'Holyrood’s voting system is ripe for reform' - Readers' Letters

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Friday, 1st October 2021, 7:00 am
It’s time to look at alternatives to Holyrood’s Additional Member System

Holyrood’s voting system needs reform

The Scottish Parliament is far more representative than Westminster's due to its proportional voting system. At Holyrood, the share of seats won by a party broadly lines up with the proportion of votes it recieves whereas successive Westminster governments win a majority of seats on a minority of the vote. However, while the House of Commons desperately needs to ditch First Past the Post, the Scottish Parliament also needs electoral reform.

Holyrood's Additional Member System is only broadly proportional (and only at the regional level) and limits voter choice through its closed party lists. It also results in two distinct types of MSPs and provides opportunities for parties to game the system as attempted by Alba at this year's election.

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Alternatives such as the Single Transferable Vote or Open List PR (with levelling seats) would improve proportionality and increase voter power. Scotland’s electoral system has served well for 22 years but the time is right for a democratic upgrade at Holyrood.

Richard Wood, Edinburgh

Nuclear power is both safe and reliable

Mark Ruskell MSP says "nuclear power is neither safe nor reliable," and "that it would cost hundred of millions of pounds while leaving a toxic legacy for centuries." I find it very upsetting to read such misleading and unsubstantiated statements. It is important that the record is corrected.

Nuclear power, based on all the evidence, is both safe and reliable. With regards to cost, current nuclear plants provide electricity at a similar cost to offshore wind per MWh.

With regard to nuclear waste (spent fuel is a better term) this can now be dealt with by new nuclear technologies whereby the spent fuel, from civil and military sources, can be reused in molten salt reactors and thus eliminate the need for long term (1,000 years-plus) deep geological storage.

These reactors cannot produce weapons grade material for the production of nuclear weapons and can therefore be made available to every country in the world. They also cost considerably less to build than current nuclear plants.

The licences for these plants are being processed at present and, I believe, take longer than necessary. If these licences could be fast tracked, in the way Covid-19 vaccines were, these plants could be built and in operation within the next six years and would play a major part in reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the energy sector.

C Scott, Edinburgh

Brexit’s to blame for winter of discontent

Business for Scotland has stated that not just food shortages, but petrol rationing and fuel and gas price increases are all linked to Brexit.

The end to free movement has seen a slump of seasonal fruit and vegetable pickers and lorry drivers. The Westminster government’s proposal of visas till Christmas, is unlikely to attract anyone or solve anything. The gas price crisis has been blamed on the British Government’s withdrawal from the EU energy market.

According to the German newspaper, Zeit Online, 185.80 euros per megawatt hour were paid for the EU’s day ahead gas prices – September 19 and 20. However, in the UK, the amount paid was £925 per megawatt hour, equivalent to around 1,100 euros.

Oil and gas reserves need managed and controlled by an independent Scotland and used to improve renewable projects and smooth the necessary transition to a low carbon economy.

Pol Yates, Edinburgh