Letters, Saturday, December 31st, 2011

Have your say

Labour facing an uncertain future

THE return of members to the Scottish Parliament in May 2011 saw the Scottish Labour Party suffer its worst election defeat since 1931, with the fewest votes since 1923. There were massive gains for the Scottish National Party, with Labour even losing seats in some of its previously historically loyal “central belt” constituencies.

A latest opinion poll puts the SNP on 51 per cent and Labour at 26 per cent. Former Scottish Labour leader Henry McLeish recently said that “all of the things the ordinary Scots wanted to take seriously, Labour has neglected over the past 20 years. We’ve been very complacent. We haven’t had enough humility.”

McLeish also advised the new leader of Scottish Labour, Johann Lamont, to involve herself in a clear debate on constitutional matters and greater powers for the Scottish Parliament. He added: “There is a great threat and danger for the Party. There is a danger that over the next five years the SNP continues with populist policies, but with ineffective opposition, we will drift nearer to independence.”  

Good advice because independence would remove in one stroke over 40 Scottish Labour MPs from Westminster.

Added to this situation are the statistics, generally overlooked during General Elections, which clearly spell massive political problems for Labour were independence for Scotland to be won.

For example, in the 2005 General Election, the Conservative Party, although soundly beaten in terms of seats, polled more votes in England than Labour. In the disastrous 2010 General Election result, without MPs from Scotland, parts of Wales and the North East of England, Labour would be in an even sorrier state

To add to Labour’s problems questions are being asked, even by their own supporters, about the leadership qualities of Miliband E.

Both north and south of the border, 2011 has ended badly for Labour and the future ranges from the politically uncertain to the downright bleak, especiallly if Alex Salmond continues to outsmart Labour in Scotland and David Cameron continues to show firm leadership as witnessed in the Libyan conflict and in the recent European arguments.

I would also contend that it will greatly assist both men if Miliband E. carries on being leader of the Labour Party.

Michael Dixon, Sunderland

Wonderful Angela

ANGELA Rippon is celebrating 45 years working for the BBC. She landed her first job as the reporter and journalist in the regional programme Spotlight Southwest in 1966.

She was the first woman to read the national news, from August 1974 to January 1981 for The Nine O’Clock News, replacing Richard Baker, and will be best remembered for her great dancing performance in the Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show. She also took part in the dance rountine in Strictly Come Dancing for Children In Need.

She appeared in TV shows including Midsomer Murders, Chiller, Wire in the Blood, House of Cards and Cash in the Attic. She also introduced the Eurovision Song Contest.

Angela was awarded the OBE in 2004 for her services to broadcasting and the arts. She’s also involved with the Horse Riding Association for the Disabled, is the vice-president of the British Red Cross and is becoming President of The Lady Taverners.

Angela Rippon is my favourite newsreader and television presenter icon. She has been doing a great job over the years.

Terry Christie, Woodside Terrace, East Herrington, Sunderland

Big thank-you

MAY I give a vote of thanks to the people who helped me on November 26 and 27 when I had no electricity on.

To my emergency service who tried so hard to keep in touch with me and also the lady from the electricity board. Thanks for the letter I received apologising for the disruption and also the help and kindness from my friends, Brenda and Alan, who kept me supplied with hot drinks.

Mrs Taylor, Redcar Road, Red House Estate, Sunderland

Help is at hand

MAY I take this opportunity to advise the residents of my ward that as from January 2012, current local Housing Allowance claimants will start to experience cuts to their housing benefits.

If for any reason you find that you are struggling to meet the payments due to the cuts then please contact Shelter who will be able to advise you. Their contact details are www.shelter.org.uk.getadvice.

May I also inform residents that for any other concerns they can contact me as usual over the holidays on 07833 401276.

I hope all the residents of Sandhill Ward had a happy Christmas and I wish them a wonderful New Year.

Councillor Debra Waller, Sandhill Ward

Right decision

USUALLY I agree with just about everything Doctor T writes but I think he was wrong in his column regarding the FA and Wayne Rooney. The FA were not defending Mr Rooney’s “blatant, petulant, childish kick”, they were appealing against the three -match ban imposed.

A precedent had been set on a similar offence whereby a two-match ban was imposed on the offender. Mr Rooney’s ban was reduced on appeal. Justice was done and, of course, in this case, the FA were right.

Derek Robe, Helena House, Royal Courts