NEIL Mackay was, as usual, brilliant in dissecting Scottish politics from a Lilliputian perspective ("In Scotland, small ideas are dominated by small people", The Herald, February 15). There appears to be a serious lack of focus and urgency on a whole range of major issues while too much time and energy is taken up on things that are really not important.

The Scottish Government needs to up its game significantly. Who on earth thought up the centralising diktat of freezing council tax, which needs urgent and total reform?

How could the Cabinet approve the axe taken to the social housing building budget; how bereft of morality is that?

How can no-fault evictions still be happening in a civilised country? And the rest: A&E waiting times, homelessness, child poverty, cost of living crisis, lifeline ferries, the Rest and Be Thankful lifeline road. We desperately need our politicians to be strong and urgent in making Scotland a better, more hopeful, place to live.

Having said all that, I believe Scotland will be more successful as an independent nation so I will continue to vote SNP. The conduct of Labour and the Tories is much worse and Scotland needs to show the UK that we believe in a more equal and just society. Roughly half of the country supports independence and these voices will be ignored if there is not a strong Scottish voice in Parliament. A better performance by the Scottish Government will help build a solid majority in favour of independence.

Sandy Slater, Stirling.

Read more: The nationalist rage against anything British is truly worrying

Dark side of Yes movement

NEIL Mackay’s article on Lilliputian Scotland was, I thought, an excellent description of our nation’s politics thriving on trivia.

Regrettably, however, there is sometimes a dark side of anti-English feeling which I personally detest and is not trivial to me; this is probably due to the fact that I am married to an English person, have many relations and friends south of Hadrian’s Wall and also due to my having lived and worked there for a number of years. This recently manifested itself in anti-English banners displayed on bridges over the A1 and M74 near the border and by others at Glasgow Central station. Similar banners, albeit only a few, have been seen at independence marches.

The SNP Government has never once come out and condemned these actions; it simply distances itself from them. Is it Lilliputian to think that its silence on such matters amounts to it condoning them?

Duncan Sooman, Milngavie.

Take pride in British history

"REDCOAT" is an excellent name for a café in Edinburgh Castle.

It calls to mind the courage of Ensign Ewart, who seized the French standard at Waterloo in a charge by the Scots Greys, and of the Thin Red Line of Sutherland Highlanders under Sir Colin Campbell at the battle of Balaclava.

It calls to mind the British soldiers who fought to defeat the rapacious tyrant Napoleon Bonaparte, and the soldiers of the Honourable East India company under General Charles Napier who conquered Sindh and suppressed suttee (the custom of burning live widows on their husbands’ funeral pyres).

And crucially it calls to mind the Scottish and English soldiers who defeated the Jacobite rebellion at Culloden, and thereby ensured that we would not be subject to the divine right of kings and continental despotism.

The nationalist grievance makers who have objected to this fine name should be ashamed of themselves. They should make an effort to learn our history and take pride in it.

Otto Inglis, Crossgates, Fife.

English will always be English first

I READ Jane Lax's letter (February 15) and the article by Neil Mackay, no relation, and have a short story from my working days not so long ago.

One January there arrived on my desk an A3-size scribble pad as an advertising blurb from a "national" supplier. I duly phoned the head office and, remarkably, got through to the sales director in two minutes.

"Thank you for the scribble pad," says I. "Oh, no problem," says Joe.

I said: "Can you tell me why a national carrier has the English Premier League fixture list on it? Where's the Scottish, Welsh or Irish fixture lists?" Silence then, more silence. Then splutter, splutter.

No offence was intended and apologies were profuse. It's just an example of the depth of his thinking (or lack).

So, Ms Lax and Mr Mackay, it's my experience that the English are and always will be English first and foremost in conversation, thought and manner, using the Union Flag and National Anthem as theirs. You will never teach them to say British first and foremost and I love and admire them for it. I really do.

I just want to be a proud Scot and I don't think it small-minded nor do I have "nationalist rage" when I refuse to be British first.

Ken Mackay, Glasgow.

Our caring neighbours
MANY years ago I was at a business convention in London enjoying a drink with several associates from throughout Europe. The conversation turned to the forthcoming UK General Election and a French chap inquired about the rise of the nationalist movement in Scotland. I said I was a member of the SNP and we expected a good result. My English counterpart was visibly shocked but he forced a smile and put an arm around my shoulder. ‘You shouldn’t worry yourselves,’ he said, ‘we’ll look after you.’ I assured him we were quite capable of looking after ourselves. The others smiled and seemed to agree with me.
George Wright, Edinburgh.

Read more: We have no control over Trident. Keeping it is utter madness

Why indyref was allowed

PETER A Russell (Letters, February 14) argues that “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”. This is what the Good Friday Agreement says, but does this mean that it will be a decision only for whoever is Secretary of State for Northern Ireland at the time? It will of course be a decision for the Westminster Government as a whole, in the same way that another Scottish independence referendum will be one for the whole Westminster government.

Thus, Northern Ireland is in much the same situation as Scotland is, with the decision residing with whoever is in government, which as Mr Russell points out is what happened in 2014. However, this comparison is bogus. We know, from Blair McDougall, that support for independence was estimated at about 28%, and that the referendum would be likely prove to be the proverbial "walk in the park", a judgment that is supported by the enthusiasm of unionist politicians for a vote to be held. In 2008 Wendy Alexander, then leader of the Labour Party in Scotland, was quoted as saying: "I don't fear the verdict of the Scottish people -bring it on". If it is a political truism that turkeys don’t vote for an early Christmas, how often do they campaign for one for one to be held?

Lastly, he is wrong about the franchise to be used: different voter rolls are used depending on whether or not it is a Westminster election, and is why EU citizens were able to vote. Wording of the question was a matter of negotiation and agreement with the Electoral Commission. As above, unionist parties were not unenthusiastic about a vote, in the expectation of a convincing win which would shut the independence question down, "for a generation" presumably. The date too would be a matter the unionist parties and Westminster would at least have to agree to. He is right, however, that the Union prevailed, though by much less than had been expected at the outset.

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.

The Herald: It's been a difficult week for Sir Keir StarmerIt's been a difficult week for Sir Keir Starmer (Image: PA)

Starmer will not sway Scotland

SIR Keir Starmer has had a helluva long week in politics and it's not over yet. To dither and lose one parliamentary candidate in the middle of a by-election is a stunning own goal, to have to suspend another candidate, and a former MP at that, almost beggars belief ("‘Tough’ Labour suspends second candidate over Israel comments", The Herald, February 14). But even before all that, Sir Keir's refusal to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza has left many voters with queasy feelings about the Labour leader and the numerous U-turns, including ditching his pledge to invest £28 billion a year in the green economy, and similarities to Tory policies have left a whiff of Tweedledum and Tweedledee swirling round Sir Keir and his team.

As he visits his Scottish branch office's conference, Sir Keir will be aware that he is slipping in the opinion polls and the SNP is regaining ground. Anas Sarwar predictably insists that Scottish voters will be inspired by Sir Keir; but Labour took Scottish voters for mugs for decades and there are no signs that Scotland has taken Sir Keir to its heart. After all, Sir Keir is no Harold Wilson, he isn't even Tony Blair. I suspect that his long week in politics has only just begun.

Ruth Marr, Stirling.