"THE fish tail ponds and the orchid trees/They can give you that bleeding heart disease.” So writes Bob Dylan in his latest album Rough and Rowdy Ways (Columbia Records June 2020).

It would appear Mark Smith ("The Scotland I know and love is dying… I need to accept that", The Herald, August 31) is severely afflicted with this ailment as his heart haemorrhages nostalgia for the good old folks and the good old days of Scotland’s past. It’s all there – the Second World War, working class conservative values, thrift and, inevitability, don’t get above yourself. What a mix of miserabilism to eulogise as Scotland searches for a new relationship with its British neighbours and with Europe. Mr Smith longs for the certainties of the past. Deference to a ruling class, patronage and the Royal Family seem to be his icons.

These soft-focus images sum up the unionist offer of Scotland’s constitutional future. More of the same, preferably wrapped up in the Union Jack. It is hardly surprising, as Mr Smith acknowledges, that the under-50s have overwhelmingly rejected this vision and feel Scotland would be more likely to reflect their values as an independent nation. The shift of support towards independence is not, however, simply demographic. Many older voters have realised that having crucial decisions, such as Brexit, made by governments they did not vote for is not a good plan for Scotland’s future.

At least Mr Smith now accepts that independence is probably inevitable. However, I’m concerned by his yearning for the values of the past, particularly in one so young as his fresh-faced photograph would suggest. It’s time for Scotland’s future to be mapped out by a new generation filled by ambition for their country and unshackled by resistance to change.

In over 60 years of writing and performing Bob Dylan refused to look back and repeat what he had already accomplished. He remained restless, creative, often challenging and made a few missteps along the way. Perhaps a good template for a newly independent Scotland to adopt.

Iain Gunn, Elgin.

I NOTE with interest Mark Smith's column. Being in my mid-70s I identify with his late neighbours Anne and Rob, having been raised as Scottish and British.

In the whole of his column he never raises the question of being English and British. Does this duality exist?

In my working life, which took me everywhere in Britain I did not find dual nationality sentiments anywhere south of the Border; everyone, when the topic of separation arose, were vehemently English and did not get Scotland's argument, or chose not to.

Mr Smith has highlighted a dilemma that is bigger than he thinks and if Westminster wants to truly bind the Union, then I suggest that it commits its own generational timescale to make England British as well as English.

Ian Gray, Croftamie.

AFTER reading Mark Smith's article I was put to some expense replenishing my stock of paper hankies. On the other hand, I won't have to buy the Broons an "Oor Wullie annuals this Christmas.

Brian Harvey, Hamilton.

JOHN Dunlop's somewhat confused attack against the rising tide of independence support (Letters, August 31) brought to mind the old Scots adage “the craws in Fife fly backwards to keep the stoor oot o’ their een”. It seems as if our native corvids have taken residence in Burns country. To assert that Holyrood has been an unmitigated failure and an appalling waste of public money beggars belief.The decreasing band of dyed in the wool unionists need only turned their attention to the shambles that is Westminster with its unrepresentative Commons and its even more unrepresentative Lords – a sleeping chamber for aged Tories and their ilk. Time to realise democratic independence is not dependent on some dubiously concocted balance sheet.

Colin Mayall, Crieff.

THIS year's GERS figures has prompted the ritual round of claims that the figures show how Scotland could not possibly afford to be independent. Leaving aside the fact that these figures show how Scotland's finances are faring whilst we are part of the UK and not how they might fare if we were independent, they give some people an excuse to claim that Scotland has a financial deficit. Nothing could be further from the truth. The devolution settlement that established the Scottish Parliament expressly provided that the Scottish Government was not allowed to spend more that it receives from Westminster. (It has since been granted very limited borrowing powers.) Thus the Scottish Government is prohibited by law to run a deficit and in fact has run surpluses for many years. The figure that is often mentioned for "Scotland's deficit" is really Scotland's notional population share of the United Kingdom's deficit, to which Scotland has contributed not a penny. It is Westminster's deficit – not Holyrood's.

Peter Swain, Innerwick.

THE trenchant criticisms of the Scottish Government contained in your editorial ("Transparency matters in public life", The Herald, August 29) should prompt some careful reflection by the electorate. It highlights the First Minister’s refusal to say when she knew that people testing positive for coronavirus were being discharged into care homes, and points out this is only the latest example of a pattern of behaviour including delay, secrecy and obfuscation where the Government, led by Nicola Sturgeon, has failed to live up to its declared set of beliefs.

The First Minister is an intelligent and articulate individual, while her performances in Holyrood and during televised briefings are proof of her competence as a politician. Ms Sturgeon can certainly talk the talk, but can she walk the walk?

Those who share her views or who have been persuaded by her rhetoric may be willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. However, those who remain to be convinced before lending the SNP their votes, will be looking for evidence that in addition to those qualities Ms Sturgeon is decent enough to admit a mistake, if indeed one has been made. Until we hear an honest response to the point at issue and the First Minister takes steps to correct serious defects in the practices of the Scottish Government, significant doubts will remain.

Bob Scott, Drymen.

IT is a pity that Doug Marr ("All our lives are disfigured by power of the British Establishment", The Herald, August 28) did not extend his claim that "we have our own multi-faceted Scottish establishment"' to point out how the current devolution arrangements have failed rural Scotland and that separate assemblies are needed in to cover the Rural North and the Rural South.

For example, Edinburgh splashes out more than £1 billion on a tram system instead of utilising electric buses from Falkirk or investing similar sums to tunnel the A83 or link the communities of Shetland, Orkney or the Western Isles.

Again Edinburgh splashes the cash on two additional bridges over the River Forth yet refuses to dual the A77 between Stranraer and Ayr or the A75 between Stranraer and Gretna when Stranraer is one of the busiest ports in Scotland.

Surely if the current regime has such an appreciation of the EU then, if there is no relaxing of the Edinburgh control of rural Scotland, Holyrood should follow the EU lead of being based in Belgium and France and spend four months a year in first the Highlands, then the Southern Lowlands and then Edinburgh over the festival season.

Ian Moir, Castle Douglas.

Read more: Opinion: Mark Smith: The Scotland I know is dying. I need to accept that