I FIND myself in general agreement with Neil Mackay’s “five key truths” on the Union ("The five key truths about Scotland and the Union", The Herald, June 1). The disrespectful way Scotland is treated by Westminster and the establishment, aided and abetted by a willing unionist broadcast and print media, is working against the Union and will continue to cause alienation. Insults are a strange way to keep people on your side.

Mr Mackay says the case for independence needs to be made and he is correct, there is much work to be done. The period between the Scottish referendum in 2014 up to the start of the pandemic have been wasted years when so much could have been done to present the case and answer questions. I can see no point in holding a referendum until the case has been advanced. Boris Johnson may strike early by offering a referendum he thinks he can win, and if he does it will probably be “ane end of ane auld sang” – again, quoting the Earl of Seafield in 1707.

Life could indeed be tough if the unionists win a referendum, in the sense that those Scottish institutions and others which threaten the Union will be hastily dismantled or rendered powerless so that there can never be a repeat, and this would not be unexpected. Unfortunately that would place Scotland in a more disadvantageous position than pre-devolution when at least some of our institutions and ways of life had survived. Under renewed threat within the Union, those who cherish Scotland will have lost more than a referendum.

If Scotland votes for independence Mr Mackay says the UK will play hardball at the negotiating table but he underestimates the cards Scotland holds, the cards that make the UK so desperately want to hold on to us in the first place. Sitting on the Scottish side of the table, and it cannot just be the SNP but must include others, the first cards are turned over – Trident, fishing, oil, gas, water, whisky, green energy. The next card, our strategic geographic location in the North Atlantic – does Nato really want its northern back door left wide open by refusing us membership, Trident or not? The next card, the most important one, is our sharing card, the one which says we want to share with the rest of the UK and continue with many of our common interests but now as an equal. Nine cards played and no Jokers used.

Alan M Morris, Blanefield.


I WAS encouraged to read that Neil Mackay had identified five areas of agreement with regard to the constitutional question of indyref2. However, I was quickly disappointed when I discovered that all five points related matters of attitude or expectation.

We, and in particular those in favour of independence, need to focus on practicalities. I therefore offer five points upon which there might be some agreement.

First, the negotiation period will take far longer than the 16 months outlined in 2014 and the transition period will be even longer.

Secondly, Scotland, upon achieving independence, will not be a member of the European Union. Consequently there will initially be no hard border between Scotland and England (although the sea border with Ireland will remain). During the transition period it is likely that the position will change as Scotland makes its own arrangements with Europe.

Thirdly, the monarchy will remain and the current Union Flag would still fly over Buckingham Palace and the Palace of Holyroodhouse when the monarch is in residence. The flag will represent the monarch’s personal union of the crowns as it was between 1603 and 1707.

Fourthly, Scotland will have full tax-raising powers. Collection of these taxes might be an issue and double taxation will be a matter that will have to be resolved.

Fifthly, Scotland will not invest in Trident. Westminster (and the United States) will have to make other arrangements.

In addition to the above there are many areas of equal or even greater importance on which there is no clear agreement. All of these matters need to be discussed. A vote for independence is a once in a lifetime decision and all views and opinions must be heard before that vote is cast.

Sandy Gemmill, Edinburgh.


MANY thanks to Keith Robertson for his letter (June 1) advocating tolerance and compromise. Unfortunately, on assuming power in 2014, Nicola Sturgeon decided against the difficult but necessary job of creating a post-referendum Scotland at ease with itself within the UK. Instead, she has been leading us in the opposite direction, further and further from a consensus built on the outcome of the SNP’s own "gold standard” vote.

She and her fanatical Yes movement will stop at nothing until they have secured independence, and will accept the slimmest majority and the most divided Scotland necessary to achieve it. We can only conclude that if she and they really love Scotland, they have an extremely strange way of showing it.

Peter A Russell, Glasgow.


PENNY Ponders (Letters, June 1) ascribes a derogatory comment made by a supermarket customer on the Union Flag to “casual anglophobia”. She appears to be making the strange mistake of imagining that the Union Flag is the flag of England, which of course it is not.

A flag combining the crosses of St Andrew and St George, long-established emblems of Scotland and England, was introduced at the direct instruction of James VI on succeeding to the English throne, specifically to symbolise the union of the two kingdoms. The later addition of the red saltire to represent Ireland in the Union was dictated by artistic rather than historical considerations: that device is from the family crest of the FitzGeralds and has no authentic connection with either St Patrick or Ireland as a nation; but its significance as part of the flag is perfectly clear.

The entire meaning and function of the Union Flag is shown by its name; and absolutely no trace of either bigotry or racism is implied by the fact that supporters of Scottish independence are liable to dislike having it stamped all over the products we buy.

Derrick McClure, Aberdeen.


YOU report that Alex Salmond claims that Prince William demonstrates “poor judgment” by meeting with Prime Minister Gordon Brown ("Salmond accuses prince of ‘poor judgment’ over Brown meeting", The Herald, June 1). The former First Minister is obviously losing the plot.

Last week Prince William and his wife met Gordon Brown and his wife, and listened to views on Scottish independence.

Last week Prince William and his wife met First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, and listened to views on Scottish independence.

Why has Mr Salmond not accused the Prince of poor judgment over the Sturgeon meeting?

Walter Paul, Glasgow.


GEORGE Robertson (Letters, June 1) considers Fidelma Cook’s description of Priti Patel as "like a black-shirted stormtrooper" “crossed a red line of decency and fair comment”. He holds, he says, no brief for Ms Patel and believes she should have been sacked for breaching the Ministerial Code by bullying civil servants, including the Permanent Secretary in the Home Office.

That though was the second time she had been alleged to have broken the Ministerial Code; having been found guilty she was removed in 2017 as International Development Secretary for holding unauthorised meetings with the Government of Israel.

However, that is not the worst of it, as our current Home Secretary has been quoted as saying: “It’s perfectly natural to have a little self-satisfied smile at the thought of gunboats hunting down leaking, overcrowded dinghies in the English Channel.” Thus, our Home Secretary makes clear that she is happy to have “gunboats” sailing, if not the seven seas, then the English Channel, hunting down desperate migrants, who are putting their lives at great risk. This contrasts strongly with her own life experience.

Ms Patel’s parents themselves were immigrants to the UK in the 1960s, establishing a chain of newsagents in the south-east. Ms Patel herself graduated in Economics from the University of Keele, prior to a post-graduate course in British Government at the University of Essex, and then becoming a Conservative Party intern. So far, so fine. My problem with her is that her own family having arrived in the UK, and prospered, Ms Patel’s strong view seems to be that now that she and her family are settled, it is alright to pull the ladder up and make sure only the most minimal number are allowed in. The rest will be hunted down.

If “black-shirted stormtrooper” is too strong, how about "utter two-faced, selfish hypocrite"?

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.


ON hearing that Clement Attlee had been described as "a very modest man" Winston Churchill is said to have responded that "Mr Attlee has much to be modest about".

As Boris Johnson is claimed to closely guard his privacy about family matters, it could be said that "he has much to be private about".

Malcolm Allan, Bishopbriggs.

Read more: We must learn tolerance or we will be forever divided