LISTENING to Radio Scotland this morning (May 10), I was amazed at the level of misunderstanding there seemed to be around how to decide one’s vote. It was as if most contributors thought that they were voting for or against independence last Thursday.

That election was to vote for the party or parties whose manifesto one wanted implemented in government. Some parties included the intention to hold a referendum on independence, others planned to block one. It was not about deciding on independence, just the opportunity to do so at a later date.

So those who want independence obviously would vote for having a referendum. Sadly, those opposing independence did not realise that supporting a referendum would have ensured their chance to vote against independence, as much as it allowed others to vote for. Not to vote for holding a referendum could have deprived them of the chance to reject independence and justify their claim that most folk do not want independence.

If they truly believe that, voting for a referendum-supporting party would have given them the chance to prove it. Or were they too scared of being proved wrong?

P Davidson, Falkirk.


SO Gordon Brown is back, launching a campaign aimed at "middle Scotland".

My first thought was fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. On reflection, though, there is a way that Mr Brown could help save the Union. The UK as a functioning state is no longer fit for purpose; it has become, to all intents and purposes, a one-party state, ruled by and for an elite based in what used to be called The Home Counties. The three most powerful men in Government in the last 11 years, George Osborne, David Cameron and Boris Johnson, are products of one school, steeped in privilege and entitlement and serving the interests of one class.

The current first past the post electoral system ensures that the Tories, backed as they are by an overwhelmingly right-wing press, are elected time and again without ever getting near a majority of UK voters, or even votes cast. The last time a bill to introduce a system of proportional representation was introduced in 2011 it failed miserably because it did not suit the ruling hegemony or the (often foreign) financiers who support it.

The D'Hondt system is probably a step too far for the UK but if Mr Brown and his Our Scottish Future think tank were to put his weight behind electoral reform in the UK he might have a chance of saving the Union. He had better get his skates on though, time is short.

John Jamieson, Ayr.


MARK Smith argues that "unionists shouldn’t have to vote tactically to get fair representation" ("Nicola Sturgeon has won but now we need some changes", The Herald, May 10) and Richard Allison (Letters, May 10) is disappointed, if not angry, that there was not enough tactical voting to enable more opposition to an SNP government. Of course, the same argument could be applied to the pro-independence side, which recorded thousands of "wasted" votes for the SNP on the regional lists.

I guess there was more tactical voting in this than in previous elections, which would suggest the electorate is increasingly savvy, despite our unsatisfactory and complex version of the d'Hondt additional member system. Would Mr Allison prefer Westminster's first past the post, which would have reduced pro-Union seats to an insignificant number, or would he agree with Mr Smith that it is time to change to a simpler, more proportional method, which would have significantly reduced the SNP majority? Either way, a pro-independence government would have been the likely outcome.

However, regardless of the number of seats won by each party, surely the outcome of the election, as Professor Curtice has commented, shows that Scotland is pretty much split 50:50 on the constitutional question, which needs to be resolved as soon as possible to allow us all to move on.

One thing is clear: if Scottish voters can master the tactics for d'Hondt, they should be confident of managing a successful independent country.

David Bruce, Troon.


THE Scottish Greens’ co-leader Lorna Slater says she has felt "very frustrated" at the media’s focus on her party’s support for independence rather than on the climate emergency. She says the Greens would therefore make the climate crisis their "number one priority" in the coming parliament, not the constitution ("SNP’s hope of majority hanging in the balance", The Herald, May 8).

Hopefully this is the beginning of wisdom for the Greens. How could they have expected that their support for independence would not blank out their other policies? Breaking up the UK would be such a cataclysmic change and involves such complex issues that its prospect is bound to monopolise public debate. Untying Scotland from the UK and establishing a new state would take even more airtime and administrative effort.

But the Greens need to be pressed on how far they are going to go. As long as a referendum during the coming parliament is on the table, climate change will be sidelined. By contrast, since a Scottish Parliament majority for independence only exists because of the Greens, a clear declaration now that they will not support a referendum during the parliament would park independence entirely for five years, enabling everyone to focus on climate change, recovery from the pandemic, education, health and all the other issues of urgent importance.

The case for this is strengthened by the fact that there is nothing in a Green philosophy that indicates that Scottish independence should be supported. Any influence gained over policies in Scotland would be offset by loss of influence over the much larger entity of the UK. Moreover a recent Ashcroft poll found that less than half of Scottish Green voters in the constituency ballot actually support independence. These are the genuine Greens, excluding SNP voters giving a tactical vote to the Greens on the list.

The single most effective thing the Greens can do to foreground the climate emergency is to park independence. How seriously committed to the climate are they?

David Webster, Glasgow.


THE SNP’s electoral success is hardly surprising, since the BBC gave its leader five days per week free publicity for 14 months, since Tony Blair/Gordon Brown’s devolution unwisely allowed it to lower the already too-low voting age of 18 to include children of 16, since Westminster’s Barnett formula gives it extra funding largesse not available to poorer parts of England, since David Cameron ludicrously gave momentum to Alex Salmond/Nicola Sturgeon by handing them all the critical elements of the 2014 referendum terms, since Labour and the LibDems refused to adopt any form of a united front against secession, since all the pro-UK parties gave more publicity to rejecting a second indyref than to hammering the SNP’s abject governmental failures on education, care homes, the NHS, drug addiction, ferries and more; and since too many voters fell for the flawed claim that Scotland’s Covid numbers are far superior to England’s, while some seem blissfully unaware that Holyrood has total responsibility for, inter alia, Scotland’s schools and health services.

Nor did Ruth Davidson’s resignation as Conservative leader help, leaving Scotland’s second party almost rudderless for too long, and with two leadership changes, far too close to the election.

John Birkett, St Andrews.


THOSE who voted in the Scottish election have returned a majority of MSPs in favour of independence. Boris Johnson describes their desire for a second referendum as “irresponsible and reckless”. Surely “irresponsible and reckless” better describes the UK Government’s decision to increase their nuclear arsenal by 40 per cent?

Jane Lendrum, Kirriemuir.


ARE the results of the various recent UK elections a combined demonstration of political Stockholm syndrome operating on a national basis? In line with feeling sympathy for the criminals who kidnap and hold us to ransom, have we now decided to empathise and vote for the various governments and politicians who singularly failed to properly prepare for the inevitable pandemic and whose fatalities and economic consequences are amongst the worst in the western world?

DH Telford, Fairlie.


I SEARCHED the internet in vain on Monday for a recipe which would make use of the vast quantity of sour grapes which I could have harvested from the Letters Pages (May 10).

Rachel Martin, Musselburgh.

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