IT is utterly baffling that both John Swinney and Stephen Flynn are talking about a further referendum on Scottish independence in the next five years ("Swinney says there 'should be' a referendum within five years" heraldscotland, June 12).

The battle lines for the forthcoming General Election are now firmly drawn, and at least one thing is totally clear: there is no chance of that happening. Even the most obtuse of nationalists should realise by now that they had their chance in 2014, and failed when the voters of Scotland exercised their right of self-determination and self-determined to remain in the UK.

It is high time that Messrs Swinney and Flynn showed some respect for those voters and their decision, and gave up their increasingly desperate cries for independence. Any fool can see that independence is dead for the foreseeable future, and indeed, the more they (and some of your correspondents) drip on about it, the more stupid they look.

Peter A Russell, Glasgow.

Where's the cash coming from?

JOHN Swinney, Stephen Flynn, Kate Forbes et al are encouraging Scots to vote for the SNP and independence. At every press conference, every leaders’ debate, they blame Westminster for each of their failures, despite the Scottish Government receiving the highest block grant ever.

Independence is to be the answer to all of Scotland’s needs according to the nationalists but one question is never answered, in fact is never asked by journalists: where’s the money coming from, Mr Swinney, to give Scotland this nirvana, this paradise? Your party has had 17 years in power, 17 years to make Scotland a great place in which to live but you’ve blown it.

Virtually every institution has been damaged: police, education, transport, the health service and on and on. We have the highest drug deaths in Europe, with another increase announced this week. The highest alcohol deaths in the UK. We have children going hungry, we have homeless families. Hundreds of millions wasted on vanity projects. The scandal of ferries and so much more.

So where’s the cash coming from, Mr Swinney, how do you balance the books? In 2022-23, tax revenue generated in Scotland was £87.5 billion. Public spending totalled £106.6bn. You need to tell the people of Scotland how your independent Scotland will survive financially, how Scots will be better off. So far, the SNP has failed Scotland and there is no indication from the party that an independent Scotland will be any better and there will be no one to blame.

Douglas Cowe, Newmachar.

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Labour is being dishonest

LABOUR is being dishonest with voters as it refuses to spell out where its spending cuts will fall in order to pay for its election promises ("Labour spending plans will lead to £320m extra for Scottish Government", heraldscotland, June 13). By sticking to the Tories' fiscal rules on borrowing, the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the Institute for Government, the Resolution Foundation and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation have all estimated there would be a £18-£20 billion budget shortfall.

Labour claims that there will be economic growth but can’t detail how this will be achieved and continues to ignore the central problem of Brexit which has damaged the UK’s most important trading relationships. The UK is falling behind similar economies in terms of growth and productivity and the US investment bank Goldman Sachs has calculated that the UK economy is five per cent smaller compared to comparable countries than it was prior to Brexit.

As the Scottish Government discovered, putting more money into the NHS doesn’t solve all the problems as there just isn’t enough staff to go round, a position exacerbated by Brexit. In Labour-run Wales the NHS is much worse than in Scotland, but when tackled on this Wes Streeting said all roads lead back to Westminster. Universities in Wales have the same financial pressures as in Scotland, despite Labour proposing to increase student tuition fees to £9,250 after the summer.

Resetting devolution means bypassing the Scottish Parliament as evidenced by proposing to give £150 million to the Scotland Office governor-general to spend, which is peanuts compared to the SNP’s Scottish Child Payment that costs £500m a year.

Finally, there is the Great British Energy con that won’t reduce bills as it is a private investment vehicle that won’t produce any energy, sell any energy or own any energy infrastructure while risking jobs in Scotland’s north-east.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh.

• WHEN are voters going to wake up to the reality of Keir Starmer's Labour Party? I have just been listening (June 13) to Labour's National Campaign Coordinator Pat McFadden have a car crash of an interview about the party's manifesto, which is launched today, on Radio 4's flagship Today programme.

He was torn to shreds on topics such as the scale of probable public service cuts, given the party's Tory-like unwillingness to raise taxes; its unwillingness to revisit the council tax; and its unwillingness to do away with the two-child benefit cap. Mr McFadden stumbled and stuttered and had nothing to say in reply on these matters except to talk about "growth" - which, as the interviewer pointed out, is extremely unlikely given recent history and the performance of EU countries. It's especially unlikely given Labour's further unwillingness to revisit Brexit.

Mr McFadden was finally asked whether Keir Starmer could be trusted, given that the latter said in 2019 that he believed Jeremy Corbyn would "make a great Prime Minister" and the fact that he has since u-turned on that and so many other policies. Indeed.

Robert Sim, Dunfermline.

• THE long-standing Westminster power-sharing agreement seems to be working well. The current 20-point lead the Tories have over the Tories looks like being a landslide for the Government.

Don Ferguson, Kirkintilloch.

The Welsh yardstick

ALL of the General Election TV debates to date that have included the SNP have gravitated (or been led by the host or pre-selected audience member questions) to discussion of devolved matters such as the NHS and education. Yet, the only yardstick for measuring the SNP Scottish Government’s performance in devolved matters, the Labour Welsh Government’s performance, has barely been mentioned.

One in five people in Wales are currently on an NHS waiting list which is equivalent to 40 per cent more possible patients than in Scotland where the ratio is one in seven. While the UK’s recent PISA scores have dropped (lowest levels in maths and science since 2006), Wales, which is not pursuing the broader aims of Curriculum for Excellence and is more focused on test results, is at the bottom of the UK rankings in all three measures of maths, science and reading. Across the UK public services are broken and even local council services are failing with a number of council authorities in England, including its second-largest city Birmingham, effectively bankrupt.

The use of food banks has exploded across the UK and while the Scottish Government has sought to mitigate the worst impacts of austerity and has lifted tens of thousands of children out of poverty an incoming Labour Government at Westminster, avowedly bound to the Tories’ fiscal rules, will prolong austerity. Regardless of what Anas Sarwar attempts to dupe Scottish voters into believing, Keir Starmer himself has declared that it will probably take at least two terms of government (10 years) to “fix the mess the Tories have made”.

There is a better way forward, particularly for the people of Scotland, via serious constitutional reform.

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry.

My fear over Reform vote

I WAS astonished and shocked to read in Andrew Learmonth’s Unspun column ("The floor’s still skitey for campaigning politicians", June 12) that Reform UK has overtaken the Tories in the over-55 age group in England in a recent opinion poll.

The current Tory administration deserves to get a real kicking in this election but I didn’t expect it to be in this way. From the frying pan into the fire comes to mind and I am genuinely disturbed to learn that a huge number of people intend to vote this way. MEGA in England is following MAGA in the USA; look across the Atlantic and see where that leads.

Willie Towers, Alford.

Labour yesterday launched its General Election manifestoLabour yesterday launched its General Election manifesto (Image: PA)

Rise up against injustice

UNFORTUNATELY, David J Crawford finished his letter (June 12) on "the Mack" where he should have started with a call for the people to rise against hunger and poverty.

Poverty and childhood hunger are embedded in capitalism everywhere at grossly unacceptable levels.

It just requires policies to redistribute wealth and income at a sufficient scale to make a real difference in poverty, rebuild the Mack and deal better with multiple other injustices and inequalities that pervade the status quo.

That said, experience suggests it will take more than just "mes enfants to rise". It will take the whole damned lot of us.

Stewart Sweeney, Adelaide, South Australia.