Letters: Labour must think hard about where it has all gone wrong

·8-min read
In the 2010 General Election, Scotland returned 41 Scottish MPs. Now there is just one, Ian Murray, pictured.
In the 2010 General Election, Scotland returned 41 Scottish MPs. Now there is just one, Ian Murray, pictured.

IT is of course little surprise that Andy Stenton’s recent brave letter (May 10) arguing for Labour to support independence should be critically received as it was on your Letters Pages today (May 11). For one thing, as John Gilligan points out, “Labour is a UK party”, and so it is, but does this mean it always has to be so?

It was Tony Blair who said: “Power without principle is barren, but principle without power is futile”. Mr Gilligan might do well to bear in mind the distinction between a political party and its voters. At the 2010 General Election in Scotland, 1,035,528 voted Labour, but by the 2019 vote that had halved to 511,838. The Labour Party in Scotland might have had a “good” local authority election last week, but let’s put it into context. Ten years ago would the leader of the UK party really have come up, all the way from London, to celebrate winning West Dunbartonshire Council? I not only live there but grew up there and the collapse of the Labour vote, the idea that Clydebank no longer has a Labour MP, still feels to me a bit like an offence against some sort of natural law. That is a measure of how far the Labour Party in Scotland has fallen, and while power without principle is to be condemned, without power a political party is neutered.

Just where do some of your correspondents think, in less than 10 years, half a million votes, from 42 per cent of the popular vote and most MPs to 18 per cent and a single MP (less than the Liberal Democrats), have gone? Not one confronts the issue of this precipitate and disastrous decline of Labour in Scotland.

It is sadly true that “children living in Nicola Sturgeon's constituency are the poorest in the UK” as William Loneskie points out, but he might want to consider that poverty in Glasgow is about as old as Scotland voting Labour, and much good in terms of that problem it did us. The quote that “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results” is attributed to Einstein. Perhaps, the realisation that voting Labour was no longer producing a different result is the problem for the Labour Party.

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.

* NOW that the dust is beginning to settle after the latest council elections, it is increasingly puzzling that the Labour Party is opposing forming formal coalitions with the Tories or SNP, despite such arrangements existing in the last term.

The election resulted in a total of 27 out of 32 councils with no overall control, with the SNP and Labour each securing a majority in one and independents forming a majority in three.

This nonsensical "no coalition" pledge is most recently being played out in Edinburgh, where it is clear that Labour’s leader on the council wants to continue its partnership with the SNP, but Labour HQ has overruled this.

Labour accuses the SNP of not valuing councils and undermining local democracy, yet it clearly does not trust council colleagues to decide what is best for their own areas.

Despite making moderate advances at the election the irony is that Labour, which aspires to form the Scottish Government, will inevitability be in administration in considerably fewer councils than previously.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh.


WILLIAM Loneskie states that “the Labour Party was founded on the principle that working people of all countries have more in common than divides them” and at the same time rubbishes the comments of others who remark that in general “Scots think differently from the Engli. What Mr Loneskie appears to refuse to recognise is that the people of Scotland generally appear to have a more socialist disposition than the population of England and it is no coincidence that Scots led the creation of the Labour Party or that the population of England generally vote for more "right-leaning" UK governments than those repeatedly elected in Scotland.

Mr Loneskie is deluding himself if he thinks that a possible future Labour UK government will be any more "left-leaning" than that based on the politically centralist policies of Labour leaders such as Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Sir Keir Starmer and Anas Sarwar. Presuming he truly wishes government across the UK to change then he should join Labour For Independence, which if successful will allow Scotland to lead its neighbours to a more progressive future for all of our citizens.

Referencing perceived shortcomings of the SNP and the Scottish Government while omitting to mention the abandoned moral principles, the blatant corruption evident in the awarding of PPE contracts, and the relatively much greater scale of poor economic decision-making of the Tories and the UK Government, will not help him achieve his seeming ambition of more socialist and compassionate government for all the people inhabiting these islands.

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry.


WILLIAM Loneskie accuses Andy Stenton of inconsistency, suggesting that Mr Stenton, in his excellent letter, had implied that Irish unity is good while British/UK unity is bad. What Mr Loneskie and his ilk clearly fail to grasp is the fact that Ireland, unlike Britain/UK, is a nation which was divided in the 20th century for political expediency.

The UK is a union of three nations and part of a fourth. Britain is a geographical territory which would exist even if it were unpopulated. The term "nation" refers to people who share long-standing historical, cultural and linguistic ties. I identify myself strongly as both Scottish and European but would never identify my nationality as British except where unavoidable for passport or similar purposes.

It would be good if both Ireland and Scotland were modern, independent, tolerant, welcoming nations within a united Europe whose citizens enjoyed freedom of movement.

The current situation in Ukraine underlines the fact that the rarity of major conflicts within Europe since the Second World War owes more to the united, peaceful trading and travel conditions provided by the EU, created for that purpose, than to the military alliance of Nato.

Willie Maclean, Milngavie.


DAVID J Crawford (Letters, May 10) is unhappy about how the UK is run, so he seeks independence for Scotland. I too am unhappy about how the UK is run, but the problem is that I am also just as unhappy about how Scotland is being run and how the City of Edinburgh Council has been run. So should I be demanding independence for my council ward, or maybe for my street? Of course not. As a losing US primary candidate said, “the people have spoken – the b******s” – that’s the price of democracy.

Nationalists seem to be blind to one of the lessons of both the Covid pandemic and the war in Ukraine. That is that we live in a complicated interconnected world. Tinkering with this is a dangerous thing to do. You only have to look at Brexit.

When Brexit supporters stole the SNP’s trademark twin policies – exploiting grievances (sometime real but mostly imaginary) and promising an undeliverable independence fantasy – the result was disastrous for all of us. The SNP is not slow to point out the damage caused by Brexit, but it wants us to ignore the even worse damage which breaking up a much-older union could cause.

Simply not liking something is not a good reason for causing constitutional and economic chaos. Until the SNP comes up with an economically and politically credible plan for an independent Scotland (and it has had a long time to do this since 2014), it should just be seen for what it is – a tartan version of Boris Johnson and his Brexiters.

Alistair Easton, Edinburgh.


SCARCELY is Angus Robertson back home from the Tartan Day celebrations in the United States than Nicola Sturgeon jets off to the US on a trip where she will discuss climate change, energy security and the war in Ukraine. Where these issues fit into her devolved responsibilities, which are once again neglected while she tries to make a mark in areas that are reserved to Westminster, remains unexplained.

The obvious explanation is that Ms Sturgeon is determined to behave in every way possible that suggests that Scotland is a separate polity from the UK. At the same time, she will doubtless try to impress on anyone who will listen how Scotland is victimised by the UK just for being Scotland – that appears to be the SNP’s message.

It is not enough that we taxpayers fund the Scottish Government’s nine overseas offices at a cost of £9 million a year. Just think of the Scottish children who could be raised out of poverty with that kind of money. We also fund the globetrotting exploits of our SNP ministers whose main mission is to gain international support for Scotland leaving the UK. As Ms Sturgeon says, "independence transcends everything" .

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh.

Read more: End this myth that the Scots think differently from the English