IT really is a sign of desperation that Martin Redfern (Letters, October 16) tries to cover up the Conservative Party's chaotic mess of a government and the civil war raging in its ranks by attacking Nicola Sturgeon for using the word "detest" to describe Tory policies which truly are detestable to a great number of people in Scotland and beyond.

I was present in the Aberdeen conference hall for Ms Sturgeon's speech, and I can assure Mr Redfern that she was greeted ecstatically by members who respect the leadership she shows, not only to her party, which last year saw the SNP returned to government for a fourth consecutive term, but for the strength and commitment she demonstrated to Scotland throughout the darkest days of the pandemic; and this is reflected in the standing she enjoys in the opinion polls.

SNP members have a leader of whom they can be proud – something the Tories can only dream of.

Ruth Marr, Stirling.


NEW Prime Minister or not, we have heard time after time what the SNP will do after it has broken up the UK. One thing missing in all its forecasts and plans, right up to the latest, is the reaction of the others involved in the unlikely event of its Holy Grail ever being reached.

For example, the nationalists seem to think that they, and they alone, will decide on which roads in and out of Scotland their hard border will be imposed. Ditto for passports and residencies and free movement inside the UK. A separated Scotland will have no say whatsoever in deciding any of these matters. The rest of the UK is a very much larger entity. Much the same applies to the EU. And to the world of finance.

To ignore the likely responses of others and assume Scottish nationalists will make all the rules and everyone will fall in line is arrogant and ultimately self-harming and surely any thinking Scot among them would question it.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.


AS Liz Truss resigns, Nicola Sturgeon claims a General Election is a "democratic imperative". She didn't think that in 2014 after her party lost the most significant vote ever held in Scotland. Quite the contrary. The SNP didn't resign from government allowing a Holyrood election to be held – it simply remained in power.

True, Alex Salmond did the honourable thing and stood down but Ms Sturgeon herself wasn't subject to any kind of public election; she was simply anointed by the party and became First Minister. A serious case of double standards, Ms Sturgeon?

Martin Redfern, Melrose.


NICOLA Sturgeon launched into an attack on Liz Truss prior to announcing her long-awaited strategy for the economy and currency ("No country is better prepared for independence", October 16). Ms Sturgeon may well have welcomed some deflection as the plan was not only ill prepared but it was also full of holes.

The fallout was mainly negative. No wonder Ms Sturgeon has been putting off placing such a half-baked plan to the nation accompanied by the usual ballyhoo designed to make it all look great.

This just sums up the drive for independence: over-hyped and underwhelming. There was no transparency, no answers to the main question of currency nor solutions to the difficult issue of borders. The credibility of the SNP was not enhanced by this performance.

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow.


"NO country is better prepared for independence", runs your front-page headline (October 16), quoting Nicola Sturgeon; but the SNP appears ill-prepared financially to campaign for independence. It is axiomatic that all government money is taxpayers' money, whether obtained by direct or indirect taxation. The reader is reminded that a child buying sweets in Scotland is a Scottish taxpayer. The grant of £20 million to Yes by the Scottish Government is substantially an involuntary levy on those taxpayers who will vote No.

Democratic? Yes indeed, by SNP standards: "What's mine is mine and what's yours is mine". Not Tory policy but SNP policy. Observe the SNP help itself to the bairns' pennies.

William Durward, Bearsden.


IAN Johnstone (Letters, October 16) questions the calibre of our recent Prime Ministers. It’s easily explained.

The Prime Minister of a Parliament where the majority of MPs of all political parties supported the EU, buoyed by our national broadcaster and other media of the same view, decided to lance the boil of the UK’s membership of the EU once and for all by holding a referendum. He was devastated when a majority of the people of the UK voted to leave and had to fall on his sword.

His replacement said she intended to respect the wishes of the majority but her eyes told a different story, and aided by a recalcitrant Speaker, engineered a strategy that effectively hamstrung the withdrawal negotiators. Again, deluding herself that the world begins and ends in Westminster, she went to the country ("for a mandate") and nearly suffered the same humiliation that befell one of her predecessors in 1974, reducing her majority to an unworkable size.

When she left the stage, the next incumbent made no bones about "getting it done", did the best he could to get the UK out of the EU, then called a General Election that secured him a significant majority, winning constituencies that had been Labour-held for decades. However, his personal foibles and cavalier approach to public life made him vulnerable to his enemies in Westminster and he followed his two predecessors down the same road.

His successor wasn’t wanted by the Parliamentary MPs but was elected by the rank-and-file party membership who have reinforced the very same message that led to David Cameron’s downfall. She is immediately beset by backstabbers in her own party as well as the Treasury civil servants, the Bank of England, and all the media forces that consider the majority of the people of the UK to be idiots for wanting to leave the EU. Clearly her days are numbered.

Most days, Brexit is blamed in the media for all our ails and it’s obvious that there is a concerted effort behind the scenes to drag the UK back into it. The EU has been a long-term depository for clapped-out UK politicians, and a godsend for those parties that won’t allow their members to accept elevation to the House of Lords.

So the UK might be back in the EU before too long, but with far less negotiating clout than it ever had before. But where does that leave the majority of the people who voted to leave? Do they simply stop voting in future elections on the basis of "what’s the point?", leaving the ground even more open for the small minority cliques who clearly intend to have their way?

Or do they have to wait until another political party comes along and promises to implement their wishes? They might have to wait a while.

John Crawford, Lytham.


TODAY we all know how the Cuban Crisis in 1962 brought the world to the brink of nuclear Armageddon. Far less well known is the story of a Nato exercise, in November 1983, which almost provoked the USSR into a nuclear attack.The annual Nato war games, Operation Able Archer, were so realistic the Russians were unsure whether they were the real thing (this was at a time of heightened Cold War tension. Ever since then Nato has informed Russia of any war games.

There is an enormous Nato exercise, Operation Steadfast Noon, simulating an attack on Russia, which began last Monday and lasts up to a fortnight. Almost every Nato member is involved and they are hosted by Belgium. Nato has pointed out that the war games are an annual event and, remarkably, "unrelated to any world events". US F35Bs and Canadian aircraft have flown over. B52 bombers have crossed the Atlantic to RAF Lakenheath. Our RAF typhoons are playing the part of Russian war planes which will go into combat with the US F35Bs.

Nato has told Russia and confirmed no weapons are being carried. However, over last weekend as in 1983, Russia responded by sending its enormous long-range strategic nuclear bombers to within just 20 miles of the Norwegian border. They are the TU95 (Bears) swing wing aircraft.

Nato head Jens Stoltenberg has said the exercises are 1,000km from Russia. There is a concern that the annual Russian military war games, the Grom Drills, are at the very same time and involve the test firing of ballistic missiles. For this to be happening at a time when President Putin has ratcheted up the nuclear rhetoric after military reversals in Ukraine is deeply worrying.

Our knowledge of these manoeuvres comes from European TV News and Al Jazeera.There was no coverage over the weekend nor since by London-based BBC, ITV or Sky News and minimal coverage in the print media. It is, surely, worthy of public oversight. Europe is a tinderbox and these rehearsals should have been postponed.

John V Lloyd, Inverkeithing.


BRIAN Donnelly's summary of Dr Stuart Ballantyne's proposals for a new ferry building programme involving many of the assets that still exist along the lower Clyde ("Scots businessman floats new £800m Clyde shipbuilding revolution to solve country’s ferry crisis", October 16) is worthy of implementation. I wish it total success and hope that Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth does too and that the Government progresses the initiative.

I do have a question, however: has anyone asked the RMT for its support and input in designs for catamarans to have crew cabins etc?

Ian Gray, Croftamie.