HOW reassuring to read in the latest independence paper from the Scottish Government that we will be able to become an EU member “smoothly and quickly” (“Scotland ‘could rejoin EU two years after leaving the UK’ ”, The Herald, November 18). Suggesting this could all proceed while Scotland continues to use the pound sterling is a view that Sir Humphrey, of Yes, Prime Minister fame, would define as “courageous”.

Previous papers in the Building a New Scotland series have been equally confident that an independent Scotland will have a completely open border with the rest of the UK, no matter how open Scotland’s immigration policy might prove to be, or how freedom of movement of goods impacts on EU trading arrangements. Meanwhile it seems that economically the many additional billions of pounds currently coming to Scotland every year under the Barnett Formula block grant will be readily replaced by a combination of higher economic growth and borrowing.

It appears it is even easier to develop the blueprint for Scotland leaving the UK now than it was in 2014. All that is required is an unquestioning belief in the SNP leadership’s ability to bend the UK, EU and international financial markets to its will. Just as long as all of these do as they are told, without regard to their own interests or indeed common sense, all that the SNP claims will come to pass.

Some like to believe that fairy tales can come true. Hopefully though, the majority of people in Scotland will not want to bet all our futures on the current SNP leadership being able to turn its series of works of fiction into reality.

Keith Howell, West Linton.

Concentrate on what matters

I THINK Michael Matheson should resign over his iPad bill, but I would also widen that to include others found to have misused their publicly funded devices for personal usage. There is a blame game being played out over us punters being “misled”, so can we all play?

Sir Keir Starmer (Alister Jack another) was one of a number of senior politicians who stated a Holyrood majority would constitute a mandate for Indyref2. Was this a lie or misleading or what? Sir Keir has also reneged on a slew of other “promises” and any of the last half-dozen Tory prime ministers would qualify for the Pinocchio Award, though none of that raises an eyebrow south of the Border. Should they all go?

I think it’s time Scotland’s political class, elected or media, grew up a bit and concentrated on the policy issues that actually matter.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.

Read more: How can Douglas Ross call out Michael Matheson but not Boris Johnson?

We must be free of CalMac

THE possible decision that CalMac may be allowed to continue its dysfunction to the inhabitants of the Western Isles is appalling ("Uncontested contract award to CalMac is ‘preferred option’", The Herald, November 17).

Fiona Hyslop suggests this would be a "catalyst for positive change". One wonders quite what parallel universe Ms Hyslop exists in. She has clearly not had to rely on the abject failures and pricings of this woeful organisation. Penalties and conditions will not spur CalMac to energise sloth, inability and financial ineptitude. Whatever the facts (which will never be known, there being too much vested interest) CalMac has been a beacon to abject failure with apparently no embarrassment to the inconvenience (at least) caused to the Western Isles and elsewhere. The Corran ferry fiasco is but one example of complete inability.

There has to be a proper tender and serious conditions set out in the tender document.

If the hand of government is anywhere near the wheel, further failure looms for those needing ferry services.

James Bishop, Gisla, Isle of Lewis.

• IT’S all very well Fiona Hyslop saying that a direct award of the next west coast ferries contract to CalMac should usher in change with a new management culture emerging, "one that is more supportive of the community's customers and passengers served by the network".

Nothing in Ms Hyslop’s political career so far or that of her boss, the First Minister, inspires confidence that she understands that it is not enough just to say change will happen, someone has to make it happen and be held accountable if it doesn’t happen.

Those of us with long experience of the CalMac management’s ability to pay lip service to “community consultation”, while running the service in whatever way suits them best, know that unless structures are put in place to hold them accountable to the islanders who depend on these ferries, there will be no meaningful change.

I know that within the current Scottish Government and large parts of the Scottish quangocracy, the very idea of accountability is alien, but without it positive change will never happen, services will never improve and the islands will continue to decline.

Sandy Macalister, Shiskine, Isle of Arran.

Read more: Humza Yousaf and Michael Matheson must both go

Making war makes money

ANDY Stenton (Letters, November 18) repeats the question about why both major Westminster parties and their leaders continue to support Israel and its major ally the USA in the latest episode in the decades-long persecution of the native Palestinian population; this endorsement continuing despite the fact that our elected representatives are supposed to reflect the will of the people. The answer is as obvious to me as I’m sure it is to Mr Stenton, that although our MPs are in theory our paid servants, Westminster and the major parties that control it take their orders from global capitalism.

In a recent video interview given by senior US Senator Mitch McConnell he is questioned by a reporter on why the USA spends almost a trillion dollars annually on "defence" rather than spending it on dealing with the increasing problems ordinary Americans are facing. His response can be summarised as saying the US armaments industry benefited directly by having to replace ordnance, weapons and ammunition used in conflict overseas and so the US workforce also benefited indirectly from the carnage overseas. He neglected to mention the profits deducted en route or the dead bodies.

What we should be asking when we watch the unequal conflict where the Israeli military is reducing Gaza to rubble and murdering innocent men women and children, is which companies are profiting from this and what politicians are benefiting directly or indirectly from allowing the military-industrial complex to wreak havoc on innocents in Gaza just like they did in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen. Who will exploit the oil and gas reserves?

How can we possibly forget that 12 million people have died in wars in which the USA has been a major protagonist since 1950? None of these wars was on mainland USA, nobody has ever invaded it. I find myself yet again referring to President Eisenhower’s valedictory address when he predicted this would happen. Incidentally, when did you last see a poor politician?

David J Crawford, Glasgow.

• SO much has been written about the vote in Parliament on a ceasefire in Gaza. The bottom line is that no matter what the result was the Government could not act on it, neither party in Gaza will pay the slight regard and no one wins.

W Thompson, Lenzie.

• IS it possible for me, a Scotsman born in Palestine whose early education was in a school in Jaffa supported by the Church of Scotland, to express my dismay at the slaughter of children by the Israel Defence Forces without being labelled as an anti-Semite?

James Scott, Edinburgh.

The fog of war

THE fog of war is an oft-quoted phrase used to describe the manipulation of information in conflict zones. Over the last few weeks I’ve seen a fair amount of it in Gaza. Both sides are at it, but it’s the Israeli claims that are really puzzling me.

For instance we are told two weeks ago by the Israeli Defence Forces that blocks of flats were destroyed to kill Hamas military commanders inside. Yet the other day an Israeli government official said on TV that Hamas were cowards for sheltering in tunnels and not on the surface. He complained that they hide in sophisticated command and control centres underground.

But that begs the question as to why the commanders are not in these centres but instead are exposed and vulnerable on the surface some distance away. It suggests that the blocks of flats were being demolished for other reasons irrespective of the horrific death toll that this would generate.

Robert Menzies, Falkirk.