LAST week Nicola Sturgeon was reported as having offered the UK Government a "compromise". No, not that she would accept not having a referendum or continuing to agitate for secession. Her "compromise" is that HMG should agree to allowing her a Section 30 order, for a legal referendum, and then she would talk about the conduct of the referendum ("Sturgeon ‘willing to talk to new PM’ over referendum proposals", The Herald, July 15).

She claims that that was what happened in 2012, with the Edinburgh Agreement, in the process rewriting history: "We didn’t get everything we wanted out of that negotiation, and in any negotiation you have to be prepared to compromise."

I don’t remember any compromise about the question to be asked, the composition of the electorate, the threshold for a successful vote or the date of the vote. The SNP, in the person of Alex Salmond, unilaterally chose all of these – to the lasting shame of the then Prime Minister, David Cameron.

If Ms Sturgeon were to make an offer based on genuine compromise, it should include agreement on a Remain/Leave question, as directed by the Electoral Commission for the Brexit referendum, because of the inherent bias of the Yes/No answer. It should also recognise that breaking up a country requires a mandate of a lot more than a 50 per cent plus one vote majority. The SNP’s own constitution requires a two-thirds majority for change. Why shouldn’t the British constitution?

I’m not saying that we should expect the threshold achieved in Norway in 1905 – of more than 99 per cent for secession from Swedish rule. But we do need an overwhelming majority for such an overwhelming cause.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh.


MICHAEL Sheridan (Letters, July 18) suggests that as neither Scotland nor England is a “separate political entity”, it is only of academic interest “to measure their respective and varying influences on Westminster decisions”. Well, it kept the interest of this retired academic no longer than it took to calculate that 82 per cent of Westminster MPs sit for English constituencies, a particularly graphic illustration of the imbalance inherent in the Union.

It is indeed possible for Scotland to change an election outcome from what England voted for, but Mr Sheridan’s example of 1964 (not 1966 as he claims) speaks eloquently of the frequency with which this happens. Yet he speaks of the “potential of the Scottish vote to determine the identity of the UK Government”. Of the 15 General Elections since 1964, Scotland made a difference only three times (between being the largest party and having a majority).

If England is clear what it wants, it will get it. It doesn’t even have to be all that clear. The Remain/Leave vote in England was closer than our Yes/No vote in 2014. Yet England’s Leave majority was 150% of the UK majority (1,939,909 of the UK figure of 1,269,500). In 2019, the seven Scottish seats the Conservatives won contributed 1.6% to their UK total, and 7.5% to their 80-seat majority. The Boris Johnson Government was elected in England. Of the 57 seats changing to the Conservatives, 52 were in England. Therefore, the democratic deficit is not only about process (for example, please can we have another referendum?), it is structural as well (the population imbalance).

Lastly, Mr Sheridan speaks of “the real democratic deficit in Scotland” being “the Scottish Government’s dissipation of resources in the promotion of a separatist programme”. If he means the £20 million being spent on a second referendum, my calculator display was too small to show how minute a fraction of 1% of the Scottish budget this is. Perhaps his problem is less the amount than that the work is being done at all?

For Labour to form a UK government, Scotland is told it must vote Labour. Clearly to get the attention of the Conservatives, we should vote Conservative. Why not become independent and vote for who we want?

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.

• MICHAEL Sheridan argues that there is no democratic deficit and cites the 1955 General Election (the year in which the Conservatives last won an election in Scotland), as an occasion when Scotland voted the same way as England. In that same year the Warsaw Pact was signed, the Vietnam War began, and Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white passenger. Most people would view these as historic events.

Individuals who could have voted in the 1955 election would today be aged 88 years or over. For the vast majority of Scottish voters, therefore, it is true to say that the Conservatives have not won an election in Scotland in their lifetimes. Yet the Conservatives have won 10 out of 16 UK General Elections since 1955, allowing them to govern Scotland without the support of her people. The fact that Scots voted the same way as England in six of these elections doesn't really compensate for this.

Mr Sheridan argues that this state of affairs does not represent a democratic deficit because many other parts of the UK also do not get the governments they vote for. However, Scotland is not simply a part of the UK, it is a country which has the option of becoming independent. With independence, the party which won the election would have the opportunity to form the government every time, at every election. This would bring Scotland into line with modern democratic norms and end the situation where a political party can wield power without earning a democratic mandate from those they govern.

Mhairi Hunter, Glasgow.


I FEEL that Eric Melvin (Letters, July 18), in providing an opinionated history lesson on the events leading up to the political formation of the United Kingdom, reveals that contemporary separatist arguments are running out of steam.

Even the First Minister has been seen to display her crafty skills as a trained lawyer by claiming that justification for Indyref2 (after Covid) is embedded in a section within the SNP manifesto. I doubt if one per cent of SNP voters have actually read the current manifesto. However, I expect that the SNP would say that this fact is irrelevant as it was published and that is enough. Lawyer talk.

Page 8 of the latest SNP publication Building a New Scotland, under the column heading “If Scotland becomes independent” states: “Decisions about Scotland will be taken by the people who care most about Scotland – those who live here”.

However, on the following page it is stated: “With independence, Scotland would be able to apply to rejoin the EU as soon as possible.” I wish they would make their minds up: Holyrood, Westminster or Brussels?

While in the 2016 Brexit referendum 1.66 million Scottish voters elected to remain in the EU, 1.01m voted to leave. London was a little more decisive with 2.2m wishing to remain in the EU and 1.5m wishing to leave, yet it is Scotland which continues to shout incessantly about a so-called “democracy deficit”.

Bill Brown, Milngavie.


THE SNP might be enjoying the tussle in the Tory ranks over who should be the next Prime Minister, but there is another side to this. Nicola Sturgeon did not face a challenge from anyone in her own party when Alex Salmond resigned. Whilst Ms Sturgeon would almost certainly have won any contest it is still significant that no one thought to stand against her.

Currently all is not rosy in SNP ranks. Ms Sturgeon has turned out to be a divisive character not only to the country but to the opposition and even to those in her own party not adhering to the party line. She is now making bizarre choices such as trying to force another referendum and ignoring the parallels in her own party concerning the Pincher affair.

Scottish Labour under Anas Sarwar is also now a force to be reckoned with and the Tories are not as "toxic" as the SNP might desire. Perhaps it is time someone now challenged her leadership, but is there anyone?

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow.


I TOTALLY agree with the Conservative leadership contenders who are calling for tax cuts as soon as possible. This call is urgent for those in employment who are effectively paying the highest rate of income tax at 55%. This rate applies to those in employment and claiming Universal Credit to boast earnings. For every £1 earned above your work allowance (if you are eligible for one) your Universal Credit will be reduced by 55p, effectively a tax. This demands urgent action amidst the cost of living crisis.

To date we have not heard a squeak from the leadership contenders regarding the below-inflation increase of 3.1 per cent to welfare benefits in 2022, a scenario that must be reviewed in light of the rocketing cost of energy, food and fuel.

Catriona C Clark, Falkirk.

Read more: It is Scotland's votes that keep the Union on an even keel