JUDGING by the turnout at the Scottish Greens party conference at the weekend, their support with the public is close to zero.

Judging by the response to Humza Yousaf's Hate Crime Act, support for the SNP is nosediving to lows not seen for decades.

Judging by Scottish Labour's tin-eared response to this same Act, Anas Sarwar has made a very bad mistake in not lending his party's support to its rapid cancellation.

The only party in Scotland chiming with the actual mood of the public is the Scottish Tories. Who could have predicted this as the fallout from Nicola Sturgeon's resignation? The public simply want a better health service and education. The politicians seem to want anything but. Holyrood is failing the Scottish public very badly.

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow.

Law unlikely to be used

I AM sure I am not alone in having read many articles and statements about the new hate speech law and to still not have any clarity about what is and what is not illegal.

Surely the most important thing about any law must be that people know when they have broken it, and any law that does not pass this test will meet with one of two fates. One is that it will be applied selectively, as is the case in the legal system that Russia inherited from the Soviet Union, whereby there are laws against virtually everything, but you will only get nicked if the state has got it in for you. The other is that it will not be applied at all because it is just too complicated and contradictory to do so.

As we are (thank God) not Russia, it is by far more likely that we will see the second of these outcomes in Scotland. The law is unlikely to be used, and if it is, any prosecution will show up even more anomalies and inconsistencies. In the meantime, it would be very useful if the media could extract from the First Minster or the Justice Secretary a list of examples of the sort of statements that actually will lead to prosecution and conviction under the new Act. Even better, some nice big billboards showing what is and what is not permitted (with real examples, for example taken from an Old Firm game) would be very helpful.

In short, it is hard to see how the hate crime law will have more than one function: it will go down in the legal text books as an example of Bad Law, and how to avoid it.

Peter A Russell, Glasgow.

READ MORE: Sorry, Mr Yousaf, but it's the SNP that is damaging rural Scotland

READ MORE: Why won't Sarwar show some backbone over the Hate Crime Act?

READ MORE: Hate takes root and flourishes in the poisonous indy debate

Holyrood must debunk the myths

ADAM Tomkins ("Could this Hate Crime Act work?", The Herald, March 21) and other lawyers have reassured us that the bar is set pretty high before anyone is at real risk of being prosecuted under the Hate Crimes Act. So the hysterical claims that it is a frontal attack on freedom of speech are seemingly false. The Act is however causing a major problem for the police as they are overloaded with spurious reports of hate crimes.

The Scottish Government should therefore, without delay, set in place a major publicity campaign to debunk the false information floating around. It must set out just what the Act prohibits and, more to the point, what it doesn’t. It should drop the silly red hate monster and, in plain language, explain the grounds you need in order to make a genuine report of a hate crime. I would hope that the law will also allow it to warn that repeat offenders making multiple groundless reports face prosecution for wasting police time.

If it fails to do this, it won’t just be minor crimes the police don’t have time to attend to.

Alistair Easton, Edinburgh.

• ALMOST every form of media, from social to the press and television, has commented on the disgraceful, unworkable and Orwellian piece of legislation that is known as the Hate Crime Act. In a very short period of time, the reporting of alleged Hate Crimes has overwhelmed the Scottish police force costing huge amounts of money and time wasted. Yet a simple and obvious question remains unanswered and that is why would so many of my fellow Scots vote for the SNP again at any future election? 
This SNP administration is undoubtedly the most ineffective, incompetent and inept government administration ever to hold the levers of power and yet could still in practice win the most seats in Scotland at an election. What is it that makes the folly of independence seem like the promised land of milk and honey and that after so many years of SNP incompetence, our country  is broken, divided and has become a laughing stock? Perhaps it may be the case that this ridiculous piece of legislation will finally persuade the voters, over and above the litany of failures perpetrated by this SNP administration, to comprehensively vote them out of office.
Richard Allison, Edinburgh.

