MARK Smith (‘Hard lessons for Scotland on referendums and the law’, March 11) warns Scotland of further referendums as a means of settling constitutional questions, while arguing that written constitutions are a bad thing and that Scotland and Ireland have a tendency towards “bad law.” 

Mr Smith must know that the UK is almost unique in the democratic world in not having a written constitution. Consequently, we have a Westminster parliament in which the executive has unlimited power over the constitution and can do anything it wishes. 

This extreme example of unfettered power is given legs by an electoral system that can deliver a majority for a party that falls far short of 50% of votes cast, as is currently the case. 

Then we have the affront to democracy that is the House of Lords, where 786 unelected people have a law-making role. Some of them are given places in government, becoming unelected figures who not only make the law but often make policy that becomes law, then apply it in government, all without benefit of elector.

Read more: Referendums: a few hard lessons for Scotland

SNP to table written constitution for independent Scotland

Cost of new independence papers revealed by ministers

Westminster’s record on producing “bad law’ surely betters that of Holyrood or Dublin. Longevity is one reason why that is the case, but Westminster’s recent tendency towards disaster was clear to all when it debated taking the UK out of the EU. The government acted unlawfully and then forced through the hopeless withdrawal agreement. 

“Bad law” is being debated now, as we watch the financially ruinous and probably legally inept Rwanda Bill make its way through parliament.

Written constitutions will always have weakness and times will always change, but their core purpose is to make as clear as possible not only the management of a polity but, more importantly, the limits on the power of the powerful. The old question of Quis custodiet Ipsos custodes? – who guards the guardians? – is law, and law in the form of a written code being a better way than trusting to the fickleness or perhaps suspect motives of politicians. 
Martin Roche, Glasgow.

Reeves should study Attlee
RACHEL Reeves told Laura Kuenssberg at the weekend that an English Labour government’s economic inheritance “will be the worst since the Second World War.” 

Reeves should study how the 1945 Labour Attlee government dug itself out of the fiscal hole it inherited. It launched a massive public spending programme that created the NHS, brought coal mines, power companies and railways into public ownership, and invested in education, social services and housing. 

The economy flourished with full employment and no inflation, enabling the UK to retire its war debt. The People became the owners of public assets that later were foolishly sold to private companies under Margaret Thatcher, robbing the people of trillions of pounds. 

The post-war economic miracle was possible because John Maynard Keynes, Attlee’s advisor, knew that cutting spending during an economic slump would only deepen it.  He understood that because the government creates all the money it can never go broke. He knew that government spending priorities signal to the private sector where it should invest, e.g., in new hospitals, schools, energy efficient homes. Public, not private, spending drives growth. 

The last 15 years demonstrate that spending cuts don’t grow the economy. The UK is in recession, unemployment is up, businesses are failing and inequality is worsening. Yet Reeves promises more austerity.

English Labour has also reneged on its pledge to renationalise energy, rail, mail and water (in England). It need only look to Norway, France and Denmark, which fully or partially own their energy companies and are part-owners of UK energy where they make significant profits. If they can see the benefits in public ownership, why can’t Labour?

Reeves bragged to Kuenssberg that leftover croissants from meetings go to her staff. Crumbs are all that English Labour offers Scotland. It’s time to end the failing union.
Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh.

Things can only get better
FRANCES McKie (letters, March 11) calls me an apologist and tells your readers that there is no difference between Labour and the Tories in the areas of “the economy, energy, health service and, crucially and shamefully at this minute, foreign policy.”

Life is too short to outline the very many differences in the policies of the two parties in all of these areas, but it is worth pointing out that Labour’s “shameful” position on Gaza is to demand an immediate humanitarian ceasefire within a framework that could bring about a two-state solution.

Ms McKie also seems to be particularly exercised by PFI funding for capital projects. The fact is that there have been some bad PFI deals and some very good ones. It is also worth remembering that conventional borrowing models for public sector capital investment did not stop the systems-build and high-rise disasters of the 1970s or the RAAC building failures which we are now seeing.

In most cases, it is not the funding model that is the issue, it is the contract terms and project design. 
The overall point of this is that not all PFI is bad and not all conventional procurement is good, which can work as a passable metaphor for where our politics stand. 

Despite the generalisations and exaggerations that we see in the views of the likes of Ms McKie, there is much that is good about the UK and much of that has been achieved through Labour Governments. It is a realistic prospect to expect that things can get better in the future just as they did in the past. I am unapologetic in looking forward to it.
Peter A. Russell,  Jordanhill, Glasgow.

Yousaf  'is playing the victim'

HUMZA Yousaf has vehemently responded to the claims that he overruled official advice on funding to organisations to help the people in Gaza.

The recommendation was that a donation be made to UNICEF to help fund water programmes, vital work no one can deny.  A few days later, the First Minister, however, opted not to follow the guidance and instead to give an extra £250,000 to UNRWA (having already given them £500,000).  His reason for this was apparently because he was meeting them, which reeks of wanting publicity rather than doing a good deed.

Mr Yousaf’s response has not been to deny this happened but is taken straight from the Trumpian dictionary – using words like outrage, smear, Islamaphobic attacks, flat-out lie and conspiracy. 

The worst comment, however, was where he claimed that “Due to my faith & race, there will always be those, particularly on the far-right, who will desperately try to 'prove' my loyalties lie elsewhere".

Just as many women cry misogyny when they are challenged, it looks like Mr Yousaf will reach for the faith and race cards.  Is it inappropriate to believe that when your decisions are questioned it is because of who you are, not what you have done?

Defend your actions, Mr Yousaf if you can but don’t reach for the victimisation card.
Jane Lax, Aberlour.

Explaining finance, again ...
DO the Union-supporting correspondents not want to understand finance, particularly the effect that capital spending has on revenue costs and income?

Neil Stewart (letters, March 12) doesn’t understand how independent Scotland could survive under the SNP when it has to go cap in hand to Westminster. 

Let me explain. Again. Scotland has a revenue spending deficit. The way an independent country can eliminate or reduce such a deficit is through capital spending,  to attract further investment and more high-taxpayers, increasing revenue income, and, usually,  reducing revenue costs. It worked for London over the last 50 years.

That tool is not available to the devolved Scottish government but would  be available to an independent Scotland. Another, more minor point,  is that independent Scotland would be unlikely to have the SNP as a government for long, if at all. I hope that helps.
Iain Cope, Glasgow.

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Cooking by gas
UK Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho has revealed plans for a new generation of gas-fired power stations south of the border to make sure the lights stay on. Sense at last. Germany will spend €16 billion building four major electricity plants using natural gas, the same gas that Greens are trying to ban from 23 million homes in the UK. 

Worldwide electricity generation from coal hit record highs in 2023. China and India and other countries are building more coal-fired electricity plants and blast furnaces. Over 11,000 wind turbines in the last year could only provide a third of our UK electricity. Do we need another 22,000? A stupid question – but so was the decision to rely on unreliable wind to supply our electricity instead of reliable gas and nuclear.
Clark Cross, Linlithgow.