I HAVE just posted my ballot paper for the Scottish Parliament elections; I voted SNP in Edinburgh Central constituency and Green for the regional vote for Edinburgh and the Lothians. There has been much discussion in recent days on how to use your second vote, with all parties urging voters to back them twice. However the Scottish electorate, which recently became highly energised through the referendum, shows signs of becoming quite sophisticated in its voting habits.

It is clear that the SNP will win the big majority of constituency seats, after all it won all but three at the General Election last year and is now further ahead in the polls. Indeed the latest polls show it is likely to win a parliamentary majority with around 70 seats.

In Edinburgh and in Glasgow the SNP is likely to win every constituency seat and therefore is unlikely to win any seats on the list. Faced with that I would rather see another MSP from the left who supports independence getting elected rather than any of the Unionist parties. The Greens are the only credible alternative on the left and in my area of Edinburgh are likely to win two seats, including Scotland's leading expert in land reform, Andy Wightman.

I am a member of the SNP and I am aware that this action will not be approved by the party leadership and I could face expulsion. However, I know that many SNP voters will be making similar choices in Edinburgh and the Lothians. In Denmark where their Parliament is elected by a pure proportional system, electors have the right to choose which order they place candidates on the list. More than 70 per cent of them choose an order different from the party list.

This is the fourth Scottish Parliament election and the electoral system, although better than the undemocratic Westminster first past the post system (where the Tories enjoy a majority with 36 per cent of the vote) is not perfect. Perhaps after the election we should review the electoral system to make it more democratic. In the meantime I am confident that the Scottish electorate will make a wise judgment next week.

Hugh Kerr,

Wharton Square, Edinburgh.

I WON’T quarrel with David Torrance’s analysis of Labour’s woes (“Scottish Labour sowed the seeds of its ongoing decline”, The Herald, April 25), but his analogy with the Republican Party doesn’t hold. Over recent decades the GOP sold its soul variously to the neo-cons, the gun lobby, the “Christian” right, the corporations, and the racists, leaving it with no core belief and unelectable.

By contrast, the Labour Party’s core value, collective action, remains intact. It seems we forgot to be Scottish enough, and there was space for the opportunist and principle-free SNP to take voters away. Nicola Sturgeon acknowledges the education that gave her, a “working-class girl”, the opportunity to be First Minister without giving any credit to the political creators of such good education.

She and her party have narrowed down her inheritance to shallow identity politics instead of joining forces with a broad left to build on all that the Labour Party has done and still offers. Unless enough people vote for other parties, what we have in prospect is the next government doing nothing more than manipulating public opinion towards its sole aim of separating Scotland from the UK. The SNP is Scotland’s tragedy.

Tim Bell,

11 Madeira Place, Edinburgh.

THE Government defeat of the Immigration Bill amendment that would have let 3,000 unaccompanied Syrian minors into the UK (“Child refugee help bid defeated”, The Herald, April 26) demonstrates the moral depths to which the Conservative Government has plunged.

We simply cannot turn our back on these vulnerable children and history will judge the Conservatives on that basis.

The argument that taking in these children could act as a “pull factor” for others truly beggars belief and is tantamount to saying that we must abandon these children to their fate, lest if we do anything, others may follow in their footsteps. We cannot take that position.

Fittingly it was Lord Alf Dubs who tabled the amendment, himself a beneficiary of the Kindertransport, the government-backed programme that accepted 10,000 child refugees from Germany in the run-up to the Second World War.

We can only be grateful it was not the current Conservative Party in charge then.

On Thursday week the Scottish electorate will head to the polls. Those looking to vote Conservative should be aware of what they are voting for, a party which is by the day reinforcing its claim to be the truly ‘nasty party’.

Alex Orr,

Flat 2, 77 Leamington Terrace, Edinburgh.