SNP has some cheek

YOUR front page on Saturday (April 5) included a news article headed "SNP hits out over bill for repairs to Westminster". I am unable to grasp the temerity and intelligence of the party which claims to govern Scotland as part of the United Kingdom, issuing such falsehoods. I do not refer, of course, to the subject which it wishes to discuss: the spending of over £1.1 billion on renovating the Palace of Westminster, a disgusting figure at a time when most areas and sections of our country need that money more than Westminster and its cronies do, especially those daily attendees in the House of Lords.

But I do refer to the SNP's statement that taxpayers' money would be "better spent on improving our vital public services rather than shoring up a 'crumbling' building". That from a party supposed to be in charge of Scotland as part of the UK, talking about improving our public services: something it has attempted to do for the past 17 years, but instead has allowed a once-great nation and system to dwindle, deteriorate and grind to a halt while it attempts to discuss any subject except what is actually happening under this useless administration.

Walter Paul, Glasgow.

Landslide would spell trouble

THE latest polling shows Labour winning a huge landslide of MPs across the UK (though with still less than majority support). All governments require strong opposition to function well, but this predicted avalanche of MPs does not bode well for democracy.

Scotland was gaslighted by southern media claims that we had turned into a one-party state, even though Holyrood was well balanced, and a huge majority of the media was heavily slanted against the governing party. If we thought the Tories used their Westminster majority to ignore the public good, in their version of a “chumocracy”, watch out for Labour who will operate with no democratic restraints to curb any excesses in what will be a rubber-stamp Westminster Parliament, and the “pretendy” home rule parliaments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be further constrained and suborned to London control and centralisation.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.

The courage of Jim Sillars

WHAT a pleasure it was to spend time reading Jim Sillars’ discussion with Kevin McKenna ("SNP has lost credibility as the leader of our national movement", The Herald, April 6, and "Scotland's baby box doesn't compare with the need for good housing", The Herald, April 8). He might not accept being called a genius, but Mr Sillars is undoubtedly a man amongst boys.

His analysis, that the vacuity of our modern politicians is fundamentally linked to the Hate Crime Act’s puritanical desire to control speech and thought is flawless. They would have us all as vacuous as themselves. That said, the vacuity of cabinet members (pick one, pick anyone) is not entirely an individual failing. It is, instead, a systemic feature. There is no scope for original thought and no room for debate because, as Douglas Murray recently wrote in The Spectator, there is no room for forgiveness. Today's aspiring politicians must exist in a prelapsarian state of grace or as I recently witnessed, a situation that involves them confirming that they are "squeaky clean”. Knowing that their career depends on remaining squeaky clean, they say nothing, do nothing and offer nothing. All that is safe is to do what is required; to read the creed from the script, and repeat it ad nauseum. The outcome is a chamber of toom tabards whose ability extends only to doing and saying what they've been telt. That is why there is no space in today's chamber for opinionated 85-year-old mavericks like Jim Sillars. Holyrood is no place for an old man like him.

The Herald: Enoch PowellEnoch Powell (Image: PA)

I feel sure that Mr Sillars will have read Simon Heffer's magisterial biography of Enoch Powell. He will know that in its epilogue, Heffer describes Powell winning a vote at the Oxford University Union in 1978 having demolished the case for devolution. Having won, and with the audience in the palm of his hand, Powell turned to the subject of race. The audience was apparently left shattered. Afterwards, when asked why he had deliberately slapped them in the collective face, Powell replied that he did not want easy victories; so he showed them the full cloven hoof.

So I think that Mr Sillars is mistaken to think that Powell's views on race can be left aside: and I don't believe that Powell would have wanted them left aside either. Uncomfortable as it may be, Powell's views on race are a part, if not the cause, of his genius. Even so, it is a testament to Mr Sillars’s magnanimity that he publicly recognises Powell's genius. Sadly I cannot imagine many present-day Conservatives having the courage to pay Powell the respect he deserves, let alone mention his name.

Graeme Arnott, Stewarton.