SPEAKING ahead of the SNP’s manifesto launch later this week, John Swinney focuses his energy on trying to mislead his own supporters as well as the rest of the Scottish electorate.

Attempting to deflect voters’ attention away from the SNP’s dreadful performance in governing Scotland for the past 17 tears, he parrots the “page one, line one” message for his core support that independence is a central tenet of the SNP manifesto, despite everyone knowing that no UK government would countenance another independence referendum unless it was clear there was significant and sustained support for it ("Swinney: Independence will be page one, line one in SNP manifesto", heraldscotland, June 16). In their more honest moments senior figures in the SNP hierarchy have admitted this would need opinion polls to be at around 60 per cent support for independence for six months or more. That has never been achieved, nor does it seem likely to happen in the near future given the SNP’s total failure to either make a convincing case for independence or to govern Scotland with any meaningful degree of success or efficiency.

As for the rest of us, John Swinney realises it would not be credible to claim any remarkable turnaround in the SNP’s performance is on the cards, so instead makes up a wholly exaggerated explanation of where all our problems have come from. He says that “austerity, Brexit and the cost of living crisis were all made in Westminster”. While it is true that the drive for leaving the EU was primarily from the right wing of British politics, Mr Swinney ignores all those across the political spectrum throughout the UK who actively campaigned to remain, and indeed, that over a third of Scots actually voted for Brexit. Equally, he knows that the after-effects of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine have been the main drivers of the worldwide cost of living crisis, but prefers to pretend it was all Westminster’s fault. As for austerity, it suits him to imply that an independent Scotland would not be troubled by the economics of balancing the books, but could rather fund the SNP’s often grossly-wasteful mismanagement of public resources through endless borrowing and soaking the better-off through ever-increasing taxes.

This First Minister is taking you for fools, Scotland. Wake up to what his weasel words really mean.

Keith Howell, West Linton.

Spare us from the luvvies

HOLD the front page! Brian Cox - the actor one - is fearful the SNP is backing away from independence; so writes Kathleen Nutt ("Scottish star Cox fearful SNP has 'backed off' from independence goal", The Herald, June 17). Can anyone explain why this is news and/or why we should care about it? Scarcely can Cox land in the UK but he is invited by the BBC, or the Edinburgh Festival, to make political pronouncements, often on Question Time or, this time, on the Laura Kuenssberg programme.

Brian Cox is an expat. He doesn’t live here or pay taxes here, yet he is wheeled out as a political pundit whose prejudice against the UK, which nurtured his career, is already legendary. Most of the time, he can sit in the luxury of his New York home and "worry" about the SNP retreating from its obsession without having to concern himself with trivia such as how Scotland could afford to leave the UK, or how it would sustain its public services without the annual support it receives from HM Treasury.

Please spare us the agonising of luvvies such as Cox, as well as Alan Cummings and Martin Compston, about an issue that has the potential to damage critically those of us who actually live here and have to suffer the constant agitation of the less well-informed for a utopia that will never exist.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh.

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Why not justice on the home front?

OUR first General Election leaflet dropped through our letterbox this afternoon. I had to double-check who it was from, as it is headed "Justice for Palestine". Inside is an SNP logo, and a double-spread of the Palestinian flag, asking me to display this poster in my window to show my support - for what? Justice for Palestine? The SNP? At the bottom of this flag is "Standing Up for Palestine and Our Community".

On the back page it asks me to re-elect David Linden, for Glasgow East, my local SNP candidate. We live in Glasgow southside, we were Glasgow Central at the last General Election, now seemingly we have moved east because of the new boundaries. So, having worked this out, I finished reading the back page of the leaflet, which states that the SNP candidate is determined to return to Parliament (understandably) "to continue standing up for the people of Palestine, who desperately need our support".

Indeed the people of Palestine do need our support - as do the people of Scotland (which country is not mentioned in the SNP leaflet), to face the massive problems in many, many factors such as the health service, police, oil and gas, transport, education, etc. But obviously this particular candidate does not rate any of these problems worthy of mention alongside his support of Islamic Relief UK's Gaza appeal - although I am delighted that an SNP candidate feels it worth his while to mention the UK.

Walter Paul, Glasgow.

• NICOLA Sturgeon made an appearance in Govanhill, Glasgow, along with the SNP election candidate for that area. They are openly campaigning on a ticket to support Palestine. This is nothing more than a cynical move to gain the large Asian vote for that, and any other area in the country where Asians make up part of the electorate.

MPs elected in this election are meant to be campaigning to take Scottish issues to Westminster, not fighting for a land thousands of miles away. Ms Sturgeon should think shame of herself but I doubt she is capable of showing that.

Ian Balloch, Grangemouth.

What does change really mean?

CHANGE is an interesting word.

If you or your country are in a good spot it can be unsettling, threatening even, but if you or your country are in a bad place it can promise hope and a better future.

Labour is offering change in this election.

Change, that is, except for Brexit, Gaza, nuclear weapons, NHS privatisation, the obsession with immigration, welfare cuts and, shamefully, the two-child benefit rule.

Change, except for austerity, something they forgot to mention to their Scottish leader apparently. By embracing the Conservative tax and spend plans in their entirety and pinning their hopes on that most elusive of creatures, economic growth, there is no end in sight for cuts to vital public services, no end to child poverty or food banks.

Change, except for granting a say in how Scotland should be governed.

So, what does change mean in this instance?

Change means new faces around the Cabinet table in Downing Street and some tinkering with the status quo.

As a moderate supporter of the Labour Party for over 40 years, I'm filled with sadness over what the party has become and will not be voting for it.

Bill Calder, Tweedbank.

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For Starmer, read Blair

IT has become increasingly obvious how Keir Starmer has decided to “manage” the Labour Party election campaign. He has simply looked back to the 1997 Blair campaign which means say nothing much about anything apropos his six “pledges” lacking any fundamental detail and with nothing contained in those six “pledges” on immigration.

He and his colleagues hide behind the stock answer of “no plans” to increase other taxes such as capital gains tax, inheritance tax or raids on pension funds. Therefore for those with longer memories look at Blair and Prescott (Deputy PM) and you will realise you are getting Starmer and Rayner. The forthcoming tax bombshell will be detonated soon after July 5 when it will be announced that “plans have changed”: Keir Starmer’s likely huge majority will let loose the tax hounds.

Richard Allison, Edinburgh.

Actor Brian CoxActor Brian Cox (Image: PA)

The ABC of PR

PETER Wright (Letters, June 17) is correct in his criticism of the additional members elected under the D'Hondt system being selected primarily by their political parties, rather than by the electorate. However there are other methods of voting which produce a proportional result.

In the case of Single Transferable Votes the electorate have an opportunity to rank the candidates in order of preference. The only disadvantage is that a significant proportion of the electorate do not understand the system and the result could be that rather than have a charter, as Mr Wright puts it, for the unelectable to be elected we could have one for those with a surname starting with the letters "A", "B" or "C" being elected.

Sandy Gemmill, Edinburgh.