IF Angus Robertson believes that political decisions should be taken on the basis of opinion polls why is he advocating independence for which there is currently no majority ("We must stay in Nato but ditch Trident", The Herald, September 17)?

The SNP would never have come into existence if that had been the approach. Politicians of real substance do not follow polls which can easily produce different results if the question varies.

Angus Robertson again refers to two Nato countries which previously had US nuclear weapons based on their territory. The US removed them from Greece because of the prospect of Greek military conflict with Turkey and those in Canada were obsolete but the testing of nuclear delivery systems and the use of Canadian ports for nuclear-armed vessels is still permitted. Norway never had nuclear weapons so the issue of removal has never arisen.

The German Foreign Minister pledged when he came into power that: "In the coming government term Germany will at last become free of nuclear weapons." In a recent Royal United Services Institute briefing it was claimed that this pledge "sparked fear among many in Nato that the 28-nation consensus on this issue would be rendered impossible". In May Nato won out and the weapons are to be upgraded. The same has happened to Belgium and the Netherlands.

Angus Robertson's other observation about Scotland's position is also alarming. The main conflict he envisages relates to the melting Arctic. One would hope that an independent Scotland would be working for the conservation of the Arctic under UN control but even if this fails, it is not in our territorial waters and we would not have a direct financial interest. It would not be advantageous for the people of Scotland to be dragged into a conflict between US and Russian oil companies. On the contrary this would be a very good reason for being genuinely independent and having no military obligations to promote any other state's exploitation of the Arctic.

Isobel Lindsay,

9 Knocklea Place, Biggar.

IF Angus Robertson thinks he can negotiate a non-nuclear position he is in cloud cuckoo land. Nato is an organisation based around nuclear weapons and is going to put them where they are most effective. In addition to Faslane we also have two nuclear submarine Z berths in Loch Ewe for use if a nuclear submarine has an accident. Scotland has the majority of nuclear submarine servicing facilities in North Europe.

In terms of an independent Scotland, Faslane is of little use to a Scottish maritime protection force. Its position in the Clyde is only accessible from a south-west position. Most of Scotland's maritime protection is going to be on the east coast and in the north-east diametrically opposite to the entrance to Faslane. Rosyth was a base designed for this purpose and is ideal with large dry docks and east coast access. Protection of our oil and gas assets and patrolling the north-east would mean a subsidiary base probably in the Cromarty Firth or Scapa, but there would be no role for Faslane.

The Republic of Ireland, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland and Austria all manage quite well without being in Nato or being dragged into overseas campaigns by it. Why should Scotland be any different?

Bruce D Skivington,

8 Pairc a Ghliob, Strath, Gairloch.

AS the Nato debate rumbles on and in view of the recent U-turn Germany felt compelled to make about nuclear weaponry on its soil, it behoves us well to be reminded of the statement on Scotland's security as laid down in the Scotland Forward document at the start of the independence campaign in May last year.

This said: "We'll get rid of nuclear weapons here in Scotland ... we'll also restore the historic regiments and decide how and where our young men and women in the armed services should be deployed ... for instance, by involvement in disaster relief and involvement in UN peacekeeping missions" and so on.

Nowhere is Nato mentioned; only co-operating with Nordic and European countries "in areas such as procurement and training where there are benefits for all concerned".

It is imperative that the Scottish Government keeps to its original aims to maintain its self-respect and the respect of countries abroad.

Janet Cunningham,

1 Cedar Avenue,