IT’S disgraceful that the Tories are playing political games over extending furlough support for Scottish business and employees. The London Government ignored repeated calls from the Scottish and Welsh governments as well as Northern England mayors for furlough extension until such time as this was needed for the South of England.

On September 17, the Tory MSPs, including Ruth Davidson, voted against calls to extend furlough. Only Peter Chapman supported the motion "to extend furlough to provide support and certainty to employers and workers in Scotland for as long as public health restrictions are required to control the spread of Covid-19, recognising that there are specific sectors that will be affected for a longer period". Then on the Sunday Politics show on September 20 Douglas Ross refused to say if he would support furlough being extended, despite being repeatedly asked.

Since Saturday, the UK Government has stonewalled all attempts by the Scottish Government to get clarity on how furlough payments would affect us if Scotland went into a partial or later lockdown. Despite Boris Johnson’s “promise”, Robert Jenrick said on TV yesterday (November 3) that it would be the Chancellor’s decision to extend the furlough scheme for Scotland if required after December 2.

Scotland is paying the price for taking stronger measures when Mr Johnson ignored scientific advice six weeks ago.

The whole episode illustrates the limits of devolution and lack of fiscal powers. It’s time to stop asking someone else for permission and take our future into our hands.

Fraser Grant, Edinburgh EH9.

SCOTLAND’S position on the constitutional question has been moving towards independence over the past year. Initially flagged by serial opinion polls reaching, and then passing, 50 per cent support, the national mood has been crystallised by the analysis of the latest Scottish Social Attitudes survey led by Sir John Curtice ("Brexit weakens Union but boosts independence, claims study", The Herald, November 3). Unsurprisingly, as the fieldwork was completed before the Covid pandemic, Brexit proved to be the primary driver of the shift towards majority support for independence.

Against this background the Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross yesterday (November 2) performed his now familiar mea culpa routine in a speech to the Policy Exchange. His mantra appears to be that only he can protect Scotland against the evils of the Westminster Tories as he contemplates electoral disaster at May’s Holyrood election. I doubt Scotland will be impressed with this duplicity. Mr Ross remains an enthusiastic Brexiter but surely even he must see the imminent EU exit under whatever terms, or perhaps none, is unacceptable to a substantial majority of Scots.

The excruciating choreographed exchange between Mr Ross and Boris Johnson in the Commons later that afternoon is another exemplar of his desperation. Having failed to answer the same question on furlough extension numerous times, Mr Johnson meekly conceded when Mr Ross asked again, this time couched in terms that could have been drafted by Ian Blackford.

The Conservatives at Westminster and Holyrood are watching impotently as Scotland rejects the Union. Soon the agenda will move away from electoral tactics to how they respond when Holyrood demands a second independence referendum.

Iain Gunn, Elgin.

SCOTTISH, Welsh and Irish Taxpayers help fund England's latest furlough.

Does the Prime Minister, HM Treasury or even Douglas Ross know about this?

Ian Archibald, Edinburgh EH8.

WHEN will the television broadcasters wake up to the fact that Nicola Sturgeon is adept at manipulating her daily coronavirus “briefings” to suit her own political ends? It is not for the first time that I am prompted to express my concern that she is duping the broadcasters into believing her repetitive ramblings are aimed solely at updating the public on the progression or otherwise of the virus. Yesterday’s performance was the most blatant posturing yet when she passionately claimed: “It can’t be right that the only time additional financial support is made available when the south of England needs to go into lockdown. That just isn’t fair."

Apart from misrepresenting the English lockdown as confined to the south a discussion on the matter should have taken place direct with Westminster and not aired publicly during a virus update. It seems she is just incapable of confining her utterances without political posturing solely aimed at denigrating Westminster. I am quite sure that by posing the question direct to the Treasury she would have had the position explained to her rather than relying on Douglas Ross, the Scottish Conservative leader, during a House of Commons debate.

Is it any wonder that her constant exposure on national television is translating into an uplift in the SNP fortunes and alas her quest for independence? Party political broadcasts are supposed to provide equal air time to all political parties and it is high time Ms Sturgeon was exposed as an opportunist long before we reach the next Holyrood elections in May next year.

