BRIAN Wilson is on shaky ground when he defends James Cleverly’s misguided attempts to reduce Scotland’s status abroad ("Working together would serve Scotland better than paranoia", The Herald, May 2).

This is just a further example of the UK Government’s attack on our parliament’s powers following the UK Internal Markets Bill and the failure of the Levelling Up Fund to match half of the funding the EU made towards projects in the Highlands and Islands Despite earning more than £350 billion in revenues from Scotland’s North Sea, successive UK governments failed to invest in renewable manufacturing or modernise shipbuilding in Scotland, thus allowing Denmark and Norway to become world leaders in these areas.

The value of Scotland’s trade missions abroad was highlighted last week when following Scottish Economy Secretary Neil Gray’s visit to Japan, Sumitomo Electric is to build a large factory in Inverness to manufacture cables to connect hundreds of offshore wind turbines which are planned for Scottish waters ("Japanese firm to set up subsea cable plant", The Herald, April 28).

Scottish businesses are suffering as a consequence of Brexit and Scotland’s total trade with the European Union was 16 per cent lower in 2021 than it was in 2019. That is why promoting Scotland abroad is so important.

Scottish Development International operates in 15 locations with a network of 11 Trade and Investment envoys, and more than 1,100 Global Scots. This has produced results: in 2022 Scotland outperformed the rest of the UK in terms of growth in projects, up 14% from 2020, while the rest of the UK had a 1.8% increase. Latest results show trade support SDI provided to companies across Scotland in 2021-22 will result in £1.44bn of planned international sales over the next three years.

Fraser Grant, Edinburgh.

• YOU report that unspecified "peace campaigners" object to armaments manufacturers receiving grants from Scottish Enterprise (“Arms firms handed £8m in grants by Scots jobs agency”, The Herald, May 1). Do these campaigners suggest that Ukraine should surrender now, or do they support sending weapons to Ukraine as long as they are not manufactured in Scotland?

Scott Simpson, Glasgow.

📝 Sign up for our Letter of the Day newsletter and receive our Letters Editor's choice every weekday at 8pm.

Get insight from fellow readers and join in on what has Scotland talking. Exclusive responses to our writers and spirited debate on a whole host of issues will be sent directly to your inbox.

👉 Click here to sign up

SNP must play the long game

MARK Smith (“Take a look at history – the SNP rebrand is bound to fail”, The Herald, May 1) argues that the SNP should rebrand itself in the hope that a break from the recent past will allow it to emerge Phoenix-like from the ashes of its current incineration.

I don’t think the headline encapsulates what Mr Smith wrote. He didn’t say a rebrand is doomed to failure; rather, he pointed out that it’s difficult to pull off and needs radical action, including “making a public break with the past, however painful”. I’m not sure that lesson has been learned by the party.

Establishing a fully self-governing Scotland is bound to involve risks and difficulties, and it would be wrong to take such a major step without there being a substantial and sustained majority of the Scottish people willing to accept those risks and difficulties. Support for self-government has been stuck on about 50% for almost a decade now, and even the disaster of Brexit didn’t shift it significantly.

The SNP has taken a hit from the recent revelations of individual shenanigans, but it remains by far the biggest and most popular party in Scotland. It has a strong base from which to grow, and it should use the current changing of the guard as an opportunity to develop a real strategy for building support for self-government. That might include a name change to avoid the confusion, deliberately encouraged by opponents, between national and nationalist; the SNP isn’t a nationalist party.

I recognise that the SNP leadership feel obliged to claim that independence is just over the horizon, with one more push being all that’s needed to bring it about. However, the reality is that it’s going to take a long hard slog to persuade enough citizens to let go of the apron strings they’re used to and embark on a new journey as masters of our own destiny. It won’t be easy but, if the SNP governs well and wisely, using all the powers it already has, it’s certainly possible. Playing safe won’t cut it; boldness might.

Doug Maughan, Dunblane.

