"ONCE in a generation" was not a promise, but a warning that another chance might be a long time coming. The substance of this warning is becoming all too apparent. Given their destabilising side-effects, I accept that some constraint must be placed on the frequency of referenda, but like SNP Councillor Tom Johnston (Letters, January 16), I consider the disparity in the treatment of the Scottish and Northern Irish devolved administrations regarding their right to seek a mandate to withdraw from the UK to be iniquitous and unjustifiable.

I agree with most commentators that with Brexit a fait accompli and a hard border with England in prospect, a No vote would be the almost certain outcome of any referendum held in the short term. Whilst the Scottish Government should continue to press for a proper framework allowing it to call referenda without reference to Westminster, in the meantime it would make sense to allow time for the probably dire consequences of EU departure to unfold, and the attraction of rejoining as an independent nation to become irresistible.

Finally, I note the unrelenting criticisms of the SNP’s record as the party of government. Whilst this has been far from perfect, I think it most unlikely that any of the other parties would have performed better, and am gratified that, as recently demonstrated, a substantial majority of the voting population clearly agrees with me.

Neil Sinclair, Paisley.

THE SNP leadership has a special way with words. The First Minister and her predecessor never intended that the result of the 2014 referendum would be a “once in a generation” event, they merely said that to try to get their vote out. If they lost the referendum they knew in advance that they would soon start talking of a rerun as being “inevitable”. Equally, they knew that if they won the vote they would try to ensure the result stood not for a generation but rather forever.

As for the Edinburgh Agreement commitment to “respect” the outcome of the referendum, the SNP only ever intended for that to bind the UK Government. For the SNP leadership this was a promise made with fingers crossed.

Of course from time to time when it has suited her, Nicola Sturgeon has reassured the people of Scotland that a second independence referendum would only happen when the people of Scotland wanted it. But because the numbers have not moved sufficiently to suit her case, for the First Minister the “people of Scotland” now means just those people who support the SNP.

The SNP employs words in this way to suit its narrow agenda, and as it does so treats the rest of us like fools.

Keith Howell, West Linton.

THE letter from Dr Gerald Edwards (January 17) was full of contradictions. He says: "Scotland has suffered in relative silence under the SNP, its record in office is nothing short of woeful", but then he goes on to say “a lack of a viable opposition party is the reason for the SNP success”. He can’t have it both ways, it is either woeful or successful and I would suggest that as for Scotland suffering in silence, the people of Scotland gave a clear verdict on December 12 last year, an endorsement for the SNP.

"The more measured Unionist opposition" which Dr Edwards refers too, certainly received a clear message from Scotland on that day. Just a reminder of the numbers: before the election the Unionists had 24 MPs, after the election the number is 11, so the measured Unionist opposition in Scotland which consists of three parties (Labour, Conservatives and Lib/Dems) have some work to do if they have to measure up to Dr Edwards's expectations.

Dr Edward then goes on to endorse Jackson Carlaw as next Scottish Conservative leader, saying a renewed Tory Party will emerge. What does this sentiment say about the previous incumbent of this office who took the Conservative Party in Scotland to new heights briefly? Perhaps Dr Edwards would like to dwell on my previously mentioned figures while Mr Carlaw has been the interim leader.

On the issue of Jackson Carlaw and his leadership campaign launch, he made the promise to topple Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, sentiments that sounded somewhat familiar. I refer to Jo Swinson and her fantasy of becoming the next UK Prime Minister, we all know what happened to that pipedream.

Catriona C Clark, Falkirk.

ONCE again Derek Mackay, Scotland 's beleaguered Finance Secretary, has been found wanting with his careless allocation of precious public funds without setting specific objectives or outcomes for the Government's much-vaunted, ambitious City Deals project ("Billions of taxpayers' cash given to 'aimless' City Deals", The Herald, January 16).

His rescue of Ferguson's shipyard carries similar hallmarks, but his answers when challenged on such issues invariably air grievances about Westminster. If the UK Government's significant spending plans in areas like the police, NHS and education come to fruition Scotland will reap the benefit of sizeable Barnett consequentials; but these are rarely acknowledged.

Ronald J Sandford, Kingsbarns.

