Owen Jones (If the UK falls apart blame the Tories, 19 March) is right to say the Conservatives have been doing their best to support the breakup of the UK, whether deliberately or not.
Even Cameron’s panicky visit to Scotland just before the referendum vote must have delivered many extra votes in favour of the separatists. However, in almost universally accepting predictions that the Scottish National party will win 50 or more seats in the coming election, journalists have placed too much faith in the pollsters, just as they did during the runup to the referendum. There are two main reasons why Scottish people will tell you they will vote nationalist, even when they don’t necessarily intend to. The first is traditional: nationalists were seen as patriotic and it was not done to criticise them. Second, the SNP has been in government for seven years, so exercise considerable power, and those who openly support them may find themselves favoured in various ways. Conversely, some residents of regions that are not supportive of them have reportedly suffered disadvantages. In the voting booth, however, the possible consequences of public declaration do not apply and people can vote as they wish. In the referendum, I estimated that this bias was worth about 5% for the anti-separatist vote, and my estimate turned out to be about right. If this still applies, it could mean that SNP candidates will have on average about 5% fewer votes than predicted, and would win many fewer seats than predicted. Thus, Labour could have an overall majority. Of course, the Tories may continue to encourage the separatists. It seems like stupidity and incompetence, but I’m beginning to wonder if it is in fact deliberate. James MilroyDeddington, Oxfordshire
• Owen Jones gives a good analysis of the potential effects of Tory demonisation of the SNP. However, it is perfectly legitimate for the SNP to be represented in and form part of the government of a UK state parliament, but not of an English parliament. The problem is that the present Westminster parliament fulfils both roles. This issue will not be satisfactorily resolved until there is a separate English parliament, preferably replacing the Commons, with the House of Lords replaced by a UK parliament.
Todmorden, West Yorkshire
• Owen Jones highlights how the UK could be torn apart if the SNP is excluded but doesn’t spell out the most obvious fact. The electoral maths according to seat projections are ominously clear. No two parties can form a majority on any basis and with three it will still be a shaky arrangement. Even if Labour or the Conservatives have a sudden upturn in fortunes, they will still only be able to achieve a very narrow majority with the help of a partner. Will this be enough to make tough decisions in the next parliament? It is time for serious politicians to wake up to reality. The prospect of electoral paralysis is real unless there is creative thinking.
• Owen Jones is certainly in possession of one quality that the Labour party seems to lack – perspicacity. Why is it that Labour is so blind and refuses to take advantage of a coalition with the SNP? Both parties support the welfare state; are opposed to privatisation etc. Why else does a political party exist except to win? The Tories have persuaded Labour that any coalition with the SNP would be a declaration of electoral weakness and deficiency. Alas, Labour falls for the ploy and loses the election. This frightening scenario is being played out right now. Labour must win at any cost. Win first; do deals afterwards. If Labour loses, the UK loses.
Newcastle upon Tyne
• Owen Jones’s analysis of the Scottish situation is on the mark except in suggesting that if he were an SNP strategist he would be praying for another Tory government, on the basis that this would improve the chances of winning independence. No SNP strategist will be praying for any such thing. No party with a grain of sense would wish more harm inflicted on their own people. The block of SNP MPs will be opposing with every sinew the regime of austerity that the next Westminster government will impose, whichever of the Unionist parties, or combination thereof, is in power.
To achieve independence, the Yes parties would have to win a strong mandate from the Scottish people in a second referendum. The Unionist parties would all oppose such a referendum and a Yes vote with everything they’ve got, just as they did in their Better Together front. These are all matters for the Scottish electorate to decide.
SNP’s Dingwall and Black Isle branch
• Your editorial says “fiscal devolution … remains a piecemeal unstrategic approach” (Neglected north, 21 March). Many Scots are not turning to the SNP because they want separation from the UK, and certainly not from the EU, but because they perceive that our national politicians just don’t get it. They want proper devolution of power, not grudging scraps from a Westminster of largely safe seats cushioned by first-past-the-post which selfishly dumps attempts at reform of parliament or the voting system. How long do we have to wait for a royal commission to consider proposals to reorganise England into devolved units that can share a federal union with Scotland, Wales and Ireland and to draft a modern written constitution for this politically moribund country?
• Michael Meacher (Letters, 21 March), in his chilling analysis of Wednesday’s budget, says it amounted to “an enormous con being perpetrated on the British people”. In the same week we learned that the latest estimates from the Office for Budget Responsibility for tax revenues from North Sea oil for 2016-17 were £600m. The SNP based its referendum promises on its much-trumpeted figures of £6.8-£7.9bn. During the referendum process these figures were robustly queried but upheld by nationalist leaders. Now they admit that these claims, upon which life after independence relied, are wrong. Jeremy Beecham, also in Saturday’s Letters, is right to direct voters to Labour. I would also question the thinking that leads Greens in Scotland to vote for a government that is brazenly oil-dependent. But then there’s the Jack Monroe line, “the only vote you should care about is your own.” Finally, to Bryan Ferriman, again in a letter on Saturday, yes, many people “do not favour a Tory world” but the “successes” of SNP north of the border reside largely in their ability to peddle the feel-good factor. (See figures above.)
• In your article online (Lib Dems will have to rely on tactical voting to hold off SNP, says Ashdown, 20 March), you write that “[Michael] Moore’s seat is under heaviest threat from the Tories”. While that is indeed what Moore’s campaign literature has claimed, the figures available at www.electoralcalculus.co.uk have shown for weeks now that the Calum Kerr (SNP) is predicted to win the Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk seat. It is, as Moore claims, a two-horse race, but I am afraid he is already out to pasture.
Bruce E Baker
Membership secretary, SNP Berwickshire branch
• To think of disenfranchising Scots MPs at Westminster is incredible. To re-phrase Robert Burns, “We are the same people for a’ that.” To quote Rab C Nesbitt, “We live just up the road.”
Newcastle upon Tyne
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