SEVERAL years ago, I donated to a fundraiser for an independence referendum. I am one of many who queried my donation and asked what had come of the £600k raised for a cause I believe will irrevocably change the lives of the Scottish people for the better.

A passionate SNP supporter, I first joined the party in 2007, disillusioned with a Labour Party that had become arrogant, complacent, and devoid of talent. Coincidentally, my view on that is unchanged. I was proud to be a member of the SNP that re-introduced free higher education, build bridges, bypasses, and railways. There was a new kid on the block, and they meant business. No longer in thrall to Westminster, Scotland was a hopeful country on a different path.

Fast forward 16 years and the parallels with Scottish Labour are stark. Don’t get me wrong, the SNP is brimming with talented, hard-working people who work passionately with conviction to change lives. Every day, those people strive for a better Scotland. Unfortunately, I no longer believe that those people control our party.

Under Nicola Sturgeon, the party became centralised, controlled, and corporate. An election-winning machine that no longer listened to long-standing members or critical friends. It ignored transformational policy motions that were passed overwhelmingly at conference after conference, it even prevented some from reaching the agenda at all. It seemed like the machine was unstoppable and the party would never end.

Underlying this machine was a culture of cronyism, where inexperienced advisers were advising inexperienced ministers. The so-called gravy train. There’s no better example than Kate Forbes. A qualified, chartered accountant who had a life outside of politics, with excellent ties to the business community, demoted from her Finance brief and confined to the back benches. If anyone understood the numbers, it was her.

So naturally, she has been replaced by a career politician who previously resigned from a ministerial role partly due to her handling of allegations of financial impropriety by officials at NHS Tayside. Then there is Ivan McKee, the former Trade Minister, an entrepreneur with international business experience, now on the back benches.

It doesn’t need to be this way. There are those of us who are steadfast in our goal to deliver a better Scotland; and then there are careerists who care more for their own agenda. Frankly, this was a trend that began under New Labour, and if we are honest it affects all political parties. Conviction politicians vs careerists. We need more people with passion and conviction to step forward. It’s high time we replaced ineffective incumbents with independence champions who will fight every day to improve the lives of Scots... otherwise, what’s the point?
Alexander Duncan, Edinburgh.

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Read more: When can we expect straight answers from Humza Yousaf?

Our Government is doing well
HAVING just read that on April 1 in England prescription charges have increased yet again, to £9.65, it occurred to me that there is so much we should thank successive Scottish governments over the years for in respect of their achievements.

There are many who happily run down our country and have never at any time recognised one single positive achievement. A single issue, namely two delayed ferries, has created a feeding frenzy with scant regard to the rampant levels of multi-billion-pound industrial sleaze at Westminster on a daily basis.

Many of these people will be salivating after the police chapped at one particular door yesterday. They would do well to remember that all matters relating to any particular detention are sub judice or they themselves will be in breach of the law. In addition, it is worth bearing in mind that in a democracy everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

In football terms, we often hear the phrase that no player or even no manager is greater than a club. Similarly, the independence movement is far greater than any one individual or even one party. It is an unstoppable force swept along by the people who wish a better life for themselves and those who follow them.

When I read the results of polling amongst our younger voters, I am thoroughly reassured and I realise that these massive majorities can only mean that the overall trajectory will continue to rise, meaning that independence is a virtual certainty.
This is something that this who constantly run down our great nation would do well to remember.

Constantly criticising our NHS, our police and our teachers is not only counter-productive but it must be horrendously demoralising for the staff. Once an independent Scotland achieves full fiscal powers, or if you like the appropriate economic levers, that should make a massive difference.

Our Government is doing well with one hand tied behind its back and it would do even better when fully unshackled from Westminster,
Stewart Falconer, Alyth. 

• I HAVE many good friends who will be saddened and appalled at the state of the SNP, the party they have been members of for many years. However the strength of the independence movement was always the people on the ground, and the SNP membership must now clean house and concentrate on core governmental issues, all whilst remaining true to their raison d’etre .

A preponderance of the media covering Scotland is unionist, and tends to report news without proper context or perspective.

The weakness of the Labour and Tory “offer” to Scotland at elections will always leave space for a pro-independence party. Like Caesar’s wife, the SNP must always be above suspicion, while its opponents get away with ripping up promises, sacking elected leaders in Scotland (Jackson Carlaw/Richard Leonard) and being in receipt of “dark money” contributions, while sadly, the media see nothing and say nothing.
GR Weir, Ochiltree.

Read more: Scotland owes so much to the strength of this precious Union

People will be fooled no more
THE SNP has pulled off a stupendous confidence trick over the past decade. On the one hand it has persuaded large numbers of Scots to leave rational thought behind in order to achieve the great benefits which are supposed to flow from independence by leaving the world's sixth largest economy. On the other hand it has persuaded many that somehow Scotland is a "colony" of England and it is necessary to break these imaginary chains to gain "freedom". 

This latter strategy has been particularly effective among young people, who do not realise how fortunate they are to live in the United Kingdom. But you cannot fool people for ever and the battery of the independence vehicle is depleting rapidly.
William Loneskie, Lauder.

Voting system led to lost majority
ALLAN Sutherland (Letters, April 4) writes that an “industrial-scale tactical voting pact ... transformed the Greens' 34,000 first past the post votes (out of 2.7 million cast) into 220,000 regional votes and eight regional MSPs”. 

Responsibility in fact lies with the D’Hondt voting system which allocates regional seats taking into account the number of members each party has elected as constituency members, something the SNP does most effectively (holding 62 of 73).

For instance, in the Glasgow region, the SNP Regional vote of 133,917 elected precisely no one because having won all the constituency seats, their regional vote was divided by 1 (there always has to be a divisor) plus 9 (the number of seats they had won). The Labour and Conservative votes (74,088 and 37,027 respectively) were initially divided by 1, then 1+1 and so on, as they picked up regional seats. The SNP Regional vote in comparison started at 13,391, electing no one. Other than South of Scotland (where Emma Harper was elected) and Highlands and Islands (where Emma Roddick was elected through the list) the same thing could be said elsewhere.

There are only two SNP members regional members, despite their regional vote being nearly as large as the Labour and Conservative parties’ votes combined. 

There is some clue in that the SNP constituency vote was 7% more than the regional list vote. Having voted SNP in their constituency,  how many of that 7% would not give their Regional List vote to a unionist party, but wanted their regional vote to elect someone independence-minded? The same thing happened in 2016. 

Mr Sutherland errs when he claims that the unionist pact denied “the SNP its predicted landslide”. The fact is that it wasn’t a pact but the D’Hondt voting system which denied it a majority as in 2016. As Professor Curtice has written, the SNP would be better served developing strategies to win the 11 constituency seats that have escaped it.
Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.