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9 February 2022

Letter of the week: Mind the independence gap

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By New Statesman

Chris Deerin (The Politics Interview, 4 February) may be right that the SNP finance secretary Kate Forbes is a “prodigy of extravagant gifts and appeal” – although, as a local councillor living with local authority funding in Scotland, I may beg to differ. But it is her assertion that the party has new “robust and conclusive answers on currency” that raises an eyebrow.

The SNP has two policies running in parallel. The official one is so-called sterlingisation, under which an independent Scotland would use the UK pound instead of its own currency. This approach has manifest problems and was rejected at the 2014 referendum. The unofficial policy is a version of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), or, as it is better known, the Magic Money Tree. SNP activists tend to favour MMT while official pronouncements prefer sterlingisation, but SNP spokesmen embrace either. Add the claim that after independence the UK would pay state pensions to Scots who have paid UK National Insurance, and there is still no credible plan to close the £15bn annual gap in Scotland’s finances.
Alex Gallagher, North Ayrshire Council

The death of decent Toryism

Andrew Marr (Cover Story, 4 February) rightly recognises that “politics is at a grubby low point”. He also suggests that if decent Conservative MPs move against Boris Johnson it would be in the country’s best interests. Can he really mean this? It is wrong to assume that the rebirth of a One Nation, centre-right, decent Tory party is the best option for the UK. It is akin to one-party-state thinking to consider that only a Conservative government is capable of sorting out the destruction of the past 12 years. The Tory party has become a right-wing, anti-democratic, English nationalist party polluted by Johnson, and will remain so for perhaps a generation.
Dr Robin C Richmond, Bromyard, Herefordshire

Where’s Anas?

I’ve been an NS subscriber for around 18 months and can’t recall any mention of Anas Sarwar. For those of you who don’t know, he is supposed to be leading the Labour Party in Scotland. We hear nothing, zip, nada from him up here… and nothing from the New Statesman. What makes this all the more puzzling is that you’ve featured Nicola Sturgeon, Ruth Davidson and now Kate Forbes (The Politics Interview, 4 February).

Time and again Keir Starmer hoofs the ball over an open goal, but he is at least trying. Sarwar hasn’t even sent a note to teacher explaining his absence.
Graham Miller, Perth

Witnesses to history

As a clinical psychologist who listened to refugees from the Bosnian conflict and those who escaped the massacre of Srebrenica, I agree with Stephen Bush that remembering the past is an important act of defiance against forgotten horrors and atrocities (Bursting the Bubble, 4 February). If there is to be any resolution for the individual, any progress for the world, it is vital to bear witness.
Jane Berry, Newcastle upon Tyne

Tyranny of choice

How refreshing to read Louise Perry (Out of the Ordinary, 21 January) on working mothers and childcare. For too long the debate has been dominated by the rights of mothers. There’s no doubt that some children benefit enormously from day nursery, but also that the increased expectation to return to work has resulted in mothers no longer being economically free to make this choice.
Debbie Ward, Bedford

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Bohemian Hove

Recently, Nicholas Lezard described Hove as a land of twitching curtains. I have walked along every Hove road and never seen a twitched curtain (although one laments the fashion for internal louvered shutters). Even 60 years ago Hove was funkier than Mr Lezard imagines: he should look at the opening of Anthony Burgess’s Inside Mr Enderby to find a rollicking Hove and much carousing in a then theatrical pub, the Neptune (still here).
Christopher Hawtree, Hove

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This article appears in the 09 Feb 2022 issue of the New Statesman, Sunak's Game