THE disproportionate furore over the proposed car parking tax is symptomatic of a much wider malaise in Scottish politics.

Those of us with long memories can recall that when the Scottish Parliament was set up, the intention was that it would be a less adversarial legislature than "two swords' length" Westminster. This would mean even the most contentious issues could be decided by rational and pragmatic discussion and that parties would combine to get the best possible outcomes in the governance of the country. In the early years of Holyrood, this concept was upheld by the Labour/LibDem coalitions, and by the SNP/Tory arrangement that followed.

However, then came the independence referendum of 2014, and the reckless populist Yes campaign which specifically set about demonising every party that did not support independence. Few can forget the way in which the SNP and its supporters traduced those who disagreed with them, calling them traitors, quislings and cowards.

It was the duty of the Scottish Government to bring the nation back together after that bruising and divisive episode. Instead we have had to put up with an utterly irresponsible First Minister who could not even find it in herself to attend a service of reconciliation. She has since then continuously worked to undermine the decision taken by the Scottish people in 2014 in naked pursuit of party political advantage, urged on by her fanatical support.

As a result, the situation in which Scotland now finds itself is one where even modest changes in public policy become proxy battles in the Yes/No culture wars. Likewise a single awkward question being asked of the SNP on a late-night television panel show sparks conspiracy theory outrage.

The populist genie is out of the bottle, and we cannot expect political debate and decision-making to improve at any time soon.

Peter A Russell,

87 Munro Road, Jordanhill, Glasgow.

IT has been reported that Nicola Sturgeon has declared recently that Scotland will be independent within the next three to five years – what utter balderdash.

She now leads a minority administration, and has lost the confidence of a large number of her party's previous supporters.

We, the electorate, have quite frankly seen no advantage in having an SNP administration at Holyrood. Indeed one might well question the need for such a tier of government, as is now based in Edinburgh. The cost of building the Scottish Parliament building was excessive at the time, and to what end?

The standard of debate, especially amongst the SNP members is anything but inspiring. Questions from members of the opposition parties are frequently treated with disdain and derision; with Deputy First Minister John Swinney occasionally becoming almost apoplectic. MSPs, particularly those occupying the SNP desks, tend to mundanely just read out answers to questions. It is so obvious that the responses come from scripts which have been meticulously prepared in most cases by the large corps of spin doctors employed by the SNP administration. What has happened to healthy debate? At least in the House of Commons there is still a spirit of healthy banter or questioning of points of view.

Under the current Holyrood administration we Scots are already experiencing higher levels of income tax than taxpayers in other parts of the UK; increased council tax is scheduled to be implemented; and now we learn that employees will have to pay a tax if they take their cars to work. Not at all a very bright prospect for the folks of Scotland.

In conclusion I should add that the excessive use of the term "austerity" by some SNP Members, when referring to the policies of the UK Government, is becoming rather tiresome. It tends to indicate either their lack of vocabulary or imagination, or both.

Robert I G Scott,

Northfield, Ceres, Fife.

WITH her latest message from America, Nicola Sturgeon tells us that whether we want it or not, and she knows the majority of us don’t, she plans to give us a second independence referendum sooner rather than later. The three to five-year timescale the First Minister favoured in a CNN interview, might mean a referendum rerun before the next Holyrood election in 2021.

Recently the First Minister said she would set out her view on the timing of another independence referendum within “a matter of weeks”. Apparently when appearing on the international stage she is more prepared to be drawn out on this topic than back here in Scotland.

Keith Howell,

White Moss, West Linton, Peeblesshire.

FRANCIS Buchan (Letters, February 12) is right to point out that the BBC's political output regularly fails to include panellists or commentators from the SNP as the third-largest grouping at Westminster.

Even on rare occasions when UK-wide programmes come from Scotland they still impose English political balance over Brexit rather than portray a representative Scottish audience or panellists.

The Question Time programme production company Mentorn has a well-documented history of specifically inviting Ukip audience participants in order to make debates "entertaining" rather than informative and the format is geared towards ill-informed rants as made last Thursday by two Orange Order audience members.

However, change is highly unlikely as Mentorn has been given the contract for the new BBC Scotland channel's political programmes and it is reported that the ranting failed Ukip candidate was given the floor at the Debate Night pilot show held last week.

The BBC has a long way to go in order to regain the trust it lost during the 2014 referendum campaign.

Mary Thomas,

Watson Crescent, Edinburgh.

I FEEL the brief letter from Gordon W Smith on the workplace parking levy (February 12) may be slightly tongue-in-cheek, nevertheless it provides a useful starting point for the legislators who may be working on this proposal already. Will there be a discount for part-time workers? Will it apply to house-persons? As you upscale his question, would it apply to small shopkeepers and their employees, crofters/farmers and so on, will it impinge on human rights? The list is never ending. As the scale increases you arrive at a situation similar to that which already exists around suburban railway stations, where local streets are packed solid with parked cars often creating dangerous exits from driveways and side streets. Will employees simply park in the street? Presumably employers will have to administer and police this proposed legislation?

At the top-end of the scale, in city centres, a workplace parking space will have considerable value which, as a perk, may already be taxable by HMRC or have they taken a more realistic view?

Duncan Miller,

38 Middlemuir Road, Lenzie.