READING the pundits within and outwith English Labour in the UK press, about its needs to revive and the ways and means to do it, one is struck by the Anglo-centric focus.

The “red wall” seats to be recovered are just the tip of its problem. In Scotland – where it has almost disappeared and is reduced to one MP, voted in largely by tactical voting to thwart the SNP – the party is stumm.

It is retreating into its former English and Vote Leave heartlands. As a result, its focus in Scotland has shifted simply to bigging up the Union and abandoning devolution to the detriment of Holyrood, which needs in a devolved context to be strengthened to withstand the Johnsonian scourge.

READ MORE: Scottish Labour frontbencher backs indyref2 — if enough MSPs support it

Added to the issue is the fact that Scotland voted to remain in the EU and these Labour red wall areas voted to leave, causing presentational problems for Labour north of the Tweed. The devolved parliaments voted against Westminster’s Brexit withdrawal settlement including Labour in the Welsh Sennedd, so Labour is in a fix of its own contradictions.

There is another dilemma on the horizon waiting to confront the shattered Labour party here. The Tories are warming to cutting Holyrood powers to hit the SNP, but Holyrood is above and beyond one party in Scotland. So far, Labour’s record in strengthening Holyrood is not good after its record in the Smith Commission and its aftermath. The pop-up former leader, the self-confessed “North Briton” Gordon Brown, only bleats about the Union and campaigned in Newcastle for the Union. His former credentials are now in tatters as he struts about ignoring the real menace, namely the current Tory hegemony. Labour always had a blind spot when it came to Westminster.

The new hopefuls for leadership of London Labour, such as Nandy, Long-Bailey and co, are not clued-up about Scotland and need not be, as Labour MPs now from Scotland are not even numerically seen as pliant and submissive lobby fodder any more.

Labour are in an existential conundrum. The duopoly in English politics has morphed into an oligarchic monopoly in an archaic Westminster where the set-up is to preserve inherited wealth and power above all else. A few Labour victories here and there will not disturb the fundamentals of the Upper English hegemony in the long run.

One just needs to witness the condescending sneering and dismissive insults hurled at Corbyn now by Johnson in the Commons.

The other party of the Union, the LibDems, are just off the radar, a mere blip-squeak, yet along with Labour they exhort us here to stay with the Union!

When one in the Unionist camp is in denial about the state of the individual Unionist parties north of the Tweed – with their skinny number of MPs now in single figures, including the Tories – one must wonder how much longer the illusion of the Precious Union can reign supreme.

John Edgar

HISTORY teaches us that wars break out with the tactics of the previous conflict. It is the side that can adapt and change that ultimately prevails. In the First World War, Haig planned for a cavalry breakthrough; in the Second, the British Expeditionary Force dug trenches; and in Vietnam, the Americans went to war with the full panoply of technology, ultimately to be beaten by peasants with sharpened bamboo sticks.

The great success of the first independence referendum was the way a myriad of Yes groups spontaneously formed and almost won the day. But we lost. Yet still people call for a referendum to be called, when miraculously all these groups that have been dormant will spring to life and win this time round. But we lost. The winner second time round will better organised, smarter and disciplined.

History also teaches us that the time to attack your enemy is when you are sure of winning. In the recent General Election, Unionist votes outweighed those for independence. Discounting the odd outlier, every opinion poll has shown a majority for the Union. Yet people talk as though getting a referendum is the goal.

The third lesson from history is Quebec, which tells us that you can have a referendum, you can have two referenda, but you cannot have three. Lastly, lessons from as far apart as India and Ireland show us the danger of ignoring deep divisions rending nations apart. Already Conservative politicians in border wards have spoken of partition. Do people really want independence by a small majority at the price of the whole of the south?

Can we please focus through this obfuscation of a 2020 referendum on the real goal of independence? Independence will not be served by the inevitable loss of a vote this year. Let us plan, talk and continue to convince people. Let us organise better and act smarter.

The Scottish Government should continue the excellent work they are doing to prove that our own government is more responsive and better focused. We need a coordinated organisation, not to dictate but to harness the efforts of the activists. And we need to continue to persuade people that independence is the sensible course.

It is a hard road, but there are no shortcuts.

Ian Richmond
Dumfries and Galloway

SPEAKING at Davos, President Trump again belittled those who take seriously the overwhelming scientific and evidential data on global warming. However, following his tirade against the “prophets of doom” he declared that the USA is going to have the “cleanest air and water on the planet and intends to plant a million trees”. Fantastic! if he achieves that within his term of office the USA will be well on the way to being carbon neutral.

Mike Underwood