IF, as expected, Nicola Sturgeon's quest for an indisputably legal referendum fails and, for the first time, she commits her movement into a General Election that is, for her, explicitly and categorically a "de facto" referendum ("Sturgeon’s dramatic gamble in move to force new referendum", The Herald, January 29), this should be a doddle for the pro-UK side.

Referendums are decided on total votes cast, not seats won, and even at "peak Sturgeon" in the 2015 General Election she only got 49.9 per cent of the vote, declining to 37% in 2017 when the Tories campaigned on an anti-independence ticket. It increased to 45% in 2019 when the SNP hardly mentioned independence.

There are many advantages for the pro-UK parties if the issue is to be settled in a General Election.

There would be no confusion about whether to boycott an illegal plebiscite, no time wasted agreeing a common approach for Better Together 2; rather each party could focus on battering the SNP's 15-year record and half-baked currency, border, EU, Nato, pension debt, deficit and citizenship proposals with the arguments that best suit their election manifesto, ably supported by the many grass roots pro-UK campaigns such as Scottish Business UK, Scotland Matters, Scotland In Union, The Majority and UK Union Voice that have sprung up and prospered since 2014 and were largely credited with blunting the SNP's widely-forecast "landslide" in the Holyrood elections last year.

With such high stakes, all these parties and groups will again be very well funded.

And even if Boris Johnson is still in power, the LibDems and Labour can upstage any SNP "blame Boris" stuff because they will be campaigning to actually replace him and his Government without ripping the UK apart.

The SNP won't know what's hit it.

Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven.


SINCE the SNP has now set the precedent that there can be a nine-year gap between referenda, then UK supporters should perhaps build in a factor of safety and begin gearing up for 2032 in case the Supreme Court could conceivably be ill-advised enough to still think choosing independence may be a good idea in any unilateral SNP referendum.

I have read the SNP manifesto which its authors state legitimises their claim for a second independence referendum. The issue is in fact only one of 17 key promises and states it is only to be sought for after the Covid crisis is over. The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics indicates around one in 20 people in Scotland still have it.

I expect the SNP has planned this “ dramatic gamble” as a diversionary tactic to take the heat off its failings in the other 16 objectives. It seems a long way from keeping all its grand plans. For example, how far on is the SNP in its intent to “ provide every child in Scotland with a device to get online including a free internet connection and the support to use it”?

What is noticeable from a political party which hungers for mature self-governing statehood is that all of the 17 key points in the SNP manifesto are about spending UK money. It is difficult to determine a serious and effective intent to invest purely to generate fresh income and create a wealthy Scotland to prove to the public they could stand on their own two feet. Instead, as everyone knows, any fool can spend money.

Bill Brown, Milngavie.


NICOLA Sturgeon offends and frankly disgusts the majority of Scots when she talks about protecting Scots democratic rights.

Well over 50 per cent of Scots, democratically, voted to remain in the Union, at what she herself said would be a once in a generation exercise. What is it about this result that she seems unable to understand?

At recent elections, more Scots voted against the SNP by voting for pro-Union parties. Again, why is she incapable of understanding this message?

She needs to give us a break and stop this pretend 2023 referendum nonsense which does nothing but waste taxpayers' money and takes eyes off those far more important issues that we pay her to manage, namely the economy, health services, education and welfare.

Paul McPhail, Glasgow.


THE electorate are invited to consider the difference between an election and a referendum, one point being that the former is reversible and the winner of the latter is likely to seek to make the result permanent. However, the result in 2014 is not regarded as permanent by the losing SNP – but a winning SNP would behave differently.

The Scottish Government recently made available £20 million to help fund the case for independence. Democratic considerations indicate that the same sum be made available to those who oppose independence. The funds administered by government are entirely taxpayers' property and ought not to be dispensed with blatant bias.

William Durward, Bearsden.


DOES Scotland actually exist or is just a big bit of England? If Scotland is a separate entity and the powers that be believe in democracy, then why are their knickers in a twist? In a democracy the common man should make the decision, end of story. Certainly, it’s the antithesis of democracy if a group of individuals in a completely different country prevent local decisions being taken no matter how important they may be.

The reason unionists will try to deny the right of self-determination to Scots is the fear that the majority of Scots would decide to leave the Union; they would rather that the great unwashed just continued to follow instructions given them by their betters in the Establishment. Our politicians are so much better, wiser and intelligent than the rest of us, Boris Johnson is the supreme example of this and we should listen intently to what they say. The appalling performance of Westminster managing the UK economy is all the proof one should need of the degree of wisdom inherent in those who promote the continuance of the Union. The arrogance displayed by Westminster clinging on to the vestiges of Empire on the world stage while it decimates the standard of living of its citizens is breath-taking.

If Scotland is denied the right to decide to leave the Union if and when the majority of its citizens want this, then the already-thin veil of democracy will disappear and the true nature of UK society will be revealed in all its tawdry plutocratic glory.

David J Crawford, Glasgow.


THERE’S been an awful lot of talk in your editorials and Letters Pages recently about the 2014 independence referendum – but very little about Gordon Brown’s "Vow" and the various shenanigans that took place thereafter. When it comes to confidence tricks this piece of slight of hand must surely take the biscuit.

What those who actually understand the UK constitution must have found particularly surprising is that the SNP actually agreed to take part in the Smith Commission, thus giving it credence and authority about as justified as a con man in the street playing "Find the lady". Perhaps the silence is linked to the potential to hopefully repeat the process if it ultimately proves necessary?

“Fool me once shame on thee; fool me twice shame on me”.

DH Telford, Fairlie.

• WILLIAM Loneskie (Letters, June 29) talks about the strengths of the UK and then asks the question: “Why would Scotland wish to leave it?” I’ve always believed passionately in the strengths of Scotland and I would ask Mr Loneskie why does the UK Government not want Scotland to leave? I think the answer to my question is obvious to many.

Brian Watt, Edinburgh.


PLEASE accept my thanks on behalf of many others in Scotland who care for loved ones diagnosed with dementia, for your leading article “Why we will continue to fight for an end to the dementia tax'”(The Herald, June 25). I am a full-time unpaid carer for my wife, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in November 2018 and I watch her daily deteriorate now, to the stage where she is disappearing in front of me as her ability to eat is almost gone.

Please keep up the good work in relation to your campaign, launched in October 2019 and allegedly fully supported by the First Minister. Nicola Sturgeon has gone out of her way to back legislation for “buffer zones” for the abortion argument, going so far as to chair a specially called meeting for this issue. Why then is it that three years after she fully backed your campaign, she has still to date done nothing further about bringing an end to the dementia tax?

Specialist nursing, as you mention in your article, should be a basic health right. This is a blatant unfair disparity in care costs for all having to live with dementia.

Peter and Mary Charleton, Edinburgh.

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