The lively pre-General Election debate continues to dominate The Buteman’s letters page - here’s the pick of the crop from our April 24 edition.
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* Readers, and prospective letter-writers, are asked to note that our May 1 issue will be the last print edition of The Buteman to feature news and views relating to the current General Election campaign. We’ll accommodate as much as we can but cannot promise we’ll have room for everything!
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Pro-Union parties will lose election
Jamie McGrigor is right to say in The Buteman (Letters, Friday, April 17, ‘True tactical voters should back the Tories’) that a Conservative vote in Argyll and Bute in this election is the best option for the anti-SNP voter, but he overlooks the fact that anti-Conservative voters are far greater in number.
The only party in any nation of the UK ever to gain a majority of the vote was the Scottish Conservatives.
The youngest of those who voted in that majority are now over 80, and support for the party has since fallen to the level of the rebranded DDR Communist party in the first elections in the reunited Germany.
Scotland then was divided by class. If you were a manual worker in a large unionised organisation, lived in a council house, were of Irish Catholic descent, and educated in a state school, you voted as did others on your side of the class war. You probably also shared similar tastes in football, entertainment and food.
If you had left leaning opinions, but did not identify with at least some of these characteristics, you might not be welcome in that tribe.
Liberals were rarely electable in first-past-the-post. For the rest, there was the Scottish Conservative and Unionists.
The leaders of Scottish Conservatism were ‘Butskellite’. Were it not that continental Christian Democrats are from a Catholic tradition, that appellation might have been applied to them and endured longer than has the memory of R.A. Butler and Hugh Gaitskell.
Jamie McGrigor himself is a rare relic of that stream of Conservatism, preserved for the nation by the d’Hondt PR voting system.
Harold MacMillan’s most remarkable achievement (other than record council house building) was that his patrician leadership held together in a single party ‘Butskellites’, ‘one nation’ Conservatives, and English nationalists including The Primrose League, some of whom more than half-believed the myth in ‘Jerusalem’.
The rise in influence of free market fundamentalists cannot be blamed on Margaret Thatcher, for it started before her time.
Like the NHS, Labour’s deep roots in Scotland drew on soil enriched by Reformation and Enlightenment values. The adoption of evidence-free neo-con dogma and triangulation to south-east England has all but destroyed it in Scotland. ‘Bavarianisation’ could have saved them. Triangulation to the values of middle Scotland under independence may be possible, but there would be no place for New Labour in an independent Scotland.
About a decade ago, when individual Lib Dems had majorities in both parliaments that many MPs/MSPs would envy, the SNP in this constituency disclosed from their private polling that they could find no Liberal Democrats at all. There were anti-Con, anti-Lab, anti Con+Lab and anti-SNP voters who opted for the LibDems.
At the time I was surprised that the SNP let this important fact be known to political opponents, but clearly it was not known to the current UK Lib Dem leadership, or they would not have gone into coalition without protecting their northern flank.
Instead they have sacrificed the hard won advances of generations of dedicated local activists with the insouciance of First World War generals towards Highland casualties.
Scottish voters have demonstrated that they are not enthused by the SNP’s vision for independence.
The same people tell pollsters that they vote in elections for the SNP for ‘competence’, but the SNP do not need to try very hard, for it is relative competence that they mean. The comparison is with the London-led parties in the Westminster culture, and abysmally low.
A breathtaking ignorance of Scottish values, history, geography and devolution is no impediment to holding strong opinions at Westminster.
The SNP will not win this election. The other parties will lose more comprehensively than they ever done before.
John B. Dick, Glendaruel, Ardencraig Road, Rothesay
Lib Dems’ achievements in government
Mr McDonald’s pro-SNP rant in last week’s Viewpoint got many facts wrong.
The most important thing he didn’t mention was the SNP’s plan to cut Scotland’s budget by £7.6 billion. This is because they want to replace the generous Barnett Formula with rapidly disappearing oil revenues.
Plugging this financial black hole would mean putting up the basic rate of income tax from 20 pence in the pound to 34 pence in the pound.
The SNP is clearly mounting a strong challenge throughout Scotland in this election. On the doorstep in Rothesay last week it was obvious that a majority of people are very worried that an SNP victory will see Scotland a lot worse off.
It’s also obvious that, since the Lib Dems have won the last six UK Parliamentary elections in Argyll and Bute, I am the candidate best placed to see off this SNP challenge.
Every time motorists fill up their cars on Bute they pay five pence a litre less in fuel duty than people on the mainland. That’s only one of my many successes in delivering for Argyll and Bute and I ask your readers to re-elect me as your MP on May 8.
Alan Reid (Liberal Democrat PPC, Argyll and Bute), 136 Fairhaven, Kirn
Lib Dems are no protection for liberalism
Many of us up and down the country voted Liberal Democrat at the last election to stop a Conservative government achieving power only to find Liberal Democrats propping one up.
By May 7, all of us on Bute will have received more than ten mailings through our letter box from the Liberal Democrats urging us to vote for them, once again, at the General Election.
There is one good reason why we shouldn’t vote for them: because we cannot trust them.
Their failure to stand up against the increase in student fees should have consigned them to the electoral dustbin, however things got worse last December on the issue of judicial review.
Judicial review sounds boring, but it is one of the most democratic legal mechanisms available to a British citizen. It allows us to challenge illegal government decisions, decisions made by authorities
and fight government irrationality.
Often described as the British defence of freedom and the means through which we avoid electoral dictatorship, you would assume the Liberal Democrats would protect judicial review with a passion. You would be wrong.
Chris Grayling, the Conservative Secretary of State for Justice in the coalition Government, had lost several judicial review cases for the simple reason he kept acting illegally and irrationally.
So he decided to reform the process, the result of which would make it impossible for anyone other than the very rich to use it.
Those Liberal Democrat MPs who like to get on their soapbox about liberalism and tell us how they are the only party which still believes in civil liberties and which opposes the authoritarian tendencies of their opponents did not have the courage to vote with the opposition to defeat this anti democratic bill.
The Liberal Democrat leadership ensured that their MPs, including Argyll and Bute’s, trotted into the lobby to carry out their coalition partners wishes.
Judicial review goes to the heart of what it is to be a Liberal. It is the individual against the state and through their actions on this issue once again the Liberal Democrats proved themselves to be a party who are ethically bankrupt and not worthy of your vote in May.
Margery Coll, 17 Argyle Place, Rothesay
We are lucky to have high calibre newspapers
I enjoyed reading Jack McDonald’s rather long, somewhat tongue-in-cheek letter of April 17.
In it he takes the ‘Craig family’ to task for positively supporting the hard working and dedicated Scottish Liberal Democrat candidate, Alan Reid.
However, I think what I take out of Mr McDonald’s correspondence most of all is how lucky we are in this country to have local high calibre newspapers such as The Buteman.
Democracy depends on sharing views, considering opposing points and debating a better way forward.
Communities are held together through people’s feelings and emotions. Local editors and journalists do a sterling job in not only providing the space for our expressions but also in providing balance to our passions, joys, fears, loves and revulsions.
I feel sure that whether you name is McDonald, McGrigor, MacIntyre, Moodie, Craig or whatever, we can come together to thank the editors, reporters, publishers, advertisers and technicians for their dedication, integrity and commitment to providing us each week with journals of the highest quality which greatly enriches our lives.
Ursula Craig, Rossarden, Shore Road, Cove