JILL Stephenson (Letters, July 14) is always an eloquent and interesting read, but I’m afraid she is missing the whole concept of the SNP.

If the SNP were to be granted a referendum next year and lost, it would still call for another. That is what it does and what it will always do. Perhaps Ms Stephenson might reflect on why the party keeps getting voted into office?

Strangely, in my view, the Conservative and Unionist Party is much to blame. For instance, in its rush to “Get Brexit Done” it agreed to move the Irish border to the Irish Sea, thereby telling the people of Northern Island that they may as well join with the republic: which they duly did by substantially increasing the vote for Sinn Fein. With the unionists spitting out the dummy and refusing to assist in the governing of Northern Island, it is clear that it won’t be long before Ireland is one united republic.

In addition, from where did they get the £15 billion for the new Elizabeth Line? From where did they get the £80 billion for HS2? From where did they get the £3 billion for two useless aircraft carriers? From the oil and gas industry, mainly based in Scotland. The UK Government has “helped itself” to the natural resources of the UK, mainly for England while denying the regions an equivalent share and removed any hope of future investment. The UK will let Scotland be independent once the oil and gas are used up, which it thought was the situation at the last referendum, only to be proved wrong.

The Scottish people are not daft and they know that something is just not right even if they wish to remain in a united realm.

If Ms Stephenson is so against independence can she tell us how we can “level up”, or are we just to bend the knee and touch the forelock?

Ken Mackay, Glasgow.


JILL Stephenson thinks a one-off referendum has “fixed” the debate on independence. Even if we disregard the lies and broken promises used to entice us into voting No (especially during the last desperate week), Brexit et al, then there is the precedent of Brexit.

During the Brexit referendum, Boris Johnson ruled out a second referendum on the EU Union, saying the vote was a one-off “generational question”, yet only three years later, without a mandate from the electorate, Prime Minister May was offering to run a second EU referendum, to gain Labour support for her Brexit legislation. Labour was then a secret pro-Brexit party: it’s now openly pro-Brexit. Sauce for the goose entitles sauce for the gander. Call it equivalence.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.


BORIS Johnson is not alone.

Not only do the supercilious Prime Minister and UK Government Cabinet ministers find lying and duplicity acceptable in government, and in our general political discourse, but Jill Stephenson and other writers to this newspaper appear to consider it irrelevant when vows are broken and the public have been misled. It is not only democracy that is under threat in the UK today but standards in public life, where principles and integrity are being sacrificed on the altar of political ambition and self-interest.

While Ms Stephenson denies that significant changes since the 2014 referendum, most notably (but not exclusively) the UK departure from the EU, warrant another plebiscite, she is effectively condoning mendacity, if not wilful lying. Is this truly the extent of her ambition for our political leadership, our governance and the society we bequeath our children? I would respectfully suggest that the majority of Scotland’s citizens have higher aspirations and that they have a democratic right to express their wishes via another, and hopefully more honest, independence referendum.

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry.


WILLIE Maclean (Letters, July 14) questions the provenance of the statement “once in a generation" in the lead-up to the 2014 referendum. All he needs to do is to search out a copy of the Scotland’s Future publication issued by the Scottish Government promoting a Yes vote and read the clear and specific references in the introduction written by Alex Salmond. There was no qualification to whatever uncertainty might be introduced by referring instead to a political generation.

Perhaps Mr Maclean should ask Mr Salmond why he urged the electorate to vote Yes in the 2014 referendum on the basis that it was a once in a generation opportunity if he didn’t mean it?

Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop.


I SUPPORT the proposition that Scotland should be an independent state. Yet I do not support a referendum in the near future for the simple reason that it could not be won, or at least not by a decisive majority such as would not cause decades of dissent or rancour.

However, there is a more fundamental issue at hand which too many in England ignore. Either this is a Union of equals or it is not. Could Scotland dissent to England withdrawing from the Union? Clearly not. So why can Scotland not do the same?

Is it a Union of equals?

Michael Collie, Dunfermline.


I HAD completely forgotten that Alba MPs Neale Hanvey and Kenny MacAskill were sitting at Westminster, so little have they done since that party came in to being.

Now we see their pointless protest and eviction ("The smiling backstabbers now patted Johnson on the back", The Herald, July 14), which they think will win admirers, but which will ultimately be forgotten in a day or so. Who do they think they are? Alex Salmond in his younger days? Undoubtedly, he will have given them some encouragement, or perhaps he simply asked them if they were ever going to contribute anything from their well-paid positions.

Goodness knows what their constituents will make of their meaningless tactics. I suspect they would like to see them ejected from the place completely. Even their SNP counterparts occasionally do something of value. These two, not so much.

Victor Clements, Aberfeldy.

• THE removal of the two Alba MPs by the Speaker’s orders on Wednesday at the start of PMQs was shameful. Clearly, it was nothing more than an infantile "hey, look at me’’ Primary Two stunt. It had a most reasonable Speaker spluttering with rage as he called for the Sergeant-at-Arms to remove them. What was this exhibition of boorishness supposed to achieve? How can you even try to understand such idiocy? The smirking triumphalism of the two outside the House after it spoke volumes.

In fact it recalled to me the incident a few years before when the now-leader of their party had a similar attack of narcissism just before a Budget speech. We have all seen what has happened to him in the years since.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.


I WOULD challenge Gordon Fisher (Letters, July 14) to justify some of his assertions about politicians’ wealth, in particular that of Sir Keir Starmer.

There are various sites which “estimate” the wealth of celebrities and politicians without being required to justify the estimates.

The verifiable facts about Sir Keir are that he has an MP’s salary plus a supplement as Leader of the Opposition and that he has declared extra-parliamentary income of £115,000 over six years in Parliament, which works out at less than £20,000 per year. Hardly the basis for a £7 million fortune.

Sam Craig, Glasgow.


I WRITE in response to Neil Mackay’s article on the death squad claims against the SAS ("Disband the SAS if Afghan death-squad claims are proven", The Herald, July 14). One case I remember is Baba Moussa, the hotel receptionist who died at the beginning of the (illegal) invasion of Iraq. His body had the vivid print of a boot on it. His only crime was to welcome the soldiers who he thought had come to help his country.

The problem is that in order to get boys and men to fight, an army has to take a male, and change him, psychology, emotionally and physically from an ordinary human being into a killing machine. Otherwise the soldiers don’t want to kill. Look what the American soldiers did at My Lai.

That is why I am a pacifist, I subscribe to about half a dozen pacifist organisations and faith groups. That is why I, like my colleagues in CND, the Scottish Peace Network, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the Peace Pledge Union, Renfrewshire for Peace, are in favour of the slogan "No knives, no guns, no weapons, no war”. That is why we support Swords into Ploughshares, because instead of arms factories we want factories giving our men and women jobs in industries that promote peaceful engineering projects, like environmentally friendly transport.

Let’s end our links with war crimes, and as Mr Mackay writes, disband the SAS if this latest allegation is proven. No more enquiries, no more excuses, no more cover-ups.

Margaret Forbes, Blanefield.

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