FOLLOWING the 2014 independence referendum, the SNP leadership has chosen not to be honest with its membership and the wider electorate about the limitations of any mandates it could secure regarding holding a second referendum. These could never have been anything more than conditional mandates that would need UK Government agreement before they could be acted upon. The SNP has never been honest on this.

Equally, over the last decade the SNP has used every possible excuse to stir grievance and negativity in its dealings with the UK Government, undermining any chances there might have been for establishing the level of trust and compromise for any such agreement to be reached.

Having backed itself into a corner, Nicola Sturgeon tried to promote the idea of the next General Election being treated as a de facto referendum, with a majority of votes cast in Scotland as the trigger for independence negotiations with the UK. This meant that the SNP would effectively decide what people were voting for at the election. Yet making up a new process without the agreement of anyone else was obviously doomed to failure. It would clearly not satisfy the international community, whose recognition would be critical, due to it not having the necessary legal buy-in of the UK state or indeed a substantial proportion of the people of Scotland not prepared to back the Scottish nationalists.

Humza Yousaf is now supporting a motion to the SNP conference that suggests a version of the de facto referendum idea that is even less credible (“Humza Yousaf says SNP election win would ‘empower’ immediate indy talks”, The Herald, September 15). With some opinion polls indicating momentum is moving against the SNP, he has now taken his predecessor’s bad idea and made it worse by moving the goalposts twice to favour his preferred outcome. Previously he suggested a majority of Scottish votes in the UK General Election would be sufficient to try to force the UK Government to the negotiation table. Now he goes further still and says merely the most seats, meaning just more than the next largest party.

Looking to find a way to spin a declining share of votes as a basis for imposing your will on Scotland might wash with the SNP faithful, but everyone else will surely see it as an act of sheer desperation.

Keith Howell, West Linton.

Memory test for Sturgeon

WE learn that Nicola Sturgeon is to write her memoirs ("Sturgeon sets up firm to handle outside earnings", The Herald, September 14). A "memoir" is defined as "a record of events written by a person having intimate knowledge of them and based on personal observation". This brings into question Ms Sturgeon’s qualification for such a task.

Who can forget her performance at the Salmond Inquiry in 2021, when at least 50 times she answered questions with "I don’t know", "I’m not aware", "I can’t remember", "my memory is vague"? For someone who, in interviews, was always on top of the detail, that was not credible.

But let us give her the benefit of the doubt. Her memoirs will be only a very partial account of her life and time in office, given her inability to remember much important detail when under oath before an important committee. Perhaps she should entitle the resulting very slim volume "I forget".

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh.

MY apologies; I thought Nicola Sturgeon already had experience running a private company where she was the sole director that predominantly dealt with “artistic creation”.

I mean, what else was she doing between 2014 and 2023?

David Bone, Girvan.

Read more: Why would anyone be against reducing harm?

Brown should pressure Starmer

THE sentiments expressed by Gordon Brown on your front page ("I never thought I’d see poverty like this again in my lifetime", The Herald, September 15) should be posted directly to his party leader Sir Keir Starmer. Unfortunately the message from UK Labour regarding poverty gives no hope to those who are suffering. Labour’s message to date sounds as if they have forgotten their founding principle.

Perhaps Mr Brown should be addressing his concerns to those who aspire to lead the country; those who have committed to retaining the two-child cap on benefits, those who have given no commitment to introducing the ground-breaking Scottish Child Payment in other parts of the UK and only this week, no commitment from Labour regarding retaining the triple lock for pensions. Mr Brown's statement that "poverty is the most critical and divisive issue facing Scotland" is correct; however, with a spend in excess of £3 billion in year 2022-23 on mitigating measures to Westminster’s austerity and the cost of living crisis, and with no borrowing powers. the Scottish Government is certainly recognising the urgency of the situation.

Catriona C Clark, Falkirk.

Ferries costing should be simple

I SEE Jim McColl is at it again, asking for a full public inquiry ("McColl calls for full public inquiry into ferry building costs scandal", The Herald, September 14), but if there is then he will surely be one of the key figures in this unholy mess. He is totally complicit in accepting a project his company had not the skills nor experience to deal with.

We do not need a public inquiry as it will fudge the whole issue and cost more millions. What we do need is an examination of the whole project including the contract details by appropriate expert(s). I cannot talk for the shipbuilding industry but considered myself to be fairly competent in my 40 years of surveying the building industry. We use a Scott Schedule which has a fairly simple spreadsheet layout.

