I FIND myself having to respond to the article “Curtice says SNP splits now ‘biggest risk’ to party’s dream of independence” (July 29)

Contrary to the opinions of Professor Curtice, whom I acknowledge is regarded as the leading academic expert on polling intentions based on polling data, I have to challenge the assertion that the threat to achieving independence is the “so-called” split in the SNP.

The independence movement in Scotland is much more than the SNP; while it is true to say that the SNP have been for the past 80 years the leading proponent of independence for Scotland, there are a number of smaller parties and a large number of voters who support the need for independence.

However, it is my belief and that of the Alliance for Independence that one way of harnessing the demand for independence is by returning the largest possible number of MSPs in favour of independence at the Scottish Parliament elections next year..

This can only be done if the independence movement use the current system, just as the Unionist parties have done in the past Scottish Parliament elections and will no doubt attempt to do at the next election.

The SNP alone cannot guarantee an overwhelming majority of MSPs under the current amended D’Hondt electoral process.

By ensuring that those voters who supporting independence tactically use their list vote in 2021 and vote for the Alliance for Independence on the list we can achieve that overwhelming mandate to push Westminster to either concede a second referendum or pursue independence by other means.

In 2016 Scottish Parliament election the SNP received 47.7 per cent of the list votes in Central Scotland Region; however, due to the amended D’Hondt system, it returned no list MSPs, while those parties defending the union returned seven MSPs.

We have witnessed the power of the media and others to influence the voting intentions of the electorate in past elections and referenda, as well as the rise and fall of single-issue parties in the UK, with some individuals having undue media coverage to promote their agenda.

We have also witnessed the scare-mongering and vows made to convince the electorate of the honourable intentions of Westminster parties, with alliances formed in an attempt to undermine the wishes of the electorate.

The Scottish Parliament elections will give the people of Scotland an opportunity to return a majority of MSPs with a clear mandate to pursue independence at the earliest opportunity, if the SNP realise the benefits in allowing a pro-independence party, such as the Alliance for Independence Party, to pick up the list votes that would otherwise be wasted.

In the interests of full disclosure, I was elected in both the 2007 and 2011 Scottish Parliament elections as a list SNP MSP, so I am fully aware of the benefits that can be achieved by harnessing the list vote to deliver the right outcome for Scotland.

I would urge those voters who want to achieve independence before Westminster continues to whittle away the role of the Scottish Parliament and Government to vote tactically for the Alliance for Independence list candidates to deliver a clear mandate to pursue independence for Scotland.

John Wilson,


YOUR correspondent Bruce Crichton (July 27) should re-read the Vow of September 2014 to remind himself of its three pledges; statutory protection for the existence of the Holyrood Parliament; extra powers for that Parliament; and protection of the Barnett Formula.

Hopefully this will relieve his obvious disappointment at a lack of progress towards a more federal UK, which is a sentiment that many of us on the other side of the constitutional fence happen to share.

For example, there has been no Nationalist proposal to compromise from the other direction that sets out what would be an acceptable position of Home Rule short of independence.

My own preference at this stage would be New Act of Union, to be ratified by all of the UK’s Parliaments and Assemblies, setting out a constitutional framework that defines the rights of the different parts of the UK.

Unlike the current arrangements which have no ‘Article 50’, it should also define a unilateral route to secession for the nations and regions of the union, albeit one that requires a high level of proof (in the form of super- and double-majority referendums) that such a move was indeed the settled will of the people.

Peter A. Russell,



IN his interesting letter in today’s Herald (July 29), Hamish McPherson argues that “Scottish interests will always be secondary to a Westminster government, and only one party will stand up for Scottish interests”

Paradoxically perhaps, as a believer in the Union, I agree with him.

However, being a player on a larger stage helps Scotland immeasurably. I might even be tempted to vote for this party if it disavowed independence!

Bruce Walker,


MARK Smith’s commentary on Boris Johnson’s visit (“Reaction to Johnson reveals what Scotland is really like”, The Herald, July 27) seems to have ruffled a few feathers.

Almost an entire letter page is taken up by substantial correspondence expressing disagreement with his conclusions.

While most of these letters respond in a fairly matter-of-fact way, Willie Maclean attacks this newspaper directly for continuing to publish Mark Smith’s articles which he discredits as “anti-independence ramblings” and “pathetic attempts to airbrush away the truth” (i.e. lying).

His suggestion to dispense with Mr Smith in favour of “grown-up journalism” sounds like a back-handed request to sack him.

Mr Maclean doesn’t need to agree with Mark Smith’s “anti-independence ramblings” and he can publicly say so. That’s freedom of opinion.

In the same way, newspapers are entitled to print comments written by journalists of their choice – without political interference, be it vigilantism or institutionalised censorship. That’s freedom of the press.

I take my hat off to papers and broadcasters which don’t bow to political pressure even in a climate where, from various sides of the political spectrum, they are increasingly discredited as “biased” or “state media” or “liars”.

In social media almost all Scottish newspapers apart from one are frequently dubbed “Yoon rags” simply because they reflect more than one political opinion.

After this paper published my letter about political point-scoring on the back of the current pandemic, one Twitter user tweeted: “They actually printed that?”

Yes, they did. Like it or not.

In a liberal democracy the freedom of opinion and the freedom of the press belong together.

If you accept that others may have an opinion different from yours, then you also need to accept that this opinion appears in print.

My advice to Mr Maclean: if you can’t stomach Mark Smith’s articles, just don’t read them - but don’t ask the editor to gag him.

Regina Erich,


REBECCA McQuillan is dishing out advice to the U.K. Government in her article (“Three things the Tories have to do if they are to save the Union”, The Herald, July 24).

She stated that Boris Johnson’s visit to Scotland must have been his “toughest-ever canvassing gig”.

It is understandable that the United Kingdom Prime Minister and indeed any of his ministers – English, Welsh, Northern Irish or Scottish – feel intimidated coming to Scotland.

We have had more than a decade of baying, grievance-ridden, hate-filled, divisive, narrow-minded nationalists criticising and blaming successive Prime Ministers and Westminster Governments for every failing, every shortcoming in Scotland, despite Holyrood having vast powers which it is unable to handle successfully.

Nicola Sturgeon in September 2016 publicly stated that independence is “more important than oil, national wealth and balance sheets ... it transcends bread and butter issues”.

She has truly lived up to her mantra letting “the people of Scotland” down at virtually every turn - conveniently forgotten about during the pandemic.

For some strange reason her daily grandstanding on television seems to have won over some not previously of an independence persuasion. How fickle people can be to put the future of our country on such shallow grounds.

No wonder Boris felt intimidated; however, at least half of the Scottish voting population who stood up for the U.K. in 2014, and won, were delighted to see the Prime Minister working and supporting the whole country.

Douglas Cowe,

Newmachar ,


I HAVE a thought which could possibly be up for debate in the letter columns of this newspaper.

The last poll I saw was that the current desire for independence was running at 54 per cent.

I wonder how many of those 54 per cent are like me, in that I have been very impressed by Nicola Sturgeon’s performance at her daily briefings, but would never dream of voting for her.

Please discuss.

Bill Rutherford,


THE figure of 54 per cent support for independence has recently been quoted often both in this newspaper and generally in the media.

Where does this come from? The last two Panelbase surveys asked the question “Should Scotland be an independent country?” and the following results were published: Yes, 50 per cent; No, 43 per cent; Don’t know, seven per cent.

One can only get to 54 per cent by disregarding the Don’t Knows and allocating the seven per cent as four per cent to Yes and three per cent to No.

As a committed “Don’t Know”, I object to my view being misrepresented in this way.

Tom Millar,