I WOULD respectfully ask voters sympathetic to the concept of independence to bear in mind that they are not being asked to vote for, or against, that on Thursday.

But only a vote for the SNP can keep that option open once the toxic mess that is Brexit is not muddying the water, although the ill-will and ill-effects of this criminal folly will linger for years.

When that debate properly begins, the SNP will surely strongly emphasise Scotland’s incredible assets: massive energy resources, fish, farming, 90 per cent of Britain’s fresh water, whisky, amazing scenery, excellent universities, and the Scots’ famous talent for invention and hard work - on and on.

Consider only a country our size, like Denmark; not nearly as blessed with resources but which has an enviable quality of life and standard of living. Why? Because they are independent, talented and chose to make it so. Tories and Liberals say we couldn’t do it - shame on them. Choose Scotland.

David Roche, Perth.

IT is now time that supporters of independence stop and seriously take stock of what is happening to Scotland under the utterly incompetent SNP regime before all is lost.

Susan Deacon has resigned as chair of Scotland’s police watchdog, stating that “arrangements for policing in Scotland are fundamentally flawed, in structure, culture and practice.”

It was believed by critics that Police Scotland was established by Kenny MacAskill to provide full nationalist political control and have the Chief Constable in the SNP pocket and that, according to Ms Deacon, is clearly what has happened.

This week we learn that the Pisa schools results are a disgrace and Scottish children are being let down badly by the SNP. A flagship hospital is lying empty, costing Scottish taxpayers millions.The SNP regime is being sued by its own ferry quango over a contract row.

Prestwick airport has had over £40 million of taxpayers money ploughed into it. There is a serious shortage of GPs. The IFS has seriously criticised SNP economics, confirming that an independent Scotland will have major austerity problems - confirmed, of course, years ago by the SNP’s own Andrew Wilson.

An independent Scotland in the EU, if ever accepted, will have a hard border between Scotland and England, its greatest trading partner.

The list of failures and incompetencies by this rogue bunch of inexperienced, ineffectual “politicians” goes on and on, yet supporters refuse to believe there are any problems - let’s get independence and all will be well.

With Scotland going downhill very quickly, will someone please tell me what I can’t see? With multiple, long-lasting problems, somebody please explain in detail what is lacking in my thought process to understand that separation will be a financial and economic disaster, condemning my fellow Scots, my children and grandchildren to decades of real austerity.

Meanwhile, Ms Sturgeon gallivants throughout the UK as if she speaks for “the people of Scotland”. She did not speak for the majority in 2014 and by my reckoning she still does not. So come on, SNP supporters, tell me, in view of all that is happening, how would you convince me to support a regime which is totally incompetent and would bankrupt my country?

Douglas Cowe, Newmachar, Aberdeenshire.

IT was interesting to read Alasdair Galloway’s take (Herald letters, December 6) on the clear benefits which we Scots get from the Barnett formula - the “Union Dividend”.

Understandably, given his nationalistic views, he made a “sterling” effort to placate the SNP deficit-deniers about the extra 20 per cent (around £1,800 per capita per year) Scotland gets allocated to spend on public services compared to south of the border.

To be fair, he did not dispute the figures, but preferred to suggest it was a quirk in the formula due to our “smaller” population and not any form of “generosity” by Westminster.

But what did the late Lord Barnett say about his formula, which dated back to the late 1970s, during the 2014 referendum? In a rare interview on the subject he said it was a “fundamentally flawed” system for the simple reason that it “widely” over-estimates Scotland’s population and therefore gives Scots a disproportionate slice of the UK tax revenues.

He went on to say that this meant that Scots have been able to do things that the English cannot, like free prescriptions and university fees and so on - which was “not fair” on the English taxpayers.

Given that the Barnett formula is the only way the Scottish government can balance its books, it is hardly surprising the SNP quietly dropped their insistence for full fiscal autonomy.

Final word from Lord Barnett: “My Barnett Formula needs to be tackled now - but no politician will”.

Ian Lakin, Milltimber, Aberdeen.

