AS a fervent believer in independence, I will, reluctantly, vote SNP on July 4. A decent representation of SNP MPs in Westminster is the only way we can keep independence on the political agenda.

But my frustration with the SNP, and John Swinney in particular, grows by the day. The pinnacle of this growing mountain of frustration (at least I hope it is the pinnacle; who knows with this clueless government) has to be its handling of the Michael Matheson situation.

The SNP’s hypocrisy in this matter has beggared belief. John Swinney should know that and, if he does not, he is not fit to be First Minister.

Were an MSP of any other hue to have perpetrated what Michael Matheson perpetrated, there would have been howls of anger from the SNP benches and demands for their resignation.

The fact that he repaid the £11,000 and we should move on should not, as Kate Forbes suggests, be the end of the matter. He LIED to Holyrood and had he not been squeezed for the truth, the pips may not have squeaked.

He deserved every bit of the punishment meted out to him and is lucky (oh how it hurts to agree with Douglas Ross) not to have lost his job.

If he had any political nous or even native wit, he could have avoided being in this situation in the first place. Repaying his expense claim immediately (or better still, not claiming it on expenses in the first place) along with a “Sheesh; teenage boys. They would get you hung” type of statement would have seen this matter ended before it started. Instead he has created a situation that has further tarnished the SNP and damaged the cause of independence. For this, it is difficult to forgive him.

By his actions he has shown that he does not deserve to be in office.

And if John Swinney cannot see that he cannot defend the indefensible, then the SNP has made the wrong choice - again - and he does not deserve to be First Minister.

William Thomson, Denny.

• I CAN assure Mairi McAllan that the issue with Michael Mathieson and his misuse of his work-issue laptop has indeed "cut through" with this member of the public ("Matheson row 'a political bubble issue' says McAllan", heraldscotland, May 31). I can assure her that the matter is definitely not confined to a "political bubble" and the £11k data bill might just have been settled by the public purse if the matter had not been fully investigated.

Eileen Michael, Paisley.

Ross should stop his witch hunt

IT was only to be expected that unionist politicians would wade in and give Michael Matheson a kicking when he was down, that is the rough and tumble of politics. However, I thought Douglas Ross's attacks at the last two weeks of First Minister's Questions were beyond the pale, and John Swinney was absolutely right to describe Mr Ross's remarks on Thursday as nasty, personal abuse. In addition, the Tory leader in Scotland's pathetic antics in Mr Matheson's Falkirk West constituency showed him to be a vindictive man who seems fixated with Michael Matheson, no doubt to try to deflect attention away from the Tories' record at Westminster, and their unpopular policies for the upcoming General Election.

Mr Matheson, who has given exemplary service to his constituents for 25 years, first representing Central Region, and since 2007 as MSP for Falkirk West, made a mistake and is paying for it very dearly. It is time Mr Ross stopped his witch hunt; it is showing him up in a very distasteful light.

Ruth Marr, Stirling.

READ MORE: Swinney is playing a key role in the downfall of the SNP

READ MORE: Just how much lower can our hypocritical politicians go?

Fiscal benefits of the Union

KEIR Starmer’s pledge to create GB Energy and base it in Scotland was attacked by Stephen Flynn, the former leader of SNP MPs at Westminster ("Starmer to unveil his party’s offer to Scotland", The Herald, May 31) The basis of his argument is that “every penny of Scotland’s energy wealth” should be spent in Scotland.

He forgets that, for decades, the revenue produced in London and the South-east of England has been shared throughout all the regions of the UK, including Scotland. In 22/23 that amounted to 18% of Scottish expenditure according to the SNP’s own government figures.

Mr Flynn should reflect on the positive fiscal benefits of current constitutional arrangements in the UK.

James Quinn, Lanark.

Labour change only a veneer

IT has not taken long for the veneer to be stripped away from Sir Keir Starmer’s “changed” Labour Party with the debacle around Diane Abbott. The game is afoot with the support offered to Ms Abbott from the likes of Wes Streeting, Yvette Cooper, Sadiq Khan and Anas Sarwar, the Scottish Labour leader. However, this support for Ms Abbott to stand as an MP in the election came initially from Angela Rayner and as she was elected Deputy Leader by the party members, she knew full well that Keir Starmer was unlikely to publicly disagree with her or indeed take any action. Consequently the other names as above could feel confident in joining the Abbott-supporting bandwagon.

Should Sir Keir Starmer become Prime Minister, it is abundantly clear that the demands on him from the still-powerful hard left in the Labour Party will come very quickly indeed.

Richard Allison, Edinburgh.

