AS we are bombarded with news on the likelihood of a no-deal Brexit, one reflects on the state of the UK over the last decade. One can only conclude that both the Brexit and independence campaigns were absolutely unnecessary, and a drain on public funds, with no tangible return. I say this for various reasons.

First, if we take a rational look at both issues, it can be seen that they are purely political and cultural constructs; they are not real, tangible things. No one will ever die as a result of the UK not having broken away from the EU; no one will ever die for lack of independence. They are constructs of the mind, designed to make you think you need something that is completely unnecessary. You are not shackled. You are free to pretty much do as you please. Yet, look at the time, money and brainpower that has been wasted, trying to convince the British and Scottish electorate, that both are essential to the well-being of an imagined community. It’s been the biggest propaganda coup in recent history.

Let us look instead, at what really is harmful to one’s life and well-being. Lifelong, crippling poverty seems like a good place to start. An ineffective and underfunded NHS might be on the list. Sleeping rough on the streets would be up there too. Achieving Brexit or ceding from the Union would solve none of these, and a whole host of other myriad problems. They would still exist despite politicians telling us we were free or had just taken back control.

Wouldn’t it be nice to think that, rather than waste critical thought on creating issues that do not exist, and giving importance to things that are totally unnecessary, and spending millions upon millions of pounds on campaigns, referenda, and elections, that our elected representatives might apply some of that critical thinking and scarce public funds to solving the problems of the real world; tangible things that blight people’s lives day and daily? Is that too much to hope for?

Every minute that a politician spends on promoting Brexit or Scottish independence, is a minute lost to solving the real issues facing our island; every pound spent by both governments on promoting pet projects, or running constant polls or focus groups, to prove how popular their ideology is; every pound sacrificed by our governments in universal benefits, to woo voters to their cause, is a pound stolen from the poor of this country. The politicians involved should hang their heads in shame, and we, the electorate, should hold them to account.

The pandemic has shown what positivity can do: scientists and researches across the globe have put aside narrow commercial interest, to work together to produce vaccines and break the genetic code of the virus. Imagine what positive things our politicians could do, if instead of constantly trying to divide us over political ideology, they tried to unite the country with some positivity?

Stuart Brennan, Glasgow G44.


ACCORDING to Michael Russell "there will be very significant damage to Scotland's economy and society because of the UK Government's decision to leave ... the EU ... in the middle of a pandemic and a recession ("Wait continues as UK and EU ‘go extra mile’ in bid to seal Brexit deal", The Herald, December 14). Yet he supports leaving the UK while we are still in a pandemic and recession.

If Brexit is bad for Scotland, surely leaving a 300-year union with the fifth-largest economy in the world would be much worse. After all, we have an open border with England, speak the same international language, depend on England for more than 60 per cent of our exports, share a free and open single market with high safety and environmental standards, have unfettered access to that market, share a common currency, and enjoy support from one of the most prestigious central banks in the world.

Surely even the most zealous supporters of leaving the UK can see the contradiction between saying that leaving the EU will be disastrous but leaving the UK will be great. It doesn't make sense.

William Loneskie, Lauder.


THE good news is that the UK and the EU have agreed to extend the deadline for the conclusion of their negotiations on a post- Brexit trade deal. The respective leaders, Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen, announced their decision by each saying specifically that they were “prepared to go the extra mile “to see if agreement can be reached". Could this use of the imperial rather than the metric unit of measure be a subconscious signal from the EU of a softening of its negotiating position, rather than just an indication of a longer extension?

Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop.


A FAVOURITE story of my father's applies superbly to Boris Johnson and his Brexiters blaming EU delegates for no progress in their Brussels negotiations. At a passing-out parade of recruits, proud dad observed to proud mum: "Look at that – they're aa oot o' step but oor Jock!"

Ian Johnstone, Peterhead.


A PROPOS the yet-again extended EU/UK deadline: “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by” – Douglas Adams.

Patrice Fabien, Glasgow G12.


IT was with more than a little incredulity I read the contribution on Saturday of your columnist Struan Stevenson ("Nothing thrives in pandemic times like nationalist authoritarianism", The Herald, December 12).

He set out to make some sort of general attack on the wider Yes movement together with the Scottish Government as being committed to authoritarianism. Like a Trump lawyer alleging election fraud, he felt it unnecessary to offer any evidence but was content to make spurious allegations which were rather counter to the basis of his argument.

The list of Government policies which he listed have either been rescinded or amended or are in the process of amendment. Hardly the work of a government hell bent on authoritarianism. Indeed his prime examples seem to show that parliament has a huge input on legislation. He then unashamedly chose to link the Government with distressing anti-English stances taken by a few people. He did this knowing full well that the First Minister, backed by the Government, publicly expressed her contempt of such actions.

Unperturbed, he then highlighted that some people chose to boycott certain companies and their products. He forgot to mention that the companies in question have publicly made statements associating themselves with the cause of unionism. That is their commercial decision. They no doubt hope that their stance will attract more custom than it will deter. However, if people make the decision to boycott those products that again is a personal decision but is not supported by either the Government or the SNP.

I suggest if Mr Stevenson is looking for an authoritarian government then an examination of his friends in the Westminster Cabinet would not stand up to a great deal of scrutiny.

George Kay, Burntisland.


LES Reid (Letters, December 14) claims that only a minority of Scots want independence, citing as his evidence that the SNP and Greens received 1.3 million votes at last year's UK General Election, while the Labour, Conservatives and Liberal Democrat parties lumped together got 1.5 million votes. But it should be acknowledged that there are some LibDem voters (and I've even met a small number of Tory voters) with whom Scotland's democratic deficit does not sit well, and accordingly they will vote Yes at the upcoming independence referendum.

However, I believe that it is mainly Labour voters, including some Labour Party members, who while they would never vote SNP, will cast their vote in favour of Scottish independence; and that probably explains why Labour pro-unionists are becoming increasingly agitated and shrill.

Ruth Marr, Stirling.


RE your article on George Foulkes contacting Ofcom ("Labour demands impartiality probe into Sturgeon’s daily briefings on BBC", The Herald, December 14), all I can say is “at long last”. These daily party political broadcasts have gone on far too long and with an election due next year, they cannot be allowed to continue.

The questions being asked by the journalists and the answers provided often stray well into the realms of political point-making and are not a health message. If there is anything new to convey to the public, it should be announced in Holyrood allowing for scrutiny by the opposition. Currently the First Minister’s daily proclamations are providing her with a platform to criticise and lay the blame at Westminster’s feet. Of course, when any questions stray into areas she does not want to discuss, she suddenly does not have the figures to hand or has not seen the item being referred to. How convenient.

Having told us she wants to treat us like adults, perhaps she should do just that and get on with the day job of helping businesses to survive this economic challenge rather than furthering her own aims.

Jane Lax, Aberlour.