ALEX Gallagher’s letter on the SNP’s “disastrous summer” (August 9) is either a whistle in the dark, or pure moonshine. All recent polling shows the SNP making electoral gains from Scottish Labour and the Scottish Tories.

Any second independence referendum will wait until Brexit plays out: this is what electors want, and what British nationalist parties have been calling for.

The SNP is having an internal debate about Scotland’s future choices which seems to annoy many who prefer Scotland to have no options. Councillor Gallagher thinks there is no defensible case for independence, oddly referencing These Islands. I would have thought Scotland’s low rate of economic growth and, uniquely in Europe, low population growth over the last century and more under the control of Westminster makes a very convincing case. He also misunderstands the comments of the judge on the “philosophical” case for believing in a country ruling itself, rather than being ruled by others: much like Keir Hardie who thought Scotland should have Dominion status.

But Councillor Gallagher should look at what’s happening in the UK. No sane person expects Brexit to be a success, and neither the Tory Party, nor Alex Gallagher’s Labour Party has a policy worth the name. The Tory and Labour parties are in conflict over the EU, on leadership, on future direction, on various phobias, and yes, on “philosophy. All to the delight of the SNP. I don’t know if Labour (the only political party I have been a member of) will even survive as a party till the next election. Does Councillor Gallagher?

GR Weir,

17 Mill Street, Ochiltree.

"IN truth it has been a dreadful summer for the SNP" writes Labour Councillor Alex Gallagher. However, opinion polls conducted over the "dreadful summer" show a rise in support for the SNP, indicating that it is on course to win a fourth term at the next Scottish Parliament elections, and on 42 per cent for Westminster voting intentions, which would see it regain many of the seats lost at the last General Election. If Mr Gallagher considers this constitutes "a dreadful summer" for the SNP it would be intriguing to know what kind of summer he considers the Labour Party to have had, considering Labour has slumped to 23 per cent in the same opinion poll, and is currently conducting yet another bitter war with itself over allegations of anti-Semitism, which in recent days has seen a respected former MP quit the party after 34 years.

Mr Gallagher's reaction to Labour's dreadful summer is to try to muddy the waters by attacking the SNP and having a swipe at the justice system into the bargain. The truth of the matter is that Labour is in a hole of its own making, and no amount of digging at the SNP will get it out of it.

Ruth Marr,

99 Grampian Road, Stirling.

ALEX Gallagher obviously believes that criticising others will camouflage his own party's crass incompetence.

If the SNP has had a disastrous summer then surely Labour's year can only be described as cataclysmic. This is the party that has consistently supported the cruel and unjust Tory austerity policy which hit the poorest and defenceless in society. Not content with this its lack of any policy on Brexit has meant that it is effectively working in tandem with Jacob Rees-Mogg and his cabal of far-right Brexiters to drive the country off the No Deal cliff into oblivion. Add to this its incredible mishandling of the problem of anti-Semitism within the party and it is certainly something more malodorous in which it is covering itself.

With the total lack of any credible economic policy, if the SNP did absolutely nothing it would still be achieving far more than Councillor Gallagher's Labour Party. Can I suggest that glasshouses and stones spring to mind?

David Stubley,

22 Templeton Crescent, Prestwick.

COULD it be that Councillor Gallagher's diversionary anti-SNP epistle is prompted by the realisation that Labour is riven by a dispute on anti-Semitism, rendering it incapable of united opposition or re-election as a government, whilst the Tories are seriously divided over Brexit, making level-headed government impossible? Compared to these the SNP represents a beacon of stability and hope. His unease may further be explained by the most recent poll which put an independence No vote within a mere six points of an independence Yes vote.

Colin Campbell,

Braeside, Shuttle Street, Kilbarchan.

IT seems the SNP’s attempt to apply a more frank approach to the economics of independence, is not standing up well to subsequent scrutiny. The latest analysis of the SNP’s Growth Commission report, this time by economist Professor John McLaren of the Scottish Trends website, highlights a number of significant shortcomings and omissions, suggesting the degree of necessary austerity that we would all need to weather following breaking away from the UK would be substantially worse than the report was prepared to admit ("Blueprint for independence could extend austerity, economist says’’, The Herald, August 9).

Of course economic assessments will not be the only, or even the key, driver of public opinion, or SNP central office deliberations over a second independence referendum. Yet it is hard to see how the First Minister justifies pressing the button on another divisive independence referendum when years of trying to correct the mistakes of the 2014 referendum’s Scotland’s Future White Paper have led the SNP’s best minds to producing another lengthy, but equally flawed analysis of what independence would mean.

Keith Howell,

White Moss, West Linton, Peeblesshire.

THE respected economist, John McLaren, tells us that an independent Scotland would have to raise taxes and make swingeing cuts to benefits and defence to avoid decades of austerity. If that isn't austerity, one hates to think what is. Cutting benefits and the length of university degrees, and charging fees for basic healthcare services, looks pretty austere. The choices now before those who promote independence are Professor McLaren’s cuts or the real-terms cuts across half of the budget recommended by the Growth Commission. Prof McLaren’s preference for raising tax on whisky would, of course, hurt exports. His suggestion that adopting the euro should be considered would mean further fiscal disciplines, which he does not spell out.

Does anyone seriously think that piling these burdens on Scots in addition to leaving our biggest market, together with the undoubted problems that Brexit will bring, is a sensible course of action?

Jill Stephenson,

Glenlockhart Valley, Edinburgh.