THE resignation of Nicola Sturgeon as First Minister for reasons not entirely clear, has created a vacuum in Scottish politics.

Ms Sturgeon was seen as someone approaching goddess status by her supporters but viewed as a divisive and uncompromising individual by her detractors. She is admittedly a forthright and commanding speaker, but on many occasions her actions didn't match her rhetoric.

Scotland's public services are in a precarious state and it's hoped that her successor will take urgent steps to bring about a much-needed improvement and forget about prioritising independence to the detriment of everything else.

It's also essential that a more constructive relationship can be reached with Westminster as Ms Sturgeon's antagonistic approach, while it may have gone down well with her core support, did not serve the best interests of all of the Scottish people whom she purported to represent. It's all to play for, but I doubt if we have the right calibre of politician in Scotland to maximise the opportunities which may become available.

Bob MacDougall, Kippen.


THE resignation of the First Minister and the latest polls must be horrifying for nationalists to ponder. Their dream is disappearing fast into a Scotch mist and, to add insult to injury, most of their problems have been self-inflicted.

The SNP's unbending stand over the Gender Recognition Reform Bill and the FM’s stumbling and stammering over the gender of a convicted double rapist being held in a women’s prison in great part can be blamed and it will long be remembered when much else has been forgotten.   But do not forget there has been a string of administration disasters, one after the other, displaying nationalist incompetence on a gargantuan scale.  

They appear simply unfit in every sense of the word and unable to govern, whoever leads them. How could any thinking person allow such obsessed people to separate us from the rest of the UK?

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.


AS the towering but flawed figure of the SNP exits stage left, the political pygmies she leaves behind will flock on to the stage to contest who should become the leader of the independence movement.

Nicola Sturgeon harboured delusions of adequacy and hubris in equal measure, being obsessed with the holy grail of her party's quest for independence. Her legacy is the archetypal curate's egg, which sees her party divided and all at sea.

If the Scottish electorate still retains its trust in the competence of the governing party at Holyrood, it betrays the same blindness which blighted our national team when Ally McLeod held his victory rally at Hampden Park before the team's ruinous performance in the World Cup.

Let the SNP supporters remove their self-imposed and deluded blinkers to survey the mess she has left behind.

Education is in tatters, the NHS is on its knees, the ferries' fiasco has made a big hole in the Scottish budget, her gender bill has been blocked and there is an investigation under way into the missing £600,000 originally set aside to promote the cause for independence.

Ms Sturgeon could be hailed as Scotland's version of the Pied Piper of Hamelin for leading our nation a merry dance with her illusionary dream down a cul-de-sac from which there is no immediate escape.

With our Government in such disarray, the inheritor of her mess will have to prove that the new FM is no political pygmy.

Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.


NICOLA Sturgeon has always been honest with us about how important nationalism is to her. She admits it's been her dream from teenage years to separate Scotland from the rest of the UK and that, for her, independence transcends everything. Leaving aside for a moment the damage inflicted on Scotland as a consequence of her obsession with the constitution, how should dyed-in-the-wool separatists and indeed Ms Sturgeon herself now judge her after her eight year tenure as Scotland's First Minister and leader of its nationalist movement? Pretty harshly, I'd suggest.

Martin Redfern, Melrose.


NICOLA Sturgeon, and before her, for all his faults, Alex Salmond, made the Scottish National Party a seriously respectable rhetorical force and gave the nation an unprecedented self-confidence. She presented as a head of state at ease on the international political stage. That status was uncomfortable if not intolerable for the at best paternalistic, at worst misogynistic Scottish tendencies exercising on a substantial minority of the internalised culture in both genders.

She built that composed political confidence on the smug eloquence of Alex Salmond and redrew the image of Scottish nationalism that for too long had been necessarily dressed in the costumes of Bruce, Braveheart and Burns. The new leader of the SNP has to be an equally charismatic political performer who could not be imagined in a kilt or plaid dress doing the pas de basque. The new leader has to be a stern, intimidating rhetorician who presents an energetic new phase in the Scottish identity in its appetite for escape from dominant English conservatism to a government operating freely with an internationalist social conscience.

David Simpson, Oxford.


AS an exiled Scot, it is with a doubly heavy heart that I read of Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation.

She has indeed served Scotland in an exemplary manner and I wish her only the very best in the future.

To continue her drive and focus for Scotland’s independence, Humza Yousaf should be a total shoo-in.

John Elder, Brisbane, Australia.


I HAVE just received an annual report from Brian Whittle, the Conservative MSP for the South Scotland Region. In it he references the struggles rural South Scotland has with “...a lack of good mobile phone signal or fast broadband” and the impact this has on businesses. He claims he'll be working hard to deliver better connectivity.

Mr Whittle has been an MSP since 2016 so I'm sure someone has told him that telecommunications policy, which includes broadband and mobile phone signals, is the responsibility of the Westminster government. As Secretary of State for Scotland, his friend Alister Jack is responsible for its implementation here. I did send Mr Whittle a Facebook message asking how his discussions with Mr Jack on the matter were progressing. So far he hasn't replied.

Is it possible Mr Whittle is trying to suggest that a failure of the Westminster Government is somehow the fault of the Scottish Government? Perish the thought.

Douglas Morton, Lanark.


I NOTE that Calmac has been fined almost half a million pounds by Transport Scotland for missed sailings. Quite apart from the fact that this is a pointless paper exercise, it is manifestly unjust insofar as the problems of ageing and unreliable vessels is lies entirely at the door of CMAL which, not surprisingly, has refused to comment.

I believe that the travelling public have declined to blame Calmac for the many and various problems visited on the company by the numerous and continuing failures of CMAL ("Ferry fiasco has cost nearly £500m ... so far", February 12). If the users of the Calmac service can recognise the source of the problem why cannot Transport Scotland and our hopeless and inept Government? With retrospect I should not dignify “government” with a capital G.

J Patrick Maclean, Oban.


THE teachers on strike are not exactly on the breadline. A probation teacher earns £28,113, a teacher earns a top salary of £42,366, a principal teacher earns between £46,158 and £59,571 and a depute head between £52,350 and £99,609.

They appear to have conveniently forgotten that taxpayers funded their education. In 2007 the Scottish Government introduced free university tuition for those who had lived in Scotland for three years. It takes four to five years to become a teacher so those on strike were subsidised by taxpayers by £9,250 a year, which is what students from England have to pay at Scottish universities. Now Scottish ministers have mysteriously found £156 million to offer teachers an 11.5% salary increase. Education, education, education? More like money, money, money.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow.


RONALD Cameron (Letters, February 12) has been misled regarding the availability of electricity in Scotland. I received a notice from Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks on January 5, telling me that I am in Rota Block "E" for rolling three-hour power cuts should these be necessary, and a few days later received another from the National Grid Electricity Systems Operator (NGESO) telling me there may not be enough gas or electricity this winter and helpfully advising me how to cope with power cuts.

Scotland’s electricity supply is far from being in the surplus position Mr Cameron describes, because Scotland does not own the windmills that produce electricity here. They are mostly foreign-owned and make money for those owners by selling their electricity to the UK National Grid from which Scotland draws a share.

Scotland’s relationship with windmills is purely geographic. To alter that position, an independent Scotland would have to nationalise the windmills situated here, but would then have to replace them as they reached the end of their working lives; a problem presently that of the UK Government.

All in all, our entire energy position is very unsatisfactory and in need of a total rethink.

Malcom Parkin, Kinross.