NOW that Labour has lost another English "Red Wall" constituency – Darlington – to the Conservatives, it seems clear that the right wing is firmly embedded at Westminster.

After so many Brexit lies to the EU and Northern Ireland, the illegal prorogation of Parliament and associated lies to the Queen, the normalisation and acceptance of sleaze within Westminster is surely by now a "truth universally acknowledged", from Brussels to Washington DC and back again to Buckingham Palace. It is also blatant; there is no shame.

Recently, David Edgerton, Professor of History at King's College, London, argued that Scotland's independence would help England "liberate itself from the Anglo-UK state" and move on to a "new democratic settlement".

Another distinguished historian, Sir Max Hastings, has, even more ominously, suggested that the Tory Party is now confident about the acquiescence of its supporters and the English electorate in general. He pointed out the massive propaganda effort which has lulled and subverted the English electorate into acceptance – and voting for more. Hartlepool is surely proof of that.

Meanwhile, the "Anglo-UK State" has arrived at a post-Brexit position of international disgrace, isolation and distrust.

The peculiar scandal about furniture for Boris Johnson's flat is dwarfed by Greensill, involving Matt Hancock, David Cameron, Rishi Sunak and, no doubt, many others in secret meetings and exchanges. Until today there was actually no Westminster adviser on the Ministerial Code: Sir Alex Allan resigned when Boris Johnson ignored his finding that Priti Patel had broken that code and paid off her accuser with £340,000 of public money instead. The same silencing has been applied to the planning scandal associated with Robert Jenryck and the outrageous behaviour of Mr Johnson with Jennifer Arcuri. Their arrogant presumption that such conduct will go unchallenged has been proved correct again, horribly, in Hartlepool.

Hercules diverted the Rivers Alpheus and Peneus to clean out the Augean Stables after 30 years of neglect. Prof Edgerton is surely also correct in his assessment that cleaning out the Westminster "skip" will require something at least as momentously and positively constitutional – in the form of Scottish, and possibly Welsh, independence.

The recent Calvinistic approach of our own Holyrood Parliament to any suspicion of deviation from the Ministerial Code surely confirms that we are already a separate nation, leading by example.

Our independence will be, as Prof Edgerton says, a positive chance – for everyone – and the sooner the better.

Frances McKie, Evanton.


THE saddest feature of all about the flirtation of so many Scots with nationalism has been the rejection of reason and logic by a large number of them. Even a glance through some of the statements and interviews of nationalist spokespersons, right up to the very top, shows an ignorance of even basic economics and an unshakeable belief in fantasy scenarios that would embarrass a Harry Potter plot.

So, for example, we have for a broken-off Scotland "no border" with England and with our southern neighbours, 10 times our size, apparently having no say in the matter whatsoever and supposed to bow meekly to the will of a broken-off Scotland. Or we have all Scotland’s share of the joint debt incurred by the UK "wiped out". We are given suggestions of seamless, virtually instant accession to the EU and all currency problems waved away with the bland "other countries borrow, so can we". We could go on and on. The ability to reason and think things through has deserted so many.

Scotland is on the verge of catastrophe. Whatever the election result, I fear for the future of my country as I never have feared before.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.


AT around 2.30 in the afternoon of polling day I cast my vote at box 52 in Jordanhill Church Hall.

After the preliminaries, I joked to the polling steward about the enormous length of the “list” ballot paper. I was puzzled, though, at my difficulty in pushing it into a nearly full ballot box.

How astonishing to read on your website that two voters, six hours later, were unable to access the same ballot box.

The unfortunate couple were advised to “come back by 10pm”. Had I received the same advice I would have been effectively disenfranchised due to later family commitments.

Luckily, Nadeem Basharat and his partner Joanne did not suffer that fate. Their experience, however, performs a signal service in highlighting the inadequacy of voting arrangements.

Thomas McLaughlin, Glasgow.


ISN'T Brexit great?

It has enabled Boris Johnson to relive past British glories by sending in the gunboats, this time to protect the tax haven Jersey ("EU in Brexit blast amid bitter feud on fishing", The Herald, May 7) rather than into the River Yangtze to enforce Britain's imperial will during the Opium Wars. And the fishermen of France, of course, had to follow the revolutionary pleading of the soldier-poet Augustin Louis de Ximénèz: Attaquons dans ses euax la perfide Albion!

