Letters to the editor

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Take a look at some of the views shared through our ‘Letter to the Editor’ page this week.

Electoral system

Be careful what you wish for

Sir, – Having amused us with his forensic analysis of democracy and statistics, Alan Bell (letters, February 16) brought his intellect to bear upon the weighty matter of electoral systems.

Scotland is governed under two electoral systems.

First Westminster. At last UK election the Tories only got 37 per cent of votes yet ending up with 51 per cent of the seats. Despite being opposed by 63 per cent of UK voters they got total power to use as they like so we got attacks on the poor sick and disabled, an EU referendum and landed with the unelected Theresa the Appeaser, who beetled off to fawn and grovel before Trump.

Now Holyrood. At the last Scottish election the Tories got 22 per cent of the vote and 24 per cent of the seats. The SNP got 47 per cent of the votes and 48 per cent of the seats and was obliged to seek support from another pro independence party – the Greens – in order to form a government.

Now let’s guess which system Mr Bell’s rippling wit chooses to slate?

Did he:

1 Criticise the electoral system that is demonstrably unfair and sees Scotland ruled against her wishes by a far right wing Tory party committed to wasting £205 billions on American nukes? Or did he,

2 Slate a fair system that prevents a party from getting majority rule without similar support from the voters?

Regular readers will not need to guess.

What is especially funny is that Mr Bell has clearly not considered what the make up of the Scottish Parliament would be if we had the same system as at Westminster. With 47 per cent of the votes, Nicola would have a huge majority. If you think Mr Bell moans now imagine his outrage at that state of affairs. It would be at least three letters per week. Maybe you should be careful what you wish for Alan. – Yours, etc.,

K Heath, Cortachy

Politics

What we need are verifiable facts

Sir, – Perhaps Alan Bell missed the election in May 2016 which gave the Scottish electorate the opportunity to comment on the performance of the SNP during the past decade. In case you did miss it, they gained more seats than any other party.

I also assume you are referring to Patrick Harvie, the co-convener of the Scottish Green Party, when you state that he was not elected by the people. This is factually wrong. All MSPs are elected by people, either by the constituency or regional vote.

The Scottish Green Party has campaigned for many years and remains firmly committed to unilateral nuclear disarmament and not the relocation of Trident to another part of the UK. Here again your statement is factually incorrect.

The Scottish Greens also oppose fracking whether this is local to Scotland or imported. This technology carries significant risks: environmental pollution, health problems for communities close to extraction sites and offer no guarantee of lower fuel prices. I completely disagree with your assertion that we have to “accept fracking and the possibility of coal to provide future power for the nation”. Many countries, Sweden being one example, are striving towards having 100 per cent of energy provided by renewable sources by 2050. Scotland is well on its way to joining them having passed the 50 per cent mark regarding sourcing renewable energy in 2015.

The electoral system in Scotland is not perfect but it is far more democratic and fairer than the first-past-the-post system used when electing Westminster Governments. The Conservative party formed a majority government for the whole UK with just under 37 per cent of the vote. In Scotland, the SNP formed a minority government with just under 47 per cent of the vote. Which is fairer?

In the current geo-political climate what we need more than ever are verifiable facts and not the “alternate version of facts” that are peddled by various parties and ill-informed people. – Yours, etc.,

Mark Stephenson, Montrose

Rural affairs

Farming support post Brexit

Sir, – In the EU referendum the Leave campaign said that the Conservative farming minister, George Eustice “told farmers at the launch of Farmers for Britain that the UK government will continue to give farmers and the environment as much support – or perhaps even more – as they get now”.

Yet since he successfully got that Leave vote the spirit of those words have not been matched by him or the Conservative government in Westminster.

Whilst they say support will continue to 2020 – which is simply the end of the current Parliamentary term – what happens after that is as clear as slurry. At the Oxford Farming Conference in January the BBC’s Rural Affairs & Environment Editor reported that George Eustice had said there would be no more ‘subsidies’ post 2020 for farmers.

And the Conservative government’s Brexit White Paper on Brexit doesn’t meet the spirit of George Eustice’s promise. It says that “with EU spend on CAP at around €58 bn in 2014 (nearly 40 per cent of the EU’s budget), leaving the EU offers the UK a significant opportunity to design new, better and more efficient policies for delivering sustainable and productive farming, land management and rural communities”.

Following on from that we’ve had the Scottish Conservative leader suggest that powers over regulation will be retained by Westminster rather than devolved “automatically” from Europe as promised by the Leave campaign in the referendum. Considering Theresa May is desperate for a trade deal with Trump which could open up the UK to American produce this has set alarm bells ringing for Scotch quality producers.

Such weasel words come no-where near the clear promise that farmers and crofters will get “as much support – or perhaps even more – as they get now”; and considering Conservative governments habit of cuts to public spending those words hide a myriad of possibilities for a leopard that doesn’t change its spots.

That position of the UK government suggests that just as the UK government sold out Scottish fishermen going into Europe they will use them as a bargaining chip to leave. Perhaps to get other EU states’ support to lobby for the banks in the City of London to still have free access to the EU market.

Any votes the Conservatives get in May this year at the local election in Scotland’s farming communities will be used by them to claim they have the endorsement of those communities to implement that weasely worded paragraph. Just as with so many other issues the Tories will take it as a sign that they can do what they like to Scotland and get away with it. – Yours, etc.,

James MacDonald, (Address supplied)