NICOLA Sturgeon suggests that if Scotland is denied a referendum in October 2023, then she will fight the next UK General Election on the principle that the Scottish voters will be voting on a straight "Independence Yes or No" basis, in an election and referendum combined. I assume that if the party wishes to win, it will finally set out a clear and convincing argument as to how Scotland is going to survive on its own, with details of secure interim and future income sources to finance health, social services, education, policing/emergency services, and national armed forces amongst many other vital services required to run the country.

The normal General Election procedures would require considerable change on the Scottish side of the vote, and no agreement has been reached with the UK Government to carry any of the SNP proposals through. Whereas just now the first past the post votes win the constituency seats to give us our party positions, a separate count would also be required for the total number of voters overall who voted Yes, and those who voted No. We could then determine if there was a 60/40 majority vote for the Yes side, on total votes alone, to change the status quo, and lead Scotland to independence.

In my mind, this raises a point that was highlighted in Scotland`s census poll receipts: approximately 10 per cent failed to respond despite the threat of prosecution. The law should be changed requiring General Election voting to be a legal requirement too, so that we at least achieve an 80%-plus vote return on which to decide our future.

George Dale, Beith.

• PETER A Russell (Letters, July 1) states that, by making independence the focus of the manifesto in a General Election, Nicola Sturgeon will be “hijacking democracy”.

I wonder if he classed it as hijacking democracy when, in several recent elections, his beloved Labour Party and other unionist ones made “stop the SNP” the entire focus of all the multitude of leaflets put through our doors?

P Davidson, Falkirk.


I RECENTLY (June 13) made reference on the Letters Pages to the Darien Scheme and have been surprised by the number of people who have told me that they know little or nothing about that crucially important event in our constitutional history. With apologies to all proper historians I offer a very brief reminder of the key events.

In the 1690s at number of European powers, including England and Spain, created colonies in other parts of the world, including South America. A similar intent emerged in Scotland and huge funds were raised by public subscription in Scotland and England for a Scottish adventure abroad. The English government, however, rendered such subscription in England illegal and much of the funding disappeared. However, enthusiasm in Scotland for the project only increased and most of the wealth which existed in Scotland was given to its support.

The English authorities presented every possible obstruction to the project but nevertheless the Scottish ships sailed with the intention of creating a settlement at Darien on the Isthmus of Panama. The pioneers met with great difficulty and hostility ending eventually in capitulation to Spanish military forces.

Long story short, the Darien Scheme failed completely with great loss of lives and leaving Scotland near bankrupt so that political union with England, under the management of Burns' alleged "parcel of rogues", became the unpopular but seemingly inevitable option which duly ensued in 1707.

Within a century after that union the Scottish practices of hanging heretics and burning witches had disappeared and the previous centuries of strife with England were replaced by the great Scottish Enlightenment which led the world in philosophy, art, politics, science, medicine and created the conditions for the emergence in Scotland of a modern age of reason and the likes of Adam Smith, David Hume, James Watt, Robert Adam, Robert Burns, James Clerk Maxwell, Alexander Fleming and Alexander Graham Bell.

The current conversation over the severance of that union could only benefit from a closer study of the circumstances of the Darien Scheme, its failure, the subsequent Union and that Union’s achievement of a civilisation that is today the envy of so much of the world. That might help determine whether it is an emotional loyalty to an ancient kingdom or a reasoned appreciation of the realities of the modern world that should guide the outcome of the conversation.

Michael Sheridan, Glasgow.


SURELY the argument to leave the Union or remain in it arises from our archaic form of governance, based as it is on English history and ritual. In the modern era with economy and supposed equality of opportunity, why do we support an ever-expanding royalty and a very expensive but fairly useless House of Lords? The regular peerages to past prime ministers with questionable performances is yet another example of historical stupidity by the elite establishment.

A king or queen, with a couple of reserves, is all we need to open important events. As a demonstration of British unity they should be numbered correctly for the UK, not for England.

We do not need an elected president (this should prevent the over-promotion of Etonians with doubtful ethics or morals).

As a necessary levelling-up of politics and society, a Senate of equal numbers, say three or four, of elected members from each home nation should act as reviewers of all decisions of the House of Commons.

However, in order to achieve such changes we would require a change of mindset south of the Border and within the Tory and Labour ranks, so it is perhaps a waste of time promoting it here – unless we send it to Gordon Brown, who might find it preferable to his supposed vision of a kind of federalism whenever the SNP is in danger of winning a referendum.

As long as we maintain the present governance there will always be claims for independence.

JB Drummond, Kilmarnock.


LOOKING at the latest horrifying pictures of the outrageous, cruel murders being perpetrated daily against the people of Ukraine, I cannot but wonder why we – that is, the "free" world – continue with our attempts to appease the homicidal tyrant: the present leader of the Russian Federation in his unprovoked and illegal war.

Our strategy seems based on a long-established civil service mantra – to provide all assistance short of help. We'll fight the Russians to the last Ukrainian, taking care all the while to ensure a continuing supply of Russian energy (for which we pay the enemy billions of pounds/euros each and every day). Whoever said, just prior to the start of the invasion, "no boots on the ground" has a lot to answer for and displayed an ignorance of the Russian leader's modus operandi.

As the indiscriminate firing of Russian missiles into civilian "targets" escalates, is it not time we reminded ourselves that a bully can never be placated or appeased? If Russia's ultimate aim is to annexe the whole of Ukraine – and, if successful, perhaps other countries bordering its fiefdom – it will do so, at a time of its own choosing, using every weapon in its military arsenal to achieve that ambition. At what point in the ongoing destruction and murder of a country will we concede that enough is really enough and that Ukraine cannot be left to battle on alone? Hopefully it will be before it is too late for Ukraine and the rest of Europe.

James Napier, Alva.


I AM saddened but not surprised that it appears the Scottish Government has taken a slice off our fragile public service spending to contribute it to the Ukraine war chest (“£65m pledged to Ukraine war effort”, The Herald, June 30).

Of course Ukraine should be able to get the arms it needs to defend itself from the illegal invasion by the new Czar Putin’s Russian imperialist invasion. However, it would make more sense if this was taken from our war industry companies’ wild excess profits from trading in the latest murderous weapons.

Or is that too much like a so-called super tax on the oil companies?

Norman Lockhart, Innerleithen.