YOUR front-page piece on Wednesday concerning spending so far on the National Care Service ("£2.2m for care shake-up experts", The Herald, May 10) was misleadingly headlined: £2.2 million has been spent on consultants from KPMG and the like, who are certainly not "experts" in social care. Only now, having already decided the road the proposals will go down, are the real experts – those who use and work in services, becoming involved in co-design.

The staffing costs of £11 million are also very telling: an unstoppable juggernaut has been created that will take considerable determination by those (including workforce trade unions) who want a genuine and accountable NCS worthy of the name, to stop and then reconfigure.

The idea that the service needs to be centrally run and controlled by ministers because the funding simply disappears when given to local authorities is a significant issue with the proposals. The same arguments were rehearsed both sides of the border when social services went through reform in the 1960s – with the eventual and correct decision to place the new social services and social work departments within local authorities where they could be made accountable to the communities they served. That is just one of many pieces of history and experience over which the consultant architects of the proposals would have had no knowledge. Social care minister Maree Todd would do well to start over again.

Colin Turbett, Common Weal Care Reform Group, Shiskine, Isle of Arran.

All to play for in Scotland

IT might be an interesting argument as to who is the “nationalist” and who is the “socialist” in Michael Settle's speculative piece on coalitions ("Why the SNP likes to scare middle England with talk of coalition", The Herald, May 12), given Labour's lurch to the Brexiter right (also Sir Keir Starmer's policy bonfire) and the more progressive nature of SNP governance.

I suspect the only issue the SNP would insist upon for support (it would not enter a coalition) is a transfer of power to hold referenda, all else being irrelevant until independence is achieved.

The Labour Party has no difficulty in working with pro-independence parties in Ireland (the SDLP) and Wales (Plaid Cymru); only Scotland being an issue. Given Sir Keir Starmer has stated Labour requires a “significant number of parliamentary seats” (how many?) in Scotland for legitimacy, a perceived “English” veto on a Scottish referendum by all three London parties will look increasingly odd if they cannot win seats in any number.

For all the SNP travails, it continues to have a substantial polling lead (and membership numbers), with independence continuing to be on a par with Unionism. 2026 will be interesting: Labour will presumably have been in power for a year or more; it appears to have little of substance to offer Scotland and the shiny honeymoon glow will be largely gone. All to play for.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.

Read more: SNP must reverse this disastrous policy on university fees

Peasants excluded

WILLIAM Durward (Letters, May 12) makes a valid point when he describes the Declaration of Arbroath of 1314 as unrepresentative of the Scottish peasantry, and nothing more than a declaration by Earls and Barons of Norman descent.

It is remarkably similar to the Act of Union of 1707 in that respect, however it is very different in another way. Mr Durward writes "there is no mark of a single Scottish peasant [...] on the document". Well, neither there was on the Act of Union, but there are acres of historical documentation on the reaction of the common people of Scotland to the Act of Union, almost all of it negative, and a lot of it violently so.

John Jamieson, Ayr.

• WILLIAM Durward advises that the SNP and by inference Scots should stay clear of the Declaration of Arbroath because it was signed by "posh aristocrats. By this logic Scots should certainly stay clear of the Act of Union.

When an unrepresentative "Parcel of Rogues" signed away their country it had nothing to do with anything other than money. These aristocrats had lost money in the Darien Scheme and sold Scotland for an English bribe of £400,000, which in today's terms is approximately £1 billion. There was the additional inducement that several titles were also handed out, and coincidentally none of Mr Dorward's peasant ancestors voted for the Act of Union. To this day we still address these mercenaries by their ill-gotten titles.

David Stubley, Prestwick.

HeraldScotland: The Declaration of Arbroath will go go on public display at the National Museum of Scotland this summerThe Declaration of Arbroath will go go on public display at the National Museum of Scotland this summer (Image: Newsquest)

Petty grudges over demo

THE vibrant All Under One Banner (AUOB) demonstration in Glasgow on May 6, like others on the day – the Our Republic/Radical Independence Campaign demonstration on Calton Hill, and the Edinburgh May Day march – all inspired their participants. Therefore, it is a pity that Kevin McKenna’s Herald report ("Campaigners for Yes movement have their own kind of majesty", The Herald, May 8), which describes the atmosphere of the AUOB demo well, is marred by petty divisive slurs.

The Calton Hill demo had been organised before the AUOB demo. It was part of the wider Republic/Our Republic demonstrations organised in London, Cardiff and Oxford. And it was the draconian UK state/London Metropolitan Police clampdown in Trafalgar Square which very publicly revealed the necessity not just for republican Scottish, Welsh and Irish breakaways from toxic Brexit Britain plc, but the need for a new English Commonwealth.

