THE SNP Government is at it again. Desperate to demonstrate that Scotland is a separate polity from the UK, it lavishes money and personnel on areas that are reserved and therefore not within its remit. The Scottish budget this month allocated a further £2 million to "external relations", taking the figure to £26 million, a rise of £9 million in three years. Now Ms Sturgeon’s reshuffle adds Europe and external affairs to the brief of Michael Russell, constitutional relations secretary. Oh, and the constitution is also reserved, not devolved. In addition, Jenny Gilruth becomes Minister for Europe and International Development ("Women to the fore as Sturgeon moves on from Mackay scandal", the Herald, February 18).

Why are there two ministers for Europe? Why does the Scottish Government spend our money on international development, when the UK is the second-most generous donor of international aid?

These are questions that hard-pressed staff in our education and health services will be asking themselves, to say nothing of police forces whose resources are stretched to breaking point. But devolved domestic issues are rather dull for a party and Government that has aspirations to secession, even if they are the bread and butter of the majority of citizens.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh EH14.

WHY does the Scottish Government have a Minister for Europe?

John Dunlop, Ayr.

THE juxtaposition of letters by Carol Vanzetta and Willie Maclean (February 18) gathers criticism of politicians and letter-writers who simply rail against those they disagree with. Further, Ms Vanzetta encourages politicians to present positive suggestions for what it is possible to deliver. I wholeheartedly agree with that approach. Criticising opponents simply saps energy and wastes time allowing others, mainly Westminster, to fiddle, as they say, while peripheries burn.

Like Mr Maclean I agree that independence only relates to the SNP insofar as that being the political party most likely to create a means to deliver it. Independence is a choice in how we govern ourselves. Post-independence, I expect the SNP to alter fundamentally as its core purpose changes, perhaps merge with the LibDems on the centre ground or even cease to exist after a few years. The Greens will likely stay the same but Conservative and Labour will need to return to basic principles once they become Scottish parties, without external constraint, when I would expect them consequently to gain support.

But let’s use our experience and imagination at the moment to consider how Scotland could develop rather than constantly do each other down as seems to be the current fashion.

John C Hutchison, Fort William.

FOLLOWING the letters from Robert IG Scott and the serial doomsayer, Dr Gerald Edwards (February 17), I feel moved to reply. At least Dr Edwards’s letter is brief, so I’ll start with that one. I think his reference to the former SNP Finance Secretary was something of a low blow, and certainly not worthy of a serious political commentator. He talks up Jackson Carlaw, and says it’s “definitely time for a change in Scottish politics”. Exactly who are we to appoint to transform Scotland: Mr Carlaw, Richard Leonard or Willie Rennie? Can’t see it myself.

Mr Scott’s letter is even more troubling. He writes about the Union being basically the most significant event in our history (it probably was, but not in a good way), without mentioning the devious, and frankly criminal means by which it was achieved. Parcel of rogues anyone?

I’m unsure why he thinks Nicola Sturgeon is “living on borrowed time”, when the SNP has won every election at all levels since 2007, and still holds a more than healthy lead in all opinion polls. Indeed, Yes is also moving steadily towards a win at the next independence referendum.

He writes about the Scottish economy being in dire straits, though by all accounts it continues to outperform England and Wales in virtually every measurable area, despite often having its hands tied behind its back by UK fiscal arrangements. Mr Scott also mistakenly conflates the EU with the UK Union: they are very different beasts, plus the UK seems to be the only one of the (former) 28 EU members that wants to leave. Everybody out of step apart from us?

He speaks of the EU as being “emphatically less than democratic”. I give you Dominic Cummings.

Ian M Baillie, Alexandria.

THE letter from Alasdair Galloway (February 17) is headed "So just what will it take for Indyref2 to be granted?". In previous correspondence, he and others of a similar mind consider this to be a denial of democracy.

That's as may be, but I wonder if one of the reasons why we of the Unionist persuasion are not so keen is because Nicola Sturgeon did not simply request a Section 30 order for a further independence referendum, she wished that the powers to hold referenda be passed to Holyrood on a permanent basis.

This would mean that, in the event that any second independence referendum did not deliver the desired result from the SNP's point of view then within weeks, it would be cranking up preparations for Indyref 3/4/5, or however many it thought necessary to bludgeon us into a state of abject surrender.

Christopher W Ide, Waterfoot.

Read more: So just what will it take for Indyref2 to be granted?