THE desperation felt by SNP leaders at the slump in their support and the drying up of donations to the party has elicited a claim from Humza Yousaf that belongs in the realms of the absurd: that in a separate Scotland each household would be £10,200 better off ("Yousaf: Boosting living standards the 'prize of independence'", heraldscotland, January 7).

He bases this on a comparison with countries "that are similar to Scotland - such as Denmark, Ireland and Finland". What is "similar" about these countries? Why not choose Portugal, Latvia and Slovakia?

Ireland is, of course, a massive tax haven, with over 1,500 multinational companies based there to avail themselves of its low corporation tax rates. As it turns out, the profit only rests in its account and is then repatriated to the companies’ home countries. Ireland’s cost of living is very high, its consumption levels lower than the UK’s, and it does not have a free at the point of need health service. Denmark, Nicola Sturgeon’s poster child, is the product of centuries of development. As Professor Mark Blyth says, Scotland could not be like Denmark: "it took Denmark 600 years to become Denmark". Why we should wish to be like Finland, which has a long border with aggressive Russia and therefore needs large defence forces, and whose economic growth is close to zero, is a mystery. Except that ABE applies - we want to be like anyone but England.

Mr Yousaf cannot do what Prof Blyth says is necessary - to do our own thing, to decide where we want to be and work out how we could get there from where we are today, in realistic terms, not with some kind of Magic Money Tree. That would be too much like hard work for Mr Yousaf’s Cabinet, and so he relies on fantasies and illusions. And the sad bit is that a lot of Scots are taken in by it.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh.

Read more: Labour must hold its nerve if it wins the General Election

Alba making the running

TOM Gordon's piece on Tommy Sheppard quotes him as saying: "How can we make sure this country's journey to having autonomy over its own affairs and resources does not stop after two decades of remarkable progress?" ("SNP MP says indy debate 'stops' if party loses General Election", The Herald, January 8).

Scotland made great strides under the leadership of Alex Salmond, who according to your columnist Rosemary Goring has too much personality ("Politicians need (some) personality", The Herald, January 8), but the last decade has been at best a holding operation. Sensible deals with health, education and rail workers have protected us from the ravages down south but we still suffer from the "allowance" handed out by the English government known as the Barnett Formula whilst billions in our energy resources go to prop up the failing UK state and we pay more to heat our homes.

Meanwhile those on the SNP benches at the Palace of Enchantments have little to show for their time there (with a few honourable exceptions), leaving Alex Salmond's Alba to make the running.

Why, for example does Neale Hanvey have to be the one persistently raising independence, and why is it Kenny MacAskill raising the closure of Grangemouth in an adjournment debate tomorrow evening?

We need a vision and a way forward and it is sadly not to be found coming from the SNP's Westminster contingent despite Stephen Flynn's improved leadership - with the numbers there the party could be making the case for independence not just at Prime Minister's Questions but at Business Questions, through Private Member's Bills, Ten Minute Rule Bills, Private Notice Questions, requests for debates under Standing Order number 10 and a myriad of other ways.

Many years ago as a lobbyist first for CND and then for the Royal College of Nursing I would travel throughout England, Scotland and Wales (and in the latter case Northern Ireland) explaining how Parliament worked and encouraging members to find out what their MPs had done or said on the issues which concerned them. We had a retired civil servant cutting up Hansard and sending excerpts to local parliamentary monitors. I also handed out the number of the Commons public information office, 0207 2194272, which remains unchanged, suggesting people ring up and ask for a printout of their MP's activities on defence or health issues.

If people really want to know what their MP has said and done about independence I would encourage them to do likewise.

Majorie Ellis Thompson, Edinburgh.

How to get rid of the Tories

YOU report Anas Sarwar's call for Yes supporters to vote Labour at the next General Election ("Sarwar bid to win over pro-indy voters on election trail", The Herald, January 8). I'm in my sixties and used to vote for Labour regularly at elections but no longer.

Labour is not interested in Scotland. If you doubt that, remember that deputy leader Angela Rayner said last summer that she could not countenance another independence referendum as Scotland becoming independent would consign England to Tory rule for ever. The Tories have not won an election in Scotland since before I was born but they have governed it for over 60% of my life (38 out of 62 years) and that is because England votes Tory more times than it doesn't.

The lesson is clear: if we want to see the back of the Tories, Scotland needs to be independent.

Michael Docherty, Glasgow.

• IN his laborious warning about the risks of independence, Mark Openshaw (Letters, January 8) uses Brexit as a "useful reference point". By not referring to the fact that Scotland voted against Brexit by a large majority but was ignored, he does indeed provide a useful reference point to Scotland's lack of democratic representation in the Union.

He may be comforted by knowing that he will be able to buy wine in pints, one of the UK Government's latest pathetic attempts to scrape together some justification for the disaster of Brexit.

Peter Dryburgh, Edinburgh.

Read more: Double MSP salaries? No, we should be cutting them

Souter move a backward step

WHATEVER your position on Scottish independence, the Nicola Sturgeon-led SNP seemed at least reassuringly liberal and progressive.

In recent years however we have seen Kate Forbes, a leadership candidate, shamelessly proclaim her opposition to marriage equality and now First Minister Humza Yousaf is re-wooing the former support of Christian fundamentalist and well-known anti-gay campaigner Brian Souter.

We were prepared to excuse Mr Yousaf when, a few years ago, he claimed to have missed the vote on marriage equality because he was too busy, but this new accommodation for money is sad.

Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society.

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Questions on the PO scandal

REGARDING the Post Office scandal ("Government considers exonerating victims of PO scandal", The Herald, January 6): was the Post Office the only user of Horizon; if not, did others have similar problems? Has Fujitsu refunded in full the revenues paid by its client(s) for its flawed system?

Did Paula Vennells and her predecessor as CEO, Adam Crozier (both of whom progressed to similar high-level well-paid jobs) never query whether around 1,000 trusted sub-postmasters would become criminals overnight immediately after the new IT system was implemented?

Did Paula Vennells as (incredibly) a part-time Anglican priest, never ask herself, or her subordinates or Fujitsu: "I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken"?

As Horizon's faults first came to light about 20 years ago, and as even the PO apologised more than three years ago for its "historic failings", surely our justice system could by now have reversed all the convictions as unsafe, if we are innocent until proved guilty?

John Birkett, St Andrews.

The Herald: Paula Vennells Paula Vennells (Image: PA)

Prosecute the prosecutors

In all the furore about the subpostmasters that you have reported, the concentration of blame has been on Paula Vennells as CEO. However, she may just be the front person who is used as cover by the real villains of the piece, the Post Office's own lawyers. A Scottish subpostmaster interviewed on BBC Scotland radio this morning (January 8) described his meeting with them as "more like an interrogation than an interview". The same approach is clearly observable in the widely-seen ITV series Mr Bates vs The Post Office. They seem to act as judge and jury when dealing with their own employees.

The worst thing is that they set out to persuade innocent people to plead guilty to crimes they did not commit, in return for a lesser sentence. This tactic, so-called plea bargaining, is common in the US but should not happen here. Worse still, it is being done by Post Office lawyers and not by the Crown prosecution authorities. If the original Post Office Act from the 1800s permits this practice, then it should be revised by Parliament. If not, then it is the Post Office lawyers themselves who should be prosecuted.

Peter Gray, Aberdeen.