IF Neil Mackay ("SNP has sucked the life out of independence campaign", The Herald, September 21) had joined independence supporters out on the streets last Saturday or visited one of the many Yes stalls set up in towns and villages all over Scotland, he would have seen that the passion is not only still there, but vibrant and strengthening.

Mr Mackay refers to photos he has seen on social media of "Saltire-bedecked groups trying to smile bravely in forlorn streets"; the photos I've seen on social media show broadly-grinning groups, setting up and organising their stalls early in the day before the streets get busy. In addition, I and several others were out knocking doors in support of the SNP candidate at an upcoming council by-election in an area which just a few years ago was solid Labour and is now solid SNP, and showing strong support for independence.

Perhaps Mr Mackay hasn't noticed The Herald's readers online poll, which asks the question "Should Scotland be an independent country?" and shows that 68% of respondents have voted Yes and 32% have voted No, with 1% undecided. That suggests to me that the independence movement is alive and well and thriving in Scotland.

Ruth Marr, Stirling.


IT has been interesting reading the recent furore over whether the First Minister should have called in the Army to assist the ambulance service at the time of this crisis. She was criticised for not doing it then criticised again for doing it – by the same group of people.

Many independence opponents chose to put the word “British" as in the British Army in bold as if to prove a point. The word “British” is important – it is not “English” and we Scots pay sweetly for it. I’m sure an independent Scotland would have had a similar force ready to assist in time of a national emergency.

The reality for the respectable, reasonable people who oppose independence is that it is no longer a question of “if” but “when” this happens. I say this because the younger the age group then the higher the percentage in favour of independence. The latest figures show well over 70 per cent of young voters favour independence. This is much bigger than one single party. This is now an unstoppable force. (That same reality equally applies to the many disparate groups of flag-waving knuckle-draggers but I will not waste time on these lost causes.)

For the above-mentioned respectable people, I offer two significant areas of comfort.

1, No fewer than 65 countries have gained independence from the UK and not one has asked to return.

2, The latest research shows that if Scotland was independent then it would be the 14th most prosperous nation in the world.

We need to get away from the corruption and lies of a Westminster Government which doesn’t give a hoot for those who are less fortunate than themselves.

Stewart Falconer, Alyth.


IN the fierce debate about an independent Scotland, it makes sense to step back for a moment to consider the joint reliance of Scotland and England, and it works both ways.

Take the COP26 conference in Glasgow next month. The event will require 10,000 police officers per day, and more than half of these will be coming from outside Police Scotland – something we take for granted but without this, we couldn’t hope to host an event of this scale.

Take HMNB Clyde at Faslane. Tens of thousands of jobs dependent on the MoD, and the MoD dependent on the unique geography of the Firth of the Clyde to house our submarines, our insurance policy in an increasingly dangerous world, like it or not.

Take the success of the early vaccination programme with millions of doses secured at a national level helping us to get out of lockdown and get the economy kick-started again, well ahead of most of the rest of the world.

Take the current ambulance crisis, with the NHS looking to the MoD for assistance.

The list is endless. We need to be sensible and mature to appreciate that the strength of the Union is our mutual success and strength together.

Ian Paynter, East Kilbride.


SHAMEFULLY, the SNP's "not invented here" rulebook has prevented it from coming to terms with the UK Government on freeports ("Scotland set to lose extra freeport after SNP row with Westminster", The Herald, September 18).

As a dogmatic refusal to promote enterprise and prosperity and jolt the country out of its entrepreneurial torpor it's right up there with its inept shipbuilding and renewable jobs initiatives.

No one knows nor will they care much about a Scottish Greenport, it will carry next to none of the financial and reputational benefits associated with the freeport brand.

The SNP Government has control over LBTT (stamp duty) and non-domestic rates, a mere fraction of the beneficial income generated from a freeport. I hope the UK Government goes ahead and delivers a Freeport for Scotland, it's about time there was a Government acting in our interests.

Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven.


YOU report Alex Cole-Hamilton telling the faithful that he wrote to the World Health Organization asking for help dealing with Scotland’s substance abuse deaths ("Liberal Democrats ask UN to intervene in Scotland’s drug deaths crisis", The Herald, September 21). I wonder if the WHO response on receipt of said epistle was, as would be the case for most Scots, “Who he?”

Let’s not forget that the level of popular support for his party in most of Scotland is such that even with our stilted electoral system that is specifically designed to ensure a form of proportional representation that his party didn’t gather enough regional votes to be gifted a single list seat. So just in what capacity did he see fit to write to such an august body? Was it as a private individual or as the leader of the smallest group of Scotland’s elected MSPs? Why did he do it? Did he think that the WHO would immediately dispatch a crack squad of crack-dependency crackers or was it so he could stand in front of his sycophantic acolytes and say “Look at me, aren’t I great”?

In many ways the incident illustrates the vacuous nature of the pantomime that Scottish and UK politics has become when the obvious link between drug abuse and increasing levels of poverty, particularly in West Central Scotland, is ignored and Holyrood is blamed for not curing a symptom of a UK ailment that is ignored and aggravated by Westminster policies and those who pull its strings. A Westminster that obstinately refuses to follow the example of countless administrations throughout the world and implement proven beneficial changes to drug policy, even something as simple as safe consumption rooms. How about staging a demonstration outside Westminster, Mr Cole-Hamilton? Take your pals with you; one bus should be enough.

David J Crawford, Glasgow.


IT is only fair to say that the principal cause of Calmac’s poor performance so far this year is caused by its struggles to keep its services running with the fleet of ageing vessels it has been given. And the blame for this state of affairs can be placed fairly and squarely at the feet of inept CMAL, not forgetting its ministerial masters with its central belt focus. But it is surely reasonable for us to expect Calmac’s efforts to be concentrated on the challenge of making the best of a bad job and not wasted on employing brand specialists “to define its brand story”, whatever that means ("Calmac boasts ridiculed after a summer of breakdowns and delays", The Herald, September 21)?

Does Calmac actually need to employ people to produce such posturing gibberish as “The new retelling of our brand story gives us permission to evolve our assets, aspects and communications to align them with the next chapter in our journey”? Would it not be better to concentrate 100% of its efforts and budget on keeping the services going?

I am sure that island residents and businesses just want a reliable service. And I am equally sure that Calmac’s marine and engineering staff want to provide it. Neither group is likely to give a toss about Calmac’s apparent need to use its “ambition, expertise, experience and energies” to “write the next heroic chapter” in its “enduring maritime journey”.

Alistair Easton, Edinburgh.


AFTER Brexit are we obliged to use the singularly ugly old English term of “eatery”? “Restaurant” is French and “cafe” has its roots in Spain. Perhaps the nationalists, so desperate to be different, can come up with their own Scottish version.

John Dunlop, Ayr.

Read more: SNP has drained indy campaign of passion