NEIL Mackay states the obvious that the SNP is not independence and vice versa but goes a little further when he suggests that “independence is much bigger than a mere political party (“SNP may be finished, but history is on Indy’s side”, The Herald, January 25). He then looks forward to the rejuvenation of the SNP or to its replacement by another political vehicle. But, if independence is bigger than a mere political party, why should a rejuvenated SNP or another political vehicle do any better than the current SNP? Doing the same thing over again and expecting different results has been described as insanity and that may well be near the mark in the context of the Scottish constitutional debate.

The problem may be that the concept of independence means different things to different people and that makes it difficult, if not impossible, for one political party to represent these different and probably conflicting interpretations. Perhaps that is why the wheels came off the SNP and why no rejuvenated or replacement party is ever likely to be any more successful. It may be approaching insanity to imagine otherwise.

Mr Mackay’s figures show that Scotland remains interested in independence but not in political separation and both history and geography show that a nation can flourish as part of a larger political state. It can certainly educate its children, attend to its sick, build its ferries, deliver a justice system and protect its vulnerable, all as a nation, regardless of whether or not it is a separate political state.

Indeed, it is fitting during this Burns season to remind ourselves that a "man o‘ independent mind he looks and laughs at (tinsel show and guinea’s stamp) an' a’ that”, words written at the height of the Scottish ascendancy in empiricism and practicality. If David Hume had expounded his philosophical breakthrough during the previous century in an independent Scotland, he would have been hanged for his trouble. The Union was not a limitation of his independent mind but rather an enablement, by bringing the necessary freedom and resources.

If we could banish the vehicles of political separation and, better still, the increasingly irrelevant and embarrassing Scottish non-Parliament from our agenda we might be more likely to see the independent mind of Scotland flourish in the future.

Michael Sheridan, Glasgow.

Read more: SNP may be finished, but history is on the side of indy

Losing touch with reality

ON and on it goes, day after day. It is worse than could ever have been imagined and it surely has killed the movement to break up the UK stone dead. The Covid Inquiry revelations are quite stunning ("Yousaf in apology for deleted messages during Covid", The Herald, January 26). And we are only seeing of course what the SNP did not manage to delete. This scandal is a measure of the depths into which the soul of this country has sunk. At one time, pre-SNP, actions such as these and the language used by elected leaders would have been considered unthinkable.

Think of the arrogance revealed by the inquiry by those in charge at present in Scotland and it continues unabated. How could they and they alone possibly decide what is and what is not relevant to an inquiry into matters concerning life and death? Engineering a ''rammy'' with the UK was number one priority it seems.

Their sense of entitlement and lack of so much as a scintilla of humility while being paid huge salaries and expenses from the public to do their jobs is truly terrifying.

They have lost all touch with reality. It is time for them all to go. An Augean Stable-level deep clean is now essential.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.

Accept that they tried their best

I HAVE lived through the Second World War, the Korean War, the Suez crisis, the Vietnam War, Iraq and other such troubles, all of which have engendered much examination. We have had flu epidemics, polio and other illnesses, but never have we had a pandemic.

Maybe the governments and health authorities were caught with their metaphorical pants down, and certainly mistakes must have been made, but we seem to live in a blame culture rather than one of accepting that people were trying their best to cope in very difficult unknown circumstances.

Of course expletives would have been used, hair would have been torn, tempers would have become ragged. The outcome of any inquiry should be for a plan to be formed to deal with any future such emergency, not to sling political mud and try to discredit those who had the responsibility of dealing with the emergency. Hindsight is a very wonderful thing.

Dorothy Dennis, Port Ellen, Islay.

Reason to doubt Sturgeon

I REFER to the controversy which has arisen as a result of the revelations about the nature of some of the evidence to and the lack of it at the UK Covid Inquiry.When Nicola Sturgeon resigned as First Minister in February 2023 she said: "There is much greater intensity, dare I say brutality to life as a politician than in years gone by." When one is made aware of some of her WhatsApp messages during that inquiry, it seems clear that to a politician’s life, as lived by Ms Sturgeon, one can add vulgarity to intensity and brutality.

What has been left of her reputation since resignation has certainly not been enhanced by her deletion of messages and her use of intemperate language.

She also said at the time of her resignation that it was "not a reaction to short-term pressures". There has been more than one reason, since February last year, for many to doubt the appropriateness of that assertion.

There will be many who are looking forward to her imminent appearance before the inquiry with no little interest to hear her explanations for the paucity of evidence and the coarseness of parts of it.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.

