I JOINED the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) in 1953 when I was 15 and went to work in Blairhall Colliery in Fife, and I have been a paid-up member of the Labour Movement ever since – I am still a retired member of Unison today at 84.

I spent many years as an active member of the Labour Party and recall that in 1964 I proudly handed Harold Wilson £5 in Dover collected by the miners at a nearby Kent pit, just before the election when we won that seat from the Tories after a recount in order to give the Labour Party a four-seat victory in Westminster. I have been a socialist all my life and I have been very active in the Labour Movement.

Last week, I went down to Kent to attend a funeral, and while there, I met and talked with a number of old comrades from my mining days. I discussed with them my strong commitment to Scottish independence and it was very interesting for me to hear their response.

They were all socialists, and so not typical of the views of the local community there now, but all of them supported me in fighting for Scottish independence. I had thought that they may have felt that I was abandoning them to Tory rule by wanting Scotland out of the UK, indeed I had myself worried about that some year ago, when I started to move towards independence, but my English friends and comrades had no concern about that at all. Indeed, they took the view that if Scotland moved out of the UK and embraced a much more left-wing political position, this would be helpful to the left in England.

Their position was that the people in England had lapsed into a political coma where right-wing corruption and poor government was just accepted and not challenged. They told me that if Scotland pulled out, and was seen to be doing much better, then the English people would be encouraged to get something better and that this would help the left in England. So their message to me was go back to Scotland and fight hard to secure independence, then work hard to get a fairer, more left-wing government which will improve the wages and conditions for working people – and this is the most effective help you can give to socialist friends in England.
Andy Anderson

THE latest from Sir Keir Starmer is that he now opposes PR (Proportional Representation). He obviously thinks now that Labour will be home and dry at the next election and will not need it. He has abandoned many of the labour values – nationalised public utilities, siding with workers in disputes etc

Labour – home for the working classes, but not on a picket line, not in a council house and not if you support a trade union.

Then Labour MSP Pam Duncan-Glancy tells us on Debate Night on Wednesday that Labour will abolish the House of Lords – something Labour have been promising for 100 years and yet they continue to stuff it with cronies. Maybe in the next 100 years!

As for membership numbers – it seems like Scottish Labour has around 17,000.

The Tories are having their conference in a venue that seats 360, so what is their membership? Transparency for everyone else but them. Do you remember the fuss Craig Hoy made about SNP not inviting press – what a debacle has occurred at Tory conference when they only want right-wing press to question the Prime Minister, and when journalists threaten to walk away, they then change their mind – transparency? Then they asked journalists to delete their tweets about the debacle – transparency, Tory-style.

We have to stand firm – Labour have nothing to offer Scotland and very little to offer England.
Winifred McCartney

AN obsequious ceremony marking the departure of the Stone of Destiny, the details of its journey kept in strictest secrecy. The stone, referred to in England as the Coronation Stone, will be placed under the coronation throne of Charles III.

This is nothing other than a ritual humiliation of the stone, which for centuries was used for the coronation of Scottish monarchs, and a clear statement that the English monarch is dominant.

I was amazed to see that First Minister Humza Yousaf attended this degrading ceremony. Given that a recent poll found that 72% of the people of Scotland expressed no interest in the coronation of Charles III, maybe Humza Yousaf should have made a statement by staying away.
Sandy Gordon

I’VE loved boxing since watching Muhammad Ali on telly with my dad in the 1970s. I might add I’ve never felt compelled to participate. Getting a seriously sair face on a regular basis isn’t my idea of fun!

Anyway, I decided to go to Edinburgh to stand outside St Giles’ Cathedral to pay my respects to Ken Buchanan. He was surely Scotland’s greatest ever boxer and right up there with the very best ever British boxers.

When I got there, I was surprised to see members of the public were going in, so I joined them. I was just about to attend the highest-profile funeral in my lifetime!

Steve Bunce, a highly respected boxing pundit, said a few words. This Englishman wasted no time in totally, but appropriately, having a go at the high heid yins of Edinburgh back in the day, for taking far too long to give full recognition to Ken, a man among pygmies among them. You could have heard a pin drop! The sports journalist Jim Black and Ken’s great Scottish rival, Jim Watt, both followed with moving tributes.

