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Letters: If our politics are broken, don’t overlook the Tories’ contribution

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I READ Neil Mackay’s article with some dismay (“Have Sturgeon and Ross found the secret to fixing our broken politics?”, November 25).

Some of the fundamental disagreements between political parties simply reflect the views of voters and that, surely, is as it should be. In Scotland that most obviously applies to the constitutional issue.

But political parties (and their allies) can manufacture division, too.

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The prime example is Brexit, achieved through the referendum but which was won by a combination of egregious departures from the truth and dark money, which employed Cambridge Analytica to target voters through a huge and well-funded Facebook disinformation campaign.

Then there is the predominantly Tory press, and its online presence, which mobilised voters through inflammatory rhetoric such as the infamous decrying of judges as “enemies of the people”.

Other political parties, and their voters, are entitled to hold the perpetrators at arm’s length and more.

Further, the Conservative-led coalition of 2010-15 claimed “we are all in this together” in its response to the financial crisis, a patent untruth as austerity, by design, affected those on the lowest incomes most.

Austerity was also economically counter-productive but achieved the ideological aim of shrinking the state, which in turn led to a lack of preparation for a pandemic by ignoring the recommendations of Exercise Cygnus, a cross-government exercise in 2016 to test the country’s response to a serious influenza pandemic, long before Covid struck.

The Conservatives have been an uncompromisingly ideological party since 1979 and have driven the UK rightward based on a minority of the vote backed up by dark donor money and willing media propagandists.

If our politics are broken, as Mr Mackay says, it is largely because of an ideological unwillingness of Conservatives to compromise on the biggest issues and to play by their own rules. How many does it take to tango?

Councillor Alasdair Rankin (SNP), City of Edinburgh Council, Edinburgh.

 

 

A COUNTRY FREE OF THE SNP

JOHN Swinney asks what kind of country we Scots want to live in when the pandemic is over. The answer is one that is governed well, so that rather leaves him and his SNP colleagues out.

Michael Watson, Rutherglen.

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FM’S “GULLIBLE” SUPPORTERS

ROSEMARY Goring (“Let’s hope Nicola Sturgeon stays on as First Minister – for all our sakes”, November, 24) has obviously been living in a vastly different Scotland to me since 2014. She is lauding Nicola Sturgeon as some sort of top world leader which Scotland needs her “for all our sakes”.

The only aspect of failure for the First Minister according to Ms Goring has been in education, which has been “underwhelming … and woefully lacking”. The majority of Scots will wholeheartedly agree – but education is not the only failure for Ms Sturgeon.

There has been failure after failure, far too many to list here, all apparently forgotten about during Covid.

Ms Goring needs to remember that in virtually every election in Scotland since 2014, local and Holyrood, pro-Union votes outnumber pro-separatist votes and, come another referendum, given current statistics, the same will apply.

Nicola Sturgeon is fully aware of this, hence her desire to deny supporters a vote and maintain her lucrative tenure for as long as possible. Just a pity that supporters are so gullible.

Douglas Cowe, Newmachar, Aberdeenshire.

 

 

DEVOLVING OF FULL WELFARE POWERS TO SCOTLAND

THE Agenda article by Poverty Alliance director Peter Kelly (“Do the right thing, Scotland, and double the Child Payment”, November 26) was a call for justice: justice for those who are often struggling in silence, those who feel cut off and those who often take the biggest hit when the government yield the austerity axe.

Mr Kelly rightly highlights the cuts that have taken place in recent years by the Westminster Government; two-child limit, a cut in Universal Credit, and the benefit cap.

But as we do the sums with reference to the presentation of the forthcoming Scottish Budget on December 9, we may want to remind ourselves of actions the Scottish Government has taken in an effort to tackle child poverty.

Since the establishment of Social Security Scotland in 2018 we have seen the introduction of Best Start Grants, which have assisted over 180,000 families at a cost of £60m.

There has also been the setting-up of the Scottish Welfare Fund, which has seen substantial increases to its budget during the pandemic and has assisted almost a million households.

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In an effort to give all new babies an equal start the SNP government introduced the Baby Box and has extended the roll-out of free school meals.

Only this week, a new benefit has been introduced, the Scotland Child Disability Payment; 52,000 child claimants will be moved onto it from the Disability Living Allowance.

The Scottish government brought further assistance to this sector in 2020 with the Child Winter Heating Assistance for claimants who receive the highest component of care allowance. And in an effort to address poverty, all Scottish government employees are paid the living wage.

I applaud Mr Kelly’s call but we have to appreciate what has already been done in an effort to tackle the scourge of poverty, and recognise that only 14% of all welfare spend in Scotland is devolved. So perhaps he would add his support to a call for full welfare powers to be devolved to Scotland with immediate effect, if we are to truly tackle poverty.

Catriona C Clark, Banknock, Falkirk.

 

 

AN ASSERTION OUT OF THIS WORLD

WHILE I agree on the urgency for worldwide measures to combat global warming I am astonished that the SNP deputy leader, Keith Brown, has suggested in his speech to the party’s annual conference that the ‘future of our planet’ depends on Scottish independence (November 27).

Which planet would that be? The one with the Big Rock Candy Mountain, cigarette trees, soda fountain, milk and honey etc? Certainly not the one which I share with 7.9 billion others, many of whom have never heard of Scotland, and to whom Scotland’s independence is irrelevant.

R Russell Smith, Largs.

 

 

LEADERS MUST NOT WORRY IN PUBLIC

CHRIS Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, should stop worrying.

The government hesitated over restrictions twice, at great cost, needlessly worried in the first case whether people would accept a lockdown at all and, in the second, over Christmas restrictions.

The job of leaders is not to worry in public. It is to get on and lead, above all to save lives.

The economy is their great concern yet the great driver of mankind for many centuries has been the pursuit of profit and power.

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It is in the nature of business to adapt to circumstance.

If leaders are afraid of taking us with them regarding the pandemic when death is so visible, how are they going to persuade people of the far greater lifestyle changes necessary to minimise the effects of the climate crisis?

Felicity Graham, Perth.

 

 

THE QUEEN’S LIFELONG SERVICE

THE poor old Queen need not look to Joanna Blythman (“Ice-cold new Diana movie exposes the sheer heartlessness of the royal family”, November 27) for sympathy, or regret, when the time comes. The quit button will take a hit instead.

Yes, Diana was very different. She is never destined, it seems, to rest in peace. But lessons were learned, and time moves on.

Ms Blythman is entitled to her views, of course. Hopefully, however, those of us of a mind to will respect a monarch who has served unfailingly over all these years. Surely we can grant her that.

Brian D Henderson, Glasgow.

 

 

WINDFARM HEADACHES

I HAVE to congratulate our First Minister for trying to cope with the flicker created by wind-turbine blades while being interviewed on BBC Scotland inside Whitelee windfarm’s visitor centre.

She sounded more grumpy than usual but kept talking, obviously in an attempt to show it wasn’t a problem despite the fact that a warning was issued at the start of the interview about the strobing effect created by the blades. Now she knows what many rural residents have to endure on a daily basis at this time of the year when the sun is low.

Despite it being a simple process for windfarm operators to shut down their turbines when this debilitating effect occurs, many refuse because they will lose a few pennies in profit.

What Sturgeon won’t have hung around long enough to witness is the equally disturbing effect of night-time flicker when the blades pass in front of turbines’ aviation lights. But why should she care? She doesn’t have to live beside a wind farm.

Aileen Jackson, Uplawmoor.

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