IT is with some trepidation that I disagree with Sir John Curtice, the doyen of psephology, but his analysis on Saturday ("Ex-first minister has set himself a substantial strategic challenge with launch", The Herald, March 27) cannot be allowed to pass without comment.

While his warning of the threat to thee Green Party from Alba winning list seats is conceptually clear, Sir John, in my view, does not consider the relative popularity of Green candidates. A review of the 2016 vote suggests that at least four of their six MSPs were elected relatively early in the list process. Moreover, recent opinion polls suggest the Green Party vote is likely to increase from 2016, from the 6.6 per cent won then, to even 11% suggested by a recent Survation Poll.

However, the more important limitation of Sir John’s argument is failing to mention that the parties with most exposure to a good showing by Alba are the Conservatives with 24 list seats (of a total of 31) and Labour with 21 (of 24). The SNP is very unlikely to win any of these seats, since, in 2016 its list vote of 751,770 in six of the eight regions elected no one, since the more constituency seats it takes the less likely it is to win any list seats. Yet, the SNP continues to recommend #bothvotesSNP, the outcome of which will be that a vast proportion of its list vote will again elect not one MSP.

In contrast, Alba’s vote is most likely to come from SNP supporters attracted by its more robust attitude toward securing independence, but by not standing in constituencies, Alba does not face the SNP’s disadvantage, so it is more likely a vote for Alba will elect an MSP.

I have little doubt the unionist parties will harp on that a vote for Alba is a vote for Alex Salmond as a diversion from the twin threats it poses them. One is their exposure to the list system, and the danger posed by Alba given the large proportion of list MSPs in unionist party representation.

But the still larger threat is to their “precious, precious Union”, as a vote for Alba is one to secure a determined majority at Holyrood to win our independence from the UK.

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.


WELL, the May election campaign just got interesting.

Just as the leader of the SNP got the spring back in her jaunty wee step, along comes Alex Salmond to stop her in her tracks again. I must admit, when I saw Steven Camley's cartoon last week, showing a triumphant Nicola Sturgeon astride a prone Alex Salmond (March 23), the words of the Eagles' song, Hotel California, sprung to mind: they stab and stab with their steely knives, but they still can't kill the beast. Sure enough, just days later, like the monster that can't be slayed from any number of horror movies, he was back.

With the launch of his new party, Mr Salmond ensured that he, and not the SNP, would make the headlines in connection with the election, and he has almost guaranteed that Ms Sturgeon will spend half of her time between now and May 6 talking about him and not about her own party.

Of course, it's not just Ms Sturgeon and the SNP who will be rattled by this: the Scottish Greens too will be looking over their shoulder, whilst fielding journalists' questions about Alba's threat to their list seats, rather than their policies.

At a stroke, Mr Salmond has landed a blow on the pro-independence parties at Holyrood, something the other parties there have struggled to do recently. Should be an interesting few weeks.

Stuart Brennan, Glasgow.


MY father died on December 13, 2013 in his mid-eighties. Uisdean MacDonald was his name, a member of the SNP since his teens. He shared the national vice-chair position with Mike Grieve in the 1960s and contributed to the election of Winnie Ewing and Margo MacDonald. Not that you would know. It wasn’t about him. Just as the referendum that he wouldn’t see was not about him. He told me. It was about the Scottish people and self-determination. Their decision and their destiny in their time.

His contemporaries such as Billy Wolfe, John McAteer and Angus McGillvray have all now passed. But for all of their commitment and passion it was not about them either. The nationalists of today are standing on the shoulders of giants.

A plea to all of them as we enter the next few weeks: this election is just another milestone on the path to national self-determination. Please leave all of your egos aside. It is not about you.

Roddy MacDonald, Ayr.


THIS morning (March 28) I learned from the media the decision by Neale Hanvey to join the Alba Party and by definition leave the SNP.

I cannot say how shattered I am at this decision. I consider Alba to be a party led by a person who should have no part in public life.

As convener of the liaison committee which spearheaded Neale’s campaign in 2019 I was left with a huge dilemma when he was suspended by the party. I decided to put my party membership of 46 years on the line and to continue publicly to support him. My decision I felt was exonerated when Neale was readmitted to the party in May 2020. At his social event to celebrate his victory he singled me out as perhaps making the biggest contribution towards his victory.

I do recognise within the party several things which I feel need to be challenged. I will work within my branch to bring forward that challenge. However, I will not confuse the need for change with a decision to join those who wish to do the party harm.

I see Alba as a party born out of vengeance. As such it has no place on the road to independence, which should be travelled with dignity and respect.

I wish I could say I respect Neale’s decision but I don’t. I see it as a huge betrayal of a personal trust which both my wife and I put in the man. I see his decision as choosing a discredited past over the need to champion the future.

George Kay, Burntisland.


YOU report that Nicola Sturgeon is not well-disposed towards those who put their personal interest above the national interest. Scotland would have been a lot better off if she had followed her own advice in 2014 when she became First Minister. She had the choice then to build consensus on the outcome of the SNP's referendum and to unite Scotland in a generation-long programme of distinctive progressive policies within the UK.

However, motivated by her personal obsession with independence, she chose to lead the country in completely the opposite direction, down the road to endless division, and the perpetual distraction of the independence debate. She should never be forgiven for the disservice she has done to her country.

Peter A Russell, Glasgow.


YOUR report of SNP election promises ("Sturgeon vows to double top-up benefit in ‘national mission’ to end child poverty", The Herald, March 29) prompts me to react in “astonished ratepayer” mode. Commitments to spend billions on infrastructure, doubling child support, NHS pay, IT equipment for children are all very commendable, but how will they they be funded? The Scottish Government’s GERS report for 2019/20 shows a fiscal deficit of £15.9 billion. That shortfall between Scottish Government income and expenditure is covered by the UK Treasury.

If Scotland was to leave the UK, that approximate annual £15bn top-up from the UK would not be available.

How realistic are the SNP’s election promises? I recall “reducing class sizes”, “closing the attainment gap” and “replacing council tax”.

Jim Quinn, Lanark.

* SPEAKING on The Sunday Show on BBC 1 Scotland, Willie Rennie said that Douglas Ross was a man who "loves his gimmicks" – this from a man who starts his election campaign on a giant deckchair in front of the Forth Bridge.

Stuart Neville, Clydebank.

* AFTER reading Mark Smith's latest musings ("What do the last few days mean for the unionist cause?", The Herald, March 29) I can only conclude that if he were asked to comment on statistics or events relating to any field of human endeavour anywhere in the world he would conclude that they were bad news for the cause of Scottish independence.

Willie Maclean, Milngavie.

Read more: Salmond risks being forever remembered as a traitor