I WAS not surprised by Mark Smith’s article in the Herald (“Unionists can learn lesson from independence marchers”, October 7).

He decries Nicola Sturgeon for not attending; in this he is remiss, as the marches are not SNP ones, but “All Under One Banner”. His criticism of the Saltire as a unifying symbol is curious. However, if Nicola had attended, Mr Smith would have been telling her to get back to the day job.

What must really worry him is that these marches are happy and smiling and incident-free; contrast that with the Orange Walks that brandish the Union Flag.

The first political march I ever attended was in Arbroath in April 1970, at the 650th Anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath. During the march we were heckled by Pastor Jack Glass and his 20th Century Reform Movement, who kept saying things like, “Why are you here? Celtic are playing in Glasgow”. At the reading of the Declaration they lined up chanting “No Popery!” - a bit dated, as the event was 650 years on. Arthur Donaldson, who was the immediate past SNP Chairman, went to the police at the event and said, “Will you move these people, or will we?” The police duly complied.

The independence marches are happy and trouble-free, and a morale booster; how Mr Smith must wish to see such enthusiasm for his beloved Union flag. However he can go his local supermarket, where he will see Union Jacks a-plenty.

Jim Lynch, Edinburgh

WITH all the brouhaha about the number of marchers attending the rally in Edinburgh last Saturday, and the absence of official figures for one reason or another, I did a quick calculation of the throng from the aerial photograph posted on the BBC website.

From Abbey Hill Crescent back to Queen’s Drive the numbers arrived at were 27,000, using a generous four persons to the square metre. I don’t know where the other 170,000 were hiding but I am sure the flag-makers and cordiners will be disappointed with this information.

Archie Burleigh, Skelmorlie,

North Ayrshire.

THE banner of the independence campaign group, All Under One Banner, which organised Saturday’s march in Edinburgh displays a snarling lion and a unicorn. The use of the unicorn is unfortunate given its association with the Brexiters’ wilder flights of fantasy.

However I must acknowledge that the crowd in the march seemed not to reflect the message of the snarling lion which does no credit to the independence cause.

I would admit that there seemed to be no sign of the participants being “shouty and aggressive rather than calm and reasonable”, to use Mark Smith’s words in his article. Nevertheless that leaves me with the question as to why at least some of the marchers think that painting one’s face, waving Saltires, and marching in kilts behind a pipe band wearing blue bonnets will convince those of us who are carefully considering the case for moving from No to Yes.

It reminds me of the shortbread school of Scottish nationalism, which is surely past its sell-by date.

John Milne, Uddingston.

NICOLA Sturgeon tells us she’s “delighted” by the Bridge of Don by-election result. Really? The SNP came second to the Tories, whom she daily disparages, with the poll showing a 10% swing to the Tories. Seems like she is easily pleased these days.

Martin Redfern, Edinburgh

BORIS Johnson must be rubbing his hands with glee. Labour and the SNP battle like ferrets in a sack; only the Lib Dems have shown a semblance of principle and integrity.

If he offered the SNP a guaranteed second referendum on breaking up the UK as the price for the nationalists backing him, does anyone seriously doubt that his hand would not be bitten off? More than any other, the SNP desire power without responsibility for their actions, and we all know whose prerogative that has been over the centuries.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.