I WAS interested in the article from Tom Gordon ("A Scots constitutional crisis? What constitutional crisis?", The Herald, May 12). David Mundell gives the impression of being stuck on a traffic island with vehicles whizzing past in both directions. He has no great influence (or even responsibilities) in Cabinet, and has no leverage with Holyrood. Any threats he issues are seen to go against the spirit of devolution, and he has no “beads” to pacify the natives. Even that once great office of state, The Scottish Office, has been defenestrated on his watch.

If the powers are taken from Edinburgh to London, they will bypass him and go to an “English” Ministry for the first time in more than a century. Not for the first time I ask; what is Mr Mundell’s purpose in government?

Tom Gordon asserts that Nicola Sturgeon is corralled by the Yes supporters on one side, and the Theresa May/DUP axis on the other. Strategically, Ms Sturgeon has the option of insisting her mandate for a second independence referendum be respected by London, before 2021. If that option is closed down by the May Government (and presumably it will be), then she could place in the SNP manifesto for the 2022 Westminster election, the commitment to independence if she wins a majority of seats.

That would fulfil two Margaret Thatcher tenets: that Scotland has the absolute right to self-determination; and that a majority of Scottish MPs elected on such a manifesto gives an electoral mandate to negotiate for independence.

GR Weir,

17 Mill Street, Ochiltree.

IN his defence of the SNP's competence, David Hay (Letters, May 12) produces five claims of the party's achievements, all of which are of questionable veracity.

For instance the SNP did not abolished tuition fees in Scotland, the Labour/LibDem coalition did that. Having promised in its 2007 manifesto to abolish all student debt, a promise it had obviously never costed, the SNP panicked and instead abolished the Graduate Endowment, which was a tax not a fee. Even worse, to pay for this policy it cut bursaries to mainly working-class and/or mature college students and abolished 140,000 college places – a transfer of funding from the less well off to the middle classes. Not exactly a triumph, more a panicky fudge.

Mr Hay is partially right in that the SNP did “abolish” 10 per cent of prescription charges (the other 90 per cent being already abolished), another middle-class subsidy it seems strangely proud of. The cost to other vital NHS services is an approximate £60 million a year. Not, I would suggest, a price worth paying.

The claim of the lowest recorded crime levels in 42 years is also on shaky ground. Recorded crime has been falling in all developed countries since the 1970s, including the UK. No identifiable policy of the SNP caused the fall in Scotland. Indeed, the shambles of Police Scotland and the emerging disaster of the BTP merger show that, where the SNP intervenes in police matters, chaos follows.

Mr Hay is also inexplicably proud of his party's record on education, a performance which has seen thousand's of fewer teachers and Scotland's withdrawal from international education league tables in order to hide our ignominious slide to relegation status.

Mr Hay also praises what he calls the “world-leading target” of emission reductions, seemingly mindless of the fact that the SNP's entire economic case for “independence” was based on exporting oil and therefore pollution around the world. It's nice that we meet some interim local targets (with the help of UK subsidies by the way), but the hypocrisy of claiming to be “green” while exporting pollution on a grand scale is literally breathtaking.

The truth is the SNP is the least competent administration it is possible to imagine. In 11 years it has created little and achieved less, unless you include division and grievance, the one area in which it does, indeed, excel.

Alex Gallagher,

Labour councillor, North Coast and Cumbraes, North Ayrshire Council,

12 Phillips Avenue, Largs.

IN my opinion the difference between British nationalists and Scottish nationalists is that the former seems to want to withdraw into themselves and "repel all boarders" and the Scottish ones want to be able to welcome others who want to make their lives here.

If we could all walk freely around the world,work and settle in any country maybe that would decrease the chance of religious or territorial wars.

As the bard said: "that man to man the world o'er shall brothers be for a' that".

Bill Kerr,

Sandyknowes Road, Cumbernauld.

ALEXANDER R McKay (Letters, May 12) makes a couple of interesting points in his letter about the many layers of government (May 12).

The easiest way to reduce the number of tiers of government, is for Scotland to choose independence, thereby getting rid of two layers, the Lords and the Commons, in one easy move.

David Hay,

12 Victoria Park, Minard.

HOW does one reverse the overarching epidemic of bureaucracy noted by Alexander R McKay?

My particular piece of angst is directed to healthcare organisation, where we have health boards, integrated joint boards (IJBs) and the like.

If we have to have it, how about just one instead of all these health boards and their cohorts discussing the same things and watching each other in case they miss some meaningless political point?

If anyone doubts this, search the internet for your local IJB and if your computer has enough memory download its minutes, meetings and papers for a wee exercise on a wet day if you have nothing better to do. I promise you will be amazed; and you can always delete it if your computer begins to struggle before you do.

Thomas Law,

Boarhills, Cromlech Road, Sandbank, Argyll and Bute.

REGARDING the issue of voting rights for prisoners ("Macaskill wants law changed to give all prisoners the right to vote", The Herald, May 12), it seems to me that any such individuals wishing to have this right were clearly unconcerned about the risk of going to prison and therefore losing it,when they engaged in criminal behaviour.

Alternatively, if the potential loss of voting rights is not widely known among would-be criminals, can we assume that the crime rate would drop substantially if the ban were to be more publicised, as the loss of the right to vote would be paramount in their thoughts?

I rather think not.

There is only one answer to any prisoner complaining about not being able to vote: "you should have thought of that before”.

Alan Jenkins,

0/1, 111 Helensburgh Drive, Glasgow.