DOUG Maughan (Letters, May 3) says "a long hard slog” and good governance at Holyrood is what is required for the SNP to create a steady majority for independence. However, the early SNP was able to grow support very rapidly by arousing national anger regarding the robbery of Scotland.

Billy Wolfe, in 1964, argued that Scotland was being robbed of some £200 million in annual revenues by London (a massive sum in 1964). This took the SNP from the political wilderness to Winnie Ewing’s breakthrough in the 1967 Hamilton by-election and a new national standing. The second nationalist campaign was “It’s Scotland’s Oil!”, under Gordon Wilson in 1974. This took the SNP to 11 MPs and 35 second places in 1974 and to 850,000 votes (almost as many votes as the SNP gets today – half a century later).

The SNP has indeed won eight elections in a row. But it campaigns exclusively on devolved social issues – independence is a footnote in SNP election pamphlets, in case it scares voters. SNP election campaigns are deliberately invisible – find your supporters and get them out on polling day and no posters/loudspeakers to waken up the unionist vote.

Thus we have a successful devolutionist SNP, but no progress on independence support since 2014. Independence is becoming the SNP’s Clause 4 (the foundation clause in the pre-Blair Labour Party which stated the party’s aim was socialism). Lord George Robertson forecast that devolution “would kill independence stone dead”.

There is no time for “a long hard slog” – Scotland’s population is both declining and ageing: not a scenario in which radical change like independence can thrive. As in 1964 and 1974, the devolutionist SNP must change to campaigning hard on how the Union and centralisation in the South of England is robbing Scotland – a land rich in oil, gas and all forms of energy amid avoidable social deprivation.

Councillor Tom Johnston (SNP), Cumbernauld.

'Freebies' cost us dear

I NOTE that Ruth Marr (Letters, May 4) is again trotting out her usual defence of all things SNP by listing its wonderful programme of "freebies" when of course it is obvious to all and sundry that they are all paid for out of our taxes. Again, as every taxpayer knows, in the case of income tax rates, ours is the highest in the UK and according to the new First Minister as reported on your front page ("Higher taxes for better-off as Yousaf rips up SNP manifesto", The Herald, May 4), is about to get higher still.

James Martin, Bearsden.

• RUTH Marr asserts that the SNP Government is “doing well” for Scotland and goes on to refer to welfare provisions and to the various freebies that are not provided in England. However, it is a constant failure of nationalists that they do not acknowledge that this is entirely due to the annual fiscal transfer from Westminster.

In 2021/22 this amounted to £24 billion which was about 30% of Scottish Government expenditure.

Where would that come from if Scotland seceded from the UK? The answer is from tax increases and public spending cuts.

James Quinn, Lanark.

Read more: SNP have signed contracts with new auditors, party confirm

Manchester calling

ISN'T it ironic that the SNP has to go to Manchester, England to find an auditor willing to analyse its accounts ("SNP sign new deal with auditors ahead of looming accounts deadline", The Herald, May 4)?

Peter Wright, West Kilbride.

• WHY did the SNP bother to hire a new financial auditor to examine its accounts? Could Donald Trump not have just had a quick look through them while he was here?

David Bone, Girvan.

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Starmer and his many U-turns

IT is normal for political parties to revise manifesto pledges in light of changed circumstances, but Sir Keir Starmer must hold the record for breaking the most pledges before he has the keys of power. Stephen Flynn was right to describe Labour’s abandoning of its promise to abolish university tuition fees as a Nick Clegg moment ("Labour’s Sir Keir spins us all a real fairy tale about Coronation fever", The Herald, May 4).

Sir Keir has rowed back on his pledge to increase the top rate of tax by five per cent. Abolishing Universal Credit and ending the current sanctions regime, described as “cruel” by the party, also appear to have been watered down. It seems he does not think that redistributing wealth from those who save their excess income to those who must spend their money in the economy can increase economic activity while tackling poverty.

Plans to nationalise railways, the Royal Mail, energy companies, and water companies have been scrapped.

On Brexit, he has ruled out a return to a customs union and given up on freedom of movement. When Labour attacks Tory “incompetence” rather than Tory “inhumanity” on migrants it says asylum seekers are not welcome here.

In an interview with the Times last month, the Labour leader said that he had pushed Richard Leonard out of the leadership role in Scottish Labour in February 2021.

When the local Labour parties in the Rutherglen constituency issue a formal complaint about the candidate selection process, that excluded trade unionists and the leading local candidate ("Formal complaint over 'transparency' of Labour selection process", heraldscotland, April 30), we can see that the Scottish branch will have to follow Sir Keir's direction of travel.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh.

Read more: PMQs: Flynn attacks Labour over tuition fee u-turn

Post-war gains are at risk

NEIL Mackay (“‘Family, faith and flag’ – the new Tory weapons against the SNP”, The Herald, May 4) notes the increasing influence of the hard-right National Conservatism group whose (supposedly) populist agenda will be familiar to anyone from Poland, Hungary, Italy, Russia or America.

These right-wing forces are also committed gender fundamentalists, defining women by reference to their biology, meaning they are both frighteningly misogynist and virulently anti-trans. Reactionary populist campaigns often succeed in confusing and dividing people by raising overt and dog whistle “concerns” over the supposed impact of immigration, religious and social diversity and women’s and LGBT+ people’s rights. The limited gains of the last 60 years are at risk.

Brian Dempsey, School of Law, University of Dundee.

• TODAY’S article on National Conservatism shows that it bears a worrying similarity to National Socialism in the thirties. Plus ça change ...

John NE Rankin, Bridge of Allan.

England's power surge

I COULD expand at length on Norman McNab's opinion about the Scottish Government's position on nuclear power (Letters, May 4). But I will simply ask him to please substantiate just how he comes to the conclusion that ''at present Scotland is importing 1.5GW from England''.

For some decades now Scotland has been, and still is, a massive net exporter of electricity to England. Has this changed?

Nick Dekker, Cumbernauld.

Protect victims of modern slavery

CLARK Cross (Letters, May 3), in his enthusiasm for the Illegal Migration Bill, has failed to fully consider its implications for the most vulnerable, namely victims of modern slavery and human trafficking.

Foreign nationals who are trafficked are likely to be in the country illegally and this bill would penalise genuine victims who may be in the UK without their consent. They will continue to be referred into the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) but receive none of its safeguarding protections or be allowed to remain in the UK unless the Home Secretary deems it necessary to help police or prosecutors.

Without support and stability these vulnerable individuals are at risk of returning straight back into situations of abuse and exploitation.

It is essential that the Scottish Government, and every party at Holyrood, speak up for the vulnerable and work with Westminster colleagues to tackle unjust elements of a bill that will be detrimental to genuine victims of modern slavery.

Michael Veitch, Parliamentary Officer, CARE for Scotland, Glasgow.

We must stop the arms trade

WHAT a depressing lead story in Monday’s Herald ("Arms firms handed £8m in grants by Scots jobs agency", May 1).

We shake our heads in disbelief at the lethal availability of weapons in the United States. Yet Britain (with Scotland participating fully) actively spreads far more vicious weapons of death around the world, making them available to thugs and psychopaths with political power, enabling far more death and misery than even the most horrific school massacre.

Whatever benefits accrue to the Scottish economy and workers from arms development and manufacture, exported according to accepted rules, the arms trade cannot be morally justified. No nation should export arms for killing people. That other countries also profit by the export of death does not in any way make our behaviour less wicked.

Ronald MacLean, Beauly.