IN the wake of last week’s seismic General Election result, various figures in the SNP, along with independence-supporting commentators, have delivered scathing analyses of the part the SNP leadership, past and present, have played in the public’s disillusionment with the current Scottish Government and its performance over its 17 years in power.

The latest is Jim Sillars with his open letter to the SNP membership (“Someone has to tell the truth”, The Herald, July 9). He certainly did not pull any punches in his critique of those who led the SNP to this position.

Yet are these critics of the SNP from within the independence movement still indulging in a degree of wishful thinking by ignoring the elephant in the room, namely the unanswered questions about the fundamental case for independence? All of them, from ex-ministers to ex-MPs, from independence commentators to activists, seem reluctant to ask whether flaws in the rationale for independence itself has played a part in the SNP’s humiliation at the polls.

All shades of political opinion in Scotland now seem to agree that the Scottish Government’s numerous failings in delivering essential public services has undermined the SNP’s credibility. Equally, it is good at last to hear more calling out the cult of personality around Nicola Sturgeon that allowed dogma to be prioritised over reason, resulting in some of the worst excesses of the SNP in power.

Proponents of independence seem to be drawing comfort from polls showing support for independence holding up. Yet this polling result is against a background of the public knowing there is little prospect of another referendum in the foreseeable future, and equally without any active campaign to subject the case for independence to a proper degree of rigorous analysis. In particular, since the 2014 independence referendum, we have had Brexit which has provided a stark real-world example of the damage that can be done if you believe only the untested benefits claimed by those proposing a break-up of a political and market union, and do not sufficiently heed the many potential downsides. The depth of interdependence socially, economically and culturally across the UK far exceeds that between the UK and the EU.

Personally, I hope we avoid the divisiveness of another independence referendum, but if such a prospect were to raise its head again, the people of Scotland will have the harsh lessons of Brexit to help them judge the credibility of the case put before them.

I agree with Jim Sillars that the truth needs to be told, but Scotland needs the whole truth if it is to drag itself out of the deadlock of debate which has so held it back over the last decade.

Keith Howell, West Linton.

• JIM Sillars remains one of our nation’s original thinkers. Amen to what he writes - and a bigger amen to action this day.

Gordon Casely, Crathes.

READ MORE: 'Someone has to tell the truth': Jim Sillars' letter to SNP members

READ MORE: Is there any hope of Scotland getting more Mhairi Blacks?

Starmer must play fair with Scotland

ON winning the election Sir Keir Starmer has said he wishes to reset Westminster’s relationship with the devolved nations. The SNP, representing the wishes of many who would like independence, has on a number of occasions recently had its attempts to secure a second referendum undermined, first by the Boris Johnson Government, despite the nationalist majority in Holyrood and again by the Supreme Court in November 2022, outlining the constitutional relationship between Scotland and the UK. Interestingly, Sir Keir Starmer at the time of the court’s decision, said he would not allow a second referendum if he was in government, even if the Supreme Court agreed it was legal.

If the Prime Minister is serious about resetting the relationship between Westminster and the devolved nations, he must first set a level playing field. He must play fair and let the people of Scotland know what the democratic route to independence is. Notably, Anas Sarwar, Scottish Labour leader, has recently refused to answer this question. A failure to provide clarification on this issue suggests that there is in fact no route.

If this is the case, to avoid admitting this, the Labour Party, it might seem, is hoping that the 2026 Scottish elections will bring the debate to an end. With a Labour victory, the issue of independence can be sidelined, avoiding the need to present what might be the uncomfortable truth, that the union of Scotland and the rest of the UK is not a voluntary one.

Stuart Smith, Aberdeen.

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Strengthen the Sewel Convention

THE Smith Commission stated that it was agreed between all five of the participating Scottish political parties that “the Sewel Convention will be put on a statutory footing”, but instead Scotland has been subjected to the dire consequences of a pervasive austerity, a hard Brexit and the UK Internal Market Act (IMA).

With the UK economy stagnant and devolution on its knees, Keir Starmer, supported by less than one in five of the electorate, has less than two years to demonstrate that Scottish devolution and the Union are worth sustaining. If Sir Keir is genuine and serious about engendering inter-governmental respect he should immediately demonstrate this by repealing the IMA and by putting the Sewel Convention on a statutory footing. Failure to do so will simply demonstrate that he is a man of meaningless words and that his party has nothing substantial to offer the people of Scotland.

Those who truly believe in democracy, as well as those convinced the majority of the people of Scotland do not wish independence, should welcome either a second referendum (a seven-year interval has been deemed sufficient for the people of Northern Ireland so should also be sufficient for the people of Scotland) or a de facto referendum in 2026.

Those still undecided in the constitutional debate should contemplate whether Joe Biden’s comments in congratulating Mr Starmer as “the new Prime Minister of England” were the mutterings of an old man or in fact current reality until we, the people of Scotland, have the confidence to take back control of our abundantly resourced country.

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry.

Jeremy Corbyn revisited

THE stars really did align for Sir Keir Starmer's new-look Labour Party as it cruised to victory in last week's General Election. But, supported by only one in every three voters, it was the most disproportional on record, according to the Electoral Reform Society.

Alistair Easton (Letters, July 8) and several others of your correspondents are right to call for reform of our discredited election system. However, what particularly interested me was to compare Labour's performance in this and the previous election.

Many commentators branded 2019 Labour's worst election result since 1935. Jeremy Corbyn as leader received over 10 million votes (32.2% of the vote share), in losing to Boris Johnson by 80 seats. Yet this time, having expelled or silenced most of his socialist colleagues, Sir Keir's party won a 174-seat majority, but with an additional share of only 1.6% and, significantly, over half a million fewer votes. Hardly a ringing endorsement.

Despite being demonised by the anti-socialist establishment of which Sir Keir appears now to be a prime member, Mr Starmer’s success is well short of Mr Corbyn's in terms of the popular vote. And last week, after being kicked out of the Labour Party, Mr Corbyn's constituents still gave him a ringing endorsement as their new independent MP.

Of course Mr Corbyn, campaigning "For The Many, Not The Few", was up against Mr Johnson, who needed little more than a simplistic "Get Brexit Done" slogan to win. So, how bad was he really? And, more to the point, how good is Mr Starmer? Will Britain become a fairer, less unequal society under his leadership?

Like Doug Maughan (Letters, July 9), I don't see evidence of the socialism we need to really change our failing country for the better. But I too live in hope.

David Bruce, Troon.

Jeremy Corbyn during the 2019 General Election campaignJeremy Corbyn during the 2019 General Election campaign (Image: PA)

A clear plan for immigration

KATE Forbes has made a case for devolving immigration rules to allow Scotland to address particular shortages in hospitality, health and care sectors ("Forbes to push Labour government on separate immigration", The Herald, July 9). I have to agree with her but my fear is that the Scottish Government, ie the SNP, fails to control things by not introducing a clear immigration plan.

First, we need to assess the specifics of how many jobs are required in each sector. We can then consider who we target for planned immigration that would also guarantee housing and automatic access to health service. There should be a probationary period of say three to six months that allows either party to decide whether to accept a confirmed role or return to their homeland.

On completion of the probationary period anyone gaining an employment contract would be entitled to bring their family over and have their citizenship confirmed within 12 months.

This is a sensible and proper way to encourage immigration and recruit skilled or unskilled people to come here.

John Gilligan, Ayr.