Read more: The big lesson of Covid: next time, listen to the experts

Greens go from bad to verse

I HAVE just watched the Greens' Party Political Broadcast (January 25), which was led by a poet, Gray Crosbie. This is my response:

This young man really made me wince,

I’ve rarely heard such utter mince,

I’ll consider my vote much, much later,

Perhaps after you’ve binned Lorna Slater.

Burns, eat your heart out.

Michael Watson, Rutherglen.

Back those who work for peace

I REFER to the debate in your Letters Pages on the subject of the current Gazan conflict.

It is important to appreciate that just as not all Palestinians support Hamas, many Jews recognise that as long as Israeli governments ignore the Palestinians' legitimate demands for justice there can be no peace in Israel, the West Bank, Gaza and indeed the wider Middle East.

However, I draw your readers' attention to an online article in Positive.News which under the heading of "Bridging the divide" lists 12 cross-border groups working for peace. By supporting financially such "grassroots movements" we can do what little we can to bring together Palestinians and Israelis of good faith in their relentless pursuit of "peace, equality and justice".

In this context I must mention the Church of Scotland's Tabeetha School in Jaffa, Israel, where children and young people of different faiths are educated together by teachers of similarly varying faiths. Its philosophy is that "through learning, respecting and understanding our pupils can live and work together in a spirit of peace and unity and take that out into the wider community."

John Milne, Uddingston.

The Herald: Letters: Let's heed the lesson of Burns. Scots can flourish within the Union Can we divorce being of an independent mindset from separation? More than 50,00 young people in Scotland are now vapingLetters: Let's heed the lesson of Burns. Scots can flourish within the Union Can we divorce being of an independent mindset from separation? More than 50,00 young people in Scotland are now vaping (Image: PA)

Vaping is about addiction

I NOTE your report on the recent study funded by Cancer Research UK ("Banning disposable vapes ‘could have consequences for smokers’", The Herald, January 24). It flags up problems for politicians, as they wrestle with the alleged benefits of vaping, supposedly helping people to quit smoking, and the horror story that is vaping by children under 18; 11.6% in Scotland use disposable vapes.

Cancer Research UK says that a ban on disposable single-use vapes, mainly favoured by children, would affect an estimated 2.6m adults in the UK. I think it has misunderstood the seriousness of Big Tobacco, the main owners of our vaping industry, deliberately targeting children and young people with the child-friendly disposable vapes.

I estimate that the 51,000 young Scottish vapers are worth £26.5 million a year to the vaping industry. Money, profit, nicotine addiction: that is what disposable vaping is about. The fact that adults may also have taken to disposable vapes is because they have bought into the myth “that vaping is 95% safer than smoking”.

Like all myths there is some truth in it. Yes, for the moment most vapes do not contain thousands of other substances that cigarettes have, substances which cause 50% of smokers to die from smoking. But after less than 10 years of vaping, governments across the world are now seriously concerned that vapes are now containing unknown substances and chemicals as well as dodgy flavourings.

Adults are adults. If they choose to vape, for whatever reason that is their right, even if it may lead to serious health consequences. However, there is no way our children should be used by the vaping industry as nicotine mules to expand their profits.

Max Cruickshank, Glasgow.

Nuclear fears are overblown

DAVID Hay (Letters, January 25) wants to ban nuclear power because he considers it dangerous. By the same logic we should have stopped flying, particularly after the 1977 accident at Tenerife when 583 people died. Since then there have been at least five fatal domestic airline accidents a year in a safety-conscious and highly regulated industry. We should also have banned mining for coal on safety grounds.

There have only been two nuclear accidents involving deaths, so keeping warm and prosperous with nuclear power would seem sensible from the safety angle alone. A risk-free life is unavoidable in any situation.

Malcolm Parkin, Kinross.

Smoke and ire

I KNOW that Nicola Sturgeon has been busy of late and she may have inadvertently deleted my emails about fire and smoke alarms just like those she inadvertently deleted before the Covid Inquiry, or perhaps she could not recollect my letter or did not recognise the figures I supplied. A reminder:

A new law came into effect in February 2022 - note law - for all Scottish homes that required the property owner to install interlinked fire and smoke alarms. I installed them at a cost of £300. The new law gave flexibility for people to fit the alarms within a "reasonable period" of time, but then the Scottish Government said there "were no penalties for non-compliance". So what is the point of a law without penalties since as has happened people refused to install them? If there is a fatal fire where there is no installation will the Scottish ministers be liable for manslaughter? Will the Scottish Government now refund my £300 and that of everyone else who complied with the law?

Clark Cross, Linlithgow.