SINCE 2014, there have been many magical moments when perplexed unionists, dumbfounded by the recalcitrance of the Scottish electorate who have repeatedly returned an SNP Government to Holyrood, have tied themselves in so many unfathomable knots that, quite inadvertently, they not only acknowledge national support for Scottish independence but also deliver – quite astonishingly – their very own powerful case for that same independence.

Adam Tomkins’s article ("Why Israel could bring our next big constitutional row", The Herald, March 8) was an outstanding example of such ironic contortions as he tried to argue against the Scottish electorate, and their democratic representatives, having their own voice on international issues.

Mr Tomkins fretted about our Holyrood Parliament’s concern for Palestinian suffering being at odds with Westminster’s support for Israel – despite repeated EU and UN condemnations of that country’s violent suppression of Palestinian people. He gave notice that new Westminster legislation will silence such dissent and ban any associated sanctions against Israel.

He cited the case of Leicester City Council successfully defending its right to such campaigning activity in the English courts. He used Leicester’s success to justify his Westminster Government’s response: it intends to change the law– suppressing the courts, our UK human rights and our rights of representation all in one go.

Quite incredibly, without a hint of irony, Professor Tomkins referred briefly to the current situation in Israel where, despite massive public protests, Benjamin Netanyahu’s extreme-right government has started the same process of removing judicial power from the courts. Does he really see no similarity?

Those far-right administrations – Westminster and Israel – planning such anti-democratic legislation may well get away with it in England and Israel. In Scotland, however, it will not be tolerated; that particular bus left a very long time ago, long before our Holyrood Government existed.

In 1986, while the Thatcher Government’s foreign policy was infamously ambivalent about South African Apartheid, and his Tory unionist colleague, Teddy Taylor, openly called for Nelson Mandela to be shot, Glasgow City Council, to world renown, renamed St George’s Place, the address of the South African Apartheid Consulate, Nelson Mandela Place.

Although Nelson Mandela, the descendant of an African king, remained imprisoned and silenced on Robin Island, every communication to and from that consulate was famously and powerfully forced to carry his name. The world caught up with Glasgow’s foreign policy shortly afterwards and the new President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, travelled to our Dear Green Place to be awarded the freedom of the city.

Take away Glasgow’s right to condemn apartheid and honour a future President of South Africa? Silence Holyrood on the brutal killings of Palestinian schoolchildren?

Yes indeed, Professor Tomkins, a big row is coming, very soon, about Scotland asserting the right to have her own internationalist voice – not just on racism, not just on Palestine, not just on Brexit, not just on climate change. It is a particularly vital aspect of the case for Scottish independence. And your article made that case brilliantly.
Frances McKie, Evanton

We cannot ignore Israel

ACCORDING to Adam Tomkins, the Greens have the “hardest of hardlines” when it comes to Israel. The Greens, according to their 2021 manifesto, will recognise the State of Palestine and support efforts towards a peaceful end to the (Israeli) occupation (of Palestinian territory). This will include support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign (BSD) against Israel and companies who aid the Israeli occupation.

Successive British governments have asserted belief in the "two state solution" but have stopped at that. BDS might not be approved of by a hardline Conservative Government, but is it so different from approved sanctions, historic and current, against Iraq, Iran, Russia or Apartheid South Africa? These policies are not so hardline, I would suggest, as the enormously disproportionate killing of Palestinians, the bare-faced theft of their land by relentless illegal settlement, the brutal demolition of family homes.

All of these seem not to be a concern of Professor Tomkins, but he is concerned that the Scottish Government under Humza Yousaf might dare to contradict the British Government’s hardline determination also to ignore and tolerate the astonishing and illegal actions of the Israeli State, which it seems are too much in the British national interest to be seriously questioned.
Ronald MacLean, Kiltarlity

Read more letters: Why Scotland’s next constitutional row could be about Israel

We need a robust contest

WHY are the three candidates to lead the SNP, particularly Kate Forbes, being vilified for asking questions which those of us who don't have a vote are unable to ask of their colleagues ("Recriminations and more attacks follow SNP’S brutal TV hustings", The Herald, March 9, and Letters, March 9)?

I caught a short section on Monday evening of an SNP-only hustings that was shown on Facebook and the atmosphere was much different, particularly with the last question when each candidate was asked about the strengths of the other two. It was so positive that Humza Yousaf compared the comments from his opponents favourably with the good words he gets from his mother.

But do we want the contest to be all sweetness and light, or do we want a contest where we find out the strengths and the weaknesses of all three candidates, so that we know what we are getting as our next First Minister? I certainly want Nicola Sturgeon's successor to be able to stand up for Scotland and to stand up to the opposition.
Patricia Fort, Glasgow

'Us versus them' stance

AT one of the SNP leadership hustings this week, a hopeful Kate Forbes asked: “Which of us would unionists fear most?”

I took two things from this. First, someone who is hoping to be First Minister of all of Scotland has an “us versus them” mentality, which doesn’t bode well for the future, especially when “they” are arguably still in the majority.

Secondly, the comment shows a lack of awareness. “Unionists” don’t fear any of these candidates. We view them as lightweights, none of whom will ever lead Scotland to an independent future.

What we fear is a situation where the country drifts and is left behind through political leaders who are not really up to it at Holyrood. What we hope for is someone who can concentrate on the day job, and be brave enough to tell their supporters that independence isn’t likely at any time in this decade, and that they need to accept this reality. Of course, that will not happen, they need to keep up the pretence, it is all they have, and they would be lost without it. It is all they have to hide behind.

With this in mind, would we not be better off having an election in May? Anas Sarwar, Douglas Ross and Alex Cole-Hamilton have more about them than these three.
Victor Clements, Aberfeldy

Calling out Ash Regan

WILLIE Maclean (Letters, March 9) seems to be under the misapprehension that the SN, as he terms it (Scottish nation) wants independence, whereas the contrary is the case from the referendum result in 2014 through to current polling ("Support for SNP and independence takes a knock after Sturgeon resignation", The Herald, March 9).

Another misapprehension is his belief that “Ash Regan seems to understand that it is not the duty of the First Minister to lead the nation to independence". What the lady actually said some time ago was that she would declare UDI (a Unilateral Declaration of Independence) if more people voted in an election for independence-supporting parties than those opposing independence. Completely daft, but she could not have been clearer.

Mr Maclean wants this so-called SN to have the opportunity to elect “the government of our choice". Has the SN not had that already for years with the Holyrood elections producing governments to manage under devolution much of our economy, health and education, which are all matters of real and daily practical importance to the SN? How well has all that management gone?

Coupled with the costly misadventures into areas such as Ferguson, BiFab, Gupta and Prestwick, it surely brings into question the overall competence of these examples of “the government of our choice"? Would it be any different if the current SNP-led Government was replaced in Holyrood, or would it just be more of the same? The only certainty is that it would take years to find out, and only then should the case for independence be reconsidered.
Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop

• WILLIE Maclean proves himself far more observational than I by distinguishing between the SNP leadership candidates and Mickey Mouse.
Laurence Wade, Ayr

Read more letters: Does anyone believe this lot could succeed where Sturgeon failed?


Letters should not exceed 500 words. We reserve the right to edit submissions.