THE postal vote shambles during the general election would have been easily resolved had antiquated Westminster embraced real change and modernised itself into a proper democracy.

In the last 20 years, Estonia has held 13 elections at local, national and EU level where electronic voting can take place. Last year a majority of citizens voted online by scanning their ID card plus entering a unique PIN as a digital signature to confirm their vote.

Westminster’s first-past-the-post system is an insult to democracy and is not a true reflection of public opinion, while the House of Commons voting system should be electronic, thus saving hundreds of wasted hours, both by copying the Scottish Parliament’s procedures.

And it is farcical that an overseas resident who hasn’t lived in the UK for 60 years can vote in a general election but not an EU citizen paying taxes in the UK.

Furthermore, Prime Minister’s Questions should be extended to give minor parties, with, say six or 10 seats, a couple of weekly questions in order to highlight different opinions.

While they are at it, perhaps the next UK government will outline the democratic route to Scottish self-government. Now that would represent real change, but I won’t hold my breath. 

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh.


Read more:

Postal vote crisis: Scottish councils open emergency booths

Missing postal votes may trigger legal challenges in close contests

Royal Mail insist postal vote delays aren't their fault


English voters were inconvenienced, too

YOUR correspondent GR Weir (letters, July 3) waxes indignant because the London Evening Standard made no mention of the corresponding chaos in Scotland in an article about the failure to get postal vote forms out to many of those who requested them. But why should it? 

I have always understood that the London Evening Standard is a local newspaper, whose target readership lives in London and the Home Counties, whose principal interest would be in matters affecting their day-to-day lives.

At least it puts John Swinney’s gas at a peep, given that when the election was called, some English voters would be just as inconvenienced as their Scottish counterparts.

Christopher W. Ide, Waterfoot, East Renfrewshire.


Tories’ failures and mendacity

IN many respects Christopher H. Jones’s letter  (‘In despair over a Tory election campaign strewn with errors’, July 3) sums up what is wrong with much contemporary political debate, its trivialisation and shallowness. 

He claims that the Conservative Party “has lost its way” but fails to tell us what he sees as the true Tory way or the policy failures that brought about this loss of direction. Not a word about crumbling social services, deep social and economic inequality, contempt for Parliament and other institutions, a degree of corruption in public life unprecedented in modern times. The list of Tory failures and mendacity is endless. 

Instead Mr Jones, failing to address real issues, mentions eight individuals. This personalisation of politics is a sure sign of an unwillingness to seriously analyse the true condition of the country. Was Thatcherism the true Tory way? Was it Cameron and Osborne’s austerity? Was it the hard Brexit? Is it the constant demonising of the weakest members of the community? Where is the analysis of an economic system that not so long ago was promoting self-certified mortgages but now has a serious housing crisis?  

Some Tories seem to yearn for a mythical “One Nation Conservatism” first mentioned by Disraeli in the mid-nineteenth century. This has never existed. Rather, the modern Tory party is a right-wing cult composed of narrow English nationalists. Mr Jones may have failed to give us his version of the Tory way. No matter: the people of Scotland know through hard experience exactly what it is.

Brian Harvey, Hamilton.


Changes won’t happen overnight

IF, when we wake up today, the opinion polls were correct and Sir Keir Starmer is the new Prime Minister, I would hope that the impatience that characterises our nation does not raise its ugly head. We might become impatient when we find that the new government doesn’t have a magic wand to translate its ambition for growth into immediate reality, nor does it have access to a magic money tree to fund public services sorely in need of a hefty cash injection.

The foundations of change will have to be laid carefully and that won’t happen overnight. It will take time and effort to put in place the change promised in the Labour manifesto. Indeed, it may well be a hard slog to rebalance the economy and to repair the damage done over the last 14 years before the chasm of inequality is narrowed.

The green shoots of recovery may not be visible until two or three years into the first term of a Starmer administration. No doubt there will be sniping from the sidelines and a fusillade of criticism from the evicted government and its partners in the crime of distorted propaganda as they attempt to undermine confidence in a Labour government wedded to the principles of serious business investment and growth. There will be hiccups on the way and obstacles presented by unforeseen events.

If we ordinary punters fall for right-wing vitriol and lose confidence in the path being forged by Labour then the game will eventually be up. This will leave Labour  as a single-term government and condemn us to the return of a party whose holy grail is low taxation, the reduction of public services and the further diminution of workers’ rights. Unless the nation keeps its nerve, that will be what we will face. Rome was not built in a day.

Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.

* I SEE Peter A Russell is again trashing those supporting independence (letters, July 3) and suggesting a lack of intelligence. I can predict with almost absolute certainty that the “change” featuring large in Labour’s manifesto and advertising will be just that after two years. Small change after tax left out of your hard-earned wages.

Ken Mackay, Netherlee, Glasgow.


Unimportance of climate change

WHAT happened to climate change – something allegedly threatening the world – in pre-election promises? 

It was, of course, largely ignored as, with the exception of the Greens, it comes under the heading of ‘unimportant in the order of things’.

The electorate may well indicate a concern to be politically correct or to be polite to those nice Green people promoting it, but for as long as people are homeless, hungry, and fear for their jobs, or the threat of war in a world gone mad, there are more pressing concerns. 

Let the climate remain as a subject for the affluent to discuss over cocktails, or at dinner parties, because in the real world, where the rest of us live, that is where it belongs.

Malcolm Parkin, Kinross.


Leftists babbling about Thatcher

JUNE Murray (letters, July 3) thinks the SNP did something wrong in helping to end the government of James Callaghan in 1979.

Inflation was 20% and public sector workers were denied pay rises. Financial emergency help from the International Monetary Fund was conditioned on benefits austerity and wage restrictions.

The working class elected Mrs Thatcher. She stopped inflation and there was consequently very little industrial unrest about pay settlements. There were some strikes organised by people who opposed elected governments.

Leftists still babble about the Thatcher years, whether they were there or not. Some who were there were bruised by losing six-figure salaries in public money. They were in sinecures to support them in politics.

Nothing crazy like leaving the EU happened. University education was free until the Labour government of 1997. Then there were immediate benefit cuts for single mothers, and student subsistence grants ended along with free tuition.

Perhaps Ms Murray wanted 20% inflation coupled with wage restraint to continue in 1979. It wasn’t possible because unrest was stopping public services.

Tim Cox, Bern, Switzerland.


Crumbs on the Brexit table

DENNIS Forbes Gratton (letters, July 3) raises the question, “Why does FM keep raising Brexit?”

I suggest he reads Ian McConnell’s Business Voices column of the same date (‘Would ‘an array of opposition forces’ bring Labour common sense?’), where he quotes at length from a report by Jill Rutter, senior fellow of the Institute for Government. He will plenty of reasons there to answer his question.

He will also find there that his contention that “good progress is now being made in forming world-wide trading contracts” is strongly rebutted by Ms Rutter, who states, “There are only crumbs to offer ... a couple of trade deals with Australia and New Zealand, (not the prize of a US deal).” 

Finally, may I remind Mr Gratton, who claims that “few in Scotland are concerned about (Brexit)” that 65% of the voters in Scotland on Brexit opted to remain in Europe.

Ian Murray, Dumbarton.