I TEND to agree with most of Iain Macwhirter's political comments, but find his forecast of the UK eternally vetoing the right of Scots to determine their own future as disastrous for both Scotland and the UK (“Important Spanish lessons for Scots independence parties”, The Herald, February 13). We can look back at the promises made in 2014 by the Better Together side for constitutional change (quicker, better) and see they have been totally reneged on, so trust is in short supply.

In Northern Ireland, both sides of the divide have agreed with a de facto acceptance of the Union as long as a majority of people in the North support it. But the Good Friday Agreement gives Northern Ireland the right to a referendum for leaving the Union, and it allows that to be re-tested with a seven-year time gap. That is now part of the constitutional architecture of the UK. The DUP does not support the terms of the Good Friday Agreement (although it was a victory for Unionism) and wants direct rule, so with Brexit also a driver, a border poll in Northern Ireland within the next few years is likely, and I find it simply not credible that a veto could then be applied to Scotland on a very similar independence referendum seven years after the first. Would the Supreme Court not agree?

But ultimately, if Scots have no constitutional remedy in law; are not allowed a say in their own constitutional future; have no leverage over an over-mighty executive in London which claims “sovereignty” (especially with the Scotophobic Boris Johnson as PM), then the future is both predictable and dire.

GR Weir,

17 Mill Street, Ochiltree.

THERE was a degree of predictability in Iain Macwhirter’s piece about the 12 politicians and civil leaders who appeared a few days ago in a Madrid court charged with violent rebellion and the lessons to be learned about a possible future referendum on Scottish independence.

Shock and horror as he declared that many supporters of Scottish independence will find “incomprehensible” the failure of the European Union to condemn the Spanish government for what most see as a “gross violation” of human rights.

First, it is hardly surprising that nationalists would be dismayed given the “kid gloves” treatment afforded to them by the Westminster Government during the 2014 referendum when they got to choose the timing, the words on the ballot paper, 50 per cent plus one result to secure a win – all gift-wrapped in a public-funded “SNP manifesto”. In many ways Mr Macwhirter and his ilk are a victim of their own rhetoric by having complained at the lack of democracy at Westminster whilst lauding the EU institutions and suggesting we have more in common with Europe than rUK, the Commonwealth and the US. Fortunately, there are enough of us fellow Scots who remember the sacrifices made by this great country and its allies not so long ago and certainly do not need lectures about the so-called virtues of European democracy.

Finally, Mr Macwhirter and SNP supporters seem to have forgotten we have had our “once in a generation” referendum (unlike the Catalans) and the majority of the people voted to remain in the UK – for democracy to work, it must work both ways. Whereas it is perfectly reasonable to explore further devolution or a new form of federation within the UK it is not acceptable to demand another divisive referendum (for the foreseeable future) or talk of civil disobedience without warranting the full rigour of the law.

Ian Lakin,

Pinelands, Murtle Den Road, Milltimber, Aberdeen.

PETER A Russell (Letters, February 13) asserts that in the earlier days of Holyrood, “even the most contentious issues could be decided by rational and pragmatic discussion”. Did I only imagine them, or were there really no votes in the Chamber at that time? Were even the “most contentious issues” settled by consensus? Really, I don’t think so. Rather, there were differences and divisions. There always are. The SNP 2007 Government, like any minority government, had to reach out to secure a majority, just as it does today. However, currently it is the other parties who have excluded themselves from “rational and pragmatic discussion”, because the SNP will not renounce independence, its core belief.

As for current conduct at Holyrood, there is an old saying that “it takes two to tango”, and perhaps if Mr Russell could avert his eyes from the SNP benches he might realise that the braying sound frequently heard in the Chamber comes from the Official Opposition, the Conservative Party. He could also consider the frequent entreaties from his own Labour Party to address this social wrong, or that policy defect, with no indication of where the money will come from to pay for this. Rational discussion indeed.

Secondly, he complains that those who supported the Union in 2014 were frequently “traduced” as “traitors, quislings and cowards”. I agree that this kind of behaviour adds absolutely nothing to the debate and indeed diminishes it. I earnestly wish it would stop. However, I can no less earnestly assure him that I was similarly offended at that time, by the frequency with which I – and others who supported independence – were vilified as Bravehearts, separatists, cybernats or worse. Once again, Mr Russell would do well to look at both sides of the situation and not just his own.

Finally, Mr Russell asserts that it was for the Scottish Government to “bring the nation back together again”, which sounds very fine, till we start to contemplate for a moment just what it means. If he means a consensus the length and breadth of the land, perhaps he might tell us when this happened before. When a political party loses a vote, does it throw in the towel, or seek another opportunity to achieve its aim? Does he really imagine that SNP members are going to give up on their core belief of independence? Moreover, was the consensus Mr Russell seeks helped or hindered by David Cameron’s insistence, immediately after our vote, on English Votes for English Laws, or by what has followed since then, particularly Brexit, as Iain Macwhirter eloquently points out this morning?

The genie is certainly out the bottle, but this happened before 2014. Ten years ago, the thought of an independence referendum was unthinkable, condemned as quite unrealistic. Rather than spending his time berating the other side, Mr Russell should consider how it is that this once-unthinkable and unrealistic thought has become reality.

Alasdair Galloway,

14 Silverton Avenue, Dumbarton.

NOW we know what "standing up for Scotland’’ means. It means calling others liars ("Blackford brands PM ‘liar’ in heated Commons row", The Herald, February 13) and not wearing ties or playing football on the floor of the House of Commons. Stand-up comedians would be a better description.

Considering the now infamous "once in a lifetime’’ referendum remark, the SNP should think very carefully before castigating any others for telling untruths.

Alexander McKay,

8/7 New Cut Rigg, Edinburgh.