IN his article on the possible demise of Nicola Sturgeon as SNP leader, Neil Mackay neatly identifies the contradiction between failures of government and success at the polls ("If SNP oust Sturgeon it’s beginning of end for independence", The Herald, February 25). There is little doubt that she and much of her party are indeed, as often suggested, neglecting their "day job" in their quest for independence. I suspect, however, that the day job is a harder than the public understands, this because the Scottish economy is worse than we are allowed to know. At the level the public sees, councils are having to somehow get by juggling inadequate resources, and neglect at Holyrood is not helping.

So, the Scottish Government is not performing effectively, yet still showing up well at the polling stations. To explain this, Mr Mackay delves into the psychology of the Scottish voter, citing a recent switch from performance judgment to a sense of identity, or the need to "belong", which the SNP is providing with its unequivocal stance on matters such as Brexit, the EU and, of course, independence. I think this, while perhaps true within itself, misses the dominant factor, which is that no one else is perceived as capable of providing either good government or a clear identity.

Politically speaking, Scotland is a de facto one-party state since there is no effective opposition; the SNP has the votes, and has even boosted its share, giving votes to prisoners and foreigners, reckoning that in gratitude they would favour those who provided them. In this, the SNP was backed by the Greens, who would support anything in exchange for "green" measures, and the LibDems, who probably supported the move as a matter of party doctrine. The Labour Party also backed it despite it being against their best interests. Why is beyond me.

Ms Sturgeon, I think, is caught between the proverbial rock and hard place, the hard place being the intransigent refusal of London to even consider Indyref2, and the rock being the uncompromising demands her own base of hard liners, who seem impervious to reason. On independence, Mr Mackay says: “She’s teased the base with independence for years in order to keep power. Now her more headstrong and ill-considered colleagues want to get on with it, come what may. A grubby political assassination of Sturgeon would be the beginning of the end for the SNP.” Not necessarily. Without Ruth Davidson at the helm, the Tories will be lucky to hold on to their current share, so until Labour provides a viable opposition, psychological analysis of voting patterns is interesting, but somewhat moot. The SNP has it in the bag for now, and will continue to do so unless Labour starts to put up a fight.

Jim Robertson, East Kilbride.

NEIL Mackay is quick to point out the many supposed failings of the SNP while in government. His main beef appears to be that the SNP should stop its "obsession" with independence and concentrate on health, education and the like He states this as though independence is simply some arcane side issue. The reality of course is that it's only with independence that Scotland will have access to all the economic and constitutional levers that will enable the changes that Mr Mackay hankers after. He also singularly fails to provide any clues as to what measures he thinks should be taken to redress the "woeful" record of the SNP. For instance, which titans in other political parties does he envisage righting all of Scotland's supposed wrongs?

Philip Maughan, Portree.

NEIL Mackay in his brilliant article does not hold back in his exposé of the SNP: “...hardcore independence supporters will cut the SNP any amount of slack when it comes to scandals and mismanagement because it’s the only vehicle to get them what they want.”

It is understandable that the SNP “man in the street” in his quest for some sort of misguided emotional ”freedom” would disregard any “scandal and mismanagement” of his party to achieve what he wants, despite huge economic and financial catastrophe. And we read about SNP mismanagement on a weekly basis, failing our children, failing our old people, failing the poor, failing our economy and much, much else.

How is it then that SNP MPs and MSPs, apparently sensible, responsible representatives of “the people of Scotland” are prepared to accept and perpetuate these “scandals and mismanagement” when they know the “people of Scotland” are being damaged so badly? This is a question for all those who are wavering about their voting intentions should there be another referendum. This SNP regime is fine with scandals and mismanagement because its leaders and supporters could not care less.

Douglas Cowe, Newmachar.

NICOLA Sturgeon's idea of a Scottish visa is an own goal for Scottish independence campaigners. The proposal is a stark re-affirmation that "the people of Scotland" would be unable to sustain their own economy without the support of an immigrant workforce. Call that independence?

Harry Magee, Glasgow G11.

Read more: If the SNP oust Sturgeon it’s the beginning of the end for the party and independence