Is it any wonder that I gave both my votes to the SNP in the hope of rejoining the mainstream of European civilisation? What's wrong with "an ever-closer union"? Surely it's better than reverting to ancient antagonisms?

Peter Martin, Muir of Ord.


RUTH Marr (Letters, May 7) challenges my assessment (Letters, May 5) of it taking around 20 years from the decision to hold a referendum to Scotland achieving membership of the European Union as an independent state.

She refers to the views of the Scottish Centre on European Relations but chooses not to address the issue of monetary policy sovereignty. Chapter 9 of its March 2020 report, An Independent Scotland in the EU: Issues for Accession, addresses the EU’s fiscal criteria indicating that it may be problematic for Scotland to join the EU without control of its own monetary policy, that is, while using the pound sterling.

The book Scotland’s New Choice; Independence After Brexit published in March of this year by the Centre on Constitutional Change based at the University of Edinburgh devotes four chapters to setting out issues pertaining to the economy.

It is clear that significant time is required to meet the required EU economic entry criteria.The SNP's own Sustainable Growth commission indicated that it would take around 10 years to "secure monetary policy sovereignty".

Incidentally, and not related to the timescale but to the need to reduce the budget deficit, the same report from the Scottish Centre on European Relations questions "whether the Scottish polity, let alone the populace, is aware of how severe the spending squeeze would have to be".

Ms Marr clearly has a different view to me but I note that she has not accepted my challenge to give an alternative timescale or comment upon any economic challenges that she might anticipate during the process.

George Rennie, Inverness.


WHILE there are some truths in Brian Wilson's comments in his article disparaging the Green agenda on power generation ("There’s nothing green about dividing Britain or closing down the North Sea", The Herald, May 5) there are things in his remarks that are for the less knowledgeable.

In particular he champions nuclear power, and while there are highly skilled careers in this industry many will transfer to the safe decommissioning of nuclear power plants in the years ahead.

Radioactivity takes thousands of years to reduce and the safety of that comes at a cost. Think of Chernobyl.

In my working life I was involved in the design of, amongst other systems, enclosures to enable safe dismantling of enriched materials at Sellafield. At one stage about 20 years ago my company's production was put on hold as radioactivity was detected in a working area. This took, from memory, more than six months to deal with before manufacture and supply could be resumed.

Dounreay demonstrates the timescale of such safe decommissioning. Who is paying for this?

Mr Wilson states that the cost of renewables is being spread among UK consumers without too many complaints. I would complain if it would make any difference, having seen my all electric house bills doubling in under 10 years.

What governments allowed the Central Electricity Generating Board, SSEB and the like to be privatised and acquired by Spanish, French and German utilities? And if the French carry out their threat to cut off Jersey, is it a short step to up their perceived grievances over Brexit by threatening to ration their export of power to the UK?

Mr Wilson needs to get real and instead of having a go at the Greens, think about where the Westminster establishment have taken the UK to.

Ian Gray, Croftamie.


I WAS interested to read that Northern Ireland's possible replacement as First Minister, Edwin Poots, holds a "young Earth" world view ("The danger of Northern Ireland comparisons", The Herald, May 3). Perhaps he sees a conflict between science and a belief in a Creator?

Brian Chrystal (Letters, May 6) doesn't tell us his own world view, but he doesn't mention that most mainline Protestants, Catholics and some other religions see no such conflict. There are many different beliefs on this, from "young Earth creationism" (or "special creationism") through theistic evolution to atheism. There are many eminent scientists such as John Polkinhorne and John Lennox, who believe there is a God, as well as many who do not.

As for Mr Chrystal's fear that schoolchildren in Northern Ireland may be taught fringe views such as young Earth creationism, I think they would get a wider education if they were taught a range of views, rather than that they were only told about the current dogma that science can explain absolutely everything.

I would recommend a look at, where many respectful debates are taking place between those of a religious faith, and those whose faith is atheism.

William Campbell, Lenzie.


I APPRECIATE William Shakespeare is widely regarded as England’s national poet and the world’s greatest dramatist, but had never seen him as a rival to Scotland’s Brahan Seer, predictor of the future, “gifted with the sight”.

However, recent correspondence in The Herald on Glasgow’s Empire Theatre (Letters, May 5, 6), notorious as the graveyard for English comics, particularly Mike and Bernie, clears up the mystery of The Bard of Avon’s “Now is the Winter of our discontent” (Richard 111, Act 1, scene 1).

R Russell Smith, Largs.