THE proposed Alliance for Independence has obviously ruffled many feathers before it actually exists, with the most hysterical coming in the article in another place to which both Tom Gordon ("Alliance for Independence is an arrogant misadventure", The Herald, July 21) and Kevin McKenna ("Fury over new Yes party shows Union is in deep trouble", The Herald, July 18) made reference. In it the journalist Kenny Farquharson denounced its proposed intervention in next May's election as "cheating".

Cheating is gerrymandering or vote rigging, while what is proposed is a wholly democratic exercise in smart voting along lines made possible, perhaps even necessary, by Scotland's current electoral system. The devious plan, cunningly announced in the light of day, is to capture as many seats as possible for policies, in the present case the pro-independence side, with votes legally cast by people in favour of them.

Should this move not be seen as an exercise in tactical voting of a kind we have become familiar with in recent years? Was there anything underhand about Margo MacDonald's decision to stand as an independent for Holyrood not in a constituency but in the proportionally elected list? Was there something sneaky about the electors who voted strategically in Westminster elections not for the party they really supported but for the candidate most likely to oust Tories from Scotland in the days of Thatcher? Is there something suspect about Joe Biden's decision to focus in the forthcoming presidential elections on the "swing states", not on the whole country?

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Is the proposed move in Scotland not of this nature? Surely these are examples of an intelligent, democratic, strategic use of the vote in accordance with the prevailing system? Mr Gordon underlines that point when he states that in 2016 the SNP won only four list MSPs out of a possible 56. I do not see how the fact that the party won 16 in the previous elections undermines the basic fact that under the present system the better a party does in the first-past-the-post constituencies the worse it will do in the top-up proportional list.

I am aware that there are some who believe that the Holyrood electoral was devised to prevent the SNP ever winning a majority, but personally I am prepared to believe that the duplicate vote (or D'Hondt method) was a genuine attempt to avoid the grotesque unfairness (cheating?) of the Westminster system which means that one party can command a number of seats utterly disproportionate to its share of the popular vote. With Holyrood, doing well in the constituencies means faring badly with the allocation of seats under the proportional element. The need for strategic voting is then a no-brainer. An intelligent voter or party organiser will seek the means to maximise the vote for the goals he or she supports.

For the SNP, there is a dilemma only for those who hold to a my-party-right-or wrong loyalty. Those who genuinely wish to attain independence as soon as possible must be willing to vote strategically, which means splitting the constituency from the list vote. Obviously, this can only work if there is an open agreement between the SNP and the Alliance, or some other pro-independence force. Putting up twin slates of candidates for the list seats is the road to disaster for independence supporters and a matter of joy for unionists. Is it not time for serious discussion, rethinking and dialogue?

READ MORE: What is a list vote and why is it a talking point ahead of the 2021 Scottish Election?

Joe Farrell, Glasgow G12.

WHEN the Scottish Executive was formed at Holyrood in 1999 most people regarded the proportional representational system adopted as a fairer system than the first-past-the-post system in use at Westminster. The Scottish Parliament system involves the election of 73 constituency members and the appointment of 56 members by proportional representation. It should be said that this system has worked reasonably well.

However, this system is likely to come under threat, it seems. In addition to the recognised SNP it seems that a new nationalist organisation is being formed. Any such party is obviously intended to cause disruption, and not just for the unionist parties, but also for the SNP. There is a lot of ill-feeling about the SNP's part in relation to the Salmond criminal trial, and all the investigations and inquiries leading up to that event.

If such proposals to form a new political party should materialise I fear that there will be very little democracy left in Scotland. The majority (56 per cent) of the electorate at the 2014 referendum concluded that Scotland should remain part of the UK. That was most certainly the will of the people. Nationalists proved themselves to be very bad losers.

This latest development is a devious plan designed to bypass democracy in such a way that the constituency MSPs, and those appointed through the proportional representation system, would effectively come from the SNP, directly, or indirectly, through sheer force of combined numbers.

In my view, the whole political scene in Scotland would merely descend into unacceptable chaos. The electorate would be ill -represented by the wrong sort of politicians. The whole thing would be a swick.

Surely the people of Scotland deserve better.

Robert I G Scott, Ceres, Fife.

THE despairing attempts of unionists in denial to discredit Nicola Sturgeon are becoming more deserving of pity than serious response. Bill Brown (Letters, July 18), having previously explained in these pages that an independent Scotland would be a one-party state, now compares Nicola Sturgeon's handling of Covid 19 (2,491 deaths) unfavourably with that of Jacinda Adhern in New Zealand (22 deaths). I am sure the following facts are well-known to most Herald readers but for Mr Brown's benefit I will list them:

New Zealand is an independent country and has no land frontiers with any other state. Its nearest significant neighbour is Australia, 4,000km distant. The New Zealand government has full control of the movement of passengers and goods entering and leaving the country and was able to effectively limit international travel. The total number of air passengers entering and leaving New Zealand in 2018 was 14 million. The comparable UK figure was 290 million. None of the essential goods trade on which New Zealand relies involves a land border or short sea crossing. Does Mr Brown really believe that his new heroine, Jacinda Adhern, could have kept the Covid deaths in Scotland down to 22? Imagine the outcry at any suggestion of stopping the flow of goods entering or leaving any part of the UK by land or sea transport.

Willie Maclean, Milngavie.

STEWART Keir (Letters, July 20) asserts that Scotland’s 10% share of the UK national debt would amount to £200 million.

The actual figure is 1,000 times greater, around £200 billion. Which of Scotland’s national assets would Mr Weir dispose of to finance this debt and meet current account requirements? Would he start with pension reductions or cuts in the NHS? Or what else?

John Burton, Thornhill.

NICOLA Sturgeon has tweeted a newspaper headline stating that Boris Johnson "plans Scottish tour... as he rules out second nationwide lockdown". Her tweet comes with a laughter emoji; but, rest assured, we'll have to endure four years of her gurning to the gallery when, after next May's Holyrood election, the Prime Minister insists she respects the democratic result of the "once in a generation or even a lifetime" 2014 referendum.

Martin Redfern, Melrose.

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