THE optimism of John Milne for our future (Letters, July 2), is commendable.

However, as Milan Kundera wrote, “optimism is the opium of the people”. Mr Milne’s quote from Gordon Brown, “We’ve got to give people a message of hope. Tell them about the dream” is a good example.

Perhaps part of the problem for the Labour Party in Scotland is that their previous hegemony perished on the rock that too many people, for a variety of reasons, stopped believing them any more – that the “dream” was just that, a dream.

As I said in my earlier letter (June 30), a carefully constructed peace deal in Northern Ireland is unravelling, and the Labour First Minister in Wales holds that the UK “is over”. Optimism is fine but must be based on facts.

Peter A Russell (Letters, July 2) makes a similar point about the current SNP Government, quoting John McCallum as saying the SNP is kept in power “by the promise of the Jam Tomorrow of independence”, and he is right.

Since the close outcome of the 2014 referendum the pace toward independence has been much slower. Yet, surely, being the largest party in 2016 and holding the majority of Westminster Scottish seats in 2017 were a mandate for a referendum? Winning 48 Westminster seats in December 2019, and being returned in May for the fourth time as the largest Holyrood party must be a mandate. Michael Russell has now been appointed to be “Political Director at the SNP’s independence unit”, and we must hope he meets with more success than Marco Biagi in a similar role.

It is, though, increasingly clear that the Yes movement will not wait forever. Yes, there is a global pandemic, and only a fool would have called a referendum then, but we are assured that things will shortly revert to normal.

Therefore, if SNP leadership thinking does not change, then the leadership will have to change. Failing that, as blogger James Kelly has noted, there will have to be a building up “of tremendous external political pressure – both from direct electoral opponents like Alba, and also from non-party organisations like Now Scotland”. Otherwise, the SNP will find out as Labour did that, whether it is the “dream” or “jam tomorrow”, it only goes so far.

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.


I DON’T usually agree with Peter A Russell when he writes to The Herald, and his latest letter does little to change my opinion, but there is at least one remark that is worth considering. Mr Russell writes of the four E’s of public policy evaluation; efficiency, efficacy, economy and equity, and naturally, from his point of view, he finds the SNP Government in Scotland deficient. I would respectfully ask Mr Russell to apply the same tests to the UK Government and then give his opinion of Westminster’s performance under those headings.

The narrative that the SNP has made too many errors is the fall-back position of so many unionist correspondents, but when compared to the economic and social disasters visited on us by successive UK governments they pale into insignificance; Thatcherism, illegal wars, banking crises, privatisations of vital infrastructure and the recurrent themes of corruption, cronyism and backhanders for the chumocracy are only some of the more recent manifestations.

The SNP has made errors, without doubt, the mishandling of the drug death epidemic and the ferry debacle being the principal ones. But others such as badly designed hospitals are surely the fault of badly run private enterprises, unless we believe that Nicola Sturgeon should be an expert in hospital ventilation.

Mr Russell writes: “In the face of the challenges of Brexit, Covid, and the Tory Government, Scotland deserves so much better.” Well, in my lifetime of previously being a Labour voter I tried that UK route of making Scotland so much better and it didn’t work.

John Jamieson, Ayr.


AS repeatedly evidenced in letters to The Herald, the penny does not appear to have yet dropped for many of those who question the economic viability of an independent Scotland. While most pro-Union politicians know, but will not openly admit, that the greater economic concern is for an independent England, the general public, regrettably aided and abetted by less-than-objective media commentators, are inveigled into thinking that it is Scotland that will struggle (even should it decide to "rejoin" the EU, perhaps after first joining EFTA).

Shorn of the relatively much greater resources of Scotland, how will a country that wishes to become the "successor state" of the UK, and thus would assume the UK’s huge debt of more than £2 trillion, economically survive never mind prosper? Even with the immense past economic advantage arising from the exploitation of the resources of its empire colonies and more recently the oil and gas reserves of Scotland, the UK is currently among the poorest states, relative to GDP, in Europe (the lowest wealth per person in north-west Europe according to the IMF).

In reality the best prospects for those who remain in a near-bankrupt England will be founded on the enlightenment gained from the commercial and social successes of more vibrant smaller economies (such as that of the country to its immediate north), not on erecting more "cultural barriers" in pursuit of an arrogant ideological agenda increasingly out-of-step with a more interconnected and more humanitarian world.

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry.


I READ with trepidation the letter from Dennis Forbes Grattan (July 1) advising that “the UK Covid-19 debt has now risen to a massive £2.19 trillion and given Scotland’s share would be around 12 per cent, this surely ends the independence dream”. My first thought was to query why Scotland, with 8.33% of the UK population, would be responsible for a 12% share. Then I decided to resist the temptation to dispute details and to instead consider the general principles. Mr Grattan continues that “Scotland could not possibly survive without the wider spread resources of the UK”. Fair enough. Let’s call it a day and have a glass of wine instead. Sadly, I carried on reading.

The next thing I came across was a report from Reuters. Apparently the US Government’s budget deficit in the fiscal year 2021 alone will be about $3 trillion thanks to Covid-19. That has to be added to all the deficits it has been running for many years. I’m not sure how the US citizens are going to bear the news that “this surely ends the independence dream”. I for one am not going to be the one to break it to them that they “could not possibly survive without the wider spread resources of the UK”. Perhaps your correspondent might want to phone Joe Biden and let him know. It will be good to welcome them back to the Empire and properly develop their economy under the guidance of “the resources of the UK”.

Chris Keegan, Glasgow.


IN the current Supreme Court case on the legislating limits of the Scottish Parliament, Lord Reed has stated in his damning comments that the SNP Government has drafted legislation “as if the Scotland Act did not exist” and that Holyrood should not deliberately provoke a fight outside the devolved powers ("The SNP’S latest ‘power grab’ claim is lazy garbage", The Herald, July 1). What an indictment this is of Nicola Sturgeon, herself a lawyer, and the integrity of the Scottish Government.

How can we ever put our trust and faith in an SNP that will deliberately ignore the law of the land at its whim? This perspective from Lord Reed, himself a Scot, puts Ms Sturgeon and the SNP machinery into deep disgrace and they should hang their heads in shame.

Ian Forbes, Glasgow.


I NOTICED that Michael Settle, in his description of leading politicians professing an interest in football “to show how in tune they are with the common people” (“Why Euros success would be an open goal for Johnson”, The Herald, July 2), made no mention of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher visiting Hampden Park in May 1988 for the Scottish Cup Final between Celtic and Dundee United. That visit was something less than an unvarnished success.

She was greeted by thousands in the crowd waving red cards and by many joining in a well-known forceful expression of dismissal. The position in Scotland had been greatly influenced by the decision to impose the poll tax in Scotland a year before the rest of the country. Her unpopularity in Scotland had been confirmed the year before at the General Election when the Conservative Party had been reduced to 10 MPs. That attempt to curry favour by displaying an affinity for “the beautiful game” did nothing to mitigate her profound unpopularity in Scotland. If anything, it enhanced it.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.


ON Friday (July 2) I yet again heard Nicola Sturgeon say “gonnae” and “doin’ ” and other similar words. Is this a deliberate attempt to sound Scottish, or rather, not English? Can’t someone please say to her, “gonnae no dae that?”

Duncan Sooman, Milngavie.