Oh dear, please don't let us win

RECENT news that Scottish Labour was parachuting candidates into constituencies brought back to me my own experience of this practice. During the 1964 General Election in the Dumfriesshire constituency, as a callow youth in the then Young Socialists, I was given my first lesson in politics.

The Labour campaign seemed to be going well. At a public meeting I was on stage with the Labour candidate and his wife and the response to the candidate was positive. Near the end of the meeting I overheard the wife whisper to her husband: "My God, darling, what will we do if you actually win?". My naive faith in the political process was rudely shattered. By the way, Labour lost.

Ian Sloan, Bathgate.

Scotland must look to nuclear

YOU headlined the very large outcry against the new gas generation proposals for Peterhead and included Fuel Poverty Action's concern that "gas was five times more expensive than renewable energy" ("Warning gas power station plan will hit net-zero target", The Herald, May 29). In reality renewable energy converted into electricity is at least twice as expensive as gas, even taking account of recent price escalation following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Electricity is currently about four times more expensive than gas, which is the cause of so much uncertainty about the economics of heat pumps.

The truth is that SSE has little or no choice since gas is the only flexible generation resource that can "fill the gaps", other than pump storage, when the wind is not available. This is a not-infrequent occurrence as your correspondent DB Watson frequently reminds readers. Pump storage could replace gas in the time leading up to 2050, but with truly awful landscape implications and many hundreds of billions in cost. Moreover the huge financial implications underline my argument that energy that solely relies on renewables can never be cheap.

Westminster has now recognised the problem and is proposing a sizeable investment in nuclear energy and while at present nuclear is a base load technology, there is no other choice if we are to contain energy costs and save some of our precious landscape. The Scottish Government's refusal to consider nuclear is a fundamental error, based on ignorance, a refusal to look to the future implications, and an exercise in populism. In scale it eclipses its decision to commission two ferries powered by natural gas without considering the implications in the following years.

Norman McNab, Killearn.

US must stop arming Israel

THE sheer scale of Israel’s barbaric and merciless attack on the population of Gaza, a population with no air defences and who do not possess the state-of-the-art armaments of the Israeli Army, has led some to believe that Israel has now been revealed in her true colours as a ruthless aggressor who cannot be allowed to continue in this way any longer. Surely the civilised world must oblige Israel to negotiate and accept in real seriousness, and in the interests of its own people, a two-state solution.

Yet, as Israel, in defiance of the United Nations, European states and, her staunch ally, the United States, commences the murderous invasion of Gaza, the United States tells the world that an invasion is not an invasion when Israel is the invader and sees no reason for stopping the flow of arms which makes Israel’s behaviour possible.

In fact, it seems likely that Israel, permitted and enabled by the United States, will continue to pursue its basic project in Gaza: the removal, by death, starvation and disease, of the Arab people of Gaza, so that the territory, already largely demolished, can be reconfigured to welcome an Israeli population. Rather than a two-state solution, it seems we can look forward to a United States unflinchingly supportive of Israel and a complicit UK facilitating a Palestinian-free Gaza.

America, despite what are now enormous obstacles, could stop arming and funding Israel and work, and oblige Israel to work, to bring about a meaningful two-state solution. But the massacre of 35,000 Palestinians has not led to any indication of this being a probability, and there seems every possibility that the death of another 35,000 will not change the mindset of either Benjamin Netanyahu or Joe Biden, or those who succeed them, or indeed the supportive stance of British governments.

Ronald MacLean, Beauly.

The Herald: What could change the mindset of Benjamin Netanyahu and Joe Biden?What could change the mindset of Benjamin Netanyahu and Joe Biden? (Image: PA)

Taxing question

 I HAVE to admire Ken Mackay's gall if not his fact-checking prowess (Letters, May 31). Prior to the introduction of VAT, consumers like Ken and me paid a home-grown Purchase Tax on goods at a whopping 33.33%.Is he seriously suggesting that we should return to that?

Peter Farrell, Glasgow.

Fed up, plain and simple

I HAVE several recipes which require plain bread as a base. For almost two weeks none of the major supermarkets has stocked such bread either as Mother's Pride or own label.

I understand that the Hovis Bakery in Glasgow is undergoing a change in production process and there seems no sign of when this would return to normal.

It may seem parochial but I certainly consider the apparent lack of urgency on the part of Hovis to indicate that with a total monopoly it has little regard for its customers in Scotland or indeed elsewhere.

Ken Cameron, Cupar.

Mere confusion

I WAS amused by the picture of Sir Ed Davy falling into “Lake Windermere” (Letters, May 30) . However, Windermere is not a lake, the “mere” identifies its watery content. The only lake in the Lake District is Bassenthwaite, all the others are meres or waters.

Mike Flinn, West Kilbride.