PREDICTABLY, the Alex Salmond verdict is being utilised as a vehicle to “Nat bash” by the usual suspects such as Jill Stevenson and Alexander McKay who, even at this period of unprecedented uncertainty and anxiety, engage in wistful but misplaced hopes of Unionist triumphalism (Letters, March 25). As Iain Macwhirter ("Salmond has won one battle. Now another will begin", the Herald, March 25) accurately observes, the consequences of the Salmond court case will reverberate for some time within SNP ranks and possibly with considerable fall-out. The truth of the matter is however that the Alex Salmond trial was going to place enormous pressure on the SNP leadership regardless of the final verdict and that internal divisions, existent in all political groups and parties, would have necessitated some radical change in any case.

Hyperbolic terminology used by the above-named correspondents, as they transparently yearn for “implosions” and “bloodbaths” within SNP ranks and therefore damage the independence movement will be somewhat short of the mark. This would conveniently ignore the stark fact that the strong desire for Scottish independence is not an SNP preserve but includes a myriad of groups and people from across the traditional political spectrum.

As it is, normal political life and debate must be placed firmly in cold storage until such times as the current emergency ceases to be an existential danger to humanity. Unlike the hapless and inadequate Prime Minister, Nicola Sturgeon’s leadership has been decisive and unerringly shrewd this far and she has demonstrated all the qualities of a genuine statesperson capable of leading her country to become an independent state in the near future. A reason to be cheerful for all independence supporters during these difficult days.

Owen Kelly, Stirling.

I LOST track long ago of the number of times Alexander Mackay has predicted the demise of the SNP, and the number of years over which he has been doing so. Years during which, despite his gleeful prognostications, the independence movement has steadily gathered strength and the principal independence-supporting party has acquired and consolidated its place as the strongest political force in Scotland. Mr Mackay was wrong when he started, and he is wrong now.

Alex Salmond has been acquitted, and I would bet my boots that we’ll see him back in the field before long. I hazard no guesses as to the outcome of the future investigation into the episode; but even if the worst-case scenario (best case from Mr Mackay’s point of view) should materialise, with members of the SNP Government being disgraced and the party collapsing in internecine strife, Scottish nationalism will not, as he fondly hopes, be dead. What Mr Mackay apparently fails to realise, and he is certainly not the only victim of this delusion, is that the independence movement and the SNP are not the same thing. In the context of the growing strength of grass-roots support for independence the fortunes of any political party are a sideshow: a fact which, like the need for independence itself, is becoming more unmistakeable by the day.

As Mr Salmond himself pointed out, while we are in the throes of a pandemic all other issues must be subordinated to our efforts to combat the disease. But once the pandemic is over and the campaign for independence is resumed, Mr Mackay will see for the umpteenth time how wrong his predictions are.

Derrick McClure, Aberdeen AB24.

IAN Lakin (Letters, March 25) sounds like another one of those blinkered Tories who can't see the connection between weak trade unions and weak public services. Today, Britain's last line of defence against coronavirus is an NHS that has been systematically underfunded and bled white by entrepreneurial predators via an internal market brought in by that "clever woman from a humble background" that he seems to think so much of.

In private his political heroine regarded the NHS as a Soviet-style monstrosity and would have privatised it completely were it not for the fact that Tory voters get sick as well. Mr Lakin and his ilk conveniently forget that for all the comparatively minor inconveniences trade union militancy inflicted on the public, he existence of a powerful, well organised and bad-tempered Labour movement kept the British ruling class on their toes and that's why we had such good public services.

As to his final point about the suspension of capitalism only being temporary and the need to pay off the massive borrowing undertaken, he should know that Britain ended the Second World War with a debt to income ratio of 360 per cent and didn't bring it down to 100 per cent until the mid-1960s. Not that there was any austerity to speak off because there were 12 million trade unionists to make sure it never happened.

Sean Pigott, Largs.

Read more: Salmond split is only the latest factor that will see the implosion of the SNP