NEIL Mackay should ensure that he is better informed before he pontificates ("SNP's Trident policy couldn't survive a second Trump presidency", The Herald, February 13). There is no independent UK nuclear weapons system and there has not been one since the 1960s. It is totally dependent on the US, so if Donald Trump doesn't want to play, there is no Trident.

The UK does manufacture warheads and it builds submarines but it has no delivery system. This is leased from the US and the missiles have to go back regularly to the US for servicing. Whatever may be said in public, there is no doubt that the Americans keep control of targeting. It would be irresponsible of them if they didn't. Even with the technology of 40 years ago, the French Exocet missiles that were sold to Argentina had a "kill-switch" technology which could be controlled by France. François Mitterrand later admitted this. Britain's hideous, dangerous, "independent" nuclear pose is imperial grandstanding. The independent bit is fantasy. This is why the UK has had to be America's most subservient ally.

Scotland has unwillingly been central to this from the start. After the repeated failures to create a UK missile delivery system, Harold Macmillan had to go cap in hand first to President Eisenhower and then to Kennedy to plead for the lease of a system from the US. They only agreed on condition that they got the Holy Loch as a nuclear submarine base. Macmillan begged them to take Loch Linnhe instead (only a few Highlanders there and he was worried about "bolshie" Glaswegians) but the US insisted on a Central Belt site and got the Holy Loch in 1961 and the British state got Polaris and then Trident.

So unless Mr Mackay wants Westminster to spend around £80 billion and a decade or two developing a new delivery system, his arguments are nonsense.

The idea that human civilisations are sustainable by ramping up the nuclear arms race with the new generation of supersonic missiles that are in the pipeline is ignorant and irresponsible.

We desperately need peacemakers who are going to put the nuclear spiral into reverse. A Scottish state could make an inspiring start to that process.

Isobel Lindsay, Biggar.

Read more: SNP's Trident policy could not survive a second Trump presidency

Facing the threat of Putin

THE logic lying behind Neil Mackay’s article is irrefutable. The uncomfortable truth is that a future which sees Donald Trump return to the White House will leave us unable to rely upon a US nuclear umbrella to protect Europe, including Scotland, from Russian aggression. Like many others, I deplore that reality, but must acknowledge the power of its reasoning.

Make no mistake, Vladimir Putin, who was for many years a high-ranking officer in the KGB, accepts no bounds to his political ambition and resorts to extra-judicial killings whenever it suits him. The military maverick Yevgeny Prigozhin is only the latest in a long list of his victims, which includes journalists and politicians, who died in suspicious circumstances or were murdered in cold blood. We should not be surprised. In Russia it is the norm. In 1868 the German diplomat Georg Herbert Münster, quoting a Russian colleague, wrote: “Every country has its own constitution; ours is absolutism moderated by assassination.” Over 150 years later it would appear nothing much has changed.

However, Putin’s sense of purpose extends from the personal to the global. He yearns to return to a time in the 18th century, chosen arbitrarily, when Mother Russia’s empire was at its zenith. Anyone who doubts this should refer to his speech in Munich in 2007, which gave fair warning, but more convincing evidence is provided by his war against Ukraine. In 2014 Putin calculated that the western powers would let him get away with an attack on the Donbas. He was correct. He had ordered the invasion so as to extend the boundaries of Russia and to destabilise the West. Two years ago, in February 2022, he attempted to overwhelm all of Ukraine, but has failed... so far. We must not deny the harsh consequences of this dictator’s passion. Should he succeed in crushing Ukraine, we will all be at risk, especially if the US decides to pull back to its own borders. We must defend ourselves. Don’t take my word for it. Here is what Nato General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg says: “The price we pay (at present) is in money, while the price the Ukrainians pay is in blood. If authoritarian regimes see that force is rewarded we will all pay a much higher price and the world will become a more dangerous world for all of us.”

Faced by a warmonger like Putin, the SNP must come clean and explain to the electorate how a policy that discards nuclear weapons will make Scotland a safer country.

Bob Scott, Drymen.

Read more: Why do they deny us the same rights as Northern Ireland?

US voters have a duty to the world

DONALD Trump's latest moronic comments, regardless of the context, where he openly supports, even encourages proactive Russian aggression towards Nato member states ("Trump reveals he warned Nato allies he ‘would encourage Russia’", The Herald, February 12) simply reinforces what a clear and significant danger he represents, not only to the USA itself, but to Europe too, as well as the wider western world.

These latest comments, added to his earlier, similarly ludicrous rhetoric claiming that the last presidential election was rigged, for which there is absolutely no evidence, and that the current legal cases against him in respect to alleged corporate fraud, sexual misconduct as well as sighting insurrection, are all a plot against him, instigated by the state, despite significant levels of objective evidence against him across all allegations, all serve to demonstrate, “from the horse's mouth”, what an irresponsible, ill-informed, ill-advised, egotistical and generally unstable 78-year-old man he is.

The American voting public must, at all costs, prevent a second Trump presidency. They must see through his egotistical public relations machine, and appreciate him for what he is, namely a potentially very dangerous and damaging man.

They must keep him out of the White House, not only for their own economic, social, welfare and national security benefit, but for the economic and security benefit of the world.

They have a massive responsibility.

Paul McPhail, Glasgow.

The Herald: Can US voters keep Donald Trump out of the White House?Can US voters keep Donald Trump out of the White House? (Image: PA)

Indyref is perfectly possible

ERIC Melvin (Letters, February 13) is quite wrong when he tell us that the people of Ireland "have the constitutional right to hold a referendum on whether there should be a united Ireland". In truth, the right to hold such a referendum is solely in the hands of the UK Secretary of State and only if and when he is confident that it would succeed. (And to be precise, that responsibility is not a UK constitutional provision, but one which is conferred by an international treaty.) Mr Melvin is also wrong when he unfavourably compares the Northern Ireland situation with that of Scotland. For Scotland to have a referendum, all that is needed is to secure the agreement of our Westminster Government (which we elect with the other UK home nations) with Scotland's devolved parliament at Holyrood. To put the decision into the hands of elected bodies rather than in those of a single individual (who in the case of Northern Ireland is not accountable to single voter who would be affected) is surely a much better arrangement.

And while some may argue that it is not possible to hold a referendum in Scotland while our Westminster Government is in the hands of a party or parties which oppose Scottish independence, the evidence is the opposite: this was exactly what happened in 2014. On that occasion, a Tory-led government opposed to independence agreed that a referendum should be held, and it was left to the nationalists to determine its date, its wording and its franchise. (And they still lost.)

Peter A Russell, Glasgow.

Does Yousaf endorse Qatar?

SO Humza Yousaf and his wife jet off to Qatar for a wee mini-break ("Yousaf jets off to state accused of funding terrorist groups", The Herald, February 13). Leaving aside what this says about Mr Yousaf's green credentials, there's the matter of Qatari human rights abuses.

Homosexuality can lead to imprisonment, and Amnesty International highlights cases of flogging or deportation for alcohol consumption. Sex or pregnancy outside marriage are for women imprisonable offences. I could go on. Should we now assume that, by choosing Qatar as a holiday destination and presumably spending considerable amounts of his own cash there, Mr Yousaf endorses the Qatari legislative environment?

Maybe the Costa del Sol might have been a wiser choice?

Martin Redfern, Melrose.