KEVIN McKenna explains how voters in Scotland switched allegiance from Labour to SNP due to the patronising behaviour of Scottish Labour grandees ("Is Labour on the brink of by-election game changer?", The Herald, August 21). Unless his circumspection is much more deficient than I suspect he must know perfectly well that the mass defection to the SNP was entirely attributable to Westminster Labour’s shameful alliance with the Tories and LibDems in the 2014 Better Together campaign.

Unlike many of his fellow old Scottish Labour diehards, Mr McKenna has expressed some sympathy for the cause of independence in tandem with his deep-seated hatred of the SNP. When the chips are down however and he detects a whiff of a Labour revival he conveniently forgets that Labour is the party which took us into the invasion of Iraq, failed to keep us in the EU and now looks the other way and fails to openly oppose or condemn the despicable immigration policies of the Tory Government.

Like Mr McKenna, I campaigned for Labour as a teenager, in my case as far back as the 1959 General Election, and for many years thereafter until the No result in 2014 convinced me that if we remained in so-called union with our southern neighbours we were heading out of the EU and into a future which was scaringly reminiscent of 1930s Germany.

Mr McKenna even extols the virtues of Jackie Baillie, who only retains her seat in Dumbarton due to massive tactical voting by Conservative sympathisers to prevent SNP victory. His visceral hatred of the SNP clearly prevails over any wish to rid us of the democratic deficit which denies our Scottish nation the ability to choose its own constitutional future.

Willie Maclean, Milngavie.

Pro-indy parties should focus all their energies on Holyrood

Getting ready for another retreat

 AMONG recent articles in The Herald which have been interesting and informative was that by Pauline Bryan which detailed threats to the legislative process arising from the Tories' increasing contempt for Parliament ("I'm in the Lords and even I want it abolished", The Herald, August 16). The part of the article relating to the Strikes (Minimum Services Levels) Act was especially interesting. The Act was described as "rushed through Parliament with unacceptable haste". Worryingly for the role of the Mother of Parliaments, it is described as a "skeleton bill", one with the "barest of frameworks" with detail to be filled in later.

This article becomes more informative when read alongside Angela Rayner's recent denials that Labour is considering diluting proposals for protecting workers' rights ("Angela Rayner forced to deny climbdown on workers' rights", heraldscotland, August 18). There is to be nothing hasty about this, instead it is all about "going through the detail, working with unions, working with business, working with other organisations around the practicalities".

Of course no one wants to see ill-judged, shabby law-making but it has amazed me for a number of years that the copious legislation designed to undermine the ability of working people and their organisations to defend themselves can be enacted speedily, surmounting readily any barriers, while legislation of the opposite nature has complexity and difficulty emphasised. Even more amazing is the number of people who parrot right-wing media nonsense about union power and how, led by fanatics, they enjoy holding the country to ransom.

I don't think it is too cynical to infer from Ms Rayner's remarks the early stages of yet another Labour retreat from progressive commitments.

Brian Harvey, Motherwell.

Little hope of reconciliation

MARK Smith's call for nuance and compromise in the independence debate ("My view on independence has moved just like Kezia’s", The Herald, August 21) is to be welcomed, and many of us will hope that there is indeed a move toward a debate on the middle ground. However, it is worth urging caution in the light of the experience of the 2014 debate and that conducted since.

From my own point of view, I could see little merit in the proposals for independence above all due to the lack of a financial outline or even a currency plan, but welcomed the chance to debate the issues and to put the question to bed for a generation through the SNP Scottish Government's referendum. I considered arguments such as those of my former colleague Dr Steve Inch - who contended that a smaller and more nimble economy would be better suited to the challenges of the future - but concluded that the safety of a larger and more varied economy was preferable. I also welcomed the compromises of the No campaign, culminating in the enactment of the pledges of the Vow and the extra powers introduced after the Smith Committee's report was endorsed by all-party consensus at Holyrood.

In contrast, the SNP Scottish Government failed to honour its referendum as decisive, and its supporters have insulted and misrepresented those of us who differed with them, calling us "Red Tories", "Tory scum", "Quislings" and "traitors". As recent correspondence regarding GERS has shown, even when the obvious and undeniable benefits of the Union are set out by the Scottish Government itself, the evidence is routinely rubbished by the leftovers of the Yes campaign.

The difference between the two sides is that most people on the No side want whatever is best for Scotland on a pragmatic basis - and there is no convincing case that this will be independence. In contrast, most people on the Yes side seem to be dogmatic and want independence, no matter how clear it is what the cost would be. It will certainly be difficult to bring the two sides together unless the nationalists change their ways.

Peter A Russell, Glasgow.

Read more: Why Kezia Dugdale should give us all pause for thought

Give us answers on the economy

YOUR correspondents who challenge each year's GERS statistics do so on two broad grounds. First, they see them as a construct of a flawed Westminster system and, secondly, they assert that an independent Scottish Government would do so much better if it had all the financial and economic levers in its own hands. This despite the fact that the devolved Scottish Government has a mixed record (to put it mildly) of success with the levers it already has.

What we need from GERS critics and the Scottish Government is a plan of what the economic and other consequences of independence would be. The last attempt at this was in 2018 with Andrew Wilson's Sustainable Growth Commission but this was quietly binned since it did not come up with answers that were palatable to the cause of independence; indeed it forecast that the first 10 years of independence would be very tough for the Scottish economy.

Perhaps the First Minister could divert some of the many civil servants working on independence to address the crucial aspect of the Scottish economy post-independence. Then we can all make up our minds.

Alan Ramage, Edinburgh.

Case for indy remains hollow

THE Global Financial Services Index of leading financial centres, published in March 2023, ranked New York most highly with London placed second.

It is as a result of the strength of the financial and commercial sectors in London that the tax raised in London and the south-east exceeds the level of public sector expenditure in that region. That excess is shared across all other parts of the United Kingdom and is the reason why the recently published GERS figures show Scotland gained by £19.1 billion. If Scotland were to become an independent country, it would be cutting itself off from this source of funding. This is a problem for those promoting secession.

In response to the GERS figures, Neil Gray, the SNP Cabinet Secretary for Wellbeing Economy, Fair Work and Energy, is quoted as saying an independent Scotland “would have the powers to make different choices, with different budgetary results” ("North Sea revenues help cut public deficit", The Herald, August 17). The problem is that the SNP has consistently failed to spell out what these powers are and what different choices they would make.

At an event in Edinburgh last Monday (August 14), Humza Yousaf, was challenged about the lack of detail in the economic prospectus for independence published by the Scottish Government on October 17 last year. His response was that providing a fully detailed fiscal plan was “definitely something we’re looking at” and “it’s something I am very actively considering”.

While those who are emotionally wedded to independence may be persuaded by arguments that there are other small countries which are successful and that Scotland’s economy suffers as a result of economic mismanagement by Westminster, these, like Mr Gray’s comments, amount to little more than empty rhetoric.

The case for independence remains hollow until a robust economic basis for it has been developed and published.

George Rennie, Inverness.