TO be honest, I rarely agree with Brian Wilson because his default position appears to be that the SNP is to blame for everything that is wrong with the entire world.

However, his article on the ferries debacle ("How much longer must our islands suffer internal Scottish colonialism?", The Herald, June 6) is absolutely spot on. This is a continuing disgrace on so many levels. As Mr Wilson points out, the CalMac board should have strong islander representation. CalMac and the Government have been negligent in not programming replacements to the fleet. It was hubristic folly to decide to design and build a new ship from the keel up; why not look at what works well in the Baltic, the Aegean and the Adriatic? And, worst of all, no-one with the courage and honesty to put their hand up and say "Sorry", and no-one grasping the nettle and saying "this is how were going to fix it". Meanwhile, the island communities and economies suffer lasting and serious damage.

It is, sadly for me as a committed SNP supporter, difficult to refute his allegation of internal colonialism. The island and rural parts of the country have, for far too long, been marginalised, patronised and exploited. Power needs to be urgently decentralised so that local communities have the freedom and resources to exercise their own energies and talents. The community buy-outs of Eigg, Gigha, Assynt and elsewhere shows this works spectacularly well.

Sandy Slater, Stirling.

Who will defend our parliament?

ALL legislation which is mildly radical is inherently controversial. Usually once the legislation goes through it becomes the status quo and the controversy dies down.

However, the UK Government is now applying its “sovereignty” to encourage these controversies and weaken the authority of the Scottish Government. Eventually our hard-won Scottish Parliament can be portrayed as a useless, expensive talking shop and abolished. There will then be no democratic body in Scotland large enough to challenge the UK Government which we do not elect.

Mary McCabe, Glasgow.

Read more: Our islands suffer under internal Scottish colonialism

The successes of the SNP

IN response to Keith Howell (Letters, June 6), while the UK prevaricates on climate change, Scotland led the way on the Deposit Return Scheme that included glass from its inception, as did those in England and Wales, until the last-minute sabotage by Alister Jack, which I am sure is an unrelated coincidence to the £20,000 donation the Tories received from a glass industry organisation.

By any measure, Scotland’s NHS is performing much better than in England or Wales on A&E and cancer waiting times plus a steady decline in delayed hospital discharges. Our NHS is equipped for 98 per cent of all planned operations thanks to more doctors, nurses and hospital beds per head of population but unlike in Wales or England, no strikes are required to force government action on pay deals.

Contrary to Mr Howell’s claims, the educational attainment gap is narrowing considerably, with 10.3% of the most disadvantaged pupils achieving Advanced Highers last year compared to only 4.7% in 2010. The latest figures show that 92.8% of all Scottish school leavers found positive destinations; 91% of college leavers and more than 90% of Scottish university leavers were in positive destinations.

Thanks to the SNP’s Scottish Child Payment of £25 a week per child, we are leading the way on tackling child poverty with the very poorest families much better off than elsewhere in the UK.

On ferries, it should be noted that despite all their problems, CalMac’s reliability record is currently running at 98% and the SNP’s Road Equivalent tariff has considerably boosted island tourism Westminster’s post-Brexit Internal Market Bill is an attack on devolution and it is disappointing that the pro-devolution parties remain silent when legislation supported by all parties at Holyrood is undermined by London.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh.

📝 Sign up for our Letter of the Day newsletter and receive our Letters Editor's choice every weekday at 8pm.

Get insight from fellow readers and join in on what has Scotland talking. Exclusive responses to our writers and spirited debate on a whole host of issues will be sent directly to your inbox.

👉 Click here to sign up

Mandate for indy in UK results

ALAN Jenkins’ example of the United States requiring a two-thirds majority to change its constitution is correct, but not appropriate to the point from Peter A Russell (Letters, June 1) that I was addressing.

Our discussion was in the context of a referendum, a plebiscite where the entire electorate votes on a proposition. Mr Jenkins cites a process where it is politicians who determine the issue, in the case of the United States, by a two-thirds vote in both Senate and the House of Representatives.

However, given that in two of the last three UK elections (2015 and 2019) more than two-thirds of MPs elected in Scotland supported independence, and by analogy with the US, should we not be independent already?

Mr Russell has cited Brexit as a justification for a two-thirds majority for independence. Given the scale of disaster that Brexit has wrought, I can well understand his point, but he might care to contemplate that America still adopted Prohibition despite the need for a two-thirds vote to do so.

In that context, and bearing in mind the narrow margin of the Brexit vote, do people agree with me that it’s increasingly hard to understand why Labour Party policy is to persist with a policy that has clearly been a disaster rather than just to look to rejoin, just as America repealed Prohibition?

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.

Who's next to be suspended?

NOW that Margaret Ferrier has been suspended for 30 days for breaking Covid restrictions ("MPs suspend Margaret Ferrier for Covid rule breach", heraldscotland, June 6), how soon can we expect the same, or a more severe penalty, for Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak, both of whom committed several more serious breaches and received a stiffer penalty from the courts?

P Davidson, Falkirk.

The poor are funding refugees

I NOTE with interest your article on Rishi Sunak's visit to Dover ("PM Sunak visits boats sites", The Herald, June 6). Conservative MP Natalie Elphicke, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper and spokespeople from Amnesty International and the Red Cross all point to the urgent need to address the backlog of asylum claims. Why isn’t the Home Office getting on top of the backlog?

One reason, surely, is that the cost of housing refugees in the UK is being taken from Official Development Assistance (ODA) otherwise known as the aid budget. Who’s paying for detention on barges, in barracks and hotel rooms? It’s not the Home Office, it’s the world’s poor.

Paying the costs of refugees from the aid budget is legal, but extremely rare, and no other country is doing this to anything like the extent we are. About one-third of ODA is being spent inside the UK. Add to this the aid cut brought in in 2020 and the UK’s actual spend on development overseas has been reduced by more than half.

Does it matter? In East Africa there have been five successive droughts – the culmination of violence, displacement, climate change, hunger. The UK Government has been steadily withdrawing compassion since 2020. Farmers on the Horn of Africa face starvation and violence while their development programmes have had their funding slashed. It is they, in effect, who are paying: for climate change, neglect, and now also for some of the UK Home Office bills. Do we think this will increase or decrease the flow of migrants to the UK?

Ricci Downard, Edinburgh.

Read more: The problem isn't muscular unionism, it's a feeble SNP

Smith's truths hold true

IT is a remarkable tribute to Adam Smith that, after 300 years, his work is still relevant ("Smith’s work can still enlighten the world", The Herald, June 6). This is well illustrated by his comment in Chapter VII of The Wealth of Nations: "Our merchants frequently complain of the high wages of British labour as a cause of their manufactures being undersold in foreign markets; but they are silent about the high profits of stock. They complain of the extravagant gain of other people; but they say nothing of their own".

Peter Dryburgh, Edinburgh.

Bonanza for the binmen

ALAN Fitzpatrick's letter (June 9) struck a chord with my personal views on the Deposit Return Scheme.

Living as I do in a group of apartment blocks, of which there are many in Glasgow and its suburbs, we separate our rubbish, glass, and cans into large industrial-sized bins which are picked up each week by an automated lift system into council refuse vehicles.

It therefore follows that the users are to be penalised by an extra 20p tax or go by car (as there is no direct bus service) to deposit the cans and recover their tax, with all that entails.

In my worst nightmares I imagine the drivers of the rubbish lorries benefit by taking bulk deliveries to the reclaim stations in the council lorries, then to jump into their highly-priced sports cars en route to the airport and beyond.

Robin Johnston, Newton Mearns.