RISHI Sunak labels as “extremists” Scots who want to end the disastrous union with England ("SNP fury as PM lists Yes supporters among 'extremists'", heraldscotland, May 13).

This is classic gaslighting, a form of emotional manipulation that occurs in abusive relationships. The abuser misleads and lies to the abused, making them question their own judgments and reality. Gaslighting occurs over time. In Scotland’s case, it’s gone on for 317 years, embedding a chronic sense of inferiority and deficiency within its collective psyche - the “Scottish cringe” - resulting in dependency upon its UK abuser.

Colonial powers rely on gaslighting to subjugate their colonies, and the UK has had more experience than most other nations on the planet in perfecting this particular technique.

Gaslighting behaviours include:

• Lying habitually, telling the colony that it is too wee, too poor and too stupid to survive without its protection. It never backs down even when confronted with evidence that contradicts its lies.

• Discrediting the colony, calling the colonised “extremists” who are undermining the superior values of the colonial power, when those “values” are domination and exploitation of the colony. It feigns concern but spreads rumours that the colony is unable to make decisions for itself.

• Shifting blame, faulting the colony for faltering public services when it knows full well that the colony doesn’t have the power to create money, or control its resources or economic policy.

• Using caring words as weapons - “the precious Union,” “broad shoulders," “better together," “I’ll always be there for you” - to quell unrest and paper over the cracks.

And supplanting the colony’s history, hiding its constitution, removing its languages and suppressing its culture, imposing its own history, constitution, language and culture in their place.

The UK is the extremist and the sooner Scots wake up to this reality the sooner we can end this failing union.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh.

16 more years? No thanks

AS part of the UK, we, like Wilkins Micawber, are incarcerated in a debtors’ prison. Like his wife Emma we have seen our heirlooms pawned.

Tommy Traddles is nowhere in sight far less sunlit uplands.

Experientia docet, “One learns by experience”, has evidently bypassed those who cling to 2014. They choose to ignore our blighted destiny and will never desert the Union.

Peter A Russell’s “advice” to John Swinney (Letters, May 13) to delay any second referendum until 2040 resonates more as a plea for more time in the optimistic hope that something will turn up to replace today’s empty space with a positive reason to remain with the status quo.

Sixteen more years of Westminster economic governance?

Welcome poverty! Welcome misery, welcome houselessness, welcome hunger, rags, tempest and beggary! Mutual confidence will sustain us to the end!

Alan Carmichael, Glasgow.

READ MORE: Advice for John Swinney: leave indy until after 2040

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Council tax advice for FM

OUR new First Minister has announced that he will "dedicate every fibre to driving economic growth" ("Tourism body warns sector facing "irreversible damage", The Herald, May 14).

Here's what he should do: 1) Follow the Welsh in revaluing properties for council tax; 2) Correspondingly reduce Scottish Government support for the now-richer councils; 3) Use that saving to slash income tax for the low-paid.

George Morton, Rosyth.

• I NOTED that under the old regime "laser-like focus” was the order of the day. I read in this morning’s paper that the FM “pledged to dedicate every fibre of his being”. The obvious question is what does this actually mean and how is it measured ?

Mike Flinn, West Kilbride.

Sorry record on legal affairs

IT looks likely that the taxpayers are to be faced with more substantial costs arising from the ill-advised activities of our SNP-led governments over the years, this time in respect of the abandonment of the Deposit Return Scheme ("Ministers set for huge legal costs over DRS", The Herald, May 13). The SNP while in power has run up impressive legal bills, unfortunately mainly on the losing side. The Government’s court exchanges with Alex Salmond proved to be rather expensive. The losing litigations in the Supreme Court with regard to rights to hold another independence referendum and the Named Person proposals occasioned high costs, as did the loss of the action in the Court of Session in respect of gender recognition legislation.

Now we have the likelihood of companies seeking to recover compensation for their costs associated with the DRS scheme. In view of the singular lack of legal success displayed by the SNP, some questions arise: have they been unfortunate with the quality of their legal advice over the years, or have they been bull-headed in refusing to follow the legal advice tendered?

Wherever the correct answer lies, the hard-pressed taxpayers have had to bear a heavy burden and look likely to have more of the same to cope with.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.

Make MSPs pay for failures

AS was to be expected, the failed Deposit Return Scheme will result in huge legal costs for Scottish ministers as contractors seek to recover their losses incurred by the incompetence of those who chose to pursue a cause, no doubt well intended, without perhaps researching the possible outcome if it was not going to be actually achievable.

This is a bit like dual-fuel ferries where there were no LPG facilities on the terminals or an agreement on who was going to pay for them, never mind the added cost of the technology.

As the likely cost of the legal actions will run into millions, in addition to the legal cost, perhaps it is about time that MSPs should become personally legally liable for their actions rather than expect the taxpayer to cover their exuberance. As it stands what do they have to lose? It’s not their money.

John Sharp, Newmilns.

• LORNA Slater’s quoted rationale for the Deposit Return Scheme not going ahead, that the lack of detail around the Whitehall conditions for permission to implement the scheme, including not knowing what the standardised deposit charge would be, is pathetic. Was none of the Greens capable of asking? It is a breath of fresh air to learn that Fergus Ewing, armed with insider parliamentary information, is pursuing this issue.

Jon Cossar, Edinburgh.

The Herald: Gordon Brown and Tony BlairGordon Brown and Tony Blair (Image: PA)

SNP carrying the can for Labour

YOU report today that Scottish Labour’s housing spokesman Mark Griffin has stated that Scotland is “in the grips of a housing emergency” (“Scottish Labour to push Holyrood to declare a national housing emergency”, The Herald, May 14). You also publish today an excellent article by Neil Mackay in which he highlights the dire human consequences of that emergency and its wider political ramifications (“SNP risks fuelling far-right with failure on housing crisis”).

I agree that we have a housing emergency but think it’s worth looking at how we got here. Twenty years ago, I was active in the Labour Party and at one point a parliamentary candidate. I tried to push the argument that many more houses should be built, including for local authorities to replace the ones lost as a result of Mrs Thatcher’s disastrous right-to-buy legislation.

I argued that decent housing would transform people’s lives, improving health, educational outcomes and welfare. It would also be good for the economy: housebuilding is quite labour-intensive, and money paid in wages goes to support other sectors of the economy after some goes to the government in tax. Labour, led by Tony Blair and with Gordon Brown as Chancellor, wasn’t interested.

Before I was born, my family (two adults, four kids) lived in a pre-fab, which my mum always spoke highly of. By the time I arrived, they had moved to a new three-bedroom council house, with a decent garden, a grassy play area across the road, and a new primary school a short walk away. That was in the 1950s and the estate, like so many others in Scotland, came from an initiative of the Conservative government. It was famously Harold Macmillan who pledged to build 300,000 houses a year and, briefly, that was achieved, with most in the public sector.

Since then, the UK’s record on building houses has ranged from poor to dismal. The current emergency has been a long time in the making and Labour, in its13 years in power from 1997 to 2010, failed miserably to tackle it. It’s a bit rich to heap all the blame on the SNP, simply because it has been left carrying the can.

Doug Maughan, Dunblane.