ACCORDING to Kevin McKenna ("Is independence too much bother for some careerist politicians?", The Herald, June 27), "the case for independence has never been stronger". Really?

Under the SNP regime, educational standards have plummeted, falling behind the OECD average every year since 2011. In January last year the EIS released the results of a survey of 12,000 Scots teachers – 75 per cent felt frequently stressed by their workload while 70 per cent said they would not recommend teaching as a career. The SNP's handling of re-opening schools this August has been chaotic.

Supervision of Scottish care homes during the coronavirus pandemic was poor and has been described as a national scandal with deaths per head double that in England. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board has been placed under special measures and the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital saw 80 hospital-acquired infections, two fatal. The Royal Hospital for Children and Young People was originally due to open in 2017 but has remained closed because of health and safety issues. Scotland has by far the highest drug death rate in Europe and may indeed have the highest drug death rate in the world. Caroline Gardner, the Auditor General for Scotland, published a report last October which warned that the NHS in Scotland is on the way to becoming unsustainable, with a shortfall in funding of £1.8 billion within three years.

The SNP's choice of franchise for Scottish railways, an offshoot of Dutch state railways, has failed to meet numerous performance targets. The two new ferries being built for Calmac, the Glen Sannox and Hull 802, may have to be scrapped before they carry a single passenger while their budget has soared and their build schedule is years behind. Branding police cars, ambulances, and railway stations in Gaelic in the name of "inclusivity" when in fact Gaelic is a foreign language for 98 per cent of Scots can only be described as incredible.

With a national deficit six times that of the UK, the SNP is relying on the British Government, the same British Government which it despises, to bail it out of itd general mismanagement of the economy.

These are just some of the failures which the SNP Government should address before calling for independence.

William Loneskie, Lauder.

KEVIN McKenna makes a strong point. As a dual US/UK citizen who has chosen Scotland for her home, I’ve been puzzled by the reluctance of the SNP to press a growing advantage for Scottish independence.

The Scottish Government has said its priority is suppressing the pandemic, and we are doing better than England. But not to seize this moment to articulate its vision for a Scotland that is more egalitarian and forward-looking than the little England mindset in Westminster is to squander a huge opportunity. After all, the pandemic hasn’t stopped the Tories from continuing their lemming-like march over the hard Brexit cliff, dragging Scotland with them, so why should the SNP not push for what a majority of Scots now want?

I believe two things are urgently needed to propel the SNP towards independence. A strong grassroots movement, which we have in the Yes groups all over Scotland, and an effective opposition party, which we don’t. The Labour leadership’s decision to continue to oppose Scottish self-determination not only means no urgency for independence, but also an increasingly irrelevant Labour Party in Scotland. And that benefits no one.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh, EH10.

I CAN'T understand why the Labour leadership (Scottish franchise) is so against independence for Scotland. When it comes, as it surely will, it will have an excellent chance of forming the Scottish Government after the first – or perhaps second – Scottish General Election. There is a solid core of socialist/left voters in Scotland – badly let down by London Labour – who will joyfully return to their roots. First, however, they must "lend" the SNP their vote in all elections and referenda. That's a good deal.

David Roche, Perth.

DOUGLAS Cowe suggests (Letters, June 27 that independence supporters should “change their attitude to our neighbours”. I am not sure what he means by this.

Does he, for instance mean that when policies are implemented that might or might not be necessary in England, but not in Scotland, that we should be quiet? The bedroom tax very much comes to mind in this regard. Or, as in my case, those of us convinced that the Scottish economy requires a different policy set from our much larger neighbour because the economies are different, should take a vow of silence? Whether we do or not, the differing relative importance of tourism, energy production, food and drink (Scotland) and financial services (England) will remain.

Mr Cowe’s letter is redolent of an attitude that support for independence can be driven only by an attitude toward England which has hatred at its apex. However, support for independence can be just as well driven by the modernist philosophy that things can always be improved, and that Scotland can in due course do better as an independent state rather than as part of a Kingdom which, politically, struggles more and more to justify its claim to be “United”.

One of the most striking aspects of the Covid pandemic has been the degree to which the four nations have gone their own way to address the situation. For instance, Northern Ireland has inevitably been significantly influenced by what happens in the south. Scotland, like Wales, has pursued its own political judgment.

With regard to the EU, our opposition to leaving remains as strong as it was in June 2016, if not more so, and most certainly to the possibility of a “hard Brexit”. Wales may have voted Leave, but that almost disappears into irrelevance when we consider that the Leave vote in England was such as to determine the Leave vote, just not quite on its own.

Divisions in the UK, particularly since 2014, may be approaching the point where the name becomes misleading. There is certainly evidence that what has been the United Kingdom may be on the cusp of becoming a dysfunctional state and that what is required is not a justification for the independence of our country, but for the continuation of the United Kingdom itself and our continued participation in it.

Alsadair Galloway, Dumbarton.

DOUGLAS Cowe writes inter alia “the cancer of nationalism has done untold damage to virtually every aspect of Scottish life.....”

I ask Mr Cowe to expand on this. It is very easy to write a throw-away line with no substance to back it up.

He goes on “and it may be too late to expect our friends in the rest of the UK to save us”.

Right, let’s examine that with examples of how the UK has been faring:

1, The UK's failed approach to the Covid-19 virus.

2, The introduction of a “world's best” track, trace and isolate system by June 1. Failed.

3, The Rose Garden farce of May 25, protecting one non-elected adviser over the rest of the UK's citizens.

4, The Home Office's Windrush scandal, and the treatment of asylum seekers.

5, Brexit. The people voted, agreed (but based, in part, on grossly misleading “facts” displayed on the side of a bus). The desperate attempt at managing the transition? Failure.

The five points above are but a snapshot. The list is significantly longer.

JC Davidson, North Berwick.

REBECCA McQuillan ("A return to austerity after this crisis would be unthinkable", The Herald, June 26) writes that the U.K Government is “irresponsibly pushing ahead with Brexit”. Would it not be more irresponsible to ignore the 17 million plus voters who wished to free us from the sclerotic, undemocratic Behemoth that the EU has become?,

Norman Brown, Barassie.

Read more: Kevin McKenna: Is independence too much bother for careerist SNP politicians?