BILL Brown (Letters, July 10) quotes John F Kennedy, who said to “ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country”. From this he concludes the role of the Scottish Government is to “dutifully contribute to the common good within the context of the whole of a thriving United Kingdom”. The practical difficulty with this of course is how we determine the “common good”?

For instance, the United Kingdom on the most likely scenarios will shortly (or eventually?) leave the European Union (though with or without a deal is unknown), despite the fact that, even though the EU referendum was held UK-wide, it remains public knowledge that the balance of opinion in two of the four nations that constitute the UK – Northern Ireland as well as Scotland – was for Remain. There is, therefore, a clear disjunction of opinion between the nations of the UK. In such a situation, what is the role of a Scottish Government? To act in such a way as to represent the clear wishes of those who elected it in Scotland? Or to suppress those wishes and act in accordance with the instructions of a government elsewhere in the United Kingdom that has minority representation here? That democratic paradox is the inescapable contradiction of the Union of which we are currently part.

Mr Brown is likewise contemptuous of the efforts of the All Under One Banner marchers, worrying that our foreign visitors have “to witness flag-waving and marching from tartan-clad inflexible SNP supporters”. It is therefore ironic that John Kennedy directed his quote to the “ordinary” citizen, enjoining them to not be passive consumers of government policies and actions, but to become involved in their communities and in that way to enrich their country. I would expect anyone of a Unionist opinion to disagree with the actions of the All Under One Banner marchers, but, in that way, they demonstrate the same contempt for anyone of contrary opinion to their own, that the Westminster Government has displayed to Scotland’s Remain vote.

It is therefore no real surprise that Mr Brown can write that he hopes Theresa May will “be remembered as a PM who viewed democracy as sacrosanct”, overlooking that this was a Prime Minister who had to be dragged to the Supreme Court to ensure that leaving the European Union would have to be approved by the whole House of Commons and not just her and her Cabinet. At least one of her possible successors, currently being chosen by less than one per cent of the UK population, has not ruled out the possibility of proroguing Parliament in October to ensure that it does not interfere with a “no deal” Brexit. History will in due course record a verdict on Mrs May’s Premiership and indeed the whole Brexit imbroglio, but, somehow, I doubt a positive commitment to democratic process at Westminster will loom very large in that judgement.

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.

BILL Brown sees the aim of independence for Scotland as a malignant threat and a negative impact on our lives – although he refers to the SNP rather than the much-larger independence movement. I can readily understand that the increasing numbers seeking independence, currently around 50 per cent of the voting population, will create disquiet and fear of change among those who prefer the instability of the status quo, a view I am prepared to respect. It is a pity that Unionists cannot respect the opposing view while disagreeing with it. History tells us that the clamour to return to being an independent country, which Scotland has been longer than in the Union, commenced the same year as the Treaty of Union and has raised its head periodically ever since and only dampened when there were wars to be fought.

In the modern campaign for independence, or war of attrition as Mr Brown would prefer, he might spare a thought, if not a care, to how those seeking independence might feel with the might of the UK media and the forces of the Westminster Establishment ranged against them. One might ponder why this country of Scotland is so “heavily in debt and subsidised to the hilt by Westminster” after a 40-year oil bonanza? At the time of the Union in 1707, Scotland’s population was around one million against 5.5 million in England, or 16 per cent of the total. At the start of the 20th century before immigration to the UK changed the demographic, Scotland’s share of the population had fallen to 10 per cent of the total – the only Western country where this happened, with the one exception of Ireland then still part of the UK. Ireland has now reversed the trend and a large percentage of the population are young. Compare this to Scotland where our young people leave to seek work and we are left with an ageing population, requiring yet more subsidy.

Scotland gets the Westminster Parliament it did not vote for time and time again. Paradoxically in the Tory leadership race, Scottish Conservatives are about to face the same problem, as Jeremy Hunt appears to be their runaway choice but they are going to get England’s choice of Boris Johnson. In Scotland we really do need some backbone to grasp the thistle very tightly and take back control.

Alan M Morris, Blanefield.

I HOPE your more informed readers can answer this question for me.

If Scotland is such a basket case requiring generous financial handouts, why does the Westminster Government desperately want to hang on to us? Why?

Eric Macdonald, Paisley.

IT is rather ironic that Westminster is about to spend multi-millions on trying to stop indyref 2 whilst the SNP is spending a lot of money on keeping the same social, economic and political catastrophe very much alive ("New PM’S multimillion-pound war chest to crush indy hopes", The Herald, July 10).

It is patently obvious that the SNP will not get approval for another independence referendum in the near future. All this taxpayers' money is therefore being used in an absolutely useless way. There is a crying need for more money from every aspect of government control in both Scotland and the wider Union. Why can't the SNP simply accept that it lost in 2014 and stop this never-ending waste of money on both sides of the Border? Leave indyref2 to the next generation, where it belongs, and let's start by fixing the everyday problems first. Sensible politicians should be looking to unite us rather than divide us.

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow G77.

IN 2007-08 when the SNP came to power it had an underspend on its budget of £275 million. Every year since then, right up to the present day, it has underspent its budget. Currently the underspend is at £459m. Constantly coming in under budget is not prudent management, it is mismanagement. This means money has not been going to departments where it is needed, like the NHS or police over the past 12 years. In other words, under-investment.

Jim Robertson, Glasgow G53.

Read more: Under the SNP, we are like a nation under siege