I was intrigued that the Provost of Renfrewshire (Letters, December 3) seems so eager to hear my views on the issue of political donors. Nationalists tell us that they are always keen to learn from history (or at least historical fiction), so I presume the Provost will be familiar with the work of the Greek poet Archilochus, who divided humanity into two main categories - "foxes", who order their lives in accordance with "many small things", and "hedgehogs", who know, and live by, "one big thing".

In this instance the "many small things" are the current tribulations of the Labour leadership over the donor fiasco. Which is not to trivialise the problem: it is clear that things have gone wrong in the way we handle donors' money, and that the whole issue of political funding must be addressed for the long-term health of politics and democracy in the UK.

It also clear that, if anyone is proved to have acted dishonestly, they should suffer appropriate punishment. But these troubles are transitory. They will soon pass. And then the real underlying issues that face the country will surface once again, and the question of the "one big thing" will resume its real predominance. In my opinion, that "one big thing" is the matter of how we wish to be governed, now and in the future.

On that question I remain convinced that the basic question is: do we want our politics to be dominated by, and our political energies to be wasted on, imposing the redundant dogma of nineteenth-century nationalism, a discredited and outdated secular religion with little relevance in the interdependent world of the 21st century? Or do we remain true to the real historic Scottish tradition of equality, citizenship and social solidarity, mixing the vision of a better society for all with the pragmatic realism needed to deliver that vision?

Despite all the current problems, I believe that the delivery of a fairer, more equal and better-balanced society provides our best hope of improving the lot of the Scottish and British people in the long run. Whatever the public feeling on the donor issue, there is no doubt the majority of Scots agree with me on this. I also believe, based on the advances of the past 10 years, that the best means of delivering this vision rests with the Labour Party within Scotland and the UK, not with the politics of envy and negativism and separation which the Provost and her colleagues would wish to impose on the people of Scotland.

Alex Gallagher, 12 Phillips Avenue, Largs.

We all know about Gordon Brown's values, his probity, his "moral compass". We know because Gordon himself and the sycophants around him keep telling us. Any hard evidence to support these claims, however, is rather more elusive. We now see the same sort of claims made about Wendy Alexander. When will this Labour Party ever learn? The man in the street has already picked up on the fact that substantial donations to the Labour Party have been made by persons who have hugely profited from planning consents granted by Labour councils. This is more damaging than the legality or otherwise of these donations. An increasingly sceptical voting public is now super-alert to this dubious behaviour and to self-serving spin. And to lies.

Politicians can recover from big mistakes. They can even survive episodes of incompetence if the general thrust of their efforts meets public approval. What they can't survive is silly lies that insult the intelligence of the electorate. And we have a hatful of these at the moment from north and south of the border. To insist you have no knowledge of a dodgy donation when you have written to the donor to thank him for it wouldn't pass muster in a primary school and it is that which has damaged Wendy Alexander. She would be better advised to admit publicly that that was a silly lie carelessly offered at a moment of huge pressure. We've all done it.

If she wants to rescue the rest of her life, her only other sensible option is continued silence and resignation.

David McEwan Hill, 1 Tom Nan Ragh, Dalinlongart, Sandbank, Argyll.

The controversy over the Abrahams/ Green donations highlights once again the relationship between political parties and business. Ever since the 1980s, parties of the so-called left or centre-left have become fascinated with the need to woo the business community. This is surely part of the reason business figures are so keen to donate to these parties.

While the Labour Party's increasing links to business have been obvious for some time, the SNP's move in this direction is of concern to an Snp voter such as myself. While I am happy to see the party in power at Holyrood, the willingness to accept money from someone with Brian Souter's views was disappointing. Also, it is clear the party is moving to the right in terms of its economic policy. The proposal to water down planning restrictions on green space is another example of this shift.

I, and I hope others like me, still take the view that elected governments should shape policy rather than be overly influenced by particular interest groups. This is not the case now at Westminster, where parties run shy of proposing increases in direct taxation (surely necessary for any government which calls itself progressive), and where one of Gordon Brown's first acts as Chancellor was to relinquish control of the setting of interest rates.

I hope the Snp administration does not go too far down this path, as I believe the Labour Party's woes are partly caused by this, coupled with the need for state funding of political parties.

R A Dziewialtowski, 72 Bankhall Street, Glasgow.

The Herald reports (December 4) that Lord Maxton and Baroness Adams have requested the police to investigate whether the Sunday Herald broke the law by disclosing their donation to Wendy Alexander's leadership campaign.

As a legal observer, can I query why anyone thinks the police should investigate a potential civil law dispute? And a flimsy one given there is no specific right to privacy in Scots law. Any delictual claim for breach of confidence would be against Ms Alexander's team and would fly out the window where there was a legitimate public interest.

Is there a legitimate public interest? The Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 would suggest so. The difficulty in saying one has not been engaged in "intentional wrong-doing" is that this appears to be irrelevant as regards the specific statutory offence. Paragraph eight to schedule seven of the Act says section 56 shall apply to a regulated donee. Ms Alexander was the regulated donee.

Section 56 creates what is known as a "strict liability" offence. In other words, if you fail to comply with the rule then that is that. Prohibited or non-permissable donations under section 56 must be returned within 30 days of being banked otherwise the regulated donee commits an offence. On summary conviction the penalty is a fine of up to £5000 or six months. Imprisonment is generally resisted for strict liability offences where there has been no intentional wrong-doing.

Mike Dailly, Principal Solicitor, Govan Law Centre, 47 Burleigh Street, Glasgow.

I am intrigued by the suggestion that, in order to stop our political parties from indulging in criminal activities as they tout for funds, we, the taxpayers, should pay through state funding of Parliament.

Could this be extended to the rest of the country, by closing all the prisons and using the money saved to pay all criminals to stop committing crime?

Joe Reynolds, 2 Newlands Place, East Kilbride.

It may seem a tad ungallant to add to Ms Alexander's woes, but in the event that anyone was actually listening to her speech on Scotland's future I do need to correct some of the reporting of the EU aspects. She was widely reported as saying (although the wording of her speech was more opaque) that EU law would not permit any differential of VAT or corporation tax rates across the UK. This is not quite the case; EU law actually strengthens the SNP's hand.

The European Court of Justice has recently set down criteria in which the varying of corporation tax is possible. Basically, these are that the entity seeking to implement a different level of taxation (Scotland) should have full control of revenue and expenditure. Scotland currently does not have this power given that we control some spending but none of the raising of taxes. However, we could do if the necessary reforms Ms Alexander appears to envisage are implemented. If Ms Alexander is hinting that a different corporation tax rate north of the border is desirable, then I am happy to confirm there is a straightforward EU roadmap on how to achieve this.

Ms Alexander is probably right on VAT, but there is nothing in EU law that would prohibit a fiscally sovereign Scotland having a different corporation tax rate than England, and VAT has always been subject to different rules anyway. Of course, an independent Scotland will have the full powers to take whatever decisions we need to take to fit Scotland's needs. While that may be a step too far for Ms Alexander, let her say so and justify that sentiment, rather than try to use EU law to cloud the issue. EU law is, to be fair, a bit more complicated than electoral law, but it is not that complicated unless one is looking for convenient obstacles.

Alyn Smith MEP, 107 McDonald Road, Edinburgh.