ES Views: Davidson’s plans for Tory success in London will fail

Scottish Conservative party leader Ruth Davidson was warned politicians need to be more realistic: PA Wire/PA Images

Ruth Davidson is correct: London is not Scotland [“Tories have to make a distinct appeal to win back Londoners”, Comment, October 10]. But in other respects her analysis of how the Tories in London could succeed by copying her playbook and concentrating on local elections is flawed.

First, talk of a Tory resurgence in Scotland is somewhat exaggerated. In May’s local elections Tory seats gained were entirely at the expense of Labour, while the total number of council seats held by the SNP hardly changed at all.

Second, the so-called Tory resurgence wasn’t due to localised policies or progressive-sounding young candidates. The Scottish Conservatives are still defined by Brexit and austerity, taking orders from Westminster, but are also the chief beneficiaries of tactical voting by the minority of Scots who voted to leave the EU. Many willingly believed the mantra that the SNP is “obsessed with independence” at the expense of day-to-day government and calculated that the Tories are more credible as a pro-Union party.

However successfully Ruth Davidson may have deluded herself and credulous members of the press, she can’t fool Londoners. Like it or not, she is a member of a backward-looking, predominantly white party, many of whose members want to use Brexit to reclaim powers currently residing with the devolved parliaments, her membership of which, ironically, is the only reason she is famous at all.
Robert Clark

While she deserves praise for her gains at the last general election I believe Ruth Davidson had it easy.

I was there at the time in my home in the Highlands and all the Tory literature that came through the letterbox merely screamed “no to a second independence referendum!” This chimed well with the view of the overwhelming majority of Scots — hence her gains. There was no programme for a new Scotland. Now that the second independence scare is over the Tories are back in third place in the polls.

While she does have a sparky personality, it is a pity she has nothing original to say regarding policies. Davidson has little to offer Tories elsewhere in the UK.
Prof Alan Sked

Ruth Davidson is right: local elections really matter. It is the moment we can influence how our communities are run.

In Kensington and Chelsea the current political system has led to failure, incompetence and division across the borough. We need a change to the system, where our elected representatives are truly accountable. It is time for a new vision, where social justice and a strong economy are two sides of the same coin.
Annabel Mullin

Being so difficult could harm our city

Your report on the distinctive attitudes, behaviour and economic activity of Londoners and the rest of the UK was both fascinating and unsettling.

Long the economic powerhouse of the UK, the city’s openness to innovation, creativity and immigration makes London an attractive and genuinely world-class city. It is no wonder people flock here, despite the housing situation.

However, to be so distinct from its hinterland is not healthy. Time after time we have seen a selfishness in London’s attitudes that will result in further alienation from the rest of the country.

Classic examples include Crossrail 2, HS2 or even Heathrow’s third runway, when the North and Scotland are crying out for infrastructure investment.

You might reflect that the last time London and the rest of the country were so divided, economically, culturally and politically, was the era of the English Civil War. It is not a cheerful prospect.
Simon Diggins

Base school's policy on hard evidence

THE publication of evidence demonstrating potential injustice or discrimination in our public services is wholly to be welcomed. The proof of this particular pudding, however, will be some clear signs that the Government is prepared to base future policy decisions on the available evidence.

It is, for instance, a disgrace that graduates who were privately educated should secure more of the highest-paid jobs than state-educated students with similar or better degrees. But since it has also been demonstrated that students educated in comprehensive schools regularly outperform their privately or grammar school-educated counterparts at university, it was bizarre that the Prime Minister decided that her priority was to introduce more grammar schools!

More policy based on research, rather than on personal anecdotes or hunches, can only be a very good thing for our country. But I’m not holding my breath.
Chris Dunne, Campaign for State Education

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Mayor's actions fail to match his words

The Mayor’s latest hard-hitting pronouncements on air quality and the need for urgent measures are welcome. But words are one thing and actions quite another.

In Merton, for example, while the Labour council claims air quality is high on its agenda, planning officers are recommending the approval on October 19 of a concrete batching plant on the banks of a peaceful river in the officially designated Wandle Valley Regional Park. The plant will produce dangerous dust and generate massive heavy lorry movements a stone’s throw away from a primary school and a well-used children’s playground.

Residents have established that there will be 200 extra HGV movements per day thundering through central Wimbledon on a road network which is already over capacity. Despite this, the council’s planners have elected to reject residents’ objections and accept the developer’s unsubstantiated claims that the scheme will somehow halve HGV traffic in our area.

For a local council, this is bad enough. For the Mayor, who has been fully advised of the issue, to turn a blind eye is hypocrisy. How can we have confidence in the Mayor when his actions fail to match his rhetoric?
Nicola Thompson

True result of the Oxford Street poll

Patrick Grafton-Green claims that “two-thirds” of people back plans to pedestrianise London’s iconic Oxford Street [Online, October 10].

In fact, the results of Transport for London and Westminster City Council’s consultation show that 49 per cent of respondents either have concerns about the proposals to transform — not pedestrianise — Oxford Street, or oppose them, compared to 43 per cent who support the changes.

Hundreds of respondents expressed concern that the proposals could displace the 15,000 taxis that travel along Oxford Street every day. It is disingenuous to present these findings as overwhelming support for the proposals.
Richard Massett, chairman, Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association

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