KEITH Howell (Letters, July 27) manages to be critical of the Scottish Government involving civil servants in the production of the paper on citizenship in the future independent Scotland without mentioning two important points.

The first is that in successive Scottish elections the SNP has been elected to government with a commitment to a second referendum featuring prominently in its manifesto. Secondly, the long-standing tradition in the UK has been for the role of the civil service to be to support the elected government to implement its policies.

The basis of Mr Howell’s criticism is that such as the citizenship paper “can appear in many respects to be like a political manifesto”. Yet, we are after all talking about government and the activities of politicians. There is for instance a practice in government of issuing proposals in White Papers which in due course are the basis of subsequent legislation. The White Paper will be the product of civil servants, but that it has been produced is the product of politicking by politicians. In short, Mr Howell’s attempted distinction between government administration by civil servants and the political activities of politicians is naïve, as the two things are routinely conjoined in government. Politicians set the aims and objectives, while civil servants advise and implement. Political involvement comes with the territory.

Of course, we know that the constitution is ultra vires for the Scottish Government. However, on the other hand, a justification for devolution was to allow the four nations of the UK to legislate consistently with the wishes of their electorate, but the current proposals to interfere with the activities of the Scottish Government do not stand alone. Westminster has vetoed gender recognition legislation passed at Holyrood by a majority of MSPs drawn from every party. Its Internal Market Act’s commitment to “mutual recognition” of food standards will mean that Scottish standards can be undermined if another nation’s government produces to lesser criteria.

We therefore seem to be moving into an era where devolved powers can only be used to effect if it’s okay with Westminster, no matter levels of democratic support in Scotland. And they call this devolution.

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.

The Tories did much worse

I HAVE news for Keith Howell (Letters, July 27), and the many of his fellow misanthropes who relentlessly communicate their anti-SNP grievances; it is, to put it simply, what democratically-elected governments do, in line with the election manifestos on which they were elected with a parliamentary majority – committing financial, human and emotional resources to develop their stated policy priorities, one of which happens to be, in case unionists may have missed it, making the case for an independent Scotland.

I had no alternative but to suck it up when the Conservative Government at Westminster poured huge resources into its own favoured constitutional preference – Brexit – while at the same time prosecuting a pitiless policy of austerity. Neither I personally, nor Scotland nationally, voted for or supported either policy, neither of which could be considered to have been a rip-roaring success, but the big difference in the Scottish Government pursuing its stated independence aspirations are threefold: first, it has a parliamentary majority and mandate north of the Border to do so; second, nobody is going to die as a consequence, and, thirdly, the cost will be a tiny fraction of the hundreds of billions of pounds the Conservatives squandered on PPE, HS2 and much more.

If Mr Howell and his dyed-in-the-wool unionist minority are willing to accept such ineptitude, profligacy and incompetence, that’s fine by me, but my vision, my aspiration is for a Scotland released from the punitive shackles of an ugly and unrepresentative UK Government, preferring a vote for optimism and hope over despair and dysfunction, while in truth, independence can only be an improvement on the horror show playing out in plain sight down Westminster way.

Mike Wilson, Longniddry.

Read more: Shame on the SNP for wasting our precious cash on useless indy papers

Yet more fantasy

HUMZA Yousaf has launched another of his “Building a New Scotland” papers prepared by civil servants working for the SNP. This fifth effort on citizenship and passports would have been marked as mediocre if it had presented by a sixth-year pupil for a Modern Studies Advanced Higher project.

The SNP’s attempt to build independence around a fantasy Brigadoon Scotland is consistently shipwrecked on the rocks of currency and the economy.

The SNP’s Paper 3, “A Stronger Economy with Independence”, was comprehensively demolished by economists and even severely criticised by prominent independence supporters.

Until the nationalists can come up with a coherent currency plan and an honest admission that Scotland’s crippling fiscal and trade deficits would require large tax increases and painful public spending cuts, their dream of secession is actually a nightmare.

Instead of launching party political White Papers the SNP should concentrate on the practical government of Scotland and perhaps launch a couple of ferries instead.

James Quinn, Lanark.

We deserve much better

HONESTLY, I despair. How many more dark clouds are heading Scotland's way under this unfit-to-govern SNP/Green alliance?

A quick look at its track record for Scotland does not bode well. In no chronological order we've had the continuing ferries fiasco; the useless minimum alcohol pricing; the dangerous linked smoke alarm law; the despicable child questionnaires; the idiotic Deposit Return Scheme; the Covid lockdowns which led to the disastrous introduction of Covid passports; the Named Person stupidity; allowing ticketless concessionary travel on buses, which only gives bus companies a licence to print money; the highest rate of drug deaths in Europe; GP shortages and longer hospital waiting times among may others. All of the above under the reign of Ms Sturgeon, with a bit of help from Patrick Harvie to push through the hair-brained Covid passport scheme.

Now we have a new First Minister, who was a disaster in his previous posts as transport, justice and health secretary, pushing through a boiler scheme which will serve no useful purpose other than raise the cost of living further. Scotland really has to get rid of this bunch of incompetents, the sooner the better. Scotland deserves a lot better.

James Simpson, Erskine.

Read more: Scots have been let down by both our governments over Covid

Scandal of hospital costs

I NOTE that Humza Yousaf maintains he is "not bothered" by a leadership challenge ("Yousaf dismisses leadership challenge", The Herald, July 27). Here is one reason he should be bothered. The recent statistics suggests that the number of clinically-safe patients who cannot be discharged due to lack of home care packages is around 10,000. A frightening figure, especially as I am one of their number.

At approximately £500 per day to keep me here it has cost the NHS £38,500 as I’ve been in for 77 days. The last 30 of these I have been clinically safe to be discharged. Therefore, the 10,000 quoted in the statistics are costing £5 million per day to service their needs. Having a proper care service surely has to be a fraction of this cost.

I am led to believe that the Government intends to set up a National Care Service, but that MSPs are not voting on this until next year. Why? This makes for mind-boggling amounts of wasted money, running into billions. This is not to mention the mental health of patients and family waiting for a loved one to return home. At least two patients in my ward are becoming more depressed by the day. Humza Yousaf should be seriously bothered.

Ian Smith, Symington.

Drug usage won't go away

WHAT Dr Edwards (letters, July 27) is either unaware of or is deliberately ignoring is that ever since mankind crawled out of the swamp it has taken mind-altering and mood-enhancing naturally-occurring materials often to ameliorate the adverse circumstances it found itself in. None of these substances are innately “illegal” but have been deemed so by a small segment of society for a variety of ideological reasons. The same authoritarian section of society is happy to wind down with a bottle of Gevrey Chambertin and a fine Havana cigar while denigrating the poor soul who resorts to cheap cider and a spliff.

He doesn't seem to accept that "illegal" drug usage will not go away and that all the measures designed by modern society to reduce or eliminate the problem have failed. The best that society can hope for is that the small section of the population who want to use these substances can do so in the confidence that the material will be of a guaranteed standard and purity and that the involvement of criminals in the supply chain is ended.

Any adverse medical consequences of drug usage could then be dealt with in the exact same manner as the current and worsening obesity epidemic caused by those who eat too much. That is all Holyrood is trying to do.

David J Crawford, Glasgow.