IF it’s true that Margaret Thatcher once said that her greatest achievement was Tony Blair then the argument in Mark Smith’s article depicting the former Labour leader as a kind of political revolutionary who instigated a rupture from past policies fails badly (“Scotland needs another Tony Blair, The Herald, October 7).
The basis of the article seems to be that after lengthy periods of Conservative and SNP governments change, any change, must be welcomed. Looking at current trends in British, more especially English, politics this is by no means a given. Mr Blair will of course be remembered as the leader who presided over one of the biggest foreign policy disasters in British history, the atrocity against the innocent people of Iraq. However, his insidious influence on our politics does not stop at Iraq or Afghanistan for that matter.
There is no point condemning the Tory chumocracy while overlooking New Labour’s Cash for Honours scandal or the shameful Bernie Ecclestone affair. Current cynicism with politics and the political process is inseparable from the politics of spin so assiduously practised by Mr Blair and his lackies. Confidence in political institutions is undermined when politicians lie to Parliament about the nature of threats from foreign powers. Kow-towing to media billionaires doesn’t instil belief in liberal democracy nor does a perception that a political career is ultimately about personal gain.
Instead of talking about the values of “Middle Britain” or Mr Blair’s “charisma”, Mr Smith should be pondering why the Labour Party, so long dominant in Scotland, is now on the verge of political extinction. The Labour Party’s prospects of political recovery are nil unless it breaks with New Labour ethos and policy.
Brian Harvey, Hamilton.
ACCORDING to Mark Smith, “put simply: what Britain and Scotland need now is another Tony Blair”. I would suggest that, put simply, the last thing Britain and Scotland need now is another Tony Blair. Mr Smith writes that the BBC documentary makes clear that Mr Blair could see that his party in opposition “wasn’t tuned into the values of middle Britain and middle Scotland”. Well, Mr Blair may have had charm, charisma, a perpetual grin and New Labour, but as Prime Minister he ignored the millions of people who marched in protest against attacking and invading Iraq; surely they were tuned into the values of all of Britain and Scotland, while Mr Blair’s charm and charisma evaporated in the noisy skies above Iraq as the bombs fell and children lay dead beneath the rubble of their homes.
Mr Blair has never appeared in a court of law to answer for his illegal war, he has not even been expelled from the Labour Party, but the grin has been wiped permanently from his face and New Labour has been wiped off the political map. It was just the same old, same old story; an Emperor with style but no substance, and no new clothes.
Mr Blair still walks the streets, makes his millions and advises us how to vote at elections; but his brutal war will forever sit at his table like Banquo’s ghost, and his gaunt, haunted face suggests that he knows that whatever else he did or didn’t do, his legacy as a Labour Prime Minister will always come down to one blood-soaked word; Iraq.
Ruth Marr, Stirling.
RED WALL VOTERS WILL RUE THE DAY
THE rousing speech by Boris Johnson was full of positive spin and wishful thinking and just what the Tory faithful needed to hear (“Upbeat Johnson vows to close ‘aching gaps’ in UK opportunity”, The Herald, October 7). Maybe his false positivity will ring hollow for those struggling with rising heating bills and now being deprived of £20 a week. Nor did it address the lack of truck, bus and taxi drivers. It was “it will all get better soon, just you wait and see”. Aye, right.
It will always be all right now and in the foreseeable future for Mr Johnson and his pals. The privileged will never be disadvantaged and Neil Mackay’s article (“A shameful world of obscene wealth and abject poverty”, The Herald, October 5) had it spot on. Not one of the members of the Conservative Party, or possibly any attending the conference, will be suffering one whit. Worse still, they won’t care a jot for the rest of us.
I understand why the Red Wall supporters voted Conservative in the last election. They obviously realised Jeremy Corbyn was unelectable. However, they will almost certainly rue the day they made that decision.
Ian Smith, Symington.
POWER DEVOLVED, POWER RETAINED
HAVING voted unanimously to approve the Scottish Parliament bills enshrining the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the European Charter of Local Government into Scots Law it is hypocritical for unionist MSPs to attack the SNP for introducing those sensible measures which Scotland’s Chief Law Officer and the Scottish Parliament’s Presiding Officer deemed to be competent.
Apart from the opinion that the UK Supreme Court is in breach of Article 19 of the 1707 Treaty of Union and the 1689 Scottish Parliament Claim of Right Act, which outlines Scotland’s constitutional law, the Supreme Court decision (“Two Holyrood Bills are ruled ‘incompetent’ by top court”, The Herald, October 7) should remind everyone that power devolved is power retained and that under the current arrangements we can’t stop a UK government trampling over democracy in Scotland.
Alister Jack claims that a generation is 25 years and opinion polls need to show 60% support over 12 months for a Westminster government to allow a referendum on independence.
However, the 1998 Northern Ireland Act clearly defined a political generation between referenda as seven years and that the Northern Ireland Secretary of State is legally obliged to order a border poll if at any time it appears likely to him that a simple majority of plus one of those voting would express a wish that Northern Ireland should cease to be part of the United Kingdom.
The previous majority vote in our Scottish Parliament for a referendum was further endorsed at May’s election with 62 SNP constituency MSPs elected on such a mandate compared to the five Tories, four LibDems and two Labour who campaigned on a no-referendum platform.
Fraser Grant, Edinburgh.
THE EROSION OF OUR RIGHTS
THE web of control and division under this incompetent Scottish Government spins ever wider with the ruling from the UK Supreme Court against the two bills that were in effect passed illegally by the Scottish Government. Anyone thinking this was about children’s rights is living in cloud cuckoo land – it was undoubtedly calculated to cause grievance and division.
Further, we now have the ridiculous charade of the shambolic vaccination passport introduction where Scots attending a night out or a football match need a vaccination passport whilst around 25,000 to 30,000 attendees arriving for COP26 in Glasgow arrive unencumbered from such regulation and will be free to move around at their will.
It is also worth noting that the “special” powers introduced by this Government during the Covid crisis have been “extended” to at least March 2022 and, we have been advised, may be further “extended” to September 2022. We should all be very concerned at this continual erosion of people’s rights and choices as this authoritarian and inept Government seeks to exercise further control over our daily lives.
Richard Allison, Edinburgh.
CONSIGN BORDER TO HISTORY BOOKS
WHAT benefits would Scotland derive from the SNP’s dream of independence? It is inconceivable that the mythical border line between Gretna and the Sands of Lamberton in Berwickshire has any significance in modern times. Its origins lie, and should remain, in history books.
The UK is a multi-cultural society with many of the traditions of its constituent parts still much to the fore. And in even in Scotland, for instance, the diversity between Orkney, Buchan, Strathclyde and the Borders is very wide. But of course this same principle applies throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Therefore it goes without saying that being Scottish can only be described as being a misconception in terms of nationality; we are according to our passports citizens of the UK.
Surely, more important to the majority of the Scottish electorate are the issues relating to education, health, housing, standards of living and security. The ongoing drive for an independent state stems from a small group of nationalist politicians and their array of over-zealous supporters.
If Nicola Sturgeon and her colleagues were ever to achieve their ambitions the Scottish economy would drop to an all-time low and the standard of living in Scotland would be intolerable. By that time the First Minister would have disappeared off the screen and Scotland would be left to wallow in its own self-made peat bog.
Hopefully, common sense will prevail, and the UK will continue in its present form.
Robert IG Scott, Ceres, Fife.