MY favourite memory of the 2015 General Election was of Mhairi Black dumping Douglas Alexander out of his Paisley constituency.

For the very epitome of a smooth political careerist (not unlike like the leader of his party in Scotland), beholden only to his party and his ambition, to be shown the door by a smart, committed young woman who believes in Scotland was a breath of fresh air when compared to the generations of Scotsmen on the make that have rolled off the Labour Party production line for most of my lifetime. I include people like John Smith in that list, along with more recent examples such as John Reid, Lord Robertson and Alistair Darling. There were notable exceptions to be fair: Robin Cook, who resigned rather than be complicit in Tony Blair and his government's illegal Iraq war (a government that included a subsequent Scottish prime minister in Gordon Brown) and of course Donald Dewar, who still believed in Scotland as a nation rather than just a useful adjunct to England.

Mhairi Black was direct and authentic in a way that the likes of Douglas Alexander will never be, with his attention focused, as it will be, on a much bigger stage more deserving of his talents. For the time being at least the Labour gravy train has rolled back into its Scottish station, albeit the goodies on board will have a shelf life dependent on Labour's honeymoon with the City of London and the English shires. That is why sensible projects, good for Scotland, like returning to the single market even if not the EU, and freedom to travel and work for young Scots to our European friends and neighbours will not be happening on Keir Starmer's watch, at least if he is to be believed. It's also why Scottish native resources such as wind and rain, seas and countryside, and even our people, will once again be plundered to prop up a declining post-imperial state. Maybe I should be happy that at least some of our politicians will prosper mightily, but I am not.

As JM Barrie said, there are few more impressive sights in the world than a Scotsman on the make, and the Labour Party in Scotland has been a major facilitator for generations of them.

Will there now be another generation of young, vibrant and challenging Scottish voices like Mhairi Black's that will go unheard while Labour Party apparatchiks jump back on the bandwagon they have been denied for so long? I hope not.

John Jamieson, Ayr.

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Enthusiasm is not enough

IT is ironic to read claims that the new tranche of Scottish Labour MPs come from "diverse backgrounds". Pamela Nash ran Scotland in Union after losing her seat at Westminster whilst Patricia Ferguson worked for a charity after losing her Holyrood seat. Both had careers as administrators within various political entities, so not that diverse, it would seem.

Then there’s Douglas Alexander, who was memorably defeated by a 20-year-old chip shop employee in 2015. Although a qualified solicitor his career since then has also embraced politics whether it be in broadcasting or via trips to Harvard to lecture students there. Now we have the added irony of Mr Alexander being made Business Minister despite no evidence of him ever having run a business.

I’m therefore struggling to see how the above incumbents will be bringing the requisite specialist knowledge to Westminster that will help address the myriad problems the country faces. Rather they are old hands being recycled in what appears to be a political version of The Repair Shop.

At the other end of the spectrum my new MP spent a year as a waiter after graduating in law. That’s a pretty thin CV. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve nothing against youth in Parliament. Mhairi Black was a surprise package, being both eloquent and an earnest campaigner for Waspi women. But she quit after becoming disillusioned by the "toxic" atmosphere at Westminster which negated her attempts to change things.

The question that arises is whether lacking experience or a track record will impact on people’s lives given the immediacy of the plight now facing many in terms of the cost of living. Enthusiasm is one thing, but when you run a business you don’t normally entrust your least experienced employees with the task of dealing with a crisis. Equally you don’t allocate the task to older staff whose flawed decision-making in the past has let you down. So why do political parties believe that they are different?

Robert Menzies, Falkirk.

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Unionists must not be complacent

IT is perhaps to be expected that the SNP’s famous drubbing last week should be followed by bitter recriminations within the party, especially from the vanquished. Alyn Smith, Toni Giuliani and Joanna Cherry are among those uttering them, while the rank and file are disorientated. How could their righteous cause have been rejected so comprehensively? Those detached from reality claim that it wasn’t. On TV, Nicola Sturgeon referred to the SNP as "they", not "we", and criticises their campaign, apparently oblivious of the fact that the SNP’s sorry condition was largely of her making. She might as well have said "it wisnae me". This mood of indynial will persist.

Those of us who campaigned against the SNP are allowed a few days for gloating, but, for myself, I feel, as I did on September 19, 2014, only deeply relieved. We must beware of imagining that this is "job done". It is only the start of rolling back the SNP’s immense power over us, and the Holyrood election in 2026 will be the critical moment, because for nationalists Westminster is but a sideshow. We need to extirpate the baleful influence of SNP propaganda from Scotland, and that will be hard, given how it has become embedded in so many Scots over recent decades.

The message to those of us who value our place in the UK is that there must be no complacency based on this one result. Eternal vigilance is required to restore Scotland to a place that is not defined by a damaging constitutional obsession.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh.

Supporting Scotland

VOTERS of a unionist disposition are so scathing in their dismissal of their nationalist brethren’s desire for an independent country that they can sound vehemently anti-Scottish. Yet there is plenty of evidence to show that unionists are keen to be supportive of Scottish endeavours in various fields. During the recent efforts of the national football team, desire for a Scottish victory and the team’s continued presence at the Euros tournament appeared to be no less strong in unionist hearts than in those of the nationalists.

So, unionists are happy to support Scotland’s endeavours in various fields in the way that football fans maintain a strong allegiance to their favoured club, a club similar to those now increasingly owned by an external investor. These supporters will happily cheer when results go their way, but will get restive and vent their disappointment when their team fails to perform to expectations, prompting loud boos to be directed at the once-welcome owner. Any notion supporters may have that they have a say in the running of the club is rudely shown to be an illusion.

Voting patterns in the General Election strongly suggest that the Scottish people are happy to settle for being members of a supporters’ club, rather than seek to acquire the status and responsibilities of citizens of a nation state.

One wonders how long the world of nations, and attendant bodies, will continue to indulge Scotland in its shameless, self-serving and shape-shifting belief that it can unilaterally choose, on a case-by-case basis, between claiming to be a proud nation or simply a junior member of a political union.

Ian Hutcheson, Glasgow.

Is Keir Starmer a socialist?Is Keir Starmer a socialist? (Image: PA)

No rational case for indy

FRASER Grant (Letters, July 8) misinterprets my letter of July 6. I suggested that, based on the current lack of widespread support for it, the Scottish Government cease demanding an immediate independence referendum and focus on working constructively with the UK Government to address the immediate priorities that will improve people’s lives. I did not suggest that people like Mr Grant, who want Scotland to secede from the United Kingdom, should not continue to work towards and campaign for that.

In that regard, I would respectfully suggest that emotional arguments, such as Scotland becoming "just like any other nation" may console the converted after the significant setback they have just experienced but they are not going to build support to a substantial majority urging immediate change.

Rather it would be more persuasive if a rational argument was developed - including a robust economic case - demonstrating how an independent Scotland will result in tangible benefits for those who live here. But that case was not made in 2014 and has not been made since.

George Rennie, Inverness.

Socialist? Really?

I BURST out laughing reading Struan Stevenson’s post-election analysis: “The UK is in for a long period of socialist government” ("The roots of this disaster go way back to Cameron", The Herald, July 6). I wish. On the evidence so far, there isn’t a socialist bone in Sir Keir Starmer’s body. But I live in hope.

Doug Maughan, Dunblane.