Maria Fyfe's piece (The Herald, December 28) contained two factual inaccuracies and one falsehood. First, she is wrong to claim that only one in five supports independence. Recent polling shows 40% support for the creation of an independent Scotland, with a clear majority in favour of such a move in the 18-35 age group. Secondly, she claims the Unionist parties are waiting for a referendum to be held; they are, in truth, blocking a referendum as they are uncertain as to what the outcome would be and are completely unprepared to defend their position (as they are still unsure as to what it is exactly).

She continues the pretence that independence equals "separatism". Independence would allow Scotland to engage properly with the outside world economically, culturally and socially; we would not be limited to merely sending troops out on the next imperial mission dreamed up by the deluded London leadership. Independence is about maximising the chances of individuals within Scotland as well as that of the UK as a whole. It is about having the powers to tackle the areas of severe deprivation where many live without hope.

With the economic levers of power, such problems could be addressed with appropriate Scottish solutions. In short, independence is as much a social mission to tackle the problems created by the Union as a constitutional goal.

As a former Glasgow representative, I would have thought Maria Fyfe would appreciate such an approach. However, she was a post-devolution MP and, as such, dealt almost exclusively with matters of importance only to England and Wales.

This demonstrates that in Scotland Unionism equals separatism. How long must we look at our neighbours, the normal three and others, as they power ahead of us economically while we languish in the shallow pool created by the Union?

People are deprived of opportunities in Scotland by the status quo; those unable or unwilling to leave and take their chances south of the border are left stranded, in many cases, in large areas of economic desert. Ms Fyfe claims that her highest priority is people; if that were the case, she would have long ago abandoned the system that created all the social ills her party claims to combat.

Patrick Kirkwood, 22 Weston Terrace, West Kilbride.

I am surprised that Maria Fyfe is not pleased to see an administration in Scotland that is opposed to nuclear weapons and the Iraq war. Surely she should also support a government that is committed to comprehensive education and free higher education and which is against the increasing marketisation of the health service that we see in England.

We also have a Scottish Government with an inclusive approach to ethnic minorities and a more positive approach to crime and punishment issues. Local government has been given the right to play an active role in social housing again and there is an attempt (within the limited powers of the devolution settlement) to find a better alternative to PFI. All of these are the kind of objectives that I recall Ms Fyfe supporting from the 1960s onwards.

Yes, the Scottish Government is rather too ready to jump to the demands of business and has a mixed record on environmental issues, but in neither of these respects is it worse than the Westminster Government.

The gender balance in representation at Holyrood is certainly imperfect but the worst offenders are the Liberal Democrats. Why doesn't she attack them?

Neither Ireland nor the Nordic countries, with which Scotland has similarities, have presented an adverse model of social and international responsibilities so why is Ms Fyfe so intensely hostile to the SNP's agenda? Why is it easier for her to make common cause with her sister Annabel Goldie rather than her sister Nicola Sturgeon? Have old scores and tribalism prevented a rational assessment of what will now deliver a more progressive society in Scotland and, by example, a better model for other nations in the UK?

Isobel Lindsay, 9 Knocklea Place, Biggar.

Archie Stirling (Letters, December 28) says he has never felt subservient to England and flings out the tired old Braveheart insult to those who wish Scotland to leave the Union.

I, too, feel no need to bow the knee to our cousins down south but I strongly feel that it is time to re-examine our place within the United Kingdom because we are gradually becoming invisible. I was born in 1940, at a time when Britishness was strong and we all felt pride in the stand made against fascism and Nazism by people from all corners of these islands and from all parts of the Commonwealth. That was a time when the country was actually British and not, as it has slowly become since, English. Nobody in the world imagines that the Irish are English but most of the world thinks that we are.

Ms Fyfe also gallops to the defence of the Union, not with reasoned argument but with assertion and invective. So Alex Salmond is arranging matters to his own political advantage? Shock, horror! Goodness me, no Unionist politician would do a thing like that, would they? Well, they would, actually, as the revelations about the covering up of the extent of North Sea oil wealth shows very clearly.

As for the bit about the present Scottish Government being a minority administration - actually, I knew that, Alex Salmond knows it and the Scottish electorate also knows it. Ms Fyfe ought to know it, too, since it was inherent in the plan drawn up by the Scottish Convention that minority governments should be the norm in the Scottish Parliament. It was the Labour/Liberal coalition that was the departure from the norm. I wouldn't be surprised if, after the next Scottish elections, her objection to Mr Salmond governing with such a small majority will no longer be relevant.

David C Purdie, 12 Mayburn Vale, Loanhead, Midlothian.