WHEN recently in Fort William on business, I took a walk down the main street, and came across the SNP Indyref2 propaganda trinket shop.

To one side above the shop front was displayed "their flag", a fluttering Saltire; the Ukrainian flag on the other side. The propaganda was clear – Scottish nationalists support that other wee guy against their big nasty neighbouring bad guy. All resonated face-painted woad and cries of "Freedom!", united against tyranny.

Never let truth get in the way of a good story.

But I wonder how many, like me, would love journalists to seek from Nicola Sturgeon et al, honest answers to simple questions?

If Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Vladimir Putin had a vote in Indyref2, which way do you think they would vote, and why?

Soviet Russia, and its heirs, have long sought the destruction of the United Kingdom, and thereby the fatal weakening of the western alliance and Nato. KGB officer Putin was trained to recognise the utility of the foreign "useful idiot" – often a myopic populist or ideologue – who in sublime self-interest or ignorance cause for them the damage that bombs and tanks cannot.

Would President Zelenskyy (or indeed Sweden or Finland) vote for deep strategic harm to be done to the refuge they seek in Nato? And would they have faith that Admiral Sturgeon would run her independent navy as efficiently as our ferries?

G Sweeney, Glasgow.


THERE is both a theoretical as well as a pragmatic justification for using a UK General Election to establish the legitimacy of Scotland's right to be an independent state ("Leading academic fires holes into SNP's 'de facto' referendum plan", The Herald, June 30).

Since the first past the post electoral system is itself seriously flawed, the basis of that legitimacy must be the number of votes cast for candidates who have explicitly stated their support for independence, not the number of seats won. That must be made very clear to voters. This does not depend solely on votes for one political party. In this respect it can be seen as a more democratic test than many General Election outcomes.

Of course there are other issues at stake in a General Election but Scottish votes have very seldom determined the outcome of a UK election. More often Scottish votes have been "wasted", so no great loss there.

It will be up to all those candidates who state their support for independence also to make clear what policies they will support or reject as long as they remain at Westminster.

Of course a referendum would be the preferred route but the British state is very unlikely to take that risk again, so the independence movement must take whatever democratic routes that are available or remain impotent.

The UK Government will try to reject the outcome if there is a pro-independence majority but a Yes vote will make a very big hole in the Westminster brick wall and there will be an accelerating campaign both internationally and in England with clear democratic legitimacy behind it.

Two minor points that voters might like. There won't be any extra costs and two campaigns will be merged into one.

Isobel Lindsay, Biggar.

* THE expert opinion of Professor James Mitchell on the difference between a General Election and a referendum is most welcome.

Above all, it demonstrates the arrogance and dishonesty of the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon, who really must be taught that democracy is not their plaything or their property. Their stated intention to hijack a General Election deserves to be treated with universal scorn by every other political party, by whoever forms Scotland's next UK government, and by the electors of Scotland. We will vote for the party which we wish to see form the government of our choice – and Ms Sturgeon and her acolytes can go whistle Flower of Scotland.

Peter A Russell, Glasgow.


I’VE just watched the SNP’s Stewart Hosie saying to the BBC's Jo Coburn that any future referendum on separation, like those held previously, would not be a legally binding result but, for the sake of democracy, would mean that the UK and Scottish governments must get together to negotiate the terms of the separation. This demonstrates the absurdity of what we are being asked to consider – that is, to have a vote on whether we want to do something and then, if we decide we want to do it, negotiate with someone else to establish exactly what it is that we have voted for.

The SNP claims that before any referendum it will answer all our questions. Like the Scotland's Future White Paper prior to the 2014 referendum, this will be a fantasy because the rest of the UK will not have been involved in setting out their terms, conditions, and agreements for the division of assets and liabilities. One party in a divorce does not unilaterally get to decide the terms of the settlement. We have the example of Brexit in that six years after that vote there are still issues to be resolved with the EU. The best we can say is that so far it has not been as good as many hoped or as bad as many predicted. Scotland's exit from the Union will be far more complicated.

The SNP accuses Westminster of standing in the way of democracy because of its reluctance to commit to a legal referendum. I would argue that the UK Government is upholding democracy in that it was not elected on a manifesto that included expending huge amounts of political, civil service, legal and financial resources at the expense of the many existing major problems requiring urgent solutions. To do so would be to let down most of the people of the UK and, going by the recent polls, a majority of people in Scotland who believe now is not the time.

No consideration should be given to a referendum until there is a clear and consistent significant majority of people in Scotland (say 60 per cent) wishing to have one and that the economic, cultural situation are sufficiently stable to allow both Holyrood and Westminster to have a meaningful Canada-style Clarity Act discussion.

Mark Openshaw, Aberdeen.


THE continuing discussions about the form of question for a referendum on Scottish independence involve domicile, ingenious percentage juggling, voter psychology and accusations of bias or confusion. There are suggestions of multiple questions and challenges to any simple question.

In all this political bickering, there is one word which never appears but whose absence represents a crucial omission of historical fact. The appropriate question for the referendum should not refer to Scotland becoming independent but to Scotland becoming independent AGAIN.

All the proposed wordings tacitly support the idea of some arbitrary region seeking secession. The historical reality is that Scotland was an established country for centuries before most of the countries of modern Europe and well before the United States was assembled from the various territories stolen from the indigenous inhabitants by Christian invaders.

When the Union was created, it was portrayed as a mutual agreement between independent nations (although no mention was made of the English army of occupation that was ready to intervene if necessary). The failure to recognise the great age of Scotland as a country has allowed spurious comparisons to be made with Quebec, Catalonia or other secessionist movements.

The only valid comparison of a union and its dissolution is that of Norway and Sweden. The lack of balance between the overbearing Sweden and the weaker Norway led to the dissolution of their union early in the 20th century. Despite the prognostications of Norway's inability to function independently, it eventually prospered and the two independent nations now coexist as cordial neighbours, each with an enviable standard of living.

Peter Dryburgh, Edinburgh.


YOU report Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross as saying the First Minister was turning Holyrood into a "do-nothing parliament" that neglected the people's real priorities by obsessing over another referendum ("Sturgeon’s dramatic gamble in move to force new referendum", The Herald, June 29).

Why, then, does Mr Ross's own UK Tory Government spend taxpayers' money financing research surveys into the extent of public support for Scottish independence? Why does it then spend even more public cash in court battles to stop SNP MP Tommy Sheppard's attempts to make it reveal the results of its findings?

The top-secret research, of course, also shows London itself is preparing for Indyref2.

Tom Johnston, Cumbernauld.


SOME years ago, the First Minister said: "Judge me on education." Luckily for her, the electorate haven't done so. Ironically, her party's mantra appears to have become "lessons will be learned".

Brian Johnston, Torrance.

Read more: Bring on the indy General Election. The SNP will be crushed