ANNE Wimberley (Letters, April 5) contends that the big difference between Scotland, and New Zealand, Finland and Sweden, is that "the leaders and political parties in these countries actually care about their citizens and make policies to improve life for everyone". I would contend that the big difference between these countries and Scotland is that they are independent and Scotland is not. However, even with one arm tied behind its back, and through years of Tory austerity, the SNP Government has delivered for its citizens, from baby boxes to free university education, from no charge for medical prescriptions to free personal and nursing care to all who require it, regardless of age.

Criticising the SNP's pledge to give every child in Scotland a laptop, Ms Wimberley writes that "every child getting enough food would be a better aim"; I would remind her that the SNP Government has introduced the Scottish Child Payment, the only one of its kind in the UK, and that free school meals are provided for children in P1-P3, a policy which will be extended to all primary school children if the SNP win the election.

And frankly, I'm fed up listening to those who decry Scotland's education system. I have four grandchildren at primary schools in Edinburgh and Falkirk; at the age of nine, my elder granddaughter and her class studied Kidnapped, and although I was around that age when I first read Kidnapped, I wasn't taught it until in first year at secondary school; my seven-year-old grandson is currently learning about Aboriginal art.

There is certainly room for improvement in all aspects of life in Scotland, but I would suggest to Ms Wimberley that the only way she will see Scotland emulating New Zealand, Finland and Sweden is when Scotland embraces normality, and takes its place in the world as an independent nation.

Ruth Marr, Stirling.


PETER Russell (Letters, April 5) attempts to dismiss the relevance of the “Velvet Divorce” of Czechoslovakia to form Czechia and Slovakia, on the grounds that Slovakia is not Scotland. To support his argument he cites such facts as Slovakia is in the centre of Europe, has a car industry, lower wages, provides cheap migrant labour and. And you know what …. drum roll ….he is absolutely right. “Scotland is not Slovakia.”

But then again, Slovakia is not Scotland, or have I missed Slovak whisky, its green energy potential, its world-class universities out of all proportion to its population, its world-renowned food and drink, one of the most recognisable tourism brands anywhere in the world? Oh, and by the way, being in central Europe is not necessarily an advantage – much better to be closer to western Europe.

However, having attempted to diminish the significance of the recent LSE report, Mr Russell’s argument is notable for the omission of one important fact, and indeed the central tenet of the report, that the ending of a single state to form two independent states need not be the trauma that Mr Russell and his unionist colleagues so cheerfully forecast in the event of Scottish independence.

On July17, 1992 the Slovak Parliament declared the independence of the Slovak nation and six days later the political leaders of the two parts of Czechoslovakia agreed to dissolve the union. Czechoslovakia was formally dissolved on December 31 that year. Job done.

Moreover, the immediate aftermath was without conflict as well. For instance, neither side claimed to be the successor state, in contrast to the UK in 2014, which made clear that this was its intention if there was a Yes vote. Rather than create barriers both sides agreed a customs union and freedom of movement (until both joined the EU). By 2014, the Slovak economy was within 95 per cent of the Czech GDP per capita, having been 20% less than it immediately prior to dissolution.

In short Mr Russell’s argument is really only informative for what it does not say, since what it does say is superfluous to the LSE report and unrelated to the future of an independent Scotland, for, as he says himself ,“Scotland is not Slovakia”.

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.

* JINGS, crivens, help ma boab! Not only is Scotland too wee, too poor and too stupid, but we're now also too peripheral. That's it then Scotland, game over, get back in yer box.

John Jamieson, Ayr.


IF the pandemic has any message for Scotland, the answer is contained in the "pan" of pandemic.

It underlines that we are all in it together. Putting up the shutters by saying that independence is the way forward runs counter to what needs to be happening.

This virus does not respect boundaries and, if we want to overcome it, we must all work together and cooperate with our neighbours to ensure that the effect of the virus is neutralised. Rather than separation, togetherness brings strength.

That Nicola Sturgeon prefers to see Covid as a likely stimulus towards independence ("Sturgeon says Indy support surge may be Covid impact", The Herald, April 5) merely reveals how narrow her vision is when it comes to what is happening all around us.

In this crisis, it is essential that we reach out to all other nations so that the pandemic can be brought under control globally. Going it alone is negativity on steroids.

Ms Sturgeon's stock reply to everything is that independence is the solution.

Her most recent response exposes the weakness in her argument when she uses the contagion of the pandemic as a recruiting sergeant for independence. How wearisome she has become with her one and only song.

Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.


NICOLA Sturgeon is right to have highlighted the "shamefully low" conviction rates for rape and sexual offences in Scotland. But why is it that after 14 years in power this is only finally dawning upon her?

During the period of SNP governments we have seen a succession of mediocre justice secretaries; a well-administered police service being chopped up in the interests of costs and efficiency and a prosecution service starved of funds and reform. These are the bedrock of the inadequacies in our justice system today and with taxpayers' money being spent largely on Covid recovery and independence, there will be precious little left to bring about the much-needed reform.

It's amazing that when an election approaches, politicians have their "Eureka" moments and then quietly forget about things once the election has passed.

Bob MacDougall, Kippen.


BRIAN Taylor's account of the role played by the Additional Member voting system in Holyrood politics is interesting – not least for the entertaining historical anecdotes ("Independence and SNP: The dream that sometimes hesitates to speak its name", The Herald, April 3). Although Jack McConnell may have agreed in 1997 that the electoral system used for Holyrood elections "had been devised specifically to prevent the SNP from taking power with a minority of the popular vote”, AMS was sold as a system that would prevent any party achieving such dominance. Indeed, the concern of many at the time was that the Labour Party might dominate. As Mr Taylor shows, AMS does not achieve what it was supposed to achieve and every successive election brings more failings.

Fast forward to the 2016 Holyrood election, which he doesn't mention. Three parties put up manifestos which opted for a change in the election system to the Single Transferable Vote. In fact, these three constituted a majority for that view, one might say a “supermajority” for STV, to coin a phrase. STV could have been implemented, as the Scotland Act 2016 had conferred power on the Scottish Parliament to decide its own system. Instead we now have a confused situation with pop-up parties, unknown agendas and complete uncertainty about who could be elected.

Thomas GF Gray, Lenzie.


TODAY I received an election "communication" from the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party. It was a colourful A5 card mainly in shades of mauve, yellow and red. Only a single X in blue. It mentioned Indyref2/independence 10 times and the SNP seven times. It attacked the SNP and Scottish Labour vis-a-vis their stances on Indyref2/independence but mentioned no other policies at all, neither its own nor its opponents'. It's very difficult to engage with people if they won't "communicate" their position on any bread and butter policies. I suppose that must be the rationale behind the election "communication".

Rachel Martin, Musselburgh.

* POLITICIANS' sound bites are remarkable for their concision. Alex Salmond's "part exaggeration, part fabrication" in relation to accusations resonates with Henry McLeish's "a muddle, not a fiddle" regarding expenses claims.

At the risk of upsetting many readers, I also think of Boris Johnson's "Let's get Brexit done".

David Miller, Milngavie.

Read more: We would suffer a sorry fate as a small nation in the EU