Proportional representation sorely needed

February 17 2017, 6.04pm
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Sir, – Ongoing and deep-rooted divisions within the Labour Party, under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, re-emphasise the need for reform of the UK’s first-past-the-post electoral system.

It is clear that the Labour Party needs to split (you cannot have a political party where the majority of MPs are fundamentally at odds with the party leader and ordinary members).

Yet everyone knows if a split happens under the current electoral system, then political wipeout would result.

The two main political parties occupy a privileged position in the UK political system, due to the way the first-past-the-post voting system is biased against smaller parties (and, effectively, awards all bar a token number of seats to the two biggest parties).

In return, the current voting system places implied onus on the main opposition party to do its job properly by attracting the majority of disaffected voters. Without this, the system becomes inherently unfair, as votes for smaller parties are effectively ignored.

However, as evidenced by the fragmentation of the UK political system and growth of the smaller parties, the main opposition parties have failed in this obligation.

We have arrived at the insanely undemocratic situation where the LibDems, Greens and Ukip between them achieved 25% of the popular vote in the last (May 2015) general election but won just 1.5% of the parliamentary seats. What’s more, the Lib Dems won eight times as many seats as Ukip, even though Ukip had almost twice as many votes. Meanwhile, the SNP won 95% of 2015 Scottish Westminster seats with just 50% of the popular vote. This inherently unfair result brings the whole concept of UK democracy into disrepute, and it is now clear there needs to be reform of the UK voting system and a move towards a more proportional voting system that is fairer to smaller parties.

Mark Campbell- Roddis.
Pont Crescent,
Dunblane.

Europe dream an SNP fantasy

Sir, – The SNP’s ‘independence’ saga continues ad nauseam. Despite all the claims made by both Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon about Scotland continuing as an EU member, we now know that this is all just balderdash.

We are all now fully aware that a newly emerging, independent Scotland would have to apply for membership, and would have to accept all the terms applying to a new member.

Irrespective of all the false claims being made by the SNP, Scotland would not be regarded as a continuing state of the EU since it is the UK which is the member state. It has also been made clear that an independent Scotland would have to wait until 2020 or beyond before its application would even be considered, and then would have to conform to certain entry conditions. These include: deficit reduction – it should be remembered that Scotland’s economy is at present in deficit to the tune of £9.5 billion – and membership of the euro; as a new entrant to the EU, Scotland would have no option but to join the eurozone. Additionally, there is absolutely no guarantee Scotland’s application would be approved since there would undoubtedly be opposition from countries with similar separatist problems, such as Spain.

If the people of Scotland should ever decide to back the SNP in its quest to break up the UK, they will be entering the ‘great unknown’ in several other areas: the need to establish a central bank; establish its own defence forces, and apply to join Nato; implement a foreign office, with embassies and consulates.

Is it just the case that Nicola Sturgeon is hoping for a place in history as the woman who broke the 300-year-old union between Scotland and England? There is certainly no political or economic sense in her whole campaign.

Robert IG Scott.
Northfield,
Ceres.

Unfortunate timing

Sir, – GM Lindsay, (February 10) while deriding Jim Crumley’s support for the Scottish Government and his belief of media bias against it, achieves various levels of unintended humour.

That his letter should be printed on the very day the unionist media spun a bare-faced lie concerning Scotland’s future in the EU, based on an interview given by Jacqueline Minor, a representative of the European Commission in the UK, illustrates clearly how far the media will go in their efforts to undermine the SNP. It also completely justifies Jim Crumley’s stance.

Mr Lindsay’s letter also coincided with a poll that showed only 23% of Scots believe the BBC is unbiased when dealing with Scottish political issues, a similar percentage to the number of Scots who trust Westminster.

Mr Lindsay rounds off with a complaint that Westminster, the body in charge of Scotland for the past 300-plus years, is blamed for Scotland’s current position. Well, Mr Lindsay, if the cap fits, so to speak.

Ken Clark.
335 King Street,
Dundee.

Living in UK brings shelter

Sir – Instead of doing the right thing by respecting the democratic result of the 2014 referendum, the SNP has been conjuring up excuses to dump a second referendum on the Scottish public.

With the exception of the diehard fanatics and their green fellow-travellers, the saccharine promises of Scottish separatism have lost the ear of many Scottish people, who now see it as a tiresome irrelevance in this turbulent and increasingly dangerous world.

Most Scots are now wise to the fact that independence would be a monumental mistake in a country with a population not much bigger than that of Greater Manchester. When hard times come, sticking together under the shelter of the UK, the sixth most powerful nation on the planet, is the only way of improving their lot safely and permanently.

Peter Stuart.
Westwood,
Kenmore Road,
Aberfeldy.

Unedifying spectacle

Sir, – The spectacle of Scotland’s two “opposition” leaders heading to London to beg for more crumbs to stave off the inevitable end of the United Kingdom is an unbecoming sight.

The especially languid Kezia Dugdale will simply recycle Gordon Brown’s tumescent, vapid prognostications about “federalism”. A phrase so overused and meaningless its only use would be as a cure for insomnia. Ms Dugdale is the political equivalent of a sandwich board vendor whose sign reads “the end is nigh”. Her leadership will finish off “Scottish” Labour. Ruth Davidson is a vacuous media creation. She polls less in Scotland than Jeremy Corbyn yet the unionist establishment hail her as the “real” First Minister.

Mr Corbyn rightly decided he could not oppose Brexit, as the people had voted for it. Yet Ms Davidson is opposing an independence referendum despite the Scottish electorate voting for parties who vowed to hold one in the event of Brexit.

Alan Hinnrichs.
2 Gillespie Terrace,
Dundee.

World class city hall on way

Sir, – I would like to respond to the letter in Tuesday’s Courier regarding my ‘change of view’ on the future of the Perth City Hall.

Mr Allan was correct in his assertion that I was very vocal in my support for the city hall’s demolition and my view has not changed a bit. I have always felt Perth was poorer for not having a centrally located event space and the vast majority of Perth’s councillors, citizens, businesses and cultural organisations agreed with me.

That being said, the fate of the city hall was very much in the hands of Historic and Environment Scotland and as much as many of us felt this was right for Perth, this important government body was clear it wanted to retain the building. It was at this stage, four years ago, that I and other interested parties started working on cultural solutions for the property. The other options for the building’s use were neither suitable or viable to create the destination Perth needed.

Once the council had formally decided that the Perth Market Trust offer was to be rejected, the Perth City Development Board, Perth Culture and the council’s officers began working on potential cultural solutions. Neither I nor any of these organisations changed their view – we simply responded to the restrictions placed upon us.

I have no doubt that when the full extent of the new city hall attraction is released (once approved by full council), then Mr Allan will agree that using the terminology world class is in no way an exaggeration.

John Bullough.
Chairman,
Perth City Development Board.

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