OUR democratic, electoral and parliamentary processes, our standards of truth, decency and compassion, the UK’s place in the world and our future prosperity are being relentlessly undermined by a form of Conservatism which had been, until Brexit, safely marginalised in the undergrowth of the Tory back benches.

The consequence is that independence will be seen by many as the only way for Scotland to escape Johnsonian Conservatism.

I suggest that the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Douglas Ross, should recognise that Boris Johnson’s and his own unimaginative and hectoring unionism is the real threat to the Union: more so than the SNP’s dream of independence.

Neil Mackay ("SNP has sucked the life out of independence campaign",The Herald, September 21) rightly maintained that the SNP has been unable to “resolve the unanswered questions which trouble every intelligent Yes voter, and deter floating voters: chiefly, borders and currency”. This is in spite of seven years having passed since the 2014 referendum which the Yes camp lost as a consequence of that very inability.

Scottish citizens find themselves stuck with two nationalisms so obsessed with issues of sovereignty that neither can provide anything approaching effective daily governance. And the real tragedy is that there is no alternative, the Labour Party being prevented by internal strife, lack of imagination and of courage from presenting the UK with a social democratic vision reflecting the progressive instincts of a decent people.

John Milne, Uddingston.


I AM not particularly surprised at the letter from Neil Stewart (September 23), as it is a common fallacy among independence sceptics that "Great Britain" means "English" and if Scotland were to become independent then we would have to start all over again.

It is more likely that an independent Scottish nation would seek a mutual defence strategy which we would contribute to financially. Remember not so many months ago that was the status between Britain and its European partners? All gone now, more's the pity, particularly the debacle that is the Australian nuclear sub treaty with the US.

To throw another coin in the fountain of independence. The Bank of England, although set up by the English in the 17th century was nationalised in 1946 and so, in part, belongs to the four nations.

When you think British please don't assume English.

Ken Mackay, Glasgow.


BORIS Johnson has finally admitted that the bridge from Scotland to Ireland was a fantasy and is now dead. Alister Jack claimed it wasn’t a bridge but a tunnel, and presumably that tunnel is now buried. But this was to be Scotland’s end of the Union Connectivity Review, a £20 billion-plus splurge on a bridge/tunnel and roads. Perhaps someone could ask Mr Jack what will happen to the funding we were promised?

£20 billion-plus would go a long way to solving Scotland’s infrastructure deficiencies. We are used to Scotland losing out on connectivity; it took decades for motorways to cross into Scotland and high-speed rail never will. With one-third of the land mass of Britain and eight per cent of the population, Westminster was more than happy to devolve road and rail funding onto Holyrood, but it seems not so keen on replicating the various EU funds Scotland received, in spite of the promises made. Where is our money, Mr Jack?

GR Weir, Ochiltree.


THE SNP administration is rehashing old undelivered policies ahead of COP26 whilst residents in the city want their rubbish uplifted and the streets cleaned. The flagship Queen Elizabeth hospital is described as having third world conditions by a mother whose son was being treated for cancer in the hospital; meanwhile the city council wants to extract heating from the Clyde ("Metro and M8 garden unveiled in Glasgow’s £30bn ‘greenprint’", The Herald, September 24). Could I suggest that they start by extracting hot air from the debating chamber in George Square?

It is time to get back to basics; clean, safe hospitals, clean streets, education that delivers for all, opening libraries, the list is endless.

Bill Eadie, Giffnock.


THE Lord Advocate has decided that people carrying Class A drugs in Scotland will now not face immediate prosecution, but instead could be issued with a warning by the police. This new approach of “diversion from prosecution” in appropriate cases, should, in the long term, help to reduce the number of offenders ending up in court and filling our prisons for possession of small amounts of all illicit drugs, for their own personal use only. Those found with small amounts of Class B & C drugs are already being offered police warnings and advice on how to seek help if they are vulnerable to addictions. These Recorded Police Warnings (RPWs), will remain on a person's record for two years.

This welcome and sudden change of tack by the Scottish Government is seen as another small but positive part of its plans to address our horrendous drugs deaths.

Within hours our right-wing papers and the Scottish Conservatives were crying foul, with Murdo Fraser, stating that it is “effective decriminalisation of drug possession and use in Scotland”. This of course is utter nonsense, as those found with enough drugs to be clearly for dealing will still face the full power of the law.

What has really upset the Scottish Conservatives is that they have missed their chance to make a positive contribution to the efforts to cut our drug deaths by persuading their political masters in Westminster to amend or devolve drug laws to the Scottish Parliament in order for us to introduce more innovative ways of solving our drugs problems. Sadly, the Scottish Conservatives always rubbish anything that the SNP suggests without offering any creative, affordable and positive solutions.

The Conservatives are also miffed that the SNP has outwitted them by finding a way to creatively use the legal powers it still has to try to make it possible for some of our drug misusers to stop and think about what they are doing to their health, and follow up on some of the rehabilitation and treatment offers that are currently available and being planned for. If this new approach is successful then, in time, the imprisonment of minor-drug offenders should be reduced, releasing public finding to deliver better treatment services.

Our police are already engaged on a daily basis with many hundreds of drug users, too often in a negative way. The use of RPWs will help drug users to understand that they are part of the solution, not just about routes to incarceration. I would suggest that efforts should be made to produce drugs education materials that are suitable for both young people and adults with whom the police are involved with in administering RPWs.

Max Cruickshank, Glasgow.

* IT is James Martin (Letters, September 24) who has “lost it”, not the Scottish Government. In possessing Class A drugs I may be harming myself; by not wearing a mask, I am harming those around me.

Charles Shaw, Glasgow.


THE reported fall in life expectancy for the first time since records began ("Pandemic behind record drop in life expectancy in Scotland", The Herald, September 24) represents another grim reminder of the toll that the Covid pandemic continues to inflict upon us. Against such a backdrop it is all the more dispiriting to note that Liam McArthur, MSP for Orkney, has launched proposals to legalise the early death of individuals diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Society’s entire approach to tackling Covid from day one has been to protect the sick and the elderly from premature death via shielding and vaccine prioritisation. That MSPs are now being asked to consider proposals to hasten death, even as the pandemic rages on, beggars belief, for there is nothing compassionate about presenting already-sick and vulnerable people with the "option" of legally ending their own lives.

Rather than proceed with his plans, Mr McArthur would do well to pay heed to the recent words of his immediate predecessor as MSP for Orkney, Jim Wallace, who has said abandoning current protections would “represent a ‘crossing of the Rubicon’ from which there would be no return” and which “would have profound effects on how society regards those in our communities who are vulnerable, not just the elderly and infirm but also those with disabilities and those who are unable to speak up to protect themselves”. Let us hope that our MSPs take heed of his wise counsel.

Michael Veitch, Parliamentary Officer, CARE for Scotland, Glasgow.