THE SNP leaflet which I received asks for my vote in order to “Stop Brexit” and “End Tory austerity”. Both of these claims are false.

A vote for the SNP cannot stop Brexit because they do not stand in enough constituencies to form the next Government. In the last General Election the SNP polled less than one million votes while the Conservatives polled over 13.5 million. Any claim that the SNP can block a decision of the UK Government is false.

As for Brexit, more than 17 million people voted to Leave, so it would be a travesty of democracy if a tiny SNP minority could prevent it.

Tory austerity is not as bad as SNP austerity. Scottish Government accounts show that cuts from Westminster have been three per cent overall, whereas the cuts imposed on local councils by the SNP Government have been 10 per cent and more.

Funds which should have gone to local councils to run schools, care homes, etc, have been held back. Why? So they can channel millions to their sponsors, like Jim McColl, and the tourist business. So they can create plum jobs in quangos for their mates. So they can amass reserves for independence - half a billion hoarded this year and the same last year. Most of the austerity in Scotland is caused by the SNP Government.

A vote for the SNP will not stop Brexit, nor will it end austerity. But a vote for any other party will punish them for their lies, incompetence and the ruination of our public services.

Les Reid, Edinburgh.

THE Brexiteers repeat at every opportunity the deceit that their narrow majority in the 2016 referendum is their democratically valid authority to take us out of the EU “deal or no deal”.

They say that anything else is denying the democratically expressed will of “The People”. That is cleverly constructed falsehood confirmed by a conscious and calculated policy of assiduous repetition.

What that small referendum majority favoured was to leave the EU in order to obtain the benefits promised at the time by the Brexiteers, not the absolute “democratic will of the people” to leave come what may, mendaciously repeated ad nauseam by the Brexiteers and since found to be false, fantasy or just simply deceitful and, as it has turned out, not even an option.

The “Leavers” have taken electoral approval for one policy and falsely alleged its validity for a different one to which it simply does not apply. Their policy makers must be laughing up their sleeves at their success.

Clive McDonald, Glasgow.

SHOULD the loser (s) in the forthcoming election demand a confirmatory general election on the grounds that the winner told lies?

Don Ferguson, Kirkintilloch.

DAVID Lammy (“Quotes of the day”, December 7) says that “the public is not fed up of interviews”. Boy, is he wrong!

Michael Watson, Rutherglen.

I HAVE already cast my vote in the general election. Co-incidentally, before posting it, I had a call from another life-long-Labour-supporting friend in this constituency. Both of us, for more than fifty years, have been hard-core faithful supporters of Labour; my friend in fact at every election going back to the 1960s helped the party deliver leaflets and assisted getting voters to the polls.

He told me, clearly with regret, that he had, for the first time in his life, also cast his vote – and, after some persuasion on his part, that of his wife - for our constituency’s Tory candidate; not out of any conservative conviction, but because he felt, as I did, that is the best chance of unseating the holding nationalist MP.

So, at least three votes are certain for the Tories in Edinburgh North and Leith. We consider the SNP infinitely more dangerous to Scotland than the Tories.

This has been a great wrench for us. Jeremy Corbyn was certainly one major reason, but the main reason was accepting the vagaries of the first-past-the-post system cancelling out the opposition and almost guaranteeing an SNP MP in this constituency – as it is in others.

We felt this was our only and admittedly remote chance of stopping nationalism continuing to tear our country apart.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.

JOHN Galt, Scottish novelist and businessman, born in Irvine, 1779, wrote about his Toryism in his Literary Life: “I was born a radical, and owe my Tory predilections entirely to a prankful elf.....delighting in the ridiculous”.

We have witnessed in this election many stunts and photo ops from Tory leaders past and present as an alternative to substance and accountability. It seems nothing much changes.

Boris Johnson has excelled in the stunt but has avoided scrutiny by backing out of meetings and not facing interviews. In fact, he has form going back to his many previous positions as columnist, editor and his promoted projects when Mayor of London. What next?

John Edgar, Kilmaurs.