IS Scotland really a democracy any more? Despite his very poor track record even if you discount his latest debacle, John Swinney survives as a minister. This is simply because the Greens, no strangers to controversy themselves, have as expected backed up the SNP to save Mr Swinney. This might look good to some but where is the justice for those who felt he had to go given his multiple failures, but who see their concerns dashed by a party with minimal support but a disproportionate number of MSPs come to the rescue once again.

Overarching all of this is the denial of justice for the near 56 per cent of Scots who wanted to keep the Union in 2014 and now find themselves in the minority because SNP spin has made out Nicola Sturgeon is near perfect but Boris Johnson is the exact opposite. This is not true but we are currently experiencing a constant bombardment of the SNP's mantra with little air-time given to the opposition viewpoint.

We are in danger of losing our way and having independence foisted upon us with all the rather unpleasant consequences that the SNP, with Green support, are happy to sweep under the carpet. Independence must be demonstrably earned over a long time period, with most of the problems ironed out by a competent government and with the support of the vast majority of Scots and not simply rushed whilst a few polls appear favourable.

Keeping Mr Swinney in office is a bad start.

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow.

I MAKE no comment on the suitability of the current Education Secretary as it is blindingly obvious he has neither the competence nor the stature to hold this or any other post in government.

That he is probably no worse than the majority of other ministers, especially health, says all there needs to be said about this administration ... I except the First Minister purely on her personality and presentation skills.

However my anger at the moment is reserved fully for the Greens, whose votes kept Mr Swinney in situ by voting against the no confidence motion earlier today.

The Greens do the whole country, especially our young people, a disservice and one would hope that come the election voters will demonstrate their contempt for a party that is currently a disgrace to politics.

James Martin, Bearsden.

I FOUND Andy Maciver’s latest article ("National renewal should be Covid’s enduring legacy", The Herald, August 13) somewhat adversely affected by non sequitur. Early in the piece he writes "I have found the SNP in government to be reliable and competent" and he embellishes that by adding it has "managed the country perfectly well". Reading that, I wondered what parallel universe I have been living in since 2007.

Later in the same article, he touches upon the SNP Government’s record and mentions only a few areas where it has fallen short and concedes that "we are not the envy of the world". One could fairly regard that conclusion as putting it mildly. In one of her responses to Ruth Davidson at Holyrood this week Nicola Sturgeon said that the SNP record would be on the line next May. It is difficult to argue against that. Yes, let the people decide.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.

IT'S just so difficult to draw a metaphorical bead on Andy Maciver when he's in discursive mood on Scotland's ills.

First, he draws a negative picture of Scotland's schools which I as a parent and grandparent simply do not recognise. Secondly, he produces a set of statistics which accurately show how far the UK's NHS is falling behind its OECD equivalents, and somehow implies that the Scottish Government is equally responsible for that. But then, just when I think I can pull the trigger, he comes up with this gem: "So here’s one idea. The Scottish Government should create a small National Renewal Unit. Give them a big travel budget. And let them bring back the best of the rest of the world to prepare us for a post-coronavirus future."

Correct, Mr Maciver. Let's do that, let's call it the Scottish Government's Diplomatic Service and let it operate from embassies in the world’s major capitals. Is Mr Maciver beginning to change his erstwhile opinions on independence?

John Jamieson, Ayr.

THE Prime Minister is about to take his “well-earned” holiday in Scotland. This despite the pandemic still raging and the country in the worst financial collapse ever known.

I would not, however, expect to see him buying a fridge magnet in Burntisland High Street or hear of him hiring a bike in Millport. I may be mistaken, but I would assume his destination will be considerably less public.

So can we analyse what we will be missing when he has his two weeks “abroad” in Scotland?

First, the daily photoshoot featuring the hard hat will be off the agenda.

Secondly, the withering, dithering, flamboyant speeches will be put on hold.

Thirdly, the dynamic decision-making, which can do a 180-degree turn in a day, will be suspended or maybe not or maybe could be.

