RACHEL Reeves says she’ll follow the Bank of England’s destructive interest rate policies and the Office for Budget Responsibility’s useless forecasts. Both institutions are neoliberal to the core and helped spawn the 2008 financial crisis and 13 years of austerity.

Labour don’t understand that government’s first responsibility is to ensure that public services – energy, transport, water, health, education – are well-funded. The private sector can’t grow without the public sector supplying a healthy and well-educated workforce and needed infrastructure.

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But, of course, Thatcher sold most UK public assets on the cheap – health and education are next on the chopping block, and water in Scotland – to foreign corporations and governments, who are making out like bandits. Like the Tories, Starmer opposes renationalisation and Streeting wants more private health care.

And Reeves has boxed herself in, pledging to stick to her iron-clad fiscal rules, a self-imposed straitjacket that guarantees more austerity. She fails to understand what Keynes understood –that governments can afford what they need because they are not like households. They are currency issuers and are only constrained by the economy’s productive capacity. The UK economy is starved of public investment but Labour refuses to deliver it.

Why do Labour want to govern if they don’t grasp the first thing about what governments are supposed to do? One thing’s certain – Labour’s economic illiteracy will ensure the UK’s continued demise. It’s not as certain that Scotland will escape before the UK hits rock bottom.

Leah Gunn Barrett

THIS is “Challenge Poverty Week” and the debate on Wednesday in the Scottish Parliament was rather timely and very heated at times. It was brought forward by Scotland’s social justice minister Shirley-Anne Somerville and it called for the reversal of the two-child benefit cap, brought in by the UK Government which controls more than 86% of welfare spend in Scotland.

It was not surprising to hear the Conservative spokesperson Miles Briggs defend this cap, but interestingly the Labour spokesperson Paul O’Kane MSP gave no assurance to the chamber that a future Labour Government at Westminster would abolish it.

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Poverty and in particular child poverty is unacceptable and has consequences for us all, as we all depend on the upcoming generation. The Scottish Government have limited welfare powers, however with those limited powers they have introduced seven new benefits in Scotland along with the game-changing Scottish Child Payment of £25 per week for eligible families.

Budgets are tight and spending is limited, but the Scottish Government, in an effort to address poverty, have spent £1.4 billion since 2018 mitigating against Westminster’s austerity and the cost-of-living crisis. So what can we take from the debate in Holyrood on Wednesday? The Conservatives will continue to exploit the vulnerable and Labour give no guarantees of reversing Conservative exploitation. Actions speak louder than words and the SNP have demonstrated that mitigation is possible but is seems from this debate, only with the SNP.

Catriona C Clark

WHY are the SNP on the defensive?

I listened to part of the Tory conference the other day and had to put the radio off after finding myself shouting in frustration. A minister was trying to make the point that 15-minute cities were “sinister”. Local authorities would try to use them to force people into shopping and using services where and when they tell them. This was supposedly a hot item on doorsteps as he went round the country.

It was unbelievable tripe, purely meant to produce an argument where none exists. This is the typical Westminster ploy of divide and conquer. Stir up unrest to show how they are “protecting” the people. I say Westminster advisedly because it doesn’t matter which party we speak of. Neither the Tories nor Labour are interested in protecting anyone but themselves. “Get into power and retain by any means” is the mantra.

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The SNP have been in power in Scotland for over a decade now. They are no worse than others in government and probably slightly better. However they should not be fighting any campaign solely on their ability to govern responsibly. That is too conventional and plays into Establishment hands.

Independence has to be front and centre. The policy should be to attack the small-minded political class that currently run this so-called Union. Get on the front foot.

If we are attacked over ferries, respond with HS2 or the Ajax fighting vehicle. Expose the hypocrisy and danger of the fight against immigration. Brexit! Put independence at the centre of everything and link it to the utter incompetence and danger of Westminster.

As I have said before in writing in, if we don’t get on the front foot we will wake up one day and wonder where the Scottish Parliament has gone.

Colin Waddell