NORMAN Dryden (Letters, April 26) is clearly raging at the prospect of Scottish voters confirming their support for Scottish independence on May 5. He vents his wrath at the SNP manifesto, which he condemns as a “devious opportunism” trying to “conjoin a vote for its national or local policies” with support for a referendum on independence.

But he really cannot have it both ways. The Scottish electorate have, since 2014, steadfastly supported a majority of MSPs at Holyrood and MPs at Westminster who support independence for Scotland. This is despite all the ups and downs of our local and national government policies in Scotland and a hostile media which lambasts failures at every opportunity.

Scotland’s independence is the raison d’etre of the SNP and Alba, and a fundamental policy of the Green Party. Their manifestos at every election make that absolutely clear. Unionists cannot, surely, be suggesting that they are banned?

The SNP and Greens – along with the whole of Scotland – accepted the result of the 2014 referendum. Since then, however, by supporting these parties at every election, notwithstanding failures at Holyrood, we have protested against the subsequent, profound constitutional changes, the continuing disastrous misrule from Westminster and the awful consequences of poverty, hunger, social disintegration, environmental destruction and international distrust and disgrace.

Meanwhile, the irony may offend Mr Dryden, but I can think of no better words than his own for the morass that is the current Tory Government at Westminster: “continuing devious opportunism, in perfect tune with its continuing lack of democratic principles and integrity, its disrespect for, and manipulation of, democracy and its contempt for the electorate”.

While voters like me may be frustrated by potholes, litter and/or the state of local services, May 5 is indeed one more vital opportunity to comment on that ghastly mess.

Scotland can and must do better at every level of government. Independence from the Westminster Brexit fiasco and its institutionalised corruption is now the only sensible way forward.

Frances McKie, Evanton.


IT appears that both the Prime Minister and the First Minister are approaching what may be a determining moment in their respective parliamentary careers: the former should he be credibly accused by Sue Gray's report of having knowingly breached Covid rules (“Sue Gray Partygate report is ‘damning’”, The Herald, April 26) and the latter should it emerge that she issued or was aware of a ministerial direction regarding financial guarantees in the ferry contract and has since obfuscated as to her involvement (“Ex-FM calls for police probe over ‘missing’ documents in ferries row”, The Herald, April 25).

Should those suspicions be confirmed, both have no doubt had plenty of time to prepare their excuses but neither should expect an easy ride from the electorate. Who can tell what bluster Boris Johnson may employ? If true, his attendance at illegal parties was, admittedly, but only to a certain extent, a personal rather than a corporate failing but, if intentional, it remains serious nonetheless. In the Nicola Sturgeon case, the problem goes more to the ability to govern. It seems inconceivable that a decision of the seriousness of over-riding clear advice on the need for commercially-normal guarantees was made without her at least being consulted, or that no record was made of that decision. If Ms Sturgeon wasn't even informed then the level of organisational incompetence is truly amazing (though SNP functionaries do seem to have a regrettable habit of signing blank cheques). Clear evidence of first ministerial authorisation, and of lack of subsequent openness (I hesitate to say honesty) as to her involvement, must surely be terminal for Ms Sturgeon.

None of my comment here is intended to make a point based on party politics. It can surely give no sensible person, whatever their political allegiance, any pleasure to watch these messes unfolding when the need for consistent and competent management of public affairs has never been more pressing or obvious.

Brian Chrystal, Edinburgh.

* THE secrecy and lack of accountability surrounding the SNP’s conduct of the ferries fiasco is by no means an isolated incident. The Auditor General, Stephen Boyle, who has taken his investigative role very seriously, has also reported that almost £5 billion spent by the SNP administration on Covid support cannot be accounted for. Once again, data collection is incomplete and inadequate. There is no doubt that the money was spent, but on what it was spent and to whom it was disbursed is not at all clear.

Is this simply a matter of SNP incompetence, or could data trails be being deliberately obfuscated?

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh.


I'VE noticed over the past couple of weeks a few short but snide letters (including one today, April 26, from William Durward) attacking Nicola Sturgeon; but of course, there is an election on and Ms Sturgeon is lambasted if she mentions an independence referendum and lambasted if she doesn't. It reminds me of a joke I saw on social media.

Apparently, the Pope and the First Minister were on a boat out at sea and the wind blew the Pope's hat overboard. The First Minister got out of the boat, walked across the water and retrieved the hat. Next day's newspaper headline was "Sturgeon can't swim".

Ruth Marr, Stirling.


CATRIONA Stewart, in her comments on the much-criticised story that Angela Rayner has tried to distract Boris Johnson by crossing her legs ("Mediocre men give this sorry ‘story' legs", The Herald, April 26), concludes by saying that in "politics , the problem isn’t with women’s clothing, it’s with the mediocre male members". That does not tell the whole story. Ms Rayner has succeeded in the world of politics in spite of her lack of "Oxford Union debate training". Some might say that she has succeeded to a large extent because of that particular omission from her CV .

Yes, politics is blighted by the existence in its ranks of mediocre men, but it is also adversely affected by how political opponents sometimes behave toward each other and, in that regard, Ms Rayner went too far, in my view, when she called the Conservatives "scum". If communications between political parties are to be reduced to that level, it will be a sad day for us all.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.


ANDREW McKie ("There is one simple way for government to tackle this awful cost-of-living crisis”, The Herald, April 26) states neoliberal economic doctrine succinctly when he says that there are “those who think that, on the whole, the best action government can take is to get out of the way, and let people make their own choices”.

That Mr McKie agrees with this proposition is plain from the article’s conclusion. But if government “gets out of the way” we are left with only market solutions. That has not been going at all well. More market has been the core of the political right’s message and policy prescriptions for some 40 years. The financial crisis was born out of government getting out of the way and the austerity which followed has the same parentage. The economic damage has been severe and remains with us and has been compounded by another obsession of the political right, Brexit.

The idea that there is very little good that government can do is not a truth, but an ideological position peddled mainly by those of sufficient wealth that they can buy all the services they want, and more, without difficulty.

Extreme inequality, with stagnating real incomes for most, is a consequence and part of the economic problem. Policies which have halved the long-run rate of economic growth are another. Businesses, seeing only poor economic prospects have reduced investment in capital and training for years, which has worsened productivity. Stagflation looms. So, more market must be the solution. Really?

Councillor Alasdair Rankin (SNP), City of Edinburgh Council.


THE horrendous events in Ukraine have prompted much comment around western values and the need to defend liberal democracy and associated freedoms including free speech. It is now reported that Elon Musk has bought the social media platform Twitter (“Elon Musk reaches agreement to acquire Twitter for $44 billion”, The Herald, April 26). He claims a reason for his acquisition is due to his concern for free speech and threats to undermine it. The implication is he sees himself as the arbiter of what may and may not be said.

Does Mr Musk stand for our values or rampant uncontrollable big business? Is he a threat to or a guarantor of liberal democracy?

Brian Harvey, Hamilton.

Read more: Don't let the SNP hijack local elections for Indyref2 mandate