IT is little surprise that the announcement by the UK Government that it is to commit to spending millions across Scotland by working directly with local authorities has drawn the ire of the SNP ("Infrastructure investment plan for Scotland sparks SNP ‘power grab’ claims", The Herald, February 25). Kirsten Oswald’s po-faced comment that it represents a power grab by Westminster is entirely predictable; the largesse shown by the UK Government does not fit the SNP narrative that the Tories are evil, and that the SNP is Scotland, and therefore only it can disburse funds.

Too often in recent years, successive UK Governments have deserted the political stage in Scotland, leaving it to local politicians to set the narrative. This is fine where the party in power locally is not one that is ideologically driven to break up the Union, meaning that it can rarely work harmoniously with the UK Government lest the independence narrative, woven over many years, is damaged.

I welcome this announcement by the UK Government, and hope it continues to work closely to develop the whole of the United Kingdom through similar spending initiatives. The SNP needs to get over itself, welcome the money and work jointly with local and UK Government to ensure the electorate, that is, the people they are meant to represent, benefit from the spend.

Stuart Brennan, Glasgow.


ALTHOUGH the aspirations behind Leah Gunn Barrett's letter (February 25) are admirable, and her criticisms of the Westminster Government largely supportable, the assertion in her second sentence that "it's not rocket science to establish a central bank, launch a new currency and create economic policies to invest in a nation's wealth" is both arresting and breathtaking in its naivety.

To give her credit, Ms. Barrett is partly right but not, I think in the way she intends: setting up these institutions in a way which a new country could afford and which would give it credibility in the hard financial world would probably be much more demanding than getting an object into space.

It is, I suspect, this apparent lack of reality about the "mere mechanics" of separation, and the likely huge and damaging economic effect of a period of uncertainty, which add to the hesitancy many of us have about the possible (but unproven and untestable) potential benefits of leaving the Union and, quite certainly, about the ability of the proponents of independence to manage that process.

Ferguson Marine and BiFab speak for themselves, and as technical exercises they are a long way short of rocket science. Nor do I recall any clear statements of what would form the basis of a new currency or how Scotland would be expected to fare in terms of sovereign credit rating as a potential borrower on world markets. A review of how long it took some of Ms Barrett's "smaller countries" to develop their own institutions, and what it cost in terms of fledgling GDP, would be appreciated.

Brian Chrystal, Edinburgh.


WILLIAM Durward (Letters, February 25) thinks Ruth Marr’s letter of February 23 is like a funeral eulogy because she highlights the positive achievements of the SNP Government and not the bad. Well here is some bad as identified by your correspondent Leah Gunn Barrett, who pointed out that the UK came bottom in many of the EU league tables on various economic measures including state pension. Thank goodness we have a positive vision for Scotland from people like your new columnist Lesley Riddoch and from a variety of correspondents such as Ms Marr.

Mr Durward’s comments are typical of the negative, grim and defeatist take on Scotland so beloved of the unionists and little wonder there is use of a funereal analogy. They say now is not the time for another divisive referendum but instead it is time to rebuild. Rebuild to what I ask? Rebuild to where we were before Covid and Brexit? Rebuild to Tory austerity? Rebuild to some point in the 20th century? Which point of unionist utopia would they have us rebuild to?

In modern times, Westminster has had since the beginning of the 20th century to rebuild Scotland with the full levers of power at its disposal. A one-off 40-year oil bonanza of untold billions was thrown in but completely squandered. Get out of your comfy suburbs and look around at the whole of Scotland, look at how the people less well placed than you are faring, look at the infrastructure and compare with other modern countries on your next post-Covid trip abroad.

Returning to independence will not stop pooling and sharing or social intercourse between our nations, only a fool would say otherwise. We are forever intertwined by history and geography but we will be at the table as equals. To quote Mr Durward: “Let us hope. Let us pray”.

Alan M Morris, Glasgow.


IT is outrageous that Nicola Sturgeon should abuse her opportunity to address people in Scotland on the daily position in relation to the coronavirus situation by answering questions on Alex Salmond. But the Scottish media and press are complicit by asking the questions, which she should rule out of order at the public health briefing.

It is vital that the media and press are seen to be independent and unbiased in the run-up to the forthcoming Scottish election and the First Minister should not be given the opportunity to score points.

James Mitchell, Glasgow.


IF the material and opinions expressed by Iain Macwhirter ("High-risk strategy puts FM’s memory back in the dock", The Herald, February 24) are correct then the senior professional prosecutors involved in warning the Scottish Parliament of the possibility of contempt of court proceedings unless further redactions of its already-published material were made have fallen into serious error.

Mr Macwhirter opines that "the passages do not appear to identify any complainants, which makes their censorship even more puzzling" and that "as a legal foot-shooting exercise, this takes some beating".

Whilst Lord Advocate Woolf was no doubt justified in recusing himself from taking any prosecutorial-related decision in respect of Mr Salmond, he still had a ministerial responsibility to ensure that only experienced and highly competent lawyers took decisions in respect of Mr Salmond. If Mr Macwhirter is correct the Lord Advocate has failed to do that and must resign.

And, if Mr Macwhirter is correct, the Scottish Parliament should be looking at the competence of its own lawyer.

James Mitchell, Glasgow.


THE anti-independence brigade are gorging themselves on the feeding frenzy provided by the Salmond v Sturgeon affair. This smokescreen, which is rapidly becoming a fog, is being allowed to obscure the democratic travesty which requires our nation to perpetually accept government imposed on us by our neighbours and which has inflicted Brexit on us.

Any perceived threat to Scottish democracy arising from the role of the Crown Office is a mere sideshow in comparison. We are now seeing contributions on this page from octogenarian Jim Sillars who, throughout his long involvement in politics, has always it seems to me appeared more interested in upsetting applecarts than in delivering the apples. Alex Salmond could have graciously accepted his acquittal from criminal charges and, setting personal vanity aside, become a respected elder statesman in the independence movement.

The pro-UK forces should wake up to the fact that their objective of bringing down the SNP Government and averting a further referendum will not alter the case for Scottish self-determination. If democratic opportunity to express this choice continues to be thwarted in the face of overwhelming support, the ensuing chapters will be interesting. Mr Salmond actually referred to a "political generation" in his much-quoted interview in 2014 and the end game of that generation may be upon us.

Willie Maclean, Milngavie.


ON Radio Scotland yesterday there was a discussion on the Sturgeon/Salmond issue and it was mentioned that the people of Scotland were clearly not interested in this as Nicola Sturgeon still had a very high personal rating in the polls. It is worth remembering that Richard Nixon had approval ratings of around 68 per cent when the Watergate scandal broke into the news. No matter how popular a country's leader may be, if he or she is found to have broken the law then they must go.

President Nixon accepted this in the end. Will Ms Sturgeon?

Michael J Laggan, Newton of Balcanquhal, Perthshire.

* IN Parliament Liam Fox described Scotland as a “tin-pot dictatorship” ("Fox: Scottish Government acting like ‘tin-pot dictatorship’", The Herald, February 25).

When we are independent, at least it will be our tin-pot dictatorship and not the one currently foist upon us by Westminster.

William Thomson, Denny.

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