THE previously-accepted view that the SNP is the preferred vehicle to drive the break-up of the UK is now being widely disputed. This apparently desperate change in strategy was articulated in Neil Mackay's column today ("We can move forward by making indy a civic debate", The Herald, May 16).

Removing party politics from the independence debate, as “plenty of folk” and some former directors of Yes Scotland support, is proposed as a new strategy for the nationalists.

One can applaud the aspiration to subject the constitutional question to a civic and social debate but this ignores the proverbial elephant in the room.

One of Bill Clinton’s more appropriate quotes that helped win him the US Presidency was: “It’s the economy, stupid!”. This is particularly apt in relation to the constitutional issue. Scotland is a country in which 40% of working-age adults pay no income tax. We have an ageing population. Our fiscal and trade deficits would be unsustainable as an independent state even with an increase in oil revenues.

Most of the economies of other UK regions have similar problems but do not benefit from Scotland’s cushion of an annual £24 billion fiscal transfer from Westminster. Only London and the South-east of England would be economically viable as independent nations.

Scotland is now, and has consistently been, “better together” with the rest of the UK.

James Quinn, Lanark.

Read more: Scotland can move forward with indy decoupled from the politicians

It's pointless voting Labour

ONE doesn’t have to hold a candle for Mhairi Black to question Brian Wilson’s reasoning (“Mhairi Black will learn that Labour governments do make a difference”, The Herald, May 16).

Mr Wilson thinks that returning a Labour government will be good for the UK and for Scotland. This may be so, particularly as it would be hard to not to improve on the Conservatives’ disastrous economic mismanagement and hollowing out of the public sector. However, Mr Wilson, like so many politicians and ex-politicians, apparently cannot see beyond the next election.

All post-war electoral history demonstrates that a Labour government will be followed by a Conservative government, each elected on a minority of the vote, and that the subsequent Conservative government will busily set about reversing the bulk of Labour’s achievements and policies. Can Mr Wilson tell us why that depressing electoral history will not repeat itself this time? He cannot, because he endorses the electoral system that produces these results as he has demonstrated in his previous articles. But at least he is now a convert to devolution, which is progress of a sort.

But allow me to strongly encourage him to take a longer, and wiser, view of UK electoral cycles and what enables their overall dismal results.

Alasdair Rankin, SNP councillor, Edinburgh.

Why did Tories escape criticism?

WHILE the BBC and regular SNP critics such as Richard Allison (Letters, May 16) have been keen to exploit Martin Geisler’s leading interview on The Sunday Show with Bruce Adamson, the outgoing Children’s Commissioner of Scotland ("Sturgeon ‘absolutely failed’ over vow to improve children’s lives", The Herald, May 15), a number of questions remain unanswered. Specifically, if Mr Adamson thought there was a lack of genuine commitment on the part of the Scottish Government to reducing child poverty why was he not a lot more outspoken during his tenure? Also, given the negative impact of the pandemic on aims such as reducing the attainment gap (which had been reducing) was this significant in terms of the Commissioner’s own performance and a possible extension of his tenure?

Of course if Mr Adamson had been a political appointee, as was the Chairman of the BBC, it is probably unlikely that any criticisms of the Government that had appointed him would have been aired publicly. This though in turn begs another question: why, when the Scottish Government has expended considerable resources mitigating the dire social consequences of policy decisions made in Westminster, did the UK Government not seemingly attract any of his ire?

No doubt Mr Adamson’s intentions as Commissioner were highly commendable, but he does not do himself, nor the Scottish public he was serving, justice if he appears to add credence to a partial summary of factors pertinent to his performance even when it is appraised by many that an artful interviewer has only appeared interested in putting “SNP bad” words in his mouth.

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry.

• DID Richard Allison and Bill Eadie (Letters, May 16) actually read Bruce Adamson's entire discourse on the former First Minister? It was nuanced with pluses and minuses and seemed to be directed more specifically towards the influence of government handling of Covid-19 in respect of the attainment gap and child poverty.

Anyway, have they got something to persuade us to back the Union, other than relentless, and often inaccurate, attacks on the SNP and its leaders?

Iain Cope, Glasgow.

Read more: Labour governments make a difference. That's what scares the SNP

Another failure for Sturgeon CV

ADD another failure to the Scottish Government’s and Nicola Sturgeon’s CV. One would have thought that the SNP’s tie-up with the Green Party would result in a super efficient recycling policy. Not so.

The BBC consumer programme Rip-Off Britain announced that, of the four home countries, Northern Ireland comes top by recycling 56 per cent of household waste. And where does Scotland come? Bottom. Only 41% of our waste is successfully recycled. Has this Government actually done anything positive for our country?

Alan McGibbon, Paisley.

I must have been wrong all along

READING The Herald recently has led me to re-appraise my views of the UK's political economy and its recurrent crises over the past 40 years. It's now clear to me that Margaret Thatcher was a bit of a feartie and not brave enough in promoting free enterprise in the 1980s; that the collapse of the banking and financial system in 2008 has been grossly exaggerated and in no way can be attributed to mild, even non-existent, regulation; austerity since 2012 has been a consequence of an overbearing state too eager to regulate the economy; Brexit, taking back control, has yet to come to fruition but will do when Kemi Badenoch lights the bonfire of EU regulation.

I have come to appreciate the frustration of Sir Tim Martin who, in the context of a rising share price and record sales for his company, recently declared: "Political parties should encourage free enterprise, rather than a reliance on additional regulations. A lack of understanding, among some politicians, about the need to encourage a successful free market economy, presents a real threat to the future economic prospects of the country" ("Pub giant toasts rise in sales to record level this year", The Herald, May 11).

We should resist the temptation, when reflecting on Sir Tim's views, to think that somehow Fidel Castro must have been running the country for the past 50 years and recognise that we in Scotland have our own Tim Martins. Alas, Lord Haughey and Sir Tom Hunter are too timid. Why stop at the Firth of Forth and the Cromarty Firth, why not turn the whole country into a Freeport? We can then all sit back and await the benefits of trickle-down economics. After all it's worked in the past.

Brian Harvey, Hamilton.

Voting age should be 21

“I WAS earning my own cash, contributing by paying digs money and by the time I was 21 I had five years' work experience and was full of confidence” – from John Gilligan’s eloquent letter (May 16) extolling the benefits of apprenticeships and the common sense of reducing the numbers of university students in favour of the practical tradesmen/women we all need and depend on.

That quoted extract also encapsulates why the age of majority, at least for voting (though for other purposes too in my view) should revert to 21, rather than to teenagers who are surely “probationary adults”. Aged 21, Mr Gilligan was a time-served graduate of the University of Life, with five years’ solid experience of earning his living in the world of work, mentored by others with a lifetime of such experience.

He was therefore far more mature and adult than half of the current generation of those aged 16-21 (and of some well into their mid-twenties) whose only experience is school, college, university and parental or state financial support.

Moreover, there is increasing medical/scientific evidence that the human brain matures only in the mid-twenties. With elections every four or five years, the average age of first-time voters would be about 24 given a minimum age of 21, which would coincide nicely with the recent mantra of “following the science”.

John Birkett, St Andrews.