SANDY Gemmill (Letters, October 23) is probably right to suggest that a Labour-led government at Holyrood could “help the independence cause”, but not for the reason he has given. The UK Internal Market Act, which Labour at Westminster will not change, has effectively neutered the Scottish Parliament, so the prospect of real change in Scotland, even if Labour were to finally break its long-established mould in government of destroying the public finances (we are still paying for reckless PFI schemes), is between none and zero.

Anas Sarwar likes to blandly parrot the phrase that “Scotland is being failed by both governments” yet does not explain how the Scottish Government (whether SNP or Labour) could have succeeded when the UK Government was failing, economically as well as democratically. Of course, it is easy to haughtily criticise others but while popular sound bites come easily, fundamental change does not.

The truth (which Mr Sarwar refuses to honestly admit) is that as long as it is bound to the Union, Scotland cannot even begin to significantly prosper while the UK economy is broken, austerity continues to effectively starve public services of much-needed cash, and there is a lack of substantial funds available (evidenced by “Northern Leg” cancellation of HS2) to invest in Scotland’s infrastructure that has been neglected for decades. According to Mr Sarwar’s boss, Sir Keir, it will take 10 years to turn the economy around and for the UK, and perhaps Scotland, to benefit from sustained financial growth, but any serious social and democratic gains would take much longer to emerge.

In other words, the "Big Labour Plan" would essentially ensure more of the same for Scotland over the next 10 years, especially if there is not a strong SNP voice at Westminster pushing for more progressive policies. The only route to achieving real change and for Scotland to secure its true potential as a prosperous, fair and egalitarian country, is for Scotland to determine its own future as an independent nation again.

Perhaps as Labour at Westminster has joined with the Tories in effectively abandoning the historic inhabitants of Palestine more Labour supporters, activists, and possibly even a few principled MSPs, will wake up and realise that their aspirations, for Scotland and its people, cannot be attained within the current failing constitutional arrangements.

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry.

Read more: Labour leading Holyrood would help Scottish Independence

The world order is changing

LAST week’s events highlighted two different approaches to the future. The first is backward-looking and rooted in the delusion that the US and Europe still lead the world and can control nations and regions through military power to effect desired political outcomes.

Joe Biden’s disastrous trip to Israel where no Arab leaders would meet with him was an example. Another was the US being the lone No vote of 15 nations in a recent UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Palestine conflict. After a string of failures from Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Nicaragua, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and now Ukraine, you would think the US would recognise the futility of this approach.

The second approach is forward-looking and was demonstrated by China’s hosting of the 10th anniversary of its Belt and Road initiative, involving 150 nations in a 21st-century multi-dimensional infrastructure project to connect the world through sustainable energy, transport and digital systems. The initiative recognises that the world needs more connectivity, not more conflict. The only European nation attending was Hungary.

The world’s geopolitical tectonic plates are shifting. The BRICS nations, which include Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, UAE, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt and Argentina, make up 36% of global output compared to 30% for the G7 nations.

It’s time for European nations to wake up and realise that blindly following the US has done them no favours. They share Eurasia with China and should be partners, not combatants. This would lead to a stronger and more secure Europe.

As for the Disunited Kingdom, it needs to stop acting like it’s still a great power, which is distracting it from addressing its enormous internal problems, including keeping Scotland an effective prisoner in the Union.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh.

Many Jews oppose Israeli regime

AS a Jewish socialist, I was looking forward to Kevin McKenna’s article ("Why we must stand strong with our Jewish neighbours", The Herald, October 24). I agree entirely that we all must oppose anti-Semitism wherever it raises its head.

He is right that there is deep worry about the events in Israel/Gaza. Almost all of us have relatives or friends there. We are upset about all the deaths on both sides of the Gaza border and concerned that the Israeli government - against which many Jews in Israel and worldwide were protesting until the Hamas attack - is acting out of revenge rather than thought. Many also fear that the Netanyahu cabinet has a far-right streak in it which views the Palestinians, in the words of Defence Secretary Yoav Gallant, as "human animals" - a phrase reminiscent of "sub-human", used to describe Jews and others in the 1930s and 1940s. Many people, indeed many Jews, including establishment figures, now think that Israel is an apartheid state.

But, unfortunately some of his piece was caricature. First, he is just plain wrong in suggesting that the Left is uncritical of Putin in Ukraine. I am active in the Left and most policies by trade unions, for example, pushed for by the Left start with a condemnation of the Russian invasion.

Secondly, although condemning the Hamas attack, I note that Mr McKenna did not mention the 5,000-odd deaths in Gaza so far, nor whether he thinks withholding water and food and medicines from a dependent population constitutes a war crime. Surely worth a sentence at least; particularly as one of his main arguments is that the pro-Palestinian rallies don’t criticize Hamas.

Turning to that, I was on the platform of a large Stop the War meeting on October 23 calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. It was a broad-based platform - Labour Party, SNP, trade unionists, CND, civil society speakers and a broad audience. Almost all speakers from the platform and floor condemned the targeting of civilians on either side of the border, that we needed to campaign against Islamophobia and anti-Semitism and for a ceasefire and humanitarian aid on a vast scale. According to polls in Britain, Europe, and the United States, this is a majority position in most countries.

Further, the slogan "from the river to the sea..." is the call for a democratic state for all the peoples in the area - not, as Mr McKenna suggests, the driving of Jews into the sea. It reflects that the traditional call for a two-state solution appears impractical now that 600,000 (illegal according to the UN) settlers are in the West Bank. It is condescending for the media to reduce the 75-year conflict down to the last two weeks. It has been ongoing and no amount of bombing of Palestinians in Gaza is going to solve it. Peace and justice go hand in hand and seem a long way off. But there is no alternative. Ceasefire would be a start.

Henry Maitles, Emeritus Professor of Education, University of the West of Scotland, Newton Mearns.

Read more: Why we must stand strong with our Jewish neighbours

Under fire for defending itself

WHILST agreeing with Jim Sillars (Letters, October 23) that the "truth has been mangled in the Arab world", as in other countries, I don't agree that Israel is in complete control. How can it be when it has been under frequent attack by bombs and missiles from Hamas and Hezbollah, long before this Gaza war? Since 1948 many see the solution to the Palestinian problem being a two-state solution. But Hamas does not want this, as it says openly that it wants to drive Israelis into the sea.

Since the founding of Israel in 1948, there have been various attempts at a peace; the Palestinians have said No on five occasions. In 2005 Israel withdrew from controlling Gaza, and Hamas moved in instead.

What other country when defending itself gives a warning to civilians, by dropping leaflets and using loudhailers, that they are going to be bombed, and should flee?

We hear in the news that the Israelis have turned off the water, electricity and stopped medicines. What many reports do not say is that Israel has told Hamas they will turn permission on again, if in turn Hamas releases the hostages.

Israel is the only country in the world that gets criticised when it tries to defend itself.

Patricia Drummond, Helensburgh.

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The failures of atheism

I WONDER why Doug Clark (Letters, October 24) doesn’t also ask what the worldwide exposés of the actions of Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot say about the efficacy of atheism to inspire moral good. Is following their lead a potential answer to his question?

George F Campbell, Glasgow.