Furthermore, the Calton Hill demo did not clash with the AUOB demonstration as Mr McKenna implies. The Calton Hill rally had already been organised from 3pm-5pm to accommodate the Edinburgh May Day march and rally from 11.30am. Many came to Calton Hill from this rally, whilst some also came from the earlier AUOB demonstration in Glasgow. RIC also advised our supporters in the west that if it was more convenient, to attend the AUOB march. We have joined AUOB demonstrations on many occasions before.

Mr McKenna misuses his position as a journalist to make the completely-unsubstantiated jibe that the Calton Hill rally was “organised mainly by those for whom it is little more than a business opportunity and who have drawn on the rewards that have come with it”. And later, “while we were marching and organising and knocking on doors; that shower on Calton Hill were all filling their boots”. No names, just innuendo and untruths, demonstrating his own petty grudges.

The organisers of the Calton Hill were Our Republic and RIC. We, along with AUOB, have also shown “what real commitment and hard graft for a cause looks and feels like”. More recently, for example, in the face of considerable state intimidation, we protested the royal proclamation at St. Giles Cathedral.

It was in this spirit that AUOB organiser Joe Cassidy wrote to me: “I hope we both have an eventful day on the 6th. Our right to self-determination has to be made clear to all of the people of Scotland.” This is the spirit in which the events across Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland on that day should be reported and celebrated.

Allan Armstrong, Radical Independence Campaign, Edinburgh.

Read more: Never forget the unionists have their share of thugs

Reporting litter a waste of time

ALLAN C Steele’s recommendation not to confront litter culprits (Letters, May 12) is very sound advice. As he says, that type of confrontation might well end in physical violence. His alternative suggestion to report it to the police, whilst well-intentioned, is almost laughable.

The likelihood of it being investigated by the police must be almost zero. Even if the complaint were recorded, which in itself would be extremely unlikely, the report would almost certainly be consigned to the office litter bin.

It is a sad fact that complaints of burglaries, theft, anti-social behaviour and damage to property go uninvestigated and a complaint of littering would almost certainly be at the bottom of the list of police priorities.

David Clark, Tarbolton.

What we did for India

IT would seem that Doug Maughan (Letters, May 11) has never lived in or been to India, or indeed browsed through the 400-odd pages of William Dalrymple's excellent book,The Anarchy, the definitive story of the rise of the East India Company. If he had done so he might have produced a more balanced account of our time in the sub-continent.

Certainly a good deal of wealth came back to the UK. To this day there are many bridges in India and Pakistan that still have the name plates of Scottish engineering companies. The new jute trade flourished, helped by the manufacture of locomotives exported from Glasgow. The British gave India, for the first time, unity of states, nationhood, a national network of railways, education and a judicial system that was not corrupt. I was continually reminded of this by my Indian colleagues when I worked there for some years, travelling throughout India from Kashmir to Cape Cormorin.

To say that in 1947 the UK did little to prepare India for independence is untrue. The biggest population move, as described by Mr Maughan, was set in motion by the late insistence of the leader of the Muslin faith that they be given their own country, thus necessitating the cross-border traffic of millions fleeing in both directions, long after the original plan was produced.

While it may be thought timeous to abolish that part of the honours system, it is a rash generality to conclude it was all one-way.A sub-continent is too big for such a conclusion.

Robin Johnston, Newton Mearns.

Trouble ahead at COP28

RISHI Sunak has said it would be "economically illiterate" not to invest in UK oil and gas because the country will need fossil fuels "for the next few decades". A sign of climate sanity at last.

This statement will provoke anger amongst the climate chattering classes and the eco-warriors. Coal is the dirtiest of fossil fuels yet at COP26 in November 2021, China, India and other countries refused point blank to agree to "phase out" coal and only agreed to "phase down" coal but refused to commit to when this "phase down" would start. They are now in the "phase up" situation as more coal plants are built.

The United Arab Emirates, which will host COP28 in November this year, has said that countries should agree to phase out fuel emissions – not the production of oil, gas and coal since phasing out fossil fuels would hurt countries that depend on them for revenue. Now that will make for an interesting COP28. Those who criticise and demonstrate in the UK might like to look out their passports.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow.

Ferry uncertain

AS storm clouds continue around the delayed launch of two new CalMac ferries, the Glen Sannox and the unnamed Hull 802, I report the result of a small poll on the maritime moniker for the latter: “MV Mebbes Aye, Mebbes Naw” (Letters, May 9 & 11).

R Russell Smith, Largs.