I DON’T know what to make of Adam Tomkins setting out his reasons for not annoying Nicola Sturgeon ("There’s a way to beat nationalists – but it’s not by ignoring them", The Herald, August 10). He derides what he calls “muscular Unionism”, the “Britnats” who troll him and the “appeasement” that he is accused off. He goes on to list the things that Liz Truss must not do under any circumstances should she be elected as PM. It is much better, he says, to be the nice guys and play a long game.

Support for independence may not have increased, that is true, but it has not gone down either. The nationalist/unionist split has become entrenched, and the longer it is allowed to prevail, the deeper the rut will be and the harder it will be to get out of it. Being reasonable will not then solve the issue.

I believe that the UK Government does need to be more assertive in its role in Scotland, as it must be across the devolved administrations and city mayors in England. You avoid the accusation of bullying by applying the same rules to yourself as to the devolved governments. So, for example, we should have the same standards of transparency, accounting and budgeting throughout, as well as common rules and sanctions for civil servants, a common understanding of the role of the courts in needing to remain independent, and respect across the board for what is in your remit and what is not.

I am all for being tough on politicians who spend time and our money on issues for which they do not have permission of the public to pursue. Nicola Sturgeon does whatever she likes and no one dares touch her. If we tiptoe around this, it will only get worse. Dealing with any abuses of power is not “muscular”, it is simply common sense. Not addressing them is indeed “appeasement”. Yes, the word has connotations, but it still accurately describes the behaviour observed, and this is what Professor Tomkins is engaged in, whether he can see that or not.

It is this behaviour that ensures that so-called pro-Union parties will never break through, and the nicer and more reasonable they are, the less likely it is that anything will ever change. Alastair Darling was a nice guy, but he nearly threw it away in 2014. It was Gordon Brown banging his fist down that made people sit up and listen and won the day when things looked like they might be lost. Ms Truss needs to exert her authority too if we are ever to resolve these issues.

Victor Clements, Aberfeldy.


IAIN Dale’s interview with Nicola Sturgeon ("Sturgeon ‘may not lead SNP into next Holyrood election'", The Herald, August 11)has attracted more attention than it deserves. It was a show on the Festival Fringe, not a serious political interview. The audience contained a significant SNP claque who loudly registered their appreciation of their leader, and Mr Dale lobbed rather-friendly questions Ms Sturgeon’s way. What a pity he didn’t query some of her answers. For example, when Ms Sturgeon claimed that an insult to her was an insult to Scotland, he might have gently suggested that identifying a leader with a country, and vice versa, was a relic of the 20th century that we have chosen to leave behind.

Ms Sturgeon claimed that an independent Scotland would belong to the Common Travel Area, with the UK and Ireland. Yet she also wants Scotland to have a very different immigration policy from that of the UK. How would that work? It wouldn’t. But it was a question that needed to be asked. As for the customary Sturgeon/SNP complaint that they could do so much more if they had greater borrowing powers, Mr Dale might have asked whom she would have expected to act as her guarantor, her lender of last resort. The answer, of course, is "the Bank of England". But why would the Bank of England act as guarantor for loans incurred by a financially irresponsible administration whose track record with finance and the spending of taxpayers’ money is already very dubious?

Mr Dale’s show was an opportunity missed. But then a "show" was what it was, and the opportunity provided was one for Ms Sturgeon to lay out her stall without the inconvenience of needing to explain how its components would work.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh.

• I WANT independence, but I am raging to see our First Minister parading about at the Edinburgh festivals. She is proving to be no better than Boris Johnson.

The Prime Minister and First Minister are AWOL in the midst of several crises.

In my opinion the FM did well during Covid, but she should be tied to her desk and be banging the heads of Calmac chiefs and her Transport Minister to get the islands ferry services sorted out. Swanning about at the festivals does nothing other than increase her personal profile – which doesn't helps islanders get a pint of milk.

I want to go on holiday to the Western Isles, but not while this shambles continues.

Ms Sturgeon, if appearing in Vogue magazine and high-profiling yourself at the Edinburgh Festival is your preferred option, move aside and let someone else take us to the Promised Land of Independence.

IB Archibald, Edinburgh.


MY recent letter (August 8) describing Brexit as an English invention voted for by the English bias in an antiquated parliamentary system solicited two criticisms.

First, a claim that the SNP should have voted for Theresa May's soft Brexit instead of letting Boris Johnson run rampage. Scotland did, and still does not, want Brexit in any form, and the SNP rightly rejected any such motion.

Secondly, we just have to accept the present system of governance which leaves us with an undemocratic parliament steeped in English tradition, with an unelected House and an enormous English weighting. Only the nationalist parties wish to change this(but not necessarily in a way to keep us as the United Kingdom as we would prefer).

Westminster has been described as the mother of all parliaments, but outside of England it really is more like a mother-in-law.

JB Drummond, Kilmarnock.


I FIND I am beginning to wonder if the year 2014 has been erased from all records.

The letter from Arthur Greenan (August 11) shows he is happy to quote Professor John P Mackintosh and his speech of 1974 about independence: "providing that it is the will of the Scottish people". He then quotes Donald Dewar, May 21, 1997, in Hansard: "I should be the last to challenge the sovereignty of the people if they want to go for independence, I see no reason why they should not do so."

Please correct me if I am wrong, but I've been under the impression that the referendum, only eight years ago, satisfied both of those statements and the result was a resounding rejection of independence by the majority of the people of Scotland.

I note that "democracy" is the new grievance and I presume, therefore, that there is now a suggestion that the 2014 referendum was, somehow, not democratic.

Here's a thought: in the defence of true democracy and, on the basis that as regards Scotland leaving the Union, four nations would be affected, surely it would be more "democratic" if all those four nations were allowed to vote on the possible breaking up of that Union?

Finally, I fully agree with all those sending their support to Ruth Marr and her family (Letters, August 11). There is no place anywhere for abuse and I absolutely defend her right to opinions and free speech.

John Kennedy, Stirling.

• I WOULD like to thank your correspondents for their responses to my letter of August 9, but I must point out to Robin Johnston that strong criticism is one thing, abuse is quite another, and I fully endorse the comments with regard to abuse made by Craig Wishart and R Russell Smith.

I was dismayed by Mr Johnston's assertion that I never fail to point out "the alleged failings of anything English or connected with Westminster"; he's right about Westminster, but very wrong about my attitude to England, a country I hold in great respect and affection. My family came originally from Shropshire, I have many English relatives and frequently holiday in England – in fact, my last holiday a few months ago was an uproarious trip to Blackpool with my daughters and grandchildren. And I can assure Mr Johnston that no matter how nasty it may get, I can stand the heat and I have no intention of getting out of the kitchen.

Ruth Marr, Stirling.

Read more: Energy-rich Scotland is paying the price of being in the Union