THERE is, I think, a clear contiguity between my own letter (December 12) and Jim Sillars’ letter (December 13), but with different implications.

Lady Haldane’s decision concerned whether the Secretary of State at Westminster had the legal power to prevent the Gender Reassignment Bill becoming law and used the correct Scotland Act procedure to this end, suggesting Holyrood legislates only if this is okay with Westminster.

I completely agree with Mr Sillars’ observation that “Holyrood is a creature of a Westminster statute, not a stand-alone body built on the concept of sovereignty”, even if to some degree he and I got here by slightly different routes.

Where we differ is with regard to how to vote in the 1997 referendum on the Scotland Act. For the reason set out above, Mr Sillars declares he voted against. On a “half a loaf” basis (though I acknowledge we could debate whether the Scotland Act has been so generous) I voted in favour.

Mr Sillars is absolutely correct that “it should not be the job of the SNP to defend devolution”, but rather to point to the inadequacy of devolution in areas such as funding (which is often the translation of funding decisions taken at Westminster by a government Scotland certainly didn’t vote for) and sovereignty (as I pointed out in my letter on Tuesday).

However, the difficulty for the SNP is that the media paradigm defines this argument as a failure to take responsibility. During Nicola Sturgeon’s time as First Minister one of her nicknames among unionist correspondents was “Elsie” – whatever the problem it was always someone “else’s” fault (geddit?).

What would have been the political consequences of Scotland voting “No” to devolution? Is it not possible that this would have been portrayed as a determination to remain in a united UK, particularly when,15 years later, it is believed that support for independence still stood only at 28%?

Every government should be held to account for how it spends its revenue, but there is a clear unwillingness in the Scottish media to acknowledge the process used for such decisions, its limited reflection of Scottish opinion, and the consequential impact on the performance of our public services managed at Holyrood but overall spend largely determined at Westminster.

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.

Read more: Do we only legislate by the grace and favour of Westminster?

SNP culture of secrecy

IT appears that Caroline Duguid (Letters, December 14) and Humza Yousaf are unaware that President Erdogan has faced allegations of human rights abuses, suppression of dissent and suppression of freedom of speech, although the Kurdish-born SNP Glasgow councillor Roza Salih certainly was. Indeed, of the selfie she wrote: “I am disappointed and disgusted by this image @HumzaYousaf. Erdogan kills #Kurds in Turkey & does not respect human rights. Our politicians & half of the population are imprisoned by him and you shake his hand. I did not expect this from a FM that says he respects human rights.”

An FCDO official would have briefed Mr Yousaf about this and recorded any conversations. We shall never know if Mr Yousaf brought these minor matters up with President Erdogan; I somehow doubt he did. Foreign policy is crucial to any nation and its implementation must be single-minded. Foreign policy is outwith the remit of the Scottish First Minister and any meetings must be recorded to ensure that the policies are adhered to and executed.

The SNP culture of secrecy continues, it is in place to ensure that mistakes are covered up and thus no-one knows what was said and no-one learns, only the spin is released and eventually, that spin collapses as we are seeing on a near-daily basis in the death throes of this incompetent Scottish Government.

Peter Wright, West Kilbride.

• I AM taken aback by the synthetic indignation engendered in the Foreign Office and by unionist correspondents about Scottish representative offices overseas. These are far from an SNP innovation and pre-date devolution when they were established by the Scottish Development Agency working in conjunction with the Scottish Office Industry Department, principally to encourage inward investment.

The reason was straightforward: to counter the lack of interest in Scotland shown by the Whitehall agency set up for this purpose and the ineptitude of UK embassies in carrying out the task. Even then, there were bruised egos in the Foreign Office who, quite correctly, saw these offices as a reflection on their capabilities, but their periodic complaints were forcefully rebutted by the Secretaries of State for Scotland of the time who, unlike our present Toom Tabard, regarded themselves as guarding Scotland’s interests in the Cabinet rather than vice versa.

On this, I can speak with authority, for I drafted many of the rebuttals.

James Scott, Edinburgh.

Cop-out on the Care Service

I'M sure it came as no surprise that Maree Todd finally had to admit defeat and announce a three-year, and counting, delay to the introduction of the fabled Scottish Care Service announced to great fanfare by Nicola Sturgeon and her minister, now First Minister, Humza Yousaf ("SNP’S flagship care reforms hit by three-year delay as costs soar", The Herald, December 14).

Of course this delay was announced in a letter to the Scottish Parliament's finance committee which has long demanded the unforthcoming details. Surely such an announcement of the delay of a flagship policy of this nature should have been made directly to parliament instead of in a cowardly letter.

Mr Yousaf and Ms Sturgeon should have had the courage to stand in parliament and explain how yet another flagship policy has failed so miserably. Yet again they are trying to avoid accountability and responsibility for this ill-thought-out policy.

Ian McNair, Cellardyke.

The Herald: Maree ToddMaree Todd (Image: PA)

Mismanagement of our pensions

THE latest report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies ("New guarantees needed for sustainability of state pension", The Herald, December 13) calls for some comment. The record of Westminster governments on pensions leaves a lot to be desired, especially for women, who have suffered disproportionately with changes to the state pension age and the move to equality for both men and women.

Women born in the 1950s were clearly informed that they would receive their state pension when they reached 60, but Westminster governments moved the goalposts and neglected to inform those affected. Their claim for compensation for having to work an additional five years-plus in some cases and continuing to pay National Insurance on top is still going through the courts.

With a history of mismanagement as I have just highlighted, is it any wonder the younger generation has no confidence in a future state pension?

The current policy of raising the state pension age is all very well for those whose working life included sitting in a warm environment, well out of the harsh elements of the Scottish winter climate, but what about those who keep the infrastructure of the country running, working in all weathers, often in the darkness of night? They cannot be expected to keep going till they drop while the country effectively pockets their hard-earned pensions.

Catriona C Clark, Falkirk.

Read more: SNP should not support an instrument of union

Scotland must save itself

COP28 more or less resolved to progress carbon capture, though those with oil and gas interests want to hang on to their profits. However, as the weather of country after country changes for the worse there are few who do not, in their hearts, believe that climate change is upon us.

Those with oil interests still linger in the “but not in my time” inaction but the rest of us would like to see a real change in power generation to electricity and not from nuclear reactors with their long-term homicidal waste.

This attitude, more than any other, separates Scotland from the rest of the UK.

Westminster is still giving permission for new oil rigs in Scottish waters against Holyrood’s wishes.

Instead of spending money on the research that will bring us reliable wave and tidal electric generators it wastes huge sums from our taxes to send a very few of the thousands of UK migrants to Rwanda.

It is high time for Scotland to save itself and leave this self-damaging Union. Independence should be our New Year resolution so that our children and their children can be safe.

Elizabeth Scott, Edinburgh.

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This is not hopeful

YOUR headline “Scotland’s housing market weakened in November, but signs are hopeful” (The Herald, December 14) shows your support for those who regard their house as a cash machine. This editorial policy is not "hopeful" for younger purchasers increasingly priced out of the market.

Perhaps you should remain neutral editorially on this matter, even support falling prices, hoping to attract younger readers?

David Hamilton, St Andrews.