MARIE Antoinette said “let them eat cake” and we know how that ended!

Keir Starmer, the wannabe PM, is now offering everyone: fudge. Fudged promises, ideas, statements, policies. His latest fudge on offer is the pledge that a Labour government would make Brexit work.

This is from the leader who prior to now has made it obvious by his very reluctance to discuss Brexit that Brexit was a vote too far. Remember when he took his MPs into the lobby to vote in 2020 along with the Tories for the Trade and Co-operation Agreement with the EU? (No, me neither, so I had to look it up!) And what statements from him and his party from then til now on Brexit and the EU? Exactly nothing of substance.

But suddenly, it’s back on the agenda. There’s no chance of Labour pushing for entering the single market or joining the customs union, in other words, a full return to the EU fold. That would never wash with staunch Brexiteers, the very voting fodder Labour needs to attract in the coming elections. So why now with the latest fudge?

Earlier, Starmer was under fire for the hash Labour had made in relation to a pseudo policy on tackling illegal immigration, with talk of a returns deal with the EU and throwing in references to “terrorists” for good, red meat measure. So how about a diversion this week?

And right on cue, as he evidently regards himself as PM-in-waiting, there he was in Paris to negotiate with France’s president Emmanuel Macron, presumably to make Brexit work. After all, without some “relationship” how will our borders be made safe, how will the boats be stopped?

Realistically though, you have to ask: Why would the EU step forward, take time, energy and money, to help an outside state prior to seeing to their own internal “issues”? An outside state that don’t forget had the cheek to do the two fingers and flounce off.

What’s the future going to be like then as a Labour government negotiates with the EU? Well, no details, nothing concrete, nothing defined, a bit fudged, you might say. But we could be in the vanguard of something called “associate membership” of the EU.

As the EU looks to its future and consolidates its position on the global stage, there is the possibility of a strengthened inner circle of core EU “biggie states” like France, Germany and then the outer rim with lesser, smaller associate member nations.

Any bets if this does transpire where the UK would be in comparison to the Republic of Ireland?

Labour know they need to tempt Brexiteers into voting for them, luring back the Remainers who left the fold and finding a way to dismantle the blue wall. These daily antics, pronouncements, and glad-handing seem like nothing more than throw it out and see what sticks! A few sound bites now, and maybe a slogan or two to be resurrected next year.

And in all of this, what of Scotland? Where are we? The shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves told journalists: a few days back, “No, we wouldn’t consider that a mandate in any way to have another referendum”, in relation to the proposed SNP strategy and the General Election.

She even channelled Theresa May by saying: “This is not the time for a referendum.”

One MP here and this is her idea of democracy!

Labour, Tory: neither regard us as equals in an equal partnership, but they know they need us even more now, more than we need them.

The UK is reduced to ruin, aided and abetted by 13 years of Tory misrule following Labour taking us for granted, supine voters to be trotted out to fill the ballot box having stuffed us earlier with their honeyed double speak.

So what exactly is the plan to set us free? Seats? Votes? Something else? Has someone got a cunning plan?

Selma Rahman


In response to Clark Cross’s letter in Tuesday’s National, it is plain that he is unaware of the levers and techniques used to change our behaviour, which we all need to do, to avoid the huge impacts that are increasingly obvious. It is a relatively simple overall strategy – carrot and stick.

One of the largest contributors of CO2 into the environment is transport systems, be they air, sea, rail and land transportation. Mr Cross selects personal or family transport, rather than mass transport, as his argument.

The carrots offered are, to the early adopters, yes significantly more expensive EVs than the fossil-fuelled models that have been developed, optimised and volume-produced over the last hundred years. However, there Kudos is stroked they are seen to be doing their bit.

Other carrots offered to the less well-off – the majority – include increased free bus transport for under 22s and over 60s, encouragement into active travel and the scrapping of peak rail fares, enabling increased rail use.

The sticks are:

Stick one: The current fossil fuel price has gone up again since June this year, as the fossil fuel producers Opec have restricted production, thus making car fuel costs increase again, and driving the gas price upwards which also drives upwards electricity prices.

Stick two: The climate will undoubtedly kick us all in our most sensitive areas. I hear that holidaymakers are asking the likes of Tui what they will do if there are wild forest fires next year in Greece, Spain or Portugal. I can see the holiday industry charging a fee to manage this risk.

Stick three: Fossil fuels will run out and prices will increase hugely on the journey to empty.

On the horizon, the bad bits of EVs are known and – just like the fossil-fuelled vehicles that have taken a hundred years to optimise to what we see now – are being targeted for improvements in battery capacity, charging time, and using materials which are more readily available.

Hydrogen seems a possible good option for mass transport systems like sea, rail, bus and heavy goods but personal vehicles may be just a wee bit small.

Alistair Ballantyne


Questions are duly being asked about the impact of Mr Sunak’s push back on some green and net zero policies to the environment.

The question I would be asking is what benefit this will bring to the interest of businesses owned by him and his wife.

Ni Holmes

St Andrews