MARK Smith ("Leaked SNP email shows why First Minister is doing so well", The Herald, August 10) tries to weigh “independence” in isolation against the desirable attributes of an ideal society: equality, a good health service and so on.

These are not in opposition to each other. Independence (which just means the devolution of the powers currently reserved to Westminster) is a prerequisite for so many desirable changes.

With control over the minimum wage we can improve equality (including the possibility of a Universal Basic Income). With control over drugs we can try out new policies (such as injection rooms) which have worked elsewhere. With control over our own treaties we can decide whether to join either the EU or EFTA. With control over energy we can develop our huge potential in renewables (enough to supply 25 per cent of Europe’s needs). With control over immigration we can balance our ageing population. With control over defence we can divert the cash wasted on Trident and on wars (waged to please the USA) to spend it on health, education and housing.

Mary McCabe, Glasgow G31.

MARK Smith concludes that by concentrating on combating the pandemic, Nicola Sturgeon has a strategy that has made both independence and her party more popular. This is a two-fold issue. The first is that polling had independence rising in popularity before the pandemic struck. The second might bolster Mr Smith's case, but as a mirror image.

It is British nationalists who have continued to push the constitution as their main concern in Scotland, with a parade of little-known politicians now wandering round our country, eulogising the virtues of a Union, even while forcefully removing Scotland out of another union that had all the positives they extol. That might go some way to explaining their unpopularity in this country. We will have an election in 2021, where British nationalism will be represented by two politicians, one who will be a peer by then and one still an MP, both of whom refuse to consider that Scots should have a say in their own future. Their policy will be apparently guided by an Australian who is being invited into interfering in the Scottish democratic process. Mr Smith should see this as a problem of British, not Scottish nationalism, because that is what it is.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.

ANDY Maciver ("This town ain't big enough for Labour and LibDems", The Herald, August 10) proposing the formation of a new Scottish political party talks a lot about social democracy and social democratic ideology but signally fails to attempt a definition of what these old, hackneyed phrases actually mean. If we can infer that he means a free market system tempered by light-touch state interference in social and economic affairs he has to explain why, in the two biggest crises of this century, the financial collapse of 2008 and the current pandemic, social democratic models have been set aside in favour of massive state assistance and bail-outs.

I am certain that many of the New Labour politicians who oversaw economic meltdown and shameful wars in the first decade of the century would have happily understood themselves as "social democrats". This shameful record may explain why the Scottish urban working class, as Mr Maciver describes it, has deserted Labour.

Reading Mr Maciver's article closely gives a further clue to his thinking, politics as a career, not politics based on deeply held principles, this all too often has been a trait of "social democratic" politicians.

Brian Harvey, Hamilton.