I recorded all news bulletins by BBC (UK), ITV (UK), BBC Scotland and STV for both lunchtime and teatime bulletins to establish what type of coverage Ken’s funeral received.

Both BBC Scotland and STV’s coverage was fine. Their UK equivalents? A big fat zilch! Not even a 30-second clip at the end. Oh, silly me, they both had to make room for the tragic demise of James Corden’s “Carpool Karaoke”, shown on the American telly programme, the “Late, Late Show”, due to James leaving the show. God forbid! I don’t think I’ll ever recover!

Anybody in Scotland that’s really into boxing will tell you that loads of top English boxers from Ken’s era that weren’t fit to lace up his gloves, would, if they had sadly passed away recently, definitely have been provided with appropriate coverage on UK news bulletins. Just yet another example of how even the greatest of greatest Scots, sportspersons or otherwise, get more

or less airbrushed out of the history of the UK. When we finally achieve independence, oor very own proper Scottish media will decide who to airbrush oot oor history! So there!
Ivor Telfer
Dalgety Bay

RISHI Sunak’s speech to the Scottish Conservative Conference is another declaration of intent that the UK Government will continue with its efforts to undermine the devolution settlement and bypass the Holyrood Government. We should be grateful for his honesty on this point at least, even if he introduces the attack with the lie that Holyrood is “the most powerful devolved assembly [sic]” in the world. He might try looking at the powers of the Canadian provinces and reflect on his untruth.

Reflection is not his strong suit, however, as his words subsequently became inconsistent. Scotland has “a devolved assembly,” Sunak says, before referring to the Holyrood Government.

Later, in his speech, he admits that the Westminster Government does not always know best but suggests that, because he believes the Scottish Government also does not know best, then the Westminster Government will “not simply hand over to them” i.e. it will bypass them. Does that not mean he does think the Westminster Government knows best?

Despite the weakness of the Conservative Party arguments, we should not be in any doubt of the direction of travel. We have seen challenges to Holyrood legislation in the Supreme Court, the Internal Market Act, monitored by a London-based quango (the Office for the Internal Market), the exercise of a Section 35 order and now this promise to the Scottish Tories of increased intervention in devolved affairs.

We should remember the comments of Lord Hope of Craighead, a former deputy president of the Supreme Court (hardly a nationalist firebrand), on the Internal Market: “The devolved powers are rendered worthless by this new system. UK ministers are given powers to do things which contravene the devolution settlements without consultation, let alone consent.”

The Westminster Government are set on a definite course which both independence supporters and devolution supporters will need to counter at every opportunity.
Gavin Brown

WHILE reading a recent article in The National (April 27) headed “New strategy and major investment to get us cycling”, I looked out the window to see a typical grey, wet, dreich, West of Scotland April morning. I understand it was snowing further north. I cannot think of a less appealing idea than cycling to work on residential roads, let alone, as suggested in the article, “trunk roads”.

The pothole just along the road from my home has expanded to around two feet in diameter. It is now a danger to motorists, let alone cyclists. Some of the busiest roads in many of our towns and cities have already been narrowed to accommodate cycle lanes. I find they are rarely used by cyclists. Proposed new cycle lanes in some town centres have recently raised many objections from shopkeepers and members of the general public. Sadly, we are not all of a certain age or in good enough health to be able participate in this Green cycling revolution.

I have found it difficult to get an exact figure for the total being spent on these so-called green initiatives. However, the Scottish Government website quotes Minister for Active Travel Patrick Harvie as saying: “I am delighted that through the Co-operation Agreement, the Scottish Government is investing a record sum of £150 million for active travel in 2022/23 and has committed to investing at least £320m by 2024/25.”

This is a massive increase in what we are led to believe are difficult financial times for both the UK and Scottish governments and I only wish we could look forward to such percentage increases in the budget for the Scottish health service or local government – I might then get my pothole fixed.

The Green tail continues to wag the SNP dog.
John Baird
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