I TUNED into the live stream of the Scottish Conservative hustings from Perth, curious to hear the Prime Ministerial candidates’ plans for Scotland and its governance ("Union will ‘never ever’ end, says Liz Truss", The Herald, August 17).

Neither Mr Sunak nor Ms Truss acknowledged the Tories might have issues of electoral relevance in Scotland. Having lost more than half their Scottish seats to the SNP while Boris Johnson achieved his 80-seat Westminster majority, I suspect they had no wish to entertain the notion that Scotland had chosen an alternative political path. Instead of confronting the realpolitik of their democratic deficit north of the Border, all we heard was a predictable list of right-wing policies which Ms Truss would “deliver” and Mr Sunak would “grip”.

Their responses to the constitutional issue produced no original thinking on engagement with the half of Scotland which supports independence. Both candidates also made the error of thinking only their political nemesis, Nicola Sturgeon, is pursuing a second referendum. The decision was made by Scottish voters electing a pro-independence majority to Holyrood last year, another inconvenient truth not addressed by either Ms Truss or Mr Sunak.

While the candidates’ rehearsed pitches were entirely predictable, the proposals and questions from the audience of Conservative members were revelatory. They wanted to know how Holyrood’s powers could be circumvented to allow fracking and new nuclear power stations in Scotland. They clapped enthusiastically for Brexit and Trident renewal and they demanded to know how public spending decisions made at Holyrood could be overturned by direct funding bypassing the Scottish Government. All of these propositions were accepted by both candidates without demur. Clearly this was an audience of committed Conservatives but the dialogue illustrates just how out of touch the Scottish Tories, activists and politicians are with modern Scotland.

The entire event left me convinced that Scotland must leave the Union at the first opportunity, we can do so much better than this.

Iain Gunn, Elgin.


IT comes as no surprise to me to find Jill Stephenson (Letters, August 18) hijacking the protests outside the Tory hustings in Perth as part of a campaign of disinformation against the SNP. This despite admitting that the protesters “may or may not be SNP supporters”. She further acknowledges this by admitting that the “Tory Scum Out” banner was held up by an organisation specifically banned by the SNP, but then uses it to claim that “in Scotland no-one stirs up hatred better than the SNP”.

She studiously ignores the large number of Socialist Worker banners, anti-racism banners, and trade union banners outside the Perth Concert Hall. This is scarcely surprising given that the protest was organised by "Perth against Racism" – a fact that none of the TV media mentioned. It had nothing to do with the SNP. Indeed the Socialist Worker newspaper angrily denounced Andrew Bowie’s claim that it was a nationalist protest, saying that he “wrongly said the protests were led by the Scottish National Party (SNP)”.

The paper further points out that the protest was also backed by Stand Up To Racism, Waspi women pensions campaign, and Fridays for Future school strikers. There were also speakers from the Unite and PCS unions, the Scottish TUC union federation, and others. There is no mention in the paper of the SNP being represented nor are there any photos or videos showing the SNP logo anywhere in any of the publications I’ve seen.

Despite this the Scottish Daily Mail has a photo showing 11 people holding Socialist Worker, Stand Up to Racism, and trade union banners under the heading “Angry Nats at the hustings”. The Daily Express goes further by showing a photo of a woman with a megaphone and a Socialist Worker banner together with a man with a similar banner. They are confronting police after breaking through the cordon. This is under the headline “Tory Party members have had eggs thrown at them by furious Scottish nationalists ahead of the Tory leadership hustings in Perth tonight”. Again no evidence is offered to support this extraordinary claim.

In that sense I can understand why people get angry with misreporting on this scale. But it’s still no excuse for abuse or threats of violence against reporters. However it nevertheless serves to highlight the ongoing manipulation of the facts by the media and some of your correspondents in their persistent attempts to destabilise a democratically-elected government and replace it with one of their own choosing. This is essentially how Putin operates. It is therefore ironic in the extreme for Ms Stephenson to then assert that these protesters are part of a “concerted campaign by the SNP to delegitimise a political party”. As ye sow, so shall ye reap.

Robert Menzies, Falkirk.


IN response to the vitriolic letters today (August 18) I would be interested to know if any of their writers have ever attended a pro-independence march. There they would witness vile sectarian, misogynist and racist abuse which would make the anti-Tory demo the other afternoon look like a kindergarten fun day. Not from the pro-independence marchers, mind you, but from some of the counter-demonstrators who are clearly far right/BNP cast-offs.

Let's get one thing clear, nationalism's ugly head lies within British nationalism which has now become the norm, mostly since Brexit. Racism is now actively encouraged, and in some instances, cheered on by the mainstream media.

There is no excuse for any journalist or member of the Tory Party to receive personal abuse or to be attacked. There is also no excuse for human beings to be targeted for the colour of their skin or the god that they worship. Supporting a group of people who wish to send refugees to Rwanda deserves, at least, some level of scrutiny.

There has been a targeted attack upon supporters of independence since long before the 2014 referendum. These attacks have continued unabated. The far right now seeming to have a bandwagon to climb upon

Kevin Orr, Bishopbriggs.


SO the First Minister condemned the abuse of BBC reporter James Cook ("Sturgeon condemns abuse of reporter at Tory debate", The Herald, August 17) but there was no condemnation of the abuse towards Tory Party members.

Her lack of comment feeds the behaviour of the baying mob and does not bode well for democracy going forward.

Bill Eadie, Giffnock.

• SNP politicians should really be part of the next Scottish team at the Commonwealth Games. The mental gymnastics they have displayed in trying to cartwheel themselves away from their even more bitter nationalistic progeny in Perth has been breathtaking. 10/10.

David Bone, Girvan.


THE SNP treasurer, Colin Beattie, writes that “every action we take – directly or indirectly – is in support of winning independence” ("SNP spends one third of fund for Indyref2 before ballot confirmed", The Herald August 18). Well quite; once again we are reminded that independence transcends everything. The results of this obsession manifest themselves in the continuing deterioration of devolved public services across Scotland and a political climate perennially mired in the politics of identity and division. Curiously, yet predictably, the culprit always seems to be insufficient powers – never how existing ones are used.

The party apparatchiks must realise that their proposed referendum would be ultra vires without a Section 30 order, yet have referred the matter to the Supreme Court – kicking the can further down the road (again). An SNP Member of Parliament genuinely seeking expanded powers could more usefully test how much support a bill for full fiscal autonomy would attract from Conservative and Labour benches. “Red wall” voters might happily scrap the Barnett formula after all; such a change could prove popular south of the Border.

Yet rather than pursue a policy which is actionable and would have significant, immediate and lasting impact, the SNP continues to engage in grievance politics, neglecting the day job in favour of a signature policy which the people of Scotland have rejected. A cynic might be left to conclude that continued deflection and blaming Westminster for policy failures across the board is a far easier course of action than taking responsibility for hard decisions and their consequences. Donald Dewar might very well despair.

Nick Ruane, Edinburgh.

• I'M not sure about Elizabeth Mueller's view of the beneficiaries of baby boxes being women (Letters, August 18). I think it's the babies.

Allan McDougall, Neilston.

Read more: If it's like this now, what can we expect in Indyref2?