I USUALLY enjoy Neil Mackay's thoughtful articles but I don't understand his gleeful prediction that the SNP will ship 21 seats at the next election ("Glasgow collapse paves the way to the end of SNP rule", The Herald, May 25). Around half of the country supports independence, as he acknowledges, and the earthquake within the SNP will not have materially changed the opinion of these people that Scotland would be better off on its own. Why would these independence supporters vote for Labour?

Although fairly opaque, Labour policy appears to include no more humane treatment of desperate refugees, no rapprochement with Europe, no voting reform, no reform of the House of Lords, Scotland's riches continuing to vanish into the maw of the UK Treasury and Scotland still being routinely disparaged as needing financial support from England to survive. Sir Keir Starmer is, indeed, Tory-lite.

Scotland has talented people, huge natural resources, highly successful business sectors and a socially responsible culture. Half the country already realises it can be a very successful independent country. I can't see any logic in Mr Mackay's view of the future.

Sandy Slater, Stirling.

What about UK's catastrophes?

FOLLOWING the examples of a number of your correspondents, Peter Wright (Letters, May 25) attempts to exploit failings around the building of two innovative dual-fuel ferries to support a subjective claim that Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP have done a poor job in representing the interests of the people of Scotland through the actions of the Scottish Government. Setting aside the fact that the poor, the sick, the elderly and the disadvantaged in Scotland are generally better cared for than their counterparts down south, and that those working in our public services are generally considered with higher esteem and are better paid, it would seem brave of those supporting the Union to reference those ferries given the comparative litany of procurement disasters of the UK Government.

While the Scottish Government can point to the Queensferry Crossing as a major public procurement project that was delivered on time and under budget, those same correspondents would struggle to identify similar UK Government successes. The cost overrun alone on a shortened HS2 project is currently estimated at £65 billion, equivalent to the building of more than 300 dual-fuel ferries and it has already been estimated that this “overrun” will double. With Scottish taxpayers contributing roughly 10 per cent of spending on UK infrastructure and defence hardware, a £3 billion “cost overrun” on two aircraft carriers without the planned aircraft (one currently being cannibalised for spare-parts before even serving in action) represents one of the many delayed and over-budget UK projects that have cost Scottish taxpayers dearly.

At least most appreciate that while the innovative design of the ferries now appears overly ambitious, the ambition at the heart of the project of having shipbuilding on the Clyde return to world-leading status had much merit. The awarding of contracts to companies with no history of manufacturing PPE, resulting in billions of pounds literally going up in smoke, suggests less laudable actions on the parts of UK Government ministers, but perhaps one of your regular Scottish Government critics can enlighten us otherwise and explain how Scotland benefited from this huge bonfire, or should we instead blame Nicola Sturgeon?

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry.

Read more: Protect businesses from destructive rage of the far left

Indy contrary to Christian belief

TO an outsider like myself, the debate about independence and the Church of Scotland (Letters, May 24 & 25) is very clear-cut.

My recollection of the central message of the Christian faith is "to love thy neighbour as thyself". If this is the case, it would appear that political aims based on division and distancing ourselves from our nearest neighbour are contradictory to Christian belief.

Perhaps the seed of that message has fallen on stony ground in the case of Scottish nationalists?

Peter A Russell, Glasgow.

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Confrontation is deliberate

IN your Politics Unspun piece ("Genteel conveners session shows Yousaf might not be a lightweight", The Herald, May 25) Humza Yousaf is reported promulgating the latest SNP myth, namely that we are suffering from a “continual undermining of our devolution”.

As ever the First Minister uses the tactic of building a myth on the back of half-truths. So, while the Supreme Court decision confirms a second independence referendum cannot proceed without UK Government approval, the Gender Recognition Reform Bill has been stopped by a Section 35 notice, and the Deposit Return Scheme will have to be abandoned if it is not granted an opt-out under the UK Internal Market Act, in each case the Scottish Government has proceeded in a way that has meant confrontation was all but certain.

This SNP leadership has known in advance that they would be overstepping the bounds of devolved powers but have chosen to proceed without any meaningful attempt to find compromise. In each case against legal opinion, they have pushed on, no doubt imagining their core support would be fired up by yet more division and grievance generated from these manufactured and exaggerated points of difference.

Keith Howell, West Linton.

Read more: Why isn’t the Kirk leading the drive for independence?

• RICHARD Leonard did not make much of an impression as Holyrood Labour leader, but he is showing his mettle as Convener of the Public Audit Committee. Alas, he is also demonstrating the inadequacies of the Holyrood system. On the fraught subject of the ferries commissioned from Ferguson Marine, he reports that his committee had been "met with ministerial non-cooperation, senior civil servants evading scrutiny", while government agencies "omit[ted] evidence or [were] unable to find evidence which then turns up". He asked Humza Yousaf if this is what he means by "transparency". Well done, Mr Leonard.

This is the kind of evasiveness that we witnessed in the public sessions of the Salmond Inquiry. It was not edifying then, and it is not edifying now.

The problem has been and remains that Holyrood committees have no clout, unlike the powerful Select Committees of the House of Commons. In Scotland the executive has a disproportionate amount of power. It is accountable only at election time and can ride roughshod over questioning and inquiry, as we see regularly in the Holyrood chamber. The architects of the system did us no favours in allowing an over-mighty executive to bulldoze its policies through.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh.

Convention will achieve nothing

YEARS ago the SNP leadership made the point that they should get regular – the suggestion of six successive months was made at the time to indicate what would be considered regular – and presumably independently-verified 60 per cent polling for breaking up the UK before trying to push for a legal referendum.

That made sense and would be a thousand times more convincing than some vague convention in Dundee in June ("SNP deputy leader defends party’s June date for independence convention", The Herald May 23), to which those outside the more extreme fringes of the SNP pay no attention whatsoever. Regular 60 per cent showings in the polls would be hard to dispute by anyone.

However, to get anywhere near that kind of figure they would need to run their administration competently, sensibly and steadily for a couple of years. Then they could, perhaps, just perhaps, begin to change the opinion of the settled, hardened and pro-UK majority of Scots.

However, I fear a simple and fair common sense strategy is beyond the SNP. And, let me say, that delights me.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.


Sentences must fit the crimes

LORD Arthurson called Rhys Bennett’s crimes “extreme, sustained, feral violence, unimaginably wicked and medieval in their barbarity” and yet sentenced him to only 24 years because of our authorities’ fatuous guidelines where the thugs are under 25 and/or plead guilty ("Man who raped and burned mother alive gets 24 years", The Herald, May 25). Was he obliged to follow mere “guidelines” so strictly?

Bennett will be eligible for release when he is 47, ironically his victim’s age.

He committed numerous serious or brutal crimes – attempting to defeat the ends of justice, stalking/abduction, neck compression, several instances of violent assault and grievous bodily harm, rape, and finally murder caused by these actions and by burning her alive.

Under any sane “justice” system, three or more of these crimes would each deserve at least 24 years’ incarceration – to be served consecutively, not concurrently.

As I have written before, our levels of such criminality will not fall until the tragic victims in enough cases are the mothers, sisters, wives or daughters of senior politicians or judges, when finally the punishments might fit the crimes.

John Birkett, St Andrews.