ANDY Maciver ("The rose is wilted, but all is not lost for Labour in Scotland. All they need is time", The Herald, April 16) sets out some credible reasons for believing that Scottish Labour should not be written off in the longer term. The key point which he avoids discussing is the fact that Anas Sarwar would stand a much better chance of becoming Prime Minister of an independent Scotland than of becoming First Minister under the patronage of UK Labour.

Many former Labour voters defected to the SNP in the aftermath of Labour's despicable Better Together alliance with the Tories and LibDems in 2014 and will never return as long as Scottish Labour maintains its "head-in-the-sand" opposition to Scottish self-determination.

Adoption of a pro-independence stance for indyref 2 would put Scottish Labour in a very strong position to win the first Scottish general election.

Willie Maclean, Milngavie.

* ANDY Maciver predicts that Scottish Labour will change its policy to one of support for indyref2. In doing so, he shows his lack of awareness that such a change would require the consent of the party's membership through conference decisions. This would be unlikely, as the one thing which the party requires its members to sign up to is the principle that "by the strength of our common endeavour, we achieve more than we achieve alone".

This principle is about as close to a polar opposite to the divisive binary politics of indyref2 as could be imagined. And besides, those who seek independence and another referendum to achieve it already have another party to join.

Peter A Russell, Glasgow.


AMONGST my postal vote papers was a detailed paper entitled “List of Registered Political Parties and Independent Candidates". Each party standing in the forthcoming Scottish election is named, with in some cases what appears to be a statement of its own principal policy followed by a list of the names of its candidates. Of those which stated their principal policy, there is a mixed bag to chose from, starting with the possibly rabble-rousing “Get rid of Holyrood", through the well-meaning but ambivalent “Changing Politics for Good" to the hopeful “Put Recovery First".

With its policy statement reading “Nicola Sturgeon for SNP First Minister", the SNP appears to see no mileage in associating itself with any practical policies such as “Get recovery/ the ferries/ BiFab /Prestwick Airport / education / health/ you name it/ sorted", and instead has decided to promote voting for an ideological personality cult. Should that not be resisted as alien to our democratic principles?

Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop.


I HAVE just received my postal vote papers and on the outside of the envelope in which they came there is a very clear instruction in capital letters: OPEN AND RETURN IMMEDIATELY. DO NOT DELAY.

Why would anyone do this unless they are clear about who they are voting for? We don’t yet know the contents of all the party manifestos and there is the best part of three weeks' campaigning to go. In that period, something might be said that could fundamentally change your opinion. I have still to decide.

The detailed instructions inside indicate that you can actually hand in your vote to your local polling station up until 10pm on polling day, Thursday May 6. So why the instructions on the envelope that might instil a sense of urgency that is actually not required?

Given the move towards postal voting, could rushed postal votes be crucial in key constituencies?

Willie Towers, Alford.


THE SNP and followers focus upon future seats at Holyrood sufficient to request, or demand if you will, a further independence referendum. However, a referendum is different from an election in that every vote counts. The SNP, plus an ally such as the Greens, may have a majority of seats at Holyrood but a minority of total votes cast and would face defeat in a referendum. The SNP does not wish to mention this outcome, lest the confidence of its support be eroded.

I shall vote tactically on May 6, that is against the SNP. I recommend this policy with the intention of compelling the SNP to face reality.

William Durward, Bearsden.


JILL Stephenson (Letters, April 14), referencing Alex Salmond and oil revenues, wonders where the money would come from in an independent Scotland. After some 40 years of those self-same revenues heading south, surely the more appropriate question should be: where has the money gone?

John Boyle, Ardrossan.


I HAVE lived long enough to know that the politics of Northern Ireland are complex to say the least. However, if the SNP had voted for a customs union Brexit option as it could have rather than abstaining, then the UK would have been committed to just that. The virtual hard border in the Irish Sea would not exist and would not be used as a reason to justify the current civil unrest in the province.

I will remind these columns again that prior to the Westminster vote, Nicola Sturgeon had publicly stated that while she did not support Brexit, the very least she would accept was a customs union. However, her Westminster team chose to take a wrecking ball to the customs union proposal which would have passed by a large majority had the party been as good as its word. But we all know that anything that causes damage to the UK, even with consequences to Scotland, is acceptable to it in its “independence at any cost despite the consequences” policy. Sadly the “any cost” has now had consequences for our neighbours across the Irish Sea and Ian Blackford and Ms Sturgeon should both hang their heads in shame as they watch parts of Belfast burn.

Duncan Sooman, Milngavie.


THE simple thing to understand about Unionist unrest in Northern Ireland ("Understanding influence of NI paramilitary groups", The Herald, April 15) is that Britain has no interest in Northern Ireland unionism.

Margaret Thatcher spoke of Northern Ireland being "as British as Finchley", but this was never the case. When the South gained home rule in 1921,the North did not remain part of Britain – the separate barrier of Stormont was set up by London.

Likewise, the Downing Street Declaration of 1993 stated that the British Government "had no selfish strategic or economic interest" in Northern Ireland. Today, as a matter of international law, the Belfast Agreement makes holding of a border poll mandatory where "it appears likely" to the Secretary of State that a majority would vote to become part of a united Ireland. A second border poll can even be held within just seven years of the first one. (Contrast all this with London's desperation to hold on to Scotland, with our oil, vast fishing grounds and key Faslane base).

London's creation of an Irish Sea border has to be seen against this backdrop.

The DUP now represents just 225,413 voters out of a population of 1.9 million.

There is also demographic change in Northern Ireland, where 830,000 Irish passports have been issued in the period 2010-2019.

Tom Johnston, Cumbernauld.


PROFESSOR Ciaran Martin, in his paper on the advisability of indyref2 if there should be a majority for independence in the forthcoming Scottish parliament (“Mandarin says blocking indyref2 would be end of voluntary Union”, The Herald, April 14), is mistaken in thinking that there would be new barriers to travel, as well as to trade, between an independent Scotland and the remainder of the UK.

In fact the existing Common Travel Area (CTA) that covers Ireland (still a member of the EU) as well as the UK, Isle of Man and Channel Islands allows unhindered movement of people.

It should not be confused with Freedom of Movement (FOM), one of the “three freedoms” of the European Single Market, which allows citizens of any country in the European Economic Area (EEA) to reside, work, conduct business or retire in any other such country.

Irish citizens have the benefits of both CTA and FOM. Under the Ireland Act of 1949 they also have all the rights of British citizens. As citizens of an EEA state they have all the rights available in all other EEA states.

It is highly likely that an rUK would offer citizens of an independent Scotland the same rights as Irish citizens.

CJ Woods, Co Kildare, Ireland.