KEITH Howell (Letters, May 18) is entirely wrong with his assertion that Scots who wish self-governance have a “special preference for Brussels over Westminster”. Membership of the EU is entirely different from membership of the UK.

In the UK Scotland has zero autonomy; we do not control our taxation or wider economy; we do not set our own defence policy; our legal jurisdiction has been downgraded via “devolution”; we have no say over broadcasting; our parliamentary legislation can be vetoed by Westminster – just because; Scotland (and Wales and Northern Ireland) are not consulted over UK policy; Scotland is now banned from interaction with other governments without being monitored (shades of Hong Kong); media pundits in London openly discuss how “Scotland” can be restricted and kept in its box – you won’t find any EU media equivalent of discussions of small countries' rights being similarly restricted.

We were assured in 2014 that things would change. They have: for the worse.

I have friends and family in England, and have great affection for that country. My wife worked in France for many years and we have friends there. It does not follow that either of these countries (or others) should have total financial, legal and defence control over Scotland.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.

What price democracy?

WHAT is happening to our country? What happened to democracy?

As Ian McConnell clearly outlines ("Braverman’s lack of understanding on effects of Brexit is extraordinary", The Herald, May 17), "expert" opinion is that Brexit has had a disastrous effect on the UK economy. The overwhelming majority of the general population are suffering because of Brexit and decades of deliberate government austerity policies yet Suella Braverman and her fellow ministers just won’t acknowledge their mistake.

Brexit was the brainchild of a disgruntled faction within the Conservative Party not the result of an overwhelming groundswell of public opinion, and it was guided to a narrow referendum victory by piles of money, the economical use of the truth and Boris Johnson, who is on record previously saying that he didn’t support leaving the EU as it would be disastrous for the UK. What could possibly have changed his mind? Funny that he subsequently became Prime Minister and collected millions en route.

Even the Labour Party, which if it moves further to the right it is in danger of falling off the end, has stated that were it in power it would not attempt to rejoin the EU.

What are we the great unwashed to do when a few individuals financially insulated from the mess they have landed the country in refuse to acknowledge fact and keep promising us “pie in the sky” while the UK economy is going down the plughole and lives are blighted?

David J Crawford, Glasgow.

Read more: Our councils must be freed from the dead hand of Holyrood

We need to end the agony

THE only growth in Scotland it would seem – apart from the rise in drug deaths – under the SNP administrations running this country for years, has been in needless division and rancour. The former First Minister has confirmed this situation exists ("Ex-FM Sturgeon defends Scottish Government’s plans for jury-less rape trials", The Herald, May 16) and I am afraid the vast majority of it began under her watch and in many cases was directly inspired by her own remarks, much as she claims to be unaware.

We do not have an administration taking care of Scotland’s domestic needs, as devolution intended. Instead we have a grievance-peddling, one-issue-only coalition, held in place by possibly the least able group of politicians ever in recorded history to represent Scotland at any level, the Greens.

It is time to end this disastrous experiment.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.

Yet more waste of public money

ECONOMY Secretary Neil Gray has tried to defend the Scottish Government's strategy of saving Clyde shipbuilding ("Row brews as ministers reject cheaper ferry option", The Herald, May 17). BAE Govan seems to be doing quite well, but that seems irrelevant. Mr Gray apparently believes that wasting public money at the expense of the islands economy involving 10,000 jobs is a justifiable sacrifice. Does he understand what "Economy Secretary" actually means or involves?

Had the Scottish Government given each of the 340 employee of Ferguson Marine £1 million each, they would still be getting better value for money and the local economy of Greenock would have been boosted beyond any of the wildest dreams and schemes that the Holyrood elite might have delivered. The islands economy would be enjoying an unprecedented level of trade and profit.

We have exchanged a First Minister who it turns out to have been a dictator for a First Minister who is happy to support and praise the policies and outcomes of the previous incumbent despite startling evidence to the contrary. Previously, we only heard a minister talking to the public when a catastrophe had happened and a scapegoat was required, now we are getting incompetence live and unredacted.

Peter Wright, West Kilbride.

• YOUR article well illustrates the saying "when you realise you are in a hole, stop digging".

It would have been helpful to have been told of some of the actual details of the contracts provided by the foreign yards and presumably the substantial penalty clauses that would be imposed for late delivery. Instead the islanders are being sold down the river by our First Minster who is determined to re-nail a fatally-failed political decision taken some six years ago to a splintered main mast that cannot be spliced.

There is no guarantee that even now the present builder of hull 802 is able to guarantee delivery as recently promised, or even worse, is not able to estimate the final probable cost.

After all, the poor taxpayer gets the bill. It is estimated that more than £450 million has already been overspent so far. It makes grim reading for all the good causes so seemingly beloved by Holyrood, like nurses' pay, child poverty, university fees for Scots students.

Some six years ago you published a letter in which I pleaded for "a change of course and for us to stop propping up a failing yard". On July 24, 2019 you were kind enough to print a letter from myself which you headed "Nationalisation is not the answer for the troubled Ferguson Marine Yard". That ship has sailed and the consequences will be more financial hardship, not for our politicians, rather for those most in need. The elected members, especially those representing the island communities, should be ashamed to be seen outside their coop. Their chickens have surely come back to roost. It was ever thus.

Robin Johnston, Newton Mearns.

Read more: With or without the SNP, the economics of indy will never work

Council idea is a non-starter

PETER A Russell (Letters, March 18) ventures the opinion that "the whole point of local government should be that it does not have to share the priorities of central authority”.

Of course this is true. And yet ... we can learn from Deep Throat’s enjoinder to “follow the money”. For if we do so we learn 60 per cent of local authority net revenue budgets came from the Scottish Government.

Moreover much of this is spent on statutory services, responsibility for which has been devolved to local government, so schools and social work, which are surrounded by statutory obligations.

In turn, despite having control of often very large budgets, a local authority's discretionary budget is limited. Its role is the discharge of obligations determined by central government, though councils do have some influence on the means used to fulfil their obligations.

But what local authorities really want are more specifically increased discretionary budgets so that they secure for themselves wider choice and more influence.

Recognising that local government needs to be paid for, Mr Russell recommends a "programme of double devolution from Holyrood to local council”. As above, right now the majority of local authority revenue is paid by central government. Mr Russell’s solution is for a “flexible menu of local taxes and charges supported by no-strings-attached redistribution across Scotland from more prosperous areas to less well-off councils”.

It is inconceivable that he is unaware of the unpopularity of taxes but when this is yoked to redistribution from the “prosperous” (Edinburgh?) to the “less well-off” (Glasgow?) that the wheels really do fall off. How likely are the former likely to go along with this, especially when “no strings [are] attached"? How likely are communities who consider themselves efficient and parsimonious to stand by and watch as their payments are shipped out to communities they consider anything but?

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.