GERRY Hassan’s analysis of Mr Starmer’s Sunday Telegraph article, is, as is usually the case, pretty objective and fair-minded in setting it in a wider, international context (There is a void at the heart of Starmer’s Labour – but they are far from alone, Dec 5).

However, bracketing the SNP with Labour and implying that there is an equivalence is dishonest. I agree that the SNP has, in many respects, been timorous in some of its actions when in government. Mr Hassan dismisses a significant difference between Labour and the SNP in two words – “constitution apart” – as if that were a relatively minor factor. This is intellectual dishonesty.

The real significant difference is that Labour can form the next government of the UK, but this is impossible for the SNP. The “unwritten constitution” of the UK, with the feudal doctrine of “the Crown in Parliament”, means that a government with a majority (usually based on less than 40% of the electorate supporting it) can deploy all the powers of parliament, legislate to give itself more, and repeal or amend laws that hinder it. It can overrule devolved parliaments and it controls the Treasury.

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So, Labour is able to change the rules of the game, whereas the SNP, Plaid Cymru, Sinn Fein and the DUP cannot. But Labour is not challenging the hegemony established by the Thatcher and Major governments. Blair and Brown accepted it and attempted to tweak it to get a few redistributive gains for large sections of the population. These gains were significant, but Labour never had the courage to argue strongly to justify them and to use them as evidence to change the hegemonic paradigm. Consequently, when Cameron became PM, he had reversed – and more – these gains in a couple of years, with little complaint from Labour in opposition.

So, the “void” at the heart of Labour IS important. Yes, the SNP could do more with the devolved powers they have, and a recent STUC paper provides a feasible example. But Westminster could refuse legislative consent, no matter how popular these actions were in Scotland.

Alasdair Macdonald

THE papers are full of British nationalists and Unionists praising Thatcher following the cardboard cutout “Sir” Keir Starmer’s expresssion of admiration for her. They say she brought “decades of economic stability” to the UK and that she “faced down the Soviet menace” when CND and Labour politicians were advocating unilateral nuclear disarmament. Balderdash!

The roots of nearly all of Britain’s economic problems, along with our frankly disgraceful decline in living standards – we are due to fall behind Poland and Romania by 2030 –can be laid at her door. A dogmatic devotion to privatisation bordering on lust was carried on by her natural heir, the ghoulish Blair. The City of London became a casino awash with laundered funds. Our infrastructure is crumbling and public services are on their knees.

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Still, the BritNats can sleep easy in their beds as Scotland is so lucky to host Trident, our “independent” so-called deterrent, each of the four submarines loaded with the equivalent of 320 Hiroshima bombs! This means we have the capacity to incinerate more than 44 million people, making the current devastation in Gaza look mild by contrast.

It’s time for these BritNats and Unionists to stop rabbiting on about “unilateral nuclear disarmament” and answer a few questions starting with “how many wars, real or imagined, has Trident deterred?” Answers on a postcard, please.

Marjorie Ellis Thomspon