IF the next General Election is to be regarded in Scotland as a referendum on independence the obvious corollary is that the pro-independence political parties (SNP, Greens, Alba) should not put up their own candidates in the election. The wider independence movement should get together to stand "under one banner" as the Independence Movement, fielding a candidate in every constituency with a one-issue manifesto of support for Scottish independence.

There would then be no doubt in voters minds as to what they were voting for. Unionists would have their parties to vote for and the result would be indisputable. It would also dispel once and for all the unionist myth that a vote for independence is a vote for an independent Scotland governed perpetually by the SNP.
Willie Maclean, Milngavie

Open to indy, against the SNP

IT must be hard for Alasdair Galloway (Letters, December 22) and others to accept there are people who are open to independence but totally against the SNP version.

In my letter last week (December 15) I said the Kenny MacAskill/Michael Russell vision of independence in Europe, a clear-headed view of public service provision and institutional connectivity with rUK made sense to me. All we needed was evidence that the SNP had run things better since 2007, and a compelling trigger, such as actual repression or economic collapse. And if more than half the electorate – 2.2 million instead of 1.6m – had voted for it I'd have accepted it positively.

Eight years on, the SNP's desire and ability to deliver has descended into farce, bile and dogma. That was my basic point.

I'd have thought Mr Galloway would welcome the point of my latest letter – we (and I include myself) need to pay more taxes and tax the better-off. But it seems he just can't admit or accept that we can do that now, using the devolved "levers" the STUC lists in its report, not just after independence. Neither can he give us the honest truth on what it will take in effort, cost and time, especially if we are setting up an independent state.
Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven

FM has opened doors to abusers

I HAVE just listened to Nicola Sturgeon stating once again that a man does not need a Gender Recognition Certificate to abuse a woman.

Indeed. However, lobbying by and on behalf of transgender people has meant that women's toilets in the NHS in Glasgow have been abolished for several years now, which means that any man can now use these facilities. Small toilets with only two cubicles that a grown man no matter how he identifies or dresses or looks can use at the same time as women and girls.

She has actually opened the door to abusers and no, they do not need a Gender Recognition Certificate thanks to her and those who agree with her.
Dorothy Connor, Glasgow

Sturgeon has not read the room

NICOLA Sturgeon has committed the cardinal error of politics: she has not read the room ("MSPs vote to approve historic gender recognition reforms", heraldscotland, December 22). Protecting minorities is laudable but this can only be achieved by looking after the majority too. By rushing through this ill-judged legislation she has opened herself and those MSPs who voted for this to perhaps more scrutiny than they would like plus accountability, a word the SNP dislikes.

There are obviously some risks in this legislation which have been wilfully ignored. The general public is not enamoured with this either and the amount of protests at Holyrood should have set SNP alarm bells ringing, but 15 years of uninterrupted power have dulled its senses.
Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow

Youngsters put in jeopardy

OUR MSPs have decided to lower, from 18 to 16 years, the age when children/young people in Scotland can self-declare their intended change of gender. This is surely one of the most disastrous moves those in power could make, putting in jeopardy the lives of these youngsters.

There are some children who experience incongruence between their birth-sex and their emotional feelings; that cannot be denied, and all these children need to be properly supported, assessed, and guided responsibly, as they negotiate hugely complex issues through their childhood and adolescent years. However, to remove the need for proper, expert paediatric psychiatric assessment from the process of "changing gender" is illogical, if not actually tantamount to abuse of our young people.

It is well-recognised that there is a strong link between psychiatric/neurodiversity conditions (such as autism and schizophrenia) and the feelings of gender dysphoria ... the psychiatric/neurodiverse conditions coming first, making these young people extremely vulnerable. There are many peer-reviewed studies on this link between the two. An increased incidence of gender dysphoria also occurs in children/young people who have adverse social or family backgrounds; again the adverse backgrounds coming before any thoughts of gender dysphoria.

To permit a so-called gender change without medical assessment in these vulnerable people is a disaster waiting to happen. Long term effects of hormonal manipulation are severe, and often irreversible. And, even more frightening, the long-term studies on gender reassignment have not been adequately completed ... so the future for these young people is totally unknown.

Already there is an increasing number of young people requesting detransitioning because they were put on the gender-reassignment channel without full and proper assessment, without dealing with their background conditions. This number will now surely increase, yet regrettably our MSP's seem to have no care for this possibility.

What a sad day for the young people of Scotland.
Alasdair HB Fyfe, Glasgow

Close the tax loophole

AS someone who has had to rely on the NHS for a variety of reasons in recent months – eyes, feet, broken bones and physiotherapy – I have nothing but admiration, respect and thanks for the way I've been treated by our nurses, doctors, hospital staff, specialists and consultants.

I agree wholeheartedly with Catriona C Clark (Letters, December 22) that we should be praising Scotland's NHS.

And there is a way to settle their pay and conditions dispute. David Bruce ("Let's follow a fair tax model") and Fraser Grant ("Scotland could be wealthy", both Letters, December 22) provided much of the answer.

We applauded the nurses during the height of Covid-19, standing outside our homes banging our pots and pans. But those who were making millions out of the pandemic, some with allegedly pretty dodgy schemes, were applauding all the way to their offshore bank accounts.

Let's close the tax loophole the wealthy enjoy, make them pay their fair share for a more even society, and provide good honest workers with decent pay and work conditions.

Then we would be living in a country we could be proud of.
Andy Stenton, Glasgow

• THE Scottish Government says it has no more money with which to pay nurses a fair wage ("Nurses told: There is no more cash for rises, as strike looms", The Herald December 22). The answer is simple. It should revisit the Budget, add another 1p across the board to all income tax levels, pay the nurses what they deserve and use what is left over to assist local authorities to try to maintain public services.
David Mumford (The Rev), Innerwick, Dunbar

We have too many hospitals

I NORMALLY agree with most of what Ruth Marr (Letters, December 22) writes, but the then Scottish Government was quite correct with its plans to close superfluous district hospitals.

Some areas have too many, with consequent staffing problems and hence delivery of service problems. An area like North Lanarkshire does not need two district general hospitals within a few miles of each other. Rationalisation of services is the only way to improve hospital services, but populist decisions now take precedence with the SNP.
John NE Rankin, Bridge of Allan

Governments have let us down

YOUR headline "Warning to avoid A&E amid "Christmas of chaos" (The Herald, December 21) helps to confirm that large numbers of people with medical issues are making demands upon hospitals. In some respects, today is not unlike July 5, 1948, when the NHS was introduced in Britain. 2022 is, of course, in many respects very different from 1948. For example, people are living longer, medical science has provided so many positive procedures, and more can afford the costs of private medicine.

A striking aspect in all of this is that in this modern age people are, like pre-1948, suffering from untreated conditions. Before the arrival of the NHS, that situation often prevailed because individuals could not afford to pay for treatment. It arises today because the demand has clearly exceeded the supply and for that unsatisfactory state of affairs successive British governments stand responsible for the failure to ensure that our Health Service continued to remain fit for purpose in terms of organisation, staffing and financial resources.
Ian W Thomson, Lenzie


Read more letters: Nurses beware: strikes could lead to a very different NHS


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