KEY Labour leadership candidates stating that they will neither understand nor permit support for independence “up there” in Scotland is as unsurprising as it is instructive, and the latest reminder that a Westminster route to progress is conclusively closed. Westminster is a dead end for Scotland. Scottish mainstream politics and English political parties are only getting more and more out of sync.

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The Labour party of old used to represent the mainstream of Scottish politics – a blend of social democratic and democratic socialist ideals aimed at building a fair and productive economy for all. There was a time too when it seemed possible that the Labour party in England could build enough support for similar ideas in England to let the Scottish political mainstream actually happen.

Yet those days are categorically over. Mainstream ideas here, including many enacted with broad support at Holyrood, seem to be regarded as dangerously radical by swathes of Labour MPs. We all see the free prescriptions that SSP MSPs played a key role in introducing as totally common sense. Half the Labour party in Westminster seem to view the idea as an open door to catastrophe.

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Indeed whilst Labour in England seem perilously divided, Labour party officials in Scotland hardly command enough to divide. Ian Murray remains their sole MP not so much because Edinburgh South is a Labour party bastion, but because his incumbency helps secure loaned tactical votes from anti-independence Unionists. Murray could convincingly claim to be one of the few MPs who could have held his seat as a Change UK or the Independent Group for Change candidate.

Nor do Labour at Westminster seem willing to support the devolution to let us enact commonsense measures many of them claim to support. Secure pensions. A real living wage. Powers to protect our NHS from Boris and Trump’s trade deals. Better to let Boris run amok than let us keep proving that Keynesian an demand-side economics work.

If any Labour leadership candidates want to restore “trust” here, then pledging to deny our democratic rights is a poor start. Pledging to block Holyrood enacting policies they claim to support is a bad follow-on. Refusing to engage with Scottish parties where there is potential common ground is just the icing on a terrible cake. Frankly it seems like that is exactly the recipe they will all continue to follow.

There is no visible outcome from this Labour leadership contest which will make Westminster work for Scotland. With independence, though, we take back the power to see Scotland work for us all.

Calum Martin
National co-chair, Scottish Socialist Party

AGAIN America postulates as the good guy and continues its labelling of Iran as the baddie. The US has been instrumental in messing up the Middle East, with a pivotal point being its 2003 Iraq invasion (despite United Nations disapproval), yet it claims occupancy of the moral high ground.

The geographic distance between the US and the Middle East tells its own story. America portrays itself as the self-appointed fixer of the world’s problems when it is plain to see that nine times out of ten it causes the problems. Also shameful is that it can count on a handful of developed countries to back this illusionary portrayal and Britain has been its foremost partner in doing so.

While it is generally agreed that the US was a relative good guy during Hitler’s Nazi rampage and Japan’s imperial ravages of the 1930s-40s, too much wrong has been effected from being on the victorious side of that global conflict. Sainthood surely isn’t dependent on there being a devil. Or to put it another way – two wrongs don’t make a right.

Ian Johnstone

I FIND it strange that Michael Fry failed to mention the role the Tory government played in Glasgow’s fate when in 1996 they pushed through the Scottish local authority boundary changes at a time when there were no Tory-controlled councils in Scotland (Why is Glasgow’s economy one of the biggest failures of the last century?, January 7). This attempt at gerrymandering was a failure in that no councils turned blue, but had the effect of starving the shrunk Glasgow council area of the local taxes it should have had from some of its richer suburbs.

Sara Gibbs
Argyll & Bute

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THE “Canonical Big Seven” Scottish literary names mentioned in the article on Edwin Morgan (Sunday National, January 5) isn’t a grouping I’ve encountered before. Perhaps this is because it omits Edwin Muir and Sydney Goodsir Smith, which would make it a Big Nine.

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Even then, we haven’t taken the ladies into consideration: Helen B Cruickshank, Violet Jacob, Nan Shepherd, Marion Angus, Flora Garry and Muriel Spark. No doubt readers will be thinking about someone I have missed, but that’s the way it goes. Someone somewhere will be sair pit oot, so let’s be content that Scotland has produced so many great writers without attempting to rate them as canonical or parcel them up into groups.

Gordon Wright