So how will we cope with such a loss? In Scotland we will be left to the mercy of the First Minister who is so “incompetent” she says she doesn’t see herself having a holiday.

Instead of a holiday she will be forced to continue to manage the pandemic as best she can as well as the hundreds of other problems associated with governing the people of Scotland.

George Kay, Burntisland.

DESPITE the exam grades fiasco and the Scottish Government’s disastrous handling of the Covid crisis, Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP are riding high in the opinion polls. Why is this, I ask? The answer is that we have all been deeply brainwashed by Ms Sturgeon and her daily TV broadcasts, lasting more than four months now. Please would someone call Amnesty International?

Ian Forbes, Glasgow G41.

THERE is an interesting contrast in apparent attitudes to taking responsibility between Fiona Robertson, Head of SQA and Leslie Evans, boss of our civil service. Ms Robertson has been willing to take the platform on her own to defend her agency's position that, unmoderated, this year's results would have been unfeasibly higher than the previous year's: an attitude for which she courageously offered no apology ("SQA boss fails to apologise amid ongoing anger over exam fiasco", The Herald, August 13). Her problem may well be that the model employed was crude in terms of statistical theory and practice, as one of your recent correspondents has helpfully pointed out, but that doesn't take away from the principle that if the numbers (the grading indications) look wrong, they probably are. Criticism of her and her staff should be balanced by that and by recognition that this was never going to be an easy job.

Leslie Evans ("Salmond inquiry rejects Government efforts to block civil service witnesses", The Herald, August 13), in contrast, seems to be doing everything possible to avoid recognising that a hash was made of a relatively straightforward disciplinary process, which likely was or should have been set down in the Scottish Government's code of working practices (another of Ms. Evans's responsibilities, no doubt). All this to the extent that anyone with any knowledge of the judicial review process would have backed Alex Salmond for a winner. The inquiry chairman is to be congratulated for demanding clear and personal answers from Ms Evans.

Brian Chrystal, Edinburgh EH14.

JUST who is the Scottish Government? Your reportage of the Holyrood inquiry into the Alex Salmond debacle continually links “the Scottish Government” with behaviour likely to obstruct the investigators getting access to facts related to the original botched probe into the alleged behaviour of the former First Minister. However, the name that persistently crops up is that of a civil servant rather than one of a minister or elected or list MSP.

I would have thought that a civil servant, as the name implies, is neither a member of nor part of a government but an individual in a supporting structure charged to carry out the instructions of the sitting executive.

It is important in view of the upcoming Scottish elections that there is clarity in just who is not being completely cooperative with the current investigators; is it the civil service or is it the SNP administration.

David J Crawford, Glasgow G12.

ROSEMARY Goring says that the Prime Minister is coming to Scotland again because he wants to save the Union ("Johnson is holidaying in Scotland – what have we done to deserve it?", The Herald, August 12). But does he?

Consider this; his parliamentary majority of 80 must be in danger, judging by his calamitous approval ratings, and the fact that Labour now has a credible leader.

So might he not welcome the chance to lose 53 non-Tory seats before the next General Election, thus improving his chances of winning?

He may lead the Conservative and Unionist Party, but he has already jettisoned the support of the Northern Ireland Unionist faction, whence comes the "Unionist" part of the party name, with his border in the Irish Sea to finalise the EU withdrawal agreement. Might he find it even easier to let Scotland secede, taking its troublesome non-Tory MPs out of the House of Commons? The six Tories would be collateral damage but a price worth paying.

Also, by dint of the border and the dependence of the vast majority of Scottish exports upon English ports, he could still keep Scotland on a tight rein.

In the meantime we face the prospect of a disrupted food supply due to the forthcoming Brexit shambles. Could that be why the Prime Minister is suddenly keen on fighting obesity, in the hope that we will accept the resulting shortages, perhaps even rationing, as all part of a national weight-loss strategy?

It could be that there is method in the Prime Minister's madness after all.

Jane Ann Liston, St Andrews.

Read more: Swinney survives no confidence vote