You start at the top and write "provide two ferries in accordance with the contract ... £97 million". Then line by line you add (or deduct) "this sum is varied by the written instruction to (for example) ... "provide twin fuel systems ... add £50 million".

At each line the purchaser (assumed to be Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited) is able to append a statement ... "we didn't write that instruction" or "already included in contract Clause xxx" or "accepted".

That way we can get a history of the total cost of the project which would include any time over-run costs etc and who authorised the works.

I could do that for a building contract (and have done) but wonder if there is a naval architect with similar contractual/financial skills that could do this work?

For the public the actual initial nub is "when in heaven's name are we getting the ferries"? Next will be, who authorised that expense?

Ken Mackay, Glasgow.

The Herald: Under-threat libraries should not be regarded as luxuriesUnder-threat libraries should not be regarded as luxuries (Image: PA)

Libraries are an essential service

I NOTE with interest Rosemary Goring's article ("We need to speak up about threat to our libraries", The Herald, September 14). I grew up in Westmoreland Street, Govanhill, known in recent times as "Ground Zero" but thankfully, just like Victoria Road, very much on the turn to the better.

Between the ages of about seven and 14 I spent many hours in Calder Street Library where I discovered Jules Verne, HG Wells, H Rider Haggard and many, many more authors who allowed me to step away into other spheres.

The love of books has stayed with me and indeed when our two children were at primary school, my wife and another mum were responsible for setting up a library in the school by raising money, ordering and arranging books for youngsters who in the main did not have daily contact with the written word.

Andrew Carnegie, who may have had many faults as a person and a businessman, had the foresight to endow libraries all over America and in Great Britain, most of which are still on the go.

We use our own local library in Clarkston every three weeks or so, my habit is to take out six to eight books and decide when I get home which to read. Hopefully these visits are recorded and go towards the retention of our wonderful institutions.

Libraries are not a luxury, they are as essential as food and drink.

Brendan Keenan, Glasgow.

Read more: Do all we can to halt the boats, including stopping the RNLI

A treasure trove of memories

THE last house I inhabited which had a usable attic was on Skye. It had an almost pointed roof which meant the passage round it had to be crawled around, sometimes collecting splinters on the way. There I kept lots of boxes and baskets of "treasures", many of the things left by my late daughter. Things of mine and my late husband's too and an awful lot of that stuff called paraphernalia.

Daniella Theis ("The book of poems that changed me and my mother", The Herald, September 11) reminded me of the times I spent up there digging into those treasures; sometimes great fun but there could be sadness when I dipped into Julie's diaries.

My "Commonplace" books are filled with things to be passed on but are not diaries. There are lots of things cut out of The Herald, including some of the Poems of the Day when we used to have them each day. One day, when I am gone, my granddaughters can look at them and see what it was that kept their granny so busy for years. I hope they are entertained but could sometimes be rather sad. Today the wee death notice from last Saturday's Herald (September 9) has been put into this 12th book. A favourite letter-writer has left us but will always be remembered.

Thelma Edwards, Kelso.

Painful pundits

I APPLAUD Robert Menzies' letter (September 13) bemoaning the lack of quality in sports commentators. My gripe is with Scottish football co-commentators in particular. (I rarely watch English games so can't say if they're the same.) I do not see the need to have co-commentators taking centre stage from the more objective and neutral main commentator and launching into a full-blown sermon of their own while the action continues on the screen. I suspect this is a ploy by the television companies to attract fans of the teams these ex-footballers played for. For the most part, their contribution is superfluous; it simply serves as vehicle for individual opinions to be voiced. I'd use the mute button but I'd lose the background crowd noise which can enhance the viewing experience.

As for the couch pundits, some of whom are the same characters, my annoyance reaches fever pitch when I hear responses to questions which begin with the condescending "Look..." or "Listen...". These fillers are followed by what they consider to be the obvious answers which any sensible person would already know.

Oh, for the days of Graham Speirs and his ilk, who spoke with knowledge, experience, intelligence and a good command of the English language.

John O'Kane, Glasgow.

A nest of rumours

IAN Moir's reference to a plethora of pylons, coupled with derogatory articles elsewhere in today's Herald (September 15) about our current crop of politicians, encouraged me to look at my list of collective nouns, which includes a parliament of owls and a drove of donkeys.

Perhaps a parcel of penguins takes the biscuit. Sorry.

David Miller, Milngavie.