I AGREE entirely with Mark Smith in his column (“A question that exposes the problem with our politics”) yesterday when he wrote about Scottish politics – “That’s where we are now. It’s disappointing. It’s distorting. And it’s exhausting”.

I resent the fact that the parties obsessed with independence, for and against, have hijacked the Holyrood election and turned it into a referendum on IndyRef2. I believe this to be a distortion of the democratic process.

For instance, I would wish my vote to be understood that I believe that there are many reasons for considering the Conservatives unfit for the role of principal opposition party in Holyrood.

Among these are the patterns of sleaze, deceit, and blatant cronyism at the heart of Johnsonian Conservatism. These amount to an abandonment of traditional Conservative values of social inclusion and essential decency which has not been bravely and openly challenged by the Scottish party.

I suggest, for example, that your readers consider the Children’s Commissioner for England’s confirmation of Sir Keir Starmer’s assertions (June 17, 2020) that “ there are now 600,000 more children…living in relative poverty than in 2012” and that “child poverty rates are projected to increase to 5.2 million by 2022.”

On the other hand, given the performance of Labour during its most recent time in office in Westminster, it is obvious that that party deserves our support.

According to both the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Resolution Foundation, child poverty fell significantly during the Gordon Brown years. It is surely worth noting that in Scottish Labour’s election broadcast of April 8, Brown was referred to as he who “led our nation’s fight against the scandal of child poverty”.

I trust only Scottish Labour, led by Anas Sarwar, not to let down the most vulnerable in our society. Such a resolute determination has lain at the very core of that party’s being since its very formation.

Accordingly I have decided to give both my votes to Labour because I believe that a nation which tolerates such a degree of child poverty as spelt out above can not consider itself to be civilised.

Although not a member of any political party I believe this is what political and democratic processes are about.

John Milne, Uddingston.

GOOD on Mark Smith for continuing to focus on the issue of animal welfare. It’s particularly encouraging that he has devoted so much space to grouse-shooting. As an SNP voter I wish the party would address Mr Smith's question with real urgency,

The Tory candidate's awful assertion that snares are “necessary land-management tools” reminds us of how little regard is paid to animal welfare in many parts of Scotland and by the Conservative Party as a whole.

M. Lewis, Glasgow.


IT is essential that the rules for any future referendum on independence in Scotland are established by the UK Government and the Electoral Commission.

This is a major irreversible issue affecting the whole of the UK ; the SNP cannot be permitted to gerrymander and set the terms as they were in 2014.

On a matter such as this, 50 per cent of the vote plus one is clearly just not an acceptable way to proceed.

There should be a minimum turnout required, say 75% or 80% of the electorate, with a majority in favour of independence having to exceed, for example, 60%.

Clause 27 of the SNP’s own constitution requires a minimum of two-thirds of votes cast at a party conference for a constitutional change. The break-up of the UK is a far more serious matter than the constitution of the SNP.

In the 2014 election the SNP cynically reduced the voting age to 16 in an attempt to appeal to young, impressionable and emotional minds. The minimum age to vote in a referendum should be 18.

The voting age in General Elections is 18 for very sound reasons and it is undeniable that a referendum on the break-up of the UK is a far more critical and far-reaching issue than a general election, where the situation can be changed at the next ballot-box opportunity.

Scots living anywhere in the UK should be allowed a vote which they were denied by the SNP in 2014.

Donald Lewis, East Lothian.


YOU report (April 18) that a former top civil servant, Philip Rycroft, worries that the UK government will switch to a “more assertive unionism”. Assertive unionism is exactly what is required. The more ground conceded to the nationalists, the more they want.

Scotland is already a state within a state, with control over just about every area except for fiscal and monetary policy, foreign policy and defence.

The SNP government has been hugely subsidised by the Treasury so that it can offer numerous freebies not available south of the border.

It demanded an independence referendum and got one.

It was given control over the voting age, the timing, and the question, which the Electoral Commission says was biased towards separation.

Millions of pounds of British taxpayers’ money has been given to SNP politicians in salaries and expenses – the same SNP politicians who are working assiduously to break up the British state.

It’s time for the British government to take a leaf out of Spain’s Catalonian rule book and say: “This far, and no further”.

William Loneskie, Lauder.


THE light regulatory touch which spelled economic collapse in 2008 has now been paralleled by its educational equivalent.

With the reports coming from our tertiary institutions that spelling, grammar, punctuation and paragraphing should not be marked down when deficient, this is the end-product of the rising damp inflicted upon the basement primary sector,

This is the process whereby the ideologues who supported free expression to enable the creativity of the individual declared war upon their four horsemen of the linguistic apocalypse for threatening individual originality.

That rising damp has now enveloped the ceiling, which explains the abdication of our tertiary institutions in that department.

Adding to that awful development has been the rise of text-speak with its mangling of form and language. Also helping to squeeze the life out of the literacy of language is the jiggery-pokery of wokery,

Sadly, many of our current classroom practitioners are products of this relaxed, and lax, approach to linguistic standards, which means they are not equipped to turn this ship around towards the direction of language proficiency.

This abandonment of standards by our universities is of a Suez Canal-scale blockage and will cost much to recover the lost ground.

Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.


DAVE Henderson avers “the Government’s well-known antipathy to all things drink- related” (letters, April 19).

Not so: Government, Janus-faced, welcomes revenue derived from alcohol arising from both domestic and foreign sources, despite the World Health Organisation regarding alcohol as more addictive than heroin.

Alcohol contributes to more drug-related deaths in Scotland than all other addictive drugs combined, but the SNP in Government declines to publish amalgamated figures.

William Durward, Bearsden.


IT is all too apparent that the SNP plan to use Covid relief money, supplied by the Treasury via Barnett, to fund their ever-growing list of election handouts, goodies and, some would say, bribes – that is, if any of the fantasy list is tackled at all after the election.

It is certain these giveaways could not be financed in any other feasible way.

That this cash, earmarked to assist in recovery from a pandemic that has cost millions of lives across the globe, could be used in this beneath-cynical way by the SNP brings a new meaning to “shameful”.

Literally with the SNP, anything goes in pursuit of their Holy Grail, which like the carrot and the donkey will never be attained.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.


WELL, which is it to be? Nicola Sturgeon wants to keep the pound sterling after independence and Alex Salmond wants to ditch it right away.

The main plank of independence must necessarily rest on fiscal security. It is terribly obvious that there is no way that this is possible in an independent Scotland.

Salmond is closer to the truth as using sterling is not a good option but introducing a new Scottish currency would be a disaster from the outset. Simple answer: Keep the internationally recognised and valued pound sterling and quietly kick the empty can of independence out of sight.

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow.