I READ with interest that our First Minister may stand down before the next election ("Sturgeon ‘may not lead SNP into next Holyrood election’", The Herald, August 11). Who is capable of taking over the reins?

I look around at potential candidates and worry. There is the lapdog John Swinney, our First Minister's blue-eyed boy. Ian Blackford, the SNP's representative at Westminster who bumbles and stumbles along. Patrick Harvie: perish the thought.

Whoever is chosen will have to deal with a legacy of failure – ferries, rail, the NHS, schools and roads, to name a few of these fiascos.

I have the feeling that the First Minister is saying this as she's pre-empting another failed independence vote. Coupled with the aforementioned fiascos, that gives her no other option.

Neil Stewart, Balfron.


YOUR correspondent JB Drummond (Letters, August 12) is wrong to try to justify the SNP voting against Theresa May's soft Brexit, thereby ushering in the hard Brexit and handing the keys to No 10 to Boris Johnson.

In response, I would draw his attention and that of your readers to the message that the eminent Scots-Canadian economist JK Galbraith sent to President John F Kennedy in early 1962: "Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists of choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable." In this case, a soft Brexit may have been unpalatable, but no-one can doubt that the hard Brexit has been disastrous, and the SNP must bear its share of responsibility together with the other opposition parties.

For what it's worth, my own view was that all of the Westminster parties should have had a Plan B in case the Brexit referendum was lost, and that should have been to negotiate an EEA/EFTA arrangement which would have maintained the UK's place in the single market while honouring the referendum result (unless someone can prove that Norway is an EU member). This was also the advice of that well-known Brexit apologist and Little England Tory, Yannis Varoufakis.

But they did not, so Mrs May's free trade arrangement was what was realistically available, and unpalatable as it may have been, it would have been better than what we ended up with, courtesy of the SNP and the others.

Peter A Russell, Glasgow.


MARK McGeohegan's article ("What Quebec can teach us about Scotland's future", August 11) is one of many which have tried to compare the independence movement in Quebec to that of Scotland and, like most of his predecessors, Mr McGeoghegan makes use of the word secession.

Quebec was created by French invaders in the 17th century and given the position of province by the British in 1763. It was never a country.

Scotland was identified as an independent country in the ninth century. It is one of the oldest countries in the world, despite periodic fluctuations in its borders.

The movement for Scotland's independence is not the attempted secession of a region but the desire to terminate a treaty which joined it with England, its neighbouring country, in a union. This union has long ago outlived any advantage it might have had for Scotland.

The main lesson we can learn from Quebec is that spurious comparisons will continue to be made with secessionist movements in order to confuse reasonable discussions of Scottish independence.

Peter Dryburgh, Edinburgh.

• FRASER Grant (Letters, August 11) claims that Ireland, which he believes boosts the case for separation, will escape a recession, unlike the UK. No, it won't.

A recent survey of the Irish people said four out of five think a recession is coming. Electricity prices are up 41 per cent, gas up 60%, heating oil up 115%, diesel up 51% and inflation is at 9.1%. Ireland is being keep afloat because it is a tax haven for multinationals, though that may change with the country being forced to raise its rate of corporation tax to the new OECD minimum of 15%.

We should also remember that Ireland's economy went belly up after the financial crash of 2008 when, to keep it from bankruptcy, it needed an international bailout of €67bn, including a large sum from the UK. And while in January 2007 the Anglo Irish Bank had been named the "best bank in the world" by consultants Oliver Wyman, by January 2009 it was bust and had to be nationalised. Like RBS the hype concealed the reality, and there's a lesson there if Scotland were to strike out alone with the financial sharks circling.

William Loneskie, Lauder.


NEIL Mackay ("The politicians of today are letting us down", The Herald, August 11) doesn't like Labour politicians. More accurately, he has a kind word only for dead Labour men. Those still above the ground he characterises as "loathsome" and "immoral" (Tony Blair) or "Tory lite" (Sir Keir Starmer). Admittedly, the Iraq intervention was a catastrophic mistake. The UK played a very secondary role in that war but, in hindsight, it should have been nowhere near that theatre in the first place. But – and there is a but – Mr Blair's fateful decision had the overwhelming support of MPs from all parties.

Obviously, no living Labour politician can possibly meet Mr Mackay's high moral standards. According to him, Mr Blair is "loathsome" and "immoral" and, as a consequence, any of his so-called achievements are tarnished. But – and there is another but – it may be instructive to compare and contrast the Blair/Brown governments with subsequent administrations.

Gordon Brown, as PM, reviewed Labour's record over the period 1997-2010: a winter fuel allowance; the minimum wage; the shortest waiting times in the history of the NHS; devolution; overseas aid tripled; 500,000 children removed from poverty; a Cancer Guarantee; a Disability Rights Act; civil partnerships; maternity pay; paternity leave; Sure Start (now abandoned) and peace in Northern Ireland. Clearly, none of this cuts it for Mr Mackay.

Incidentally, his article contains a worrying factual error. He ascribes the rise of Hitler to inflation. That is nonsense. Stresemann and others had resolved the German hyperinflation by 1923. Hitler became Chancellor in 1933.

Martin Brennan, Greenock.


IT is interesting to see the showman of No 10 being so passive at this time of economic crisis.

Where he was willing to disregard tradition, convention and regulation when he was in his pomp to further his own career, his current inertia is remarkable and his excuse astonishing. This man who has prided himself on being above the law, cites convention as his excuse for his unwillingness to act to pre-empt the problems which are piling up on the economic front.

His Pontius Pilate act of washing his hands of any part he could play in putting measures in place to allay the anxieties of those dreading the gigantic hike in fuel and food bills just does not ring true.

There is a reek of narcissism in his reluctance to stir himself to help out those most in need, the very people he wooed in the Red Wall areas.

Time is running out to establish financial support to rescue those on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder from the overwhelming problems thundering down the tracks towards them. His insouciance at this time of crisis is both unconscionable and unforgivable.

Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.


THOM Kirkwood (Letters, August 12) makes the statement that renewables are "far cheaper than fossil fuel and nuclear". No doubt this assumption is based on devious claims made by the renewable industry and repeated verbatim by ill-informed politicians, but which have been widely discredited by experts.

The claim is based on strike price bids in recent BEIS Contracts for Difference auctions where wind developers have submitted unrealistically-low bid prices/MWh in order to be allowed to construct their turbines. Most of these low-bid contract winners have not yet built their wind turbines and those that have been built have opted not to initiate the awarded contract, with their very low strike prices, thereby enabling them to enjoy the much higher prices currently available in the wholesale electricity market. No wind installation is supplying the grid at such low prices. Hence the actual cost of unreliable wind generation, at best, is on a par with fossil and nuclear generation costs – although the hidden costs associated with wind intermittency and unreliability makes wind generation much higher.

This reality is being witnessed daily by consumers' bills continuing to increase even as ever more wind turbines are constructed and becoming operational.

Dr GM Lindsay, Kinross.