I WISH to offer a constructive solution to Duncan Sooman’s dilemma when he says he now has no party to support (Letters, June 10). For the past 15 years or so, due to the inbuilt fracture of the anti-separation vote, Scotland has burdened itself with a Government whose flagship policy is directly at odds with the majority of the voting population. Throughout that period, the majority of voters as evidenced by election after election and opinion poll after opinion poll, has favoured the retention of the Union against separation from the UK. Throughout the same period, voters have elected a Government dedicated to and distracted by that separation. How stupid is that?

The voters’ alternative is now to vote in a government which represents the majority intentions, will not be bogged down by fruitless efforts to change the majority intention and will be able to get on with governing the country in accordance with the wishes of the majority. It would also dispose of the need for another expensive, damaging and divisive referendum. What could be wrong with that?

In order to achieve this solution, the voter requires simply to consult the statistics of the last election and ascertain which of the pro-Union parties polled the highest vote and vote for that party at the next election. Thus they would relieve themselves of their tribal millstones and cast their votes in favour of the parties most likely to achieve their most important objective. It would put in place a government which was more proportionately representative of the wishes of the Scottish nation. It would also take Scotland out of its irrelevant and damaging constitutional bubble and enable it to resume a serious political profile and address grown up issues. What could be better than that?

Michael Sheridan, Glasgow.


ALAN Fitzpatrick's letter (June 9) contained two factual errors which I would like to correct.

It is wrong to say that an "election is to settle the make-up of the Scottish executive". In parliamentary democracies, elections decide who sits in parliament and those elected representatives decide the make-up of the Scottish executive.

It is also wrong to say that electoral victory for a government (or policy) "depends on the yardstick you apply". Trying to change the way you measure "victory" because you don't like the result is just cakeism. The metric is fixed. The winner of an election is the party or group of parties which can command a majority in parliament. Any parliament.

Despite him "only" winning 43.6 per cent of the UK vote, we Scots have to thole Boris Johnson being UK Prime Minister because he has a majority in Westminster.

Similarly, the SNP receiving 47.7% of the constituency vote and pro-independence parties securing more than 50% of the regional vote is immaterial. Nicola Sturgeon is First Minister because she has a majority in Holyrood to deliver the SNP and Scottish Greens' legislative programme. And the referendum bill is part of that programme.

As much as Mr Fitzpatrick may dislike it, that is parliamentary democracy.

David Patrick, Edinburgh.


JILL Stephenson (Letters, July 10) argues that Kate Forbes's claim that the UK Government would need to provide the necessary funding or permit the Scottish Government to borrow £450 million to close the funding shortfall in its infrastructure plans is “as clear an admission as anyone needs that Scotland needs to remain a part of the UK”.

In fact, Ms Stephenson’s argument is only true because we remain part of the UK. She points to Scotland having no lender of last resort, but as long as we remain in the UK, that, as well as guaranteeing borrowing, is the role of the Bank of England for the whole UK.

She also points out that “borrowing requires confidence in the lender” that they will be repaid. As above, the Bank of England fulfils this role for Scotland and the rest of the UK. However, Ms Stephenson’s implied slur that no one would be foolish enough to lend to Scotland is wholly without evidence and supported by little more than prejudice.

Lastly, that Ms Forbes “is already provided with the largest block grant ever” elides over the fact that economic management by our own parliament is limited to spending a sum (the block grant), determined not by that parliament but another one, and varying some aspects of a single tax (income tax), because we remain “part of the UK”. Perhaps Ms Stephenson’s letter is a clear admission (if more were needed) that is time for Scotland to reconsider whether it should “remain part of the UK”?

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.

* I READ Jill Stephenson’s letter with incredulity. She could easily get a job with Boris Johnson as a spin doctor the way she is revolving the issue.

Frankly, her assertions are, without a doubt, a pointer to independence.

We could spend and borrow as we see fit with complete confidence by lenders I am certain. As to spending £20 million on an independence referendum, this pales into insignificance compared to more than £1 billion spent on an over-indulged celebration of an outdated institution – the monarchy. Perhaps the Tory grandees could let us have their pals return the untold billions wasted on PPE.

Really, you couldn’t make it up.

Ken Mackay, Glasgow.


I AM an optimist. Although I see the continuing leadership of the Conservative Party of the shameless con artist Boris Johnson as a short-term reversal, I also see every day of his continuing presence as a further nail in the coffin that makes the party unelectable – hopefully for years to come. Actually, I'm surprised that as many as 60 per cent of Tory MPs fail to see the approaching train wreck.

The downside is, of course, the damage being done to the UK's reputation at home and abroad by the abuses being perpetrated by perfidious Albion.

Douglas McKenzie, Westfield, West Lothian.


IN spite of signing the non-proliferation treaty, the UK Government is increasing the cap on its nuclear weapons stockpile by 40 per cent, and proceeding with the delayed Trident nuclear submarine replacement programme at an estimated lifetime (25 years) cost of around £200 billion (10 times the original estimated cost of building four replacement submarines).

Eight billion pounds (more than double the original estimate) has already been spent on building two new aircraft carriers but the Ministry of Defence cannot afford the aircraft (F-35B Lightning II stealth jump jets) they were intended to host, or the necessary escorts and support ships, never mind the still-to-be-commissioned advanced early-warning radar system (Crowsnest).

Before the 2014 referendum David Cameron promised the construction of eight Type-26 frigates but eight years later, after repeated delays, work has apparently only commenced on three (estimated cost of £4bn) with the first of these frigates unlikely to be in service before 2027.

Added to the above is the recently-reported delayed provision (already more than five years overdue) of more than 500 Ajax armoured vehicles which have already cost the UK tax payer more than £3.6 billion.

Certainly there is plenty of scope for improvement in the Scottish Government’s procurement procedures, ensuring the good and effective use of public money, but those who seek to persistently castigate it should be sufficiently honest to also criticise UK Government expenditure, with Scotland essentially paying more than 8% of the above MoD costs.

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry.


IN your recent national debate on health inequalities you quoted Dr David Walsh as saying "if we don’t narrow economic inequalities in society we are simply not going to succeed [in tackling health inequalities]" ("Only by giving Scotland more legislative powers can we truly tackle health inequalities", The Herald, June 1).

Meanwhile Kate Forbes has put forward spending plans which will cut back even further on public services.

Holyrood has the power to determine local government taxation and could ensure that local government raised much more of its own income and did so in ways that enabled taxation to be fairly spread according to people’s means. More council tax bands could be introduced rapidly. Over the next years a valuation of land and property could take place so that local authorities could have a portfolio of taxes (including the option of a tourist tax and congestion charging) that would enable them to raise significantly over half their expenditure. Local electors could then choose whether or not to elect high-tax-and-spend councillors or to have lower taxes and poorer public services. The Holyrood contribution from taxes on income could be used to give greater support to poorer authorities.

Such an approach would give the electorate the possibility of reducing health inequalities and maintaining public services and could do so whether Scotland becomes independent or not.

David Mumford, Dunbar.