IF there is one theme from your regular unionist correspondents that really gets my goat it is the question of an independent Scotland's membership of Nato. Today it is the turn of Jill Stephenson (Letters, March 6), in the context of Scotland's harbouring of nuclear submarines, to express the utterly stupid idea that an independent Scotland would be either expelled or refused entry to Nato.

Can we get this clear once and for all: if an independent Scotland expressed any idea of leaving Nato it would be leaned on so heavily by the other Nato states that we would have to retire to a darkened room for a few weeks to recover.

To put it simply: Scotland is Europe's and Nato's back door; not only that, it's a back door so big that you could sail a navy of nuclear submarines, aircraft carriers and landing craft through it. The question of nuclear submarines being on the Clyde is an entirely different matter and, for what it's worth, I disagree with the idea that we should necessarily want to remove them. Nuclear weapons are here to stay, and it's not as if we have needed them in the past to kill people in their millions.

After independence Scotland will have to take its share of the Nato burden. If adjacent nations feel that owning a nuclear deterrent makes them feel good then there is an opportunity for Scotland to lease Faslane, on advantageous terms, to that nation. If nuclear weapons are unleashed then it doesn't matter where we are, we're all getting it, and that includes large parts of our nearest neighbour, where nuclear weapons are stored and from where they can be deployed.

John Jamieson, Ayr.

The problem with Trident

COULD I gently insist to Jill Stephenson that rUK could not maintain the Trident system in an independent Scotland?

Scotland would be required to surrender sovereignty over part of its territory. That would require an involvement in Scotland by rUK security forces; military personnel resident in those bases would be outside Scotland’s legal system; and there would be requirement for a huge, agreed provision for recompense over a nuclear accident.

The UK has made it clear that Britain could (in extremis) use Trident in a “pre-emptive strike”, even when the UK was not under attack. Trident could even be used when Nato was not involved. Scotland could not be a party to this scenario without a level of involvement (oversight and a veto) which rUK simply could not agree to.

I think a reasonable time (10 years?) could be set to allow for new bases to be constructed, perhaps in Cumbria.

As someone who was involved with Standing Naval Force Atlantic (STANAVFORLANT), I am certain Nato would welcome our involvement; the geography of the North Atlantic Gap makes that obvious. Scotland pays almost £5 billion for UK defence, yet there is not a single large warship based anywhere in Scotland.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.

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We could assess our own needs

JILL Stephenson claims to have insight into the mind of Nato General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg. Like many people who pay lip service to the concept of nuclear "defence" she appears to understand very little about it.

Years ago Paddy Ashdown, who had actually served in the Royal Marines, raised the question of the diminished amphibious capacity of the Royal Navy and said that plans appeared to involve only two vessels, Fearless and Intrepid (one hauled out of mothballs) and commandeering a Sealink ferry: a ludicrous position for a once-proud seafaring nation.

I cannot imagine the situation is any better today, particularly with the costly farce of the two most recent Trident tests, the last after a highly expensive refit. Trident's replacement, Dreadnought, is years behind schedule.

This useless weapon which would never be used without the consent of the US and may or may not still use a US-controlled Navstar satellite to target it has in fact been the reason we no longer have a decent surface fleet, as any naval officer will tell you.

In an independent Scotland we could assess our genuine defence needs and act accordingly rather than maintaining the illusion of great power status.

Marjorie Ellis Thompson, Edinburgh.

Manipulating the news

THIS week's anti-SNP sermon by Jill Stephenson was headlined "Does anyone fall for the SNP's pie in the sky indy papers?". The answer is yes, of course they do. Just as so many fell for the UK Government's Brexit lies or the many who fall for the percentage juggling of pseudo-independent think tanks concerning the economics of an independent Scotland.

The manipulation of " news" for political purposes is a pernicious disease but seems to be inescapable.

Peter Dryburgh, Edinburgh.

Cohesion is the answer

IT seems a constant theme in your Letters Pages that the UK is broke and broken. The answer therefore seems clear: leave. But is this really correct? Devolution was meant to be a halfway house. It has clearly failed, but the solution is not a complete break, it is Scotland and England working in harmony for a change. Scotland possesses many levers of power right now and the utter failure that has emerged is a warning.

We all know nothing is working as it should in Scotland and that our current Government is not remotely able to change this. No plethora of independence documents fixes anything.

Cohesion is the answer, not a split but this will not happen until we have a Scottish Government that thinks in this positive way. Divided we fall.

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow.

Promote social enterprises

I THINK it's a shame that wonderful organisations such as Apparel Xchange and Social Bite aren't getting the publicity they deserve, especially when many of the people who are relying on them face financial hardship.

These businesses are making an immense difference to the lives of those in need, though because they have to rely on word of mouth to reach their target audience, many of those who would benefit are unable to access their services.

Our Government should do more to inform citizens of social enterprises like Apparel Xchange and others because of the numerous benefits they bring to people's lives.

Cutting child poverty and homelessness will improve the nation's health drastically, as hospitals should not have to cope with preventable conditions like malnutrition, especially in an affluent country in the 21st century.

Stephen McCarthy, Glasgow.

The Herald: US Vice-President Kamala HarrisUS Vice-President Kamala Harris (Image: Getty)

Biden must stand aside

US President Joe Biden has to wake up. He must do the right thing: let his deputy Kamala Harris take charge.

Surely she has a better chance of preventing what would be a world catastrophe if Republican rival Donald Trump is returned to the White House?

Donald Trump is a repugnant individual and a bully with little intelligence, but unfortunately with a Scottish ancestry.

I cannot believe the rubbish that comes out of American voters' mouths in favour of him. Fewer than half of Americans have passports, have visited other countries, or experienced other cultures. What do they really know about what's happening in the rest of the world?

Kamala Harris for the Democrats has demonstrated real leadership in finally demanding "an immediate ceasefire" in Israel's war on Gaza while her boss continued to flounder, even calling Gaza Ukraine in an unfortunate and possibly age-related lapse.

The UK's Tory Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his new snug bunny, Labour's Opposition leader Keir Starmer, have refused to condemn Israel's genocide of Palestinians, despite knowing that is exactly what it is. History will prove both men to be fools.

History will also show Scotland was first to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza months ago. But because the mainstream right-wing media is so anti-SNP Scotland's First Minister Humza Yousaf will get little credit for that.

Andy Stenton, Glasgow.