WE have endured the performance of Nicola Sturgeon and the Clapping Seals for the last eight years and why should the last day have been any different ("Nicola Sturgeon makes final Holyrood speech", heraldscotland, March 23)?

If anything the seals were hoping that their over-exuberant performance at First Minister's Questions yesterday would warrant an extra fish from their leader. It was however not to be. The soon to be ex-First Minister only had admiration and praise for herself. All questions on her failures during her time in office were ignored and we heard of her many achievements, including those that didn’t belong to her. Free period products was a bill introduced by Monica Lennon of Labour but Ms Sturgeon doesn’t let facts get in the way of her hubris. No doubt she ran out of time to tell us she put the ram in the rama lama ding dong.

Will she be missed? Yes, no doubt. Much the way you might miss relatives who have overstayed their welcome.

What will FMQs be like from now? Well that we will have to wait and see. Let’s hope whoever takes over will realise that the Q in questions means that they should give an answer rather than tell us what is happening in England.

Jane Lax, Aberlour.

• NICOLA Sturgeon's last First Minister's Questions performance was her usual masterclass in avoiding the question, and the questions were all very cutting about her record in office. The problem here is that the general public know exactly what the problems are; indeed, many are suffering because of them, so batting these issues away simply does not cut it.

In fact, Ms Sturgeon frequently used the justification that she keeps winning elections. If this is the case then surely she ought to accede to the suggestion from Anas Sarwar that one ought to be called right now, as obviously she feels whoever succeeds her will win too.

Dr Gerald Edwards Glasgow.

Read more: It was typical of Sturgeon to seek to avoid the hard questions


CONSERVATIVE MSP Stephen Kerr asked at Nicola Sturgeon’s last First Minister’s Questions "what the outcomes have been of the Scottish Government's defining mission to tackle the poverty related attainment gap". Ms Sturgeon highlighted the Scottish Government’s record which includes an increase in students going to university from deprived areas; teachers numbers have increased by more than eight per cent during Ms Sturgeon’s term as First Minister and Scotland has the highest ratio of teachers to pupil numbers in the UK.

I was taken aback to hear Mr Kerr challenge the Scottish Government on education, considering we have free Higher Education in Scotland, something students in England do not benefit from under the Westminster Conservative Government, with fees currently standing at more than £9,000 per term. In abolishing tuition fees in Scotland, the Scottish Government recognised the country's future depends on the next generation being educated.

Catriona C Clark, Falkirk.

Read more: Reports of the death of the SNP have been greatly exaggerated


I MAINTAIN the view that one should be open-minded about the principle of independence while being cautious about whom to trust to make it work. It is unfortunate, therefore, that Mary McCabe (Letters, March 23) and her like can't understand the simple difference between principle and implementation, or between the nation and its government for the time being.

Nowhere in my letter did I say or imply that Scotland, as a nation, was too "wee, poor or stupid" to manage its own affairs, should the case for that happening be made out and supported by the electorate. It is the ability of those who, even with their devolved powers, are currently making such a mess of running our country to manage this change, should it come, and thereafter to govern wisely and well that I and (in increasing numbers) others doubt.

Nothing in Ms McCabe's letter represents a persuasive argument for independence and she should think carefully before confusing implied insult with debate. The latter may persuade me and others, but the former simply raises barriers.

Brian Chrystal, Edinburgh.


IT would appear that Keith Howell (Letters, March 21) does not understand what the campaign for independence is about.

It is not, as he seems to think, driven by a desire for an SNP future, but for the right to be governed by whichever party a majority of us vote for, and so have our Scottish priorities and wishes respected. There are many in the independence movement, and even in the SNP, who actually want independence to GET RID of the SNP and be able to vote for their true preference of party after we achieve it.

The SNP is currently the only major political vehicle available to help us to win it.

P Davidson, Falkirk.

• RUTH Marr (Letters, March 22) seems intent on dredging up history to deflect from the current problems within the SNP. I know from her previous contributions that she is old enough to remember March 28, 1979. On this night the Conservative leader, Margaret Thatcher, tabled a motion of no confidence in Jim Callaghan’s government. Callaghan lost the motion by one vote and the rest, as they say, is history.

I assume Ruth Marr remembers that the 11 SNP MPs voted with the Conservatives. Hardly their finest hour.

Paul Teenan, Glasgow.


AFTER reading Neil Mackay's column ("Rock bottom for the SNP is nigh. The party is done", The Herald, March 23), I find myself wishing he was running for the position of First Minister, or at least that the SNP insider he was referring to might consider doing so, come the next leadership contest. The current contenders for that post inspire little or no confidence that things will improve, be that on the question of independence or any of the other ills which we currently face.

Why is it that most of the sensible, thoughtful, honest, insightful and capable individuals choose not to enter the political arena?

John O'Kane, Glasgow.


WILLIE Maclean’s description of Scotland being a trailer towed by a vehicle driven by a neighbour (Letters, March 21) will be understood by many in the Highlands and Islands. But they will see a Highlands and Islands trailer towed by the Central Belt. Other parts of rural Scotland will no doubt have their own version of the metaphor.

Over the last 15 years the Central Belt-dominated SNP Government may have made big promises to the Highlands and Islands, but it has rarely bothered to deliver. The stuttering dualling of the A9 and the catastrophic provision of new ferries are but the tip of the iceberg.

Thanks to the Scottish Constitutional Convention – a body the SNP refused to join along with its British nationalist siblings, the Tories – Mr Maclean’s Scottish trailer has many devolved powers covering most of the issues that affect our daily lives.

Sadly, the Highlands and Islands trailer has, instead, seen its devolved powers reduced under the SNP. Police and fire services have been centralised and councils have seen their budgets slashed, their share of the Scottish cake being steadily reduced, leaving them struggling to serve their electorate. And now Edinburgh wants to impose Highly Protected Marine Areas which could devastate the economies of our coastal communities.

Nationalists everywhere seem to want all power centralised at the government level of their choice. But, in the complex modern world, creating unnecessary divisions is damaging – remember Brexit. Just as bad is taking powers best exercised in Shetland or Argyll and centralising them in Edinburgh which neither understands nor cares about island and rural local needs.

Alistair Easton, Edinburgh.

Read more: Shame on those who practised 'wheesht for indy'


AM I the only one who is fed up hearing parliamentarians discussing if Boris Johnson had friends legally partying in his garden three years ago or not ("No 10 leaving parties ‘essential’", The Herald, March 23)? And BBC TV, to whom we pay a lot of money once again, is giving us literally hours of minute by minute details of this Partygate business.

We taxpayers are obliged to pay our MPs' salaries – but that is for them to decide on matters that are meaningful to our status as a nation, not trivia like who did or did not attend some private garden party in Downing Street.

Westminster and the BBC should both be able to separate out what really matters in this world from petty nonsense that most citizens don't care a tuppenny-toss about.

Get a grip, BBC and Parliamentarians – you've better things to do.

Archibald A Lawrie, Kingskettle, Fife.