AS an octogenarian homeowner, I was interested to hear various members of the UK Government both before and since the General Election saying repeatedly that no one should have to sell their home to fund care home costs. Then I realised that if they did legislate for that it would not apply in Scotland, where I believe such matters are devolved and, rightly or wrongly, personal assets, including one’s home, above a value of about £26,000 will be taken into account to pay these costs. If such a scenario did ever come to pass in rUK, would it not open up a substantial potential personal taxation liability in Scotland compared with rUK, and that would be much more damaging to the prospect of encouraging inward investment than the present marginally different tax rates and bands? Also, would it lead to an exodus of elderly homeowners seeking sanctuary in rUK?

Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop.

NOW that the General Election is behind us and Jeremy Corbyn has been successfully demonised and despatched to the dustbin of history, the hit squads have re-aligned their artillery in anticipation of the next key election, which will be for the Holyrood parliament in 2021. The target is clearly Nicola Sturgeon, who will be subjected to the usual tactics of demonising the messenger rather than presenting any reasoned arguments against the message.

How refreshing it would be to have the issues debated in a serious grown-up fashion instead of the boring repetition of attacks on individual politicians who happen to be carrying the baton on their particular lap of a long political race.

Willie Maclean, Milngavie.

ARCHIE Burleigh (Letters, January 17) chastises Ian Blackford, SNP Westminster leader, for speaking on behalf of “the people of Scotland” when the SNP only received 30.65 per cent of the votes from the registered Scottish electorate of 4,053,140 at the last General Election. I would like to point out that the Scottish branch of the Conservative and Unionist Party received only 17.1 per cent of Scottish votes by the same measure and other parties in Scotland received the following percentages: Labour 12.63 per cent, LibDems 6.5 per cent, Greens 0.69 per cent.

Further, I am fed up listening to Boris Johnson talking about “One Nation” when the Tories UK-wide received votes amounting to only 29.35 per cent of the registered UK electorate of 47,587,254.

Alan M Morris, Blanefield.

YOUR front page on Friday had no joy for the SNP Government ("Taxpayer-funded Gaelic quango a £5m ‘disaster’", The Herald, January 17).

I required to re-read the comment by SNP MSP Alex Neil about Bord na Gaidhlig: “The board and management are either enthusiastic amateurs that are way out of their depth and unable to handle it, or they are just incompetent – it’s got to be one of the two”.

At first read I thought that Mr Neil was making credible comment about the SNP Government, and I believed him; after all he is an insider.

William Durward, Bearsden.

NICOLA Sturgeon has been under pressure since she asked to be judged on the state of Scotland's schools during her watch. She soon bailed out dumping the problem in the hands of her deputy John Swinney. We were also withdrawn from every international educational survey (except Pisa which would have enabled us to judge.

Sadly her response to parliament's demand for a full review of the mounting disaster in our schools is to promise an "outline" of Mr Swinney's discussions with officials on the dire exam results. In spite of her protests to the contrary, her refusal to publish the analysis in full is a manifest sign of yet another whitewash in the pipeline.

Rev Dr John Cameron, St Andrews.

I CONFESS to being largely indifferent to a Royal Family whose males all seem to like wearing England strips: I am like the person in Vancouver who said “there are no Royals in Canada. They are welcome to visit, but we shouldn’t have to fund them”. In that vein I agree with Gordon Casely that the Stone of Destiny (a fake, but our fake) should be used at the next coronation. But why should it be at Westminster Abbey? Why not St Giles? The reason is to do with the aforementioned England strips. The Windsors see themselves as an English Royal Family, and want to be crowned in their own country.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.

REGARDING “A bong for Brexit” (Letters, January 16) I am surprised not to have seen in your pages (or anywhere else) lately the alleged observation of Sir Robert Walpole on the celebrations following war with Spain breaking out: “Now they ring the bells, but they will soon wring their hands.”.

Hugh Dunnachie, Sanquhar.

DURING the Second World War the chimes you heard were not live, but recorded. This was because German scientists could analyse the sound waves and use this to help determine weather conditions over London. Why not do this again and keep those bampots happy without spending £500,000?

George Smith, Clydebank.