BRIAN Beacom asks: why is Nicola Sturgeon so far ahead ("Can somebody tell me why Sturgeon is so far ahead?", The Herald, August 26). He might also have asked why is support for independence on the rise or why is a country that was staunchly unionist in the 1950s and 60s now reaching for the opt-out button. It's a genuine puzzle given all the problems currently besetting the SNP Government, many of them self-induced.

It would be tempting to point to Nicola Sturgeon's competence and compassion, Boris Johnson's laziness and buffoonery or perhaps the looming black hole marked Brexit, but these are transitory things and I'm not sure they adequately explain the shift in the national mood.

For 40 years now Scotland has endured pit and steel closures, poll and bedroom taxes, an illegal war in Iraq, austerity, cuts to services, Brexit and a hundred other measures the Scottish people didn't want and didn't vote for and it feels like we have reached a tipping point.

With the exception of the 1997 election and possibly the one in 2001, the majority view has had to give way to the rule of the minority and whilst that may be sustainable in the short term it can't be justified over a span of four decades. In a democracy, there comes a point where the majority says enough is enough and change becomes inevitable.

Bill Calder, Galashiels.

THERE has never been an economic case for independence. Never. To suggest so is to dignify the SNP with an undeserved gravitas. Its “case” is based solely on a misplaced romantic view of themselves, as relevant as Morris Dancers and historical re-enactment groups are to UK foreign policy.

Devolution was for sure a concession too far by the UK Government. It has been an unmitigated failure, and Holyrood is an appalling waste of public money that has failed in every area of its limited responsibility. Along the way it has legitimised an agenda of hate and politicised everything in public life, including local government, to the detriment of us all. Enough already. Game over.

John Dunlop, Ayr.

TO accept Peter Russell’s argument that the Vow was delivered (Letters, August 28) requires a lack of awareness of the reality of the UK’s constitution, and in particular that the House of Commons is sovereign, possessing supreme or ultimate power. For instance, there is nothing to prevent the repeal of the Sections of the 2016 Scotland Act which Mr Russell puts his faith in. Similarly, the Barnett Formula could be brought to an end by a vote in the House of Commons, and with 59 of 650 MPs at Westminster, there is little we could do about it.

Ah, but they wouldn’t do this, comes the reply. They are bound by the Vow. But with UK indebtedness at something like £3 trillion the temptation to cut spending in this way must be great for a Conservative Government with little support here already.

With regard to “extensive powers” devolved, let’s suppose the powers were “extensive” as Mr Russell asserts. However, we already know Westminster’s intentions with regard to the “Single British Market” will mean Scottish food regulations can be undermined by the requirement of “mutual recognition”. In any event, it would always be open to Westminster to legislate to amend regulations passed at Holyrood. As Enoch Powell said, “power devolved is power retained”, because it can always be taken back again.

Thus to consider the Vow without consideration of the context within which it will operate, is, to put it at its best, limited. His reticence to do this is though easily understood.

Lastly, Mr Russell disapproves of others “telling lies”, but the fact is his claimed Commission opinion about Scotland’s membership position never existed, as this would only have been forthcoming to the political head of state of a member country. It might be interesting to learn why David Cameron never did get round to asking that question. Thus, Mr Russell’s claim that, had Scotland voted Yes, we would have left the EU on independence, is based on no more than the opinion of individual Commissioners writing in a personal capacity.

While Mr Russell may, as I do, deprecate anyone telling lies, his letter reveals a careful selection of the truth.

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.

CATRIONA Stewart thinks Douglas Ross “is right, we need to learn to disagree”. Mr Ross wants to know what people's priorities are (The Herald, August 28). I think for Mr Ross, it would be to get a job and stick to it. He has been a councillor, then an MSP, then an MP; now he wants to be an MSP again, but also remain an MP. Really? And during all that time he has also been a professional sports official, rendering his “day job” as a politician, as secondary and a bit of an inconvenience.

As a politician he should not label talking to a person with different political beliefs from himself as “goodwill”, he was elected to represent all shades of opinion. Nor will his language of “waging an unrelenting war” on the SNP (and No 10?) facilitate more tolerant conduct in public and online. Mr Ross gives the impression of an immature politician, still in his learning phase: he should come back in a decade or two. For the record, I have been a member of one party (long ago) and have voted for three different parties, dependent on policy and quality of candidate (a big factor for me).

GR Weir, Ochiltree.

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