Read more: Take a look at history – the SNP rebrand is bound to fail

This is not a governing party

IAN Blackford has a few words of advice for Humza Yousaf. He told The World This Weekend (BBC Radio 4) that "you need to show that you can deliver, whether it’s in health or education or all the devolved areas". Well done, Mr B, got it in one. Now try answering this question: After 16 years in office, why has the SNP administration not delivered "in health or education or all the devolved areas"?

Some of us suspected that the last thing the SNP wanted was to make a success of devolution, thus raising the question "So what’s the point of leaving the UK if we are doing so well within it?"

Alas, the sorry truth is that the SNP has lacked the competence to deliver improvements in health or education or all the devolved areas. The SNP is not a governing party. It is an agit prop campaigning party, nothing more.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh.

The wise words of Donald Dewar

SOMETIMES looking back in time helps to appreciate the benefits or indeed the difficulties of present-day decision-making in formulating plans to ensure a prosperous future.

In 1999 Donald Dewar, the then First Minister, called on all Scots to work together and build a better Scotland. It was also reported that he pushed hard for improvements in the NHS, schools, local government finances, roads and a Drugs Enforcement Agency. He also said: “Real politics is driven by change not simply as an abstract but in measurable progress.”

What has changed since these wise words? As the years have passed us by and under the tenure of an SNP Government this country has suffered and is slowly descending into a third world economy which if allowed to continue will see even more of the country's youth and future entrepreneurs emigrate to a better and brighter future.

Perhaps when the next Scottish election is upon us, Donald Dewar’s words will again be relevant, even if it takes a bite of something thought inedible like a Tory/Labour coalition.

James J Bell, Lockerbie.

🗣️ Time is running out to save on a full year of digital access with our lowest EVER offer.

Subscribe for a whole year to The Herald for only £24 for unlimited website access or £30 for our digital pack.

Been meaning to subscribe? Don't wait, this offer is only available for a limited time.

👉 Click here to subscribe

The status quo is unhealthy

I AGREE with Richard Allison (Letters, April 29) when he argues that it is everyone's right to cast their vote tactically if they wish to do so. He calls voting "against" a party "democracy". I would rather call it "British democracy": that peculiar thing which delivers majority governments (unfairly in my view) on a recurring basis and the system that maintains the Conservative-Labour merry-go-round.

What's the point of the LibDems, Greens or, for that matter, the SNP at Westminster? Hey, they even devised a special system for Holyrood, designed to keep the SNP out of power (although that didn't quite work out as expected).

The result is eloquently described by Neil Mackay ("A tale of two Britains: the bankers and the broken", The Herald, April 27) and referred to by Ian Gray (Letters, May 1), who begs: "Where is the radical but respected political party that will challenge the present system?" Answer: there isn't one (and don't be fooled by Gordon Brown's latest masterplan).

Ironically, it is our polarised "two Britains" which maintain this unhealthy status quo. Those who have want to hold on to what they've got and just go along with the system; the rest feel helpless and are simply far too busy trying to survive, aided in large part by a few dedicated food bank volunteers and donors. Meanwhile, what's left of Britain's reputation relies on pageantry.

If only Neil Mackay, Ian Gray and a good number of your more socially-minded correspondents were politicians ... but, of course, that's probably the last profession they would choose.

David Bruce, Troon.

Lords must pass migrants bill

THE Illegal Migration Bill has now gone to the House of Lords. Illegal immigration is out of control. In 2021 28,431 left France to cross the English Channel and land on English soil. In 2022 45,755.

If they were genuine refugees, they would have claimed asylum in the first "safe haven" in Europe. France, where they embarked in dinghies, is such a "safe haven" and has a fully-functioning asylum system. Why should UK taxpayers pay for their accommodation, food and medical needs?

Hotel costs are £6.8 million a day, money which could have been better spent housing the 135,000 children in the UK without a permanent home. The Lords must endorse the Illegal Migration Bill.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow.