IN his desperation to do down the First Minister, Andrew Dunlop ("Sorry, First Minister, but you’re no Jacinda Ardern", The Herald, September 14) actually makes a very strong case for independence.

For example his mealy-mouthed description of Boris Johnson's broken manifesto pledge not to increase taxation as a "Health and Social Care Levy" is typical of the influences that drive the SNP's continued electoral successes.

By comparing Scotland with a successful New Zealand (population 10 per cent smaller than Scotland) he highlights the possibilities and potential of a small independent nation that makes its own decisions, such as whether or not to stay in Europe, not waste your money on grandiose nuclear weapon schemes and not always be governed by the way the majority votes south of the Border.

David Hay, Minard.


MAY I assure Andrew Dunlop that Nicola Sturgeon doesn't need to be a Jacinda Ardern; Scotland's First Minister is very much her own woman.

In his biased tirade against Ms Sturgeon, who has been named the fifth most eloquent leader in the world, I note that Lord Dunlop makes no mention of the 80 manifesto promises already delivered by Ms Sturgeon's Government following its landslide victory in May. As is made clear at the end of his article, Lord Dunlop was an adviser to former Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron during the 2014 independence referendum. It is to be hoped that he wasn't advising the Prime Minister after the 2016 EU referendum when Mr Cameron abruptly resigned as Premier after losing his referendum and disappeared from public sight for days, as did his Chancellor. Ms Sturgeon, on the other hand, has stayed resolutely at her post during the past gruelling 18 months, informing, encouraging and leading Scotland throughout this unprecedented health emergency, and earning praise from the World Health Organisation for the way in which Scotland has tackled the pandemic.

Thank goodness, Nicola Sturgeon is no David Cameron.

Ruth Marr, Stirling.


AFTER telling Scots only the opposition wants to talk about independence Nicola Sturgeon herself has lifted it to centre stage in her conference speech ("Sturgeon says unionists will try to exploit Brexit impact", The Herald, September 14). Her problem is she has no valid mandate for her assertions.

Referendums give equal weight to every vote. On the basis of her claim to have a cast iron mandate she has to have gained more votes at the Holyrood 2021 election than the pro-Union parties. The statistics are clear-cut. The three pro-Union parties, Labour Liberal Democrats and Conservatives, gained 38,462 more votes than the SNP and Greens. There is not only no legal basis for Ms Sturgeon's claim of a referendum before the end of 2023 , there is no democratic back-up either.

It would appear that Ms Sturgeon's fall-back position over Covid recovery will be needed but she really should not have exposed herself to ridicule, yet again, over calling for Indyref2 on a regular basis only to backtrack later. It is not a good look for Scotland, the SNP nor Ms Sturgeon. No wonder Boris Johnson is not taking her seriously.

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow.


IN her speech to the faithful at the SNP conference, Nicola Sturgeon “accused the UK Government of making Scotland poorer in order to demoralise it and bind it more tightly to the Union” . She wants “a spirit of co-operation between the Scottish Government and Westminster”.

These are the ramblings of a tired, defeated politician. Nothing new to say, no new policies, just blame, blame, blame. It’s been the same story for years, kicking the independence can down the road, pandering to the faithful who are very easily pleased and encouraged. These supporters are manipulated and subjugated by emotionally-driven politicians trying to hold on to their lucrative sinecures for as long as possible.

Ms Sturgeon, the game is up.

Douglas Cowe, Newmachar.

* NICOLA Sturgeon told delegates to the SNP conference that "democracy must prevail".

I was led to believe that democracy prevailed in 2014 when the last referendum was held. Am I wrong in holding that view?

Gordon W Smith, Paisley.


VICTOR Clements (Letters, September 13) is mistaken in saying that the only difference between the Sky News poll showing a small majority for independence and the Scotland in Union poll showing a majority opposed is the way the question was asked. The polls would have asked a different sample of people and that is sufficient to account for the different result.

I have never thought that the phrasing of the question was especially important, provided that the meaning is clear. I believe Scots are intelligent enough to understand what they are being asked and to know their own minds and vote accordingly. However, if we are looking for an unweighted question, Leave/Remain would have been excellent in 2014 but would not be so now, as in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum these are extremely loaded terms.

David Clinton, Hamilton.


VICTOR Clements may have found the question which unites Scotland and solves the constitutional dilemma. He describes how a majority in one poll seeks independence and in another the majority seeks to remain in the UK. These seemingly contradictory polls may both be correct and add up to a national inclination towards independence within the UK, rather than in Europe, and to realise the ambition of Keir Hardie for home rule for Scotland.

If Mr Clements has posed a question on which there may be general agreement then there may be no need for a referendum. What a bonus that would be. This possibility has already been trailed in more recent times and, if it can gather momentum, may well present a road out of the current impasse.

Michael Sheridan, by Strachur, Argyll.


JOHN Riddell (Letters, September 13) finds it "deplorable" that the Scottish Government has failed "to secure and maintain the necessary manufacturing capability" for the manufacture of wind farm turbines, towers and blades in Scotland.

Energy policy, as Mr Riddell probably knows, is reserved to Westminster, as is industrial policy. Would Mr Riddell like to suggest what a devolved administration like the Scottish Government should have done within its existing powers to achieve the laudable aims that he would like to have seen?

Nick Dekker, Cumbernauld.


COULD someone from the BBC tell us why the Politics Live show is broadcast into Scotland? The programme, its presenter and guests all seems entirely focused on issues and politics in England, even though it boasts it “connects with the lives of people around the country”. The vast bulk of the BBC product on radio and TV is produced and presented to reflect its largest audience down south. It’s as if the BBC is already planning for Scottish independence, as apart from losing funding, it would be required to make no changes to formats or presenters.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.


ALLAN Sutherland (Letters, September 13) fails to appreciate that most people are not complaining about the rise in National Insurance contributions, but rather the fact that it is National Insurance, rather than income tax, that is being used to fund social care.

The proposed increase in the rate of National Insurance to 13.25 per cent of earnings above the primary threshold will actually result in an increase of £6 per annum for someone earning £10k per annum (rather than £52 quoted by Mr Sutherland) while someone on £20k per annum pays an extra £130 per annum as quoted by Mr Sutherland. The problem is that someone earning £20k by way of two part-time jobs of £10k per annum will only pay an extra £12, that is an extra £6 on each job.

At present the Westminster Government has only announced an increase in the rate of income tax of 1.25% on dividends, which at least eliminates the possibility of converting earnings into a dividend. However, all other sources of income and earnings from multiple part-time jobs at less than £9.5k per annum will make no contribution towards the cost of social care.

Sandy Gemmill, Edinburgh.

* I AM glad that Allan Sutherland from Stonehaven has put the rise in National Insurance into terms I can understand – fags, booze and sandwiches. It is nice to see that there isn’t a stereotypical view of the world up there as they burn peat, toss the caber and vote Conservative.

Although given that its origins lie there, I am disappointed no calculations for deep-fried Mars bars were given.

Carl McCoy, Paisley.

Read more: Sorry, Nicola Sturgeon, but you’re no Jacinda Ardern