept whip with apology for ‘Islamist’ claim". The Herald, February 26) is neither the despicable utterance itself nor the insipid response from the Prime Minister. It is the fact that the 109 group of Tory MPs, the 2019 or Red Wall intake, want Mr Anderson reinstated because they believe any action against him will alienate their support base and threaten their seats. Has the electorate, at least in England, really come to a point where they believe this Trump-esque, conspiracy theory nonsense?

Imagine, if you will, the reaction in the media and from the Conservative side of the House if a Labour MP had said that a London mayor had been captured by Zionists and given the city away to his (insert here the implied word Jewish) mates.

There would have been absolute, if in some cases confected, outrage. Rightly so, but there would be little chance of the aforementioned Labour MP retaining his party membership.

It seems that Islamophobia, and other related extreme views, are becoming sufficiently mainstream in public opinion that they are influencing the shape of the UK Parliament.

At some point, and by some means, this has to be reversed before it results in catastrophe.

Cameron Crawford, Rothesay.

Britain's poor choice of MPs

OLIVER Dowden, while no one would mistake him for an intellectual heavy hitter, trotted out the current tired excuse for racism (ditto homophobia, misogyny, anti-Semitism, anti LGBTQ+ etc) that is now the norm in our no-consequences political system. Lee Anderson’s comments were, he said, a "poor choice of words".

Is the "poor choice of words" bin getting rather full when we consider that Suella Braverman who has also made similar comments to Lee Anderson and who was also the one who said sleeping rough was a lifestyle choice and was roundly condemned by homelessness charities? Then there is the Tory darling Boris Johnson, he of the "pickaninny" comment and slurs against Barack Obama.

Go a little further back and there was Ben Bradley who served under Theresa May and said benefits claimants should have vasectomies.

Liz Truss is currently in the US where she used her words to praise the confirmed rapist Donald Trump and stayed quiet while the despicable Tommy Robinson was praised. Yes, that would be the Liz Truss whose words had the effect of tanking the economy during her 49-day premiership but now claims the problem was she wasn’t given a chance.

One cannot help thinking: not poor choice of words that is the problem but poor choice of MPs.

Amanda Baker, Edinburgh.

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Hypocrisy of Keir Starmer

SIR Keir Starmer accuses the Prime Minister of harbouring extremists in the Tory Party. This from the man that sat around the Shadow Cabinet table with Jeremy Corbyn, campaigned for him to be Prime Minister and referred to Mr Corbyn as “his friend” in 2020 when campaigning for the Labour Party leadership.

You couldn’t make it up.

Richard Allison, Edinburgh.

We must meet this challenge

OVER the last few days many of your correspondents have named and shamed variously the Speaker, different politicians and each of the three major parties, holding them responsible for the shambles around the Gaza ceasefire debate in the Commons last Wednesday.

Whilst the effect of Sir Keir Starmer leaning on Speaker Hoyle to persuade him to break with tradition must have been critical in creating the inevitable shambles, the Speaker’s motivation was apparently concern over the personal safety of Labour MPs if they did not demonstrate clearly their support for a ceasefire to satisfy serious threats from some of their Islamist constituents. This demonstrates that the real source of the shambles lies outwith the Commons and is in the growing malign influence of militant Islamist extremists who do not accept our parliamentary democracy and seek to change and control it to reflect their different beliefs, if necessary by threatening those elected to defend it, as just witnessed.

It would not be racist for our Parliament to recognise this challenge to our democracy by those determined to undermine it, and it is high time the major parties stated unequivocally that they recognise this creeping danger and will cooperate to do whatever is necessary to combat it to avoid sleepwalking into an alien culture.

Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop.

If only more were like Hoyle

I HAVE been very impressed by the the positive response from your correspondents to the unenviable positionin which the Speaker found himself embroiled in the House of Commons (Letters, February 23, 24 & 26).

He uttered words almost never heard in that place: “I apologise, I made a mistake."

Listen very carefully to any Prime Minister's Questions each week and you will seldom hear those words from any member of any party. You will be very lucky to hear an answer of either yes or no to any question by any member of any party, but you will get an answer to a completely different question, or "I do not recognise these figures" or "we are spending x amount to solve this problem".

There is no longer any point to PMQs, so why not abandon it and let us listen to the deliberations of Select Committees instead?

If more politicians were to behave in the manner of Sir Lindsay Hoyle, they might be held in higher esteem.

Malcolm Rankin, Seamill.

The Herald: Sir Lindsay HoyleSir Lindsay Hoyle (Image: Press Association)

Labour still not united on Gaza

GIVEN how the Labour Party has evolved since the coming of the unprincipled US lapdog Tony Blair, it is perhaps not surprising to read the disingenuous diversions and hypocritical comments expressed recently by Labour Party politicians, columnists and supporters.

The fact is that no matter how much smoke and how many mirrors are artfully employed, the Labour Party is still not united in unequivocally calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, never mind calling for a stop to arms shipments to Israel without that first step. Collective punishment should also be recognised for what it is, hostages on both sides should be released and the ambition of a genuine two-state solution should not be shied away from.

Of course Sir Keir Starmer will string along his acolyte Anas Sarwar and his principles-challenged followers for as long as he can politically manage, even to the extent of causing forewarned bedlam in the once proudly labelled “mother of parliamentary democracy”, but following his numerous U-turns the rest of the Scottish public can already see through the Emperor-in-waiting’s new clothes.

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry.

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Oil windfall tax is vandalism

WELL done to the Scottish media and the Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce for highlighting Labour’s nonsensical plans to effectively shut down the oil and gas industry in the North Sea ("Ross challenges Yousaf and Sarwar to oil and gas debate", The Herald, February 24).

The very idea that a future Labour government could increase the windfall tax further, remove vital capex allowances (especially when it requires double the capex to extract the oil compared to Norway) and at the same time not grant any new licences would, in my view, amount to an act of vandalism costing thousands of well-paid oil jobs in Aberdeen and elsewhere. To make matters worse the promise of a smooth transition from fossil fuels to green energy would also be seriously compromised without the full support of the profitable oil majors (who are best positioned to make a phased transition), especially now that Labour has ditched its £28 billion Green investment plan.

It is also disappointing to note that it was the Conservative Party which introduced the windfall tax especially when there was no support from the Government when oil prices crashed to $22 a barrel and BP had to fund $68bn for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill tragedy. However, at least Rishi Sunak has agreed further crucial North Sea oil and gas licences contrary to the SNP, which was against the Cambo field development and other new licences being granted.

To finish on a more positive note, there does now appear to be a shift in Labour’s position by suggestions that the proposed increased taxes would only apply to “historically high” oil prices and not the current “normal” prices. If correct this would be a major change and should be welcomed by all concerned and who desire a more practical transition to alternative sources of power generation in the future.

Ian Lakin, Aberdeen.