THE unionist caravan moves on and the latest sin ascribed to the First Minister is that she is expanding Scottish representation abroad ("FM Nordic trip blasted", The Herald, August 26, and Letters, August 27). I say expanding, for Scotland has had its own representation apart from the UK embassies since 1975 because the inward investment and trade support service offered by them and Whitehall’s Invest in Britain Bureau was failing us lamentably.

The Scottish network, initially provided through the Scottish Development Agency (a government agency), was strengthened when a Conservative Secretary of State put it together with the regional industrial and trade support systems formerly exercised by the Department of Trade and Industry’s office in Glasgow and named it Locate in Scotland, supervised by a board chaired by the Secretary of State. This structure, extending from Texas to Tokyo and including significant representation to the European Community, was able for the first time to provide real competition to the Republic of Ireland’s inward investment record, until then the best in Europe. It also gave ample opportunity for publicity to the Secretaries of State of the day, whether Conservative or Labour, which was avidly exploited.

This remains the foundation of today’s structure and “pretendy” it is not. The latest figures for the year to last March show that Scotland had enjoyed a 14 per cent increase in inward investment projects, compared with 1.8% for the UK as a whole and 5.4% for Europe. Prospective investors’ rating of the UK’s nations and regions placed Scotland second only to London for attractiveness. Remember also the positive comment in the recent Audit Scotland Report on the Scottish Government’s response to Covid-19 which, when referring to the need to source PPE of the right quality when usual purchase rules had been suspended, observed that for the Scottish Government’s order for £88 million of PPE, Scottish staff in China had been able to carry out due diligence by visiting the factories and inspecting the product. Compare that with the wasted expenditure on PPE by Whitehall and consider what £88 million buys in overseas representation.

James Scott, Edinburgh.


IT is beyond irritating to hear Brian Cox, an actor who lives at a safe distance from Scotland, in the US, preaching to those of us who live in SNP Scotland that we "have to be free" ("Class-ridden and feudal UK is why I want Scotland to be independent", The Herald, August 27).

Mr Cox knows so little of the United Kingdom, of which Scotland is a part, that he is unaware that it is one of the freest countries in the world. In this free country, people like him are able to use their public profile to disparage the UK and its politicians, and, by implication, some of its people, without any risk of being arrested, as would happen in some countries. He can come and go as he pleases and generate hostility to our country, the UK.

Mr Cox tells us that he found social democracy to be missing from the UK, except Scotland. This is a typical nationalist conceit, that Scotland is somehow more social democratic than the rest of the UK, meaning England. Professor James Mitchell would disagree. He criticises the current regime in Scotland for not being more radical: "They talk the talk, but do not walk the walk," he says, pointing out that, with its current powers, the SNP administration could introduce levelling-up reforms that would make a real difference. But it doesn’t.

And then the coup de grâce: according to Mr Cox, Scots do not have sufficient confidence to accept separation from the UK because they have been "conditioned". The only conditioning that has gone on in Scotland in recent years is through the barrage of dishonest propaganda that emanates from SNP headquarters and its associated websites, which consists of factually-inaccurate claims and faux grievances.

I accept that, because we live in a free country, Mr Cox can sit on a public stage and pontificate to his heart’s content. But isn’t there something hypocritical about doing that when, as an expat, he wouldn’t face the consequences of leaving the UK and when he is using – some might say abusing – the very freedom he claims we lack?

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh.

• SO in conversation with New York-based actor Brian Cox at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Nicola Sturgeon admits she can't wait until the day she doesn't give a f*** any more and every day is getting nearer to that time ("Sturgeon says she can't wait until she's old enough not to care any more", heraldscotland, August 29). What? Imagine Ms Sturgeon's rant if the Prime Minister had said this.

She is supposed to be a responsible politician holding down the job of Scotland's First Minister. With this attitude, why is she even still here?

Martin Redfern, Melrose.


I WAS walking to my minimum-wage job through Ayr on Monday morning. I passed a poster on a dilapidated phone box in the centre of the town for Social Security Scotland encouraging people to apply for benefits. In the background, the bins were overflowing with takeaway wrappers and plastic cups that could have been disposed of at home rather than added to the mountainous pile.

Litter was strewn along the entire Main Street and gathering in eddies in shop doorways. A local resident was blatantly smoking cannabis while waiting for a bus. Never I have seen Scotland under the SNP so better summed up than in this, sad, pathetic, depressing vignette.

David Bone, Girvan.


ALASDAIR C Sampson (Letters, August 29) need only gaze across the North Sea to see the positive economic/political case for independence.

With respect to Julius Caesar, “it is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those able to raise the argument for the Union”.

Alan Carmichael, Glasgow.

•ROBERT Johnston (Letters, August 29) tells us that we (Scots) enjoy a yearly subsidy of £2,000 per person from England. If that is true then it should be publicised more widely throughout England. If the English taxpayer was made aware of this “fact” then I am sure they would be screaming from the rooftops to give Scotland independence.

David Clark,Tarbolton.


PERHAPS one of the seemingly many shipbuilding experts who have contributed to these pages in recent times would like to share their thoughts on the long overdue and vastly over-budget £3.1 billion plane-less aircraft carrier (HMS Prince of Wales) that only completed one day of actual service in its “landmark mission” to the United States before having to return to port ("Aircraft carrier trip halted by technical breakdown", The Herald, August 30)?

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry.

• YOU report that BAE Systems is planning to build a massive new shipbuilding hall on the Clyde to complete the ferries ("£100m could secure Clyde’s future £100m to secure shipyard future", The Herald, August 30). Why is it down to this company to build it?

The promises in the Vow, to which all party leaders signed up in 2014, included the building of exactly such a facility, along with the 13 frigates that were to be ordered and built from 2015. Is this that promise being fulfilled now, nine years late?

Aye, right.

P Davidson, Falkirk.


IN your report of our recent challenging tweet ("Scottish Family Party blasted for 'shameful' holocaust 'joke'", heraldscotland, August 29) you omitted to include our explanation of it.

Mass killing by the state took place at Auschwitz, justified by the de-humanisation of Jews. Mass killing by the state takes place at abortion facilities in Scotland, justified by the de-humanisation of the unborn child.

Nicola Sturgeon expresses horror at the Holocaust, yet approves of the killing of unborn children now. Not only does she approve, but she is determined to prevent prayer vigils at abortion facilities by implementing buffer zones.

The point of the image is that if Ms Sturgeon were to be consistent in her views, she should either oppose abortion and condemn the Holocaust (like us), or approve of abortion and not condemn the Holocaust. In the case of the latter, to be consistent, she would also want a buffer zone around Auschwitz.

According to the SNP, this comparison is "disgusting, harmful and deeply offensive". Instead of just throwing subjective disapproval, how about explaining why the SNP is happy to dehumanise and kill unborn children?

Killing the unborn: that's our idea of "harmful".

Richard Lucas, Scottish Family Party, Glasgow.

Read more: Time is up for Sturgeon's empty celebrity brand of politics