Christopher H Jones, Giffnock.

THE surprising aspect of your report about whether Scotland could benefit from Westminster funding were we alone in implementing lockdown (“Furlough confusion leaves Scotland in lockdown limbo”, The Herald, November 3) is that there is no mention of the Barnett formula.

This is only one more example of expectations about benefits of Barnett being misplaced. Barnett applies to the devolved services. Only when there is a requirement in England for more money (or less) does Barnett apply. For example, when England receives £100 per head more, we receive a population-based ratio of about 10 per cent of that. There is no provision within Barnett for Scotland to benefit unless England has the need. So I, and new Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross, should be guarded about enthusing regarding anything coming to Scotland from that source. And it would be unusual for it to be funded from any other source without cause apoplexy among English taxpayers who consider that they subsidise Scotland enough already.

Douglas R Mayer, Currie.

MARK Smith ("Hating PM isn’t a good enough reason to back independence", The Herald, November 2) conflates loathing with hatred and is disturbed that according to opinion polls Scots loathe Boris Johnson and he opines that "hatred" is not a good reason for wanting independence. So let me explain. The Scots do not hate Boris Johnson in any personal sense, they merely loathe him and his Government and its values politically. Loathing is an extreme aversion. With loathing, you cannot get away from the object of loathing fast enough. It actively repels you. There is no way you would want to hang around. You would take all possible measures to avoid any contact with it.

Hatred, on the other hand, is active malevolence, with a wish to damage or destroy. Far from being repelled, with hatred there is a kind of radical involvement, an urge for direct immediate interaction with the object of hatred, albeit of a negative kind. The Scots wish no ill will on Mr Johnson. Indeed, when he was ill most of us were concerned for his health and wished him a speedy and full recovery. We were disappointed though that after his brush with mortality, he did not emerge a humbler or more empathetic man, willing to listen to our democratic wishes regarding the UK’s exit from the EU or to respect our differences by honouring our devolution settlement.

His chaotic mismanagement of the coronavirus crisis, his dishonouring of the Good Friday Agreement and breaking international law, and now his Internal Market Bill which will destroy devolution, leads us to want to exit the UK as soon as possible.

Mairianna Clyde, Edinburgh EH10.

JUST to add a little to Mark Smith’s column and subsequent correspondence (Letters, November 3).

I think he is wrong to state that there is a hatred of Boris Johnson in Scotland. It is more the case that we see him as simply incompetent, is seldom on top of his brief and has little empathy or knowledge of how most of us live. To all our costs, he has discovered that there is more to governing than simple slogans and driving bulldozers through a wall made of artificial blocks.

Willie Towers, Alford.

NICOLA Sturgeon wants a "level playing field" when it comes to receiving money from Westminster for the furlough scheme. On the face of it this is a pretty reasonable request, but when you consider the SNP wants all this money whilst at the same time thumbing its nose at Westminster and demanding independence then this all takes on a different hue.

At some point Westminster might finally give the go ahead for indyref2 but independence is a two-way street. The nationalists might cheer and say "bring it on" but more rational heads would be inclined to see the perils that lie in wait for Scotland. There is no level playing field ahead for an independent Scotland, it is a cliff edge.

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow G77.

DURING the current pandemic, the SNP has been nothing but belligerent to the rest of the UK. Generous and necessary schemes such as the furlough and assistance from the armed forces, something that an independent Scotland could not have funded, have been met with a shrug and further questions.

SNP leaders have repeatedly told us that they would be "good neighbours" in Europe and also with a possible rUK. I wonder if they would take such an angry attitude with the EU as they currently do to Westminster? I expect not, as they would be given short shrift by the rest of Europe.

If the current political and cultural attitude in "Sturgeon’s Scotland" is a taster of an independent nation, then the world will have another aggrieved, intrusive, regularly upset country on its hands.

David Bone, Girvan.

Read more: Letters: The Government at Westminster is the Government of England