AS a lover of Scottish literature, Sheila Wallace (Letters, November 11) surely knows that the first major poem in the Scots tongue is Barbour’s Brus, an epic celebration of Scotland’s resistance to English aggression. From later periods, she is presumably acquainted with Robert Fergusson’s The Ghaists, with its lines “Black be the day that e’er to England’s ground, Scotland was eikit by the Union’s bond!”, and with Robert Burns’s bitter diatribe against Scotland’s loss of independence, “Such a parcel of rogues in a nation”.

She should also be familiar with the fiery expressions of radical Scottish nationalism in Hugh MacDiarmid’s poetry, and in that of the galaxy of superb Scots-writing poets whom his work inspired: Tom Scott, Sydney Goodsir Smith and Douglas Young, to mention only three of the greatest. I recall from distant student days a symposium in Glasgow University Union at which Norman MacCaig declared: “Every poet in Scotland is a Scottish nationalist”: other eminent figures of the literary scene were also present, and certainly none of them raised a dissenting voice. That was more than half a century ago; but I can think of precious few Scottish writers from that day to this who have not been overt supporters of independence.

The association of our national literature with the cause of independence is not, as Sheila Wallace appears to think, a recent disreputable aberration, but a central fact of the entire field, particularly in the 20th and 21st centuries. Why else does she think generations of Scottish schoolchildren have been deliberately kept in ignorance of most of it?

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Derrick McClure, Aberdeen.


CORRESPONDENCE from John Dunlop (November 9) and Sheila Wallace (November 11) describes alarm that Scottish music, poetry and literature is somehow spoiled and exploited by "nationalists".

Our culture had been founded in a wild amalgamation of local and international influences. I play traditional music and the number of tunes that share Irish and Scottish roots is considerable.

This music is not nationalistic, rather it is very local, with styles and repertoire changing from area to area. It is also international, shared by enthusiastic players across the globe.

Allan McDougall, Neilston.


OPPONENTS of self-government get worked up when celebrities have their tuppence worth, but far more insidious is people living outside Scotland spending large sums to secretly influence events in Scotland, normally by extreme right-wing organisations, and the Electoral Commission needs to clamp down on anonymous third-party funding in elections and referenda.

For example, the recently published expenditure for May’s Scottish elections included £56,256 by the anti-independence grouping Scotland Matters, who were bankrolled to the extent of £46,000 by the unknown Centre for Economic Education and Training, which only has a London PO Box address with no record of who is a member or who is funding it and did not register with the Electoral Commission. A further £19,000 donation to Scotland Matters was from a London-based former Tory researcher, so the vast bulk of its funding was from outside Scotland.

The same applies to the new Scotland Office minister, and Lords peer, Malcolm Offord’s so-called grass roots London-based No Borders organisation that spent £150,000 during the 2014 referendum campaign and received £50,000 from Stalbury Trustees, which is based in England and whose stated company objects is “the promotion of the Conservative Party”.

Fraser Grant, Edinburgh.


WILLIE Maclean (Letters, November 11) is quite mistaken to describe my position on a second referendum as being that future voters “should never have the opportunity to cast a vote on the independence question”.

On the contrary, as regular readers know, I have consistently argued for a New Act of Union that provides a unilateral route to secession, subject to a referendum based on best practice elsewhere (which may include supermajorities and double majorities). This is my reasonable suggestion for a compromise which respects the outcome of 2014 vote and would ensure that independence would only happen if it was the settled will of a clear majority.

However, the concepts of “reasonable” and “compromise” are unrecognisable to the nationalist mindset.

Peter A Russell, Glasgow.


THE SNP has never really got over its defeat in the 2014 referendum.

It is certainly worth noting that in the most recent Holyrood elections the number of votes cast for the SNP amounted to 2,385,788, whilst the Conservative/Labour/Liberal Democrat voters added up to 2,624,825. In percentage terms this is roughly a ratio of 47.6 / 52.4, which is very close to the results in the independence referendum. So one can only conclude that nothing really much has changed – the majority of Scots still wish to remain in the UK.

The recent agreement on the part of the SNP to come to a deal with the largely unelected Scottish Greens merely leads to a greater impasse, rather than any political advantage.

One could well suggest that this is just another attempt to by the SNP to try to undermine the sound economy and political leadership of these islands. Scotland's future will be far safer politically, and economically, if it continues as a constituent part of the UK.

Robert IG Scott, Ceres, Fife.


DR Angus Macmillan (Letters, November 11) refers to the fact that the Labour Party has colluded with the system associated with appointments to the House of Lords for years. Who once said "The House of Lords must go – not be reformed, not be replaced, not be reborn in some nominated life after-death patronage paradise, just closed down, abolished, finished"? Answer: Neil Kinnock in 1976 .

What is he today? Answer: Baron Kinnock of Bedwellty.

That just about says it all.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.


RETIRED Irish Defence Force Colonel Dorcha Lee writes that “Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey are storing US nuclear weapons, without any public concern” ("Would an independent Scotland be vulnerable? Not necessarily", The Herald, November 11). Polling by ICAN, the international campaign to abolish nuclear weapons, in four of the five countries Col Lee references, suggests otherwise.

The publics in these four countries were asked if the US tactical nuclear weapons should be removed and responded in the affirmative as follows: Belgium 57%, The Netherlands 58%, Italy 74% and Germany 83%. Figures for Turkey are not available.

These polls reveal that anti-nuclear sentiment, particularly amongst the original Western European members of Nato is considerable. It is another sign of Scotland’s Western European political cultural alignment in general and that Scottish anti-nuclear sentiment is not some sort of outlier. It is Brexit Britain that is the real outlier.

At its August conference the SNP passed a motion by more than 500 votes to 14 endorsing the earlier decision of all SNP parliamentarians to sign the ICAN parliamentary pledge that an independent Scotland would swiftly sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) which came into force at the UN in January 2021.

The TPNW has 86 state signatories and so far 56 states have ratified it, a number that will grow by the time the TPNW has its CoP1 hosted by the Austrian Government in Vienna in March next year, an event that many of us in the civil society dimension of the anti-nuclear movement hope to attend.

Bill Ramsay, Convener, SNP CND, Glasgow.


I ALWAYS enjoy Alison Rowat's rapier-sharp wit, but if "Mr B Johnson of London" has indeed left the comment she imagines, that Glasgow is a "fab bolthole if up to neck in sleaze row", Mr Johnson, with sleaze now over his head, will find it well-nigh impossible to rise above it, whether in Glasgow or anywhere else ("Just for a while, the world really did belong to Glasgow", The Herald, November 11). And although he'd ditched the plane on his return to the climate conference, his arrival as he alighted from the train was greeted with less than enthusiasm from the reception committee; it wasn't just the gap Boris Johnson had to mind.

However, even more of an irritant to Mr Johnson must be the high profile Scotland's First Minister has achieved at the conference. Mr Johnson infamously told the Scottish Tories he didn't want Nicola Sturgeon "anywhere near it", although he had to do a U-turn on that, given that Nicola Sturgeon is First Minister of the country where the conference is taking place. Then there was the Tory MP alleging that the three objectives at COP26 were "Save the planet. Save the country. And stop Sturgeon getting a photo with Biden". That one didn't go well for Mr Johnson either.

As for the overall verdict on the conference, Ms Rowat is right to sum it up as "jury out". But whether it has been a good COP, a bad COP, or a Cop-out, only time will tell. The problem is that the planet doesn't have time.

Ruth Marr, Stirling.

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