MARK Smith is correct to highlight the fact that the main two issues of the forthcoming General Election in Scotland will be Brexit and the independence question (“The 16 seats that matter and the voters who hold the key”, The Herald, November 4).

However, his conclusion that Unionist/Remainers will vote tactically for the Conservative Party sounds like wishful thinking on his part and disrespects the intelligence and social conscience of much of the Scottish electorate.

For Unionist/Remainers to cast their votes for the Conservative Party and therefore the Government in Westminster would be to abandon their hope of not only a slim chance of remaining in the EU through a people's vote, but also of any form of soft Brexit. The as-yet still-unknown political consequences of an SNP landslide may well be worth risking to limit the damage of a hard or no-deal Brexit that no self-respecting Remainer could countenance.

It remains very likely that Indyref 2 will take place at some point over the next 18 months regardless of whoever controls Westminster in any case. A minority Tory or Labour government will be forced to concede this for political gain or expediency despite their pre-election protestations to the contrary.

Mr Smith surmises that Unionist/Remainers will vote strategically for the Conservatives solely to thwart the SNP, conveniently ignoring the fact that they could be returning a rabidly right-wing Tory Government to Westminster. Boris Johnson's Government harbours desires to sell off the NHS, will undoubtedly plunge the UK into increased inequality and poverty for generations and will continue to treat Scotland and its people with utter contempt.

For many Unionist/ Remainers any vote for the Conservatives would be anathema and unconscionable. Mr Smith underestimates their strength of feeling and the bitterness of the Brexit saga. The last four years have altered the political landscape and our attitudes and long-held beliefs more than any period of history in modern times. In the unlikely event of Mr Johnson's government being returned in December, keeping the SNP at bay will be the least of the Unionist/ Remainers problems.

Owen Kelly, Stirling.

IN his article Mark Smith is being somewhat simplistic. He suggests that “for many voters, voting for a party that supports Brexit may be a risk they are willing to pay to try to keep the SNP at bay”.

He fails to mention the fact that Brexit is but the first stage in the joint strategy of the ideological right of the Conservative Party, the US pharmaceutical industry determined to drive up the price of our drugs and US companies anxious to take over large sections of a privatised NHS.

Mr Smith ought to have asked how many voters are prepared to vote for a party that poses a serious risk to the NHS in order to “keep the SNP at bay”.

I assume nobody really knows but I do not at all envy those voters in, for instance, the Stirling constituency who are displeased at their current Conservative MP’s (majority over SNP in 2017 of 148 in a 74% turnout) apparent indifference to the danger Brexit poses for the NHS but who are not at all attracted by the prospect of an IndyRef2.

I do wish the SNP had not turned the election into a referendum on IndyRef2. That was highly irresponsible and difficult for me to forgive.

John Milne, Uddingston.

THE London broadcasters must be fooled by the LibDems’ fake bar charts as that is the only reason to ignore the third-largest party in the House of Commons in the forthcoming TV General Election debates ("Sturgeon hits out after Sky News sidelines SNP in leaders' debate", The Herald, November 5).

The SNP has twice as many MPs than the LibDems and this omission is even worse for viewers in Scotland, where the SNP has more MPs than all the other parties put together. The argument that the SNP isn’t a UK-wide party doesn’t stand up as Labour and the LibDems do not contest elections in Northern Ireland and we must assume that the Labour, Tory and LibDem “Scottish” designation is just a sham to deceive voters that they are autonomous organisations.

Nicola Sturgeon was the star of the 2015 TV debates when the SNP last got equal treatment. As Britannia once again waives the rules when it comes to Scotland, this democratic deficit is another reason why broadcasting should have been devolved.

READ MORE: Despite the SNP’s claims, this election is not about independence

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh EH11.

BARELY has the campaigning started in this election than Nicola Sturgeon starts where she left off by being "outraged" at every turn by Westminster (code for English) Tories.

After watching her whipping up outraged anger (again) in her speech in Glasgow's George Square last Saturday, she would do well to remember how the 55 per cent of the Scottish electorate felt when she ignored the result of the 2014 referendum and simply circumvented the result by declaring any "material change" in the EU vote would entitle her to re-run another independence referendum and completely trashed the Edinburgh Agreement that both sides said they would respect.

Given the divisive nature of referendums pitting families, friends and neighbours against each other it is clear that for anyone who claims a true love for their country, the last thing they would wish upon it was further rancour, confrontation and division. Sadly this consideration does not even register with Ms Sturgeon.

Allan Thompson, Bearsden.