Neil Mackay (“The SNP must now offer a vision”, The Herald, September 19) rightly points out the myriad of problems that the SNP and its leadership currently face.

However, he maintains that the party’s waning support can be bolstered by encouraging Scottish voters to look beyond the debate about referendums and process. This is a dangerous path to travel. Scots should be wary of being blinded by the snake-oil salesmen of the SNP promoting a “1,000-watt vision” of independence.

The nationalists will desperately try to encourage voters to jump on the bandwagon of false promises to catch the gravy train that will transport them to the sunny uplands of Brigadoon where the grass is always greener.

Unfortunately, as Neil Mackay does point out, the separatists have not addressed the fundamental practical issues of independence.

It’s not just the insurmountable problems of currency and borders, but Scotland’s existing crippling fiscal and trade deficits.

In the short to medium term, the fiscal deficit can only be reduced by increasing revenue (taxes) and cutting expenditure (public spending). This would inevitably lead to Tory-max austerity. In the longer term, investment in the economy would be needed but where would that come from? Borrowing with a weakening currency? International investment while outside the EU and UK?

Scotland’s negative trade or balance of payments deficit is even more of a problem. Although Scotland exports more than it imports internationally, over 60% of trade is with the rest of the UK and that is in even greater deficit. This would lead to a drain on any foreign exchange reserves that a (currently non-existent) central bank would have, with dire consequences for the value of a Scottish currency.

A seceded Scottish Government could accept the inevitable devaluation of the currency and impose import controls and duties. This would reduce the choice of goods and foodstuffs in the shops and increase prices.

The nationalists consistently avoid addressing these issues because they know the answers would be unacceptable to Scots voters.

James Quinn, Lanark

Stay true to EU principles

Brian Wilson writes that "Words have become very cheap in Scottish politics and commitments are discarded without a backwards glance" (The Herald, September 19). Well, Mr Wilson should know, he discarded a few himself, particularly with regard to nuclear weapons.

Mr Wilson is fulsome in his praise of Sir Keir Starmer, highlighting Sir Keir's visit to President Marcon of France when he is to talk about "working more closely with EU partners"; similar frothy talk is heard from the Tories, but if Sir Keir "campaigned vigorously against Brexit" why can't the man stay true to his principles and campaign vigorously to return to the EU, especially given the damage Brexit is doing to Scotland and the UK?

Of course, Brexit is not the only instance of Sir Keir u-turning; abolishing tuition fees, nationalisation of certain public services, green prosperity plan, all abandoned or watered down. And nothing but waffle after Sir Keir caused outrage when he admitted that Labour is "not changing" the Tory policy regarding the two-child benefit cap.

So, Mr Wilson is right; commitments are being discarded without a backward glance. Vote Labour, and you get Tory.

Ruth Marr, Stirling

A badge of failure for Truss

I hear Liz Truss, briefly Prime Minister of the UK, is revisiting the notion that the Tories are perceived as the "nasty party". Not, it seems, to deny the proposition, but to amplify it and seek support for it. She urges our current Prime Minister to cut taxes and benefits and to haud back on measures to reduce global warming.

So, if I get it: rich get richer, poor get poorer and let the planet burn. She ought to try selling badges with that slogan. Who's going to be the first to wear one?

AJ Clarence, Prestwick

Money spent on the wrong priority

The administration running our affairs in Scotland has taken the decision to fight the UK government in court. They have no chance of winning their appeal regarding their ill-prepared and basically flawed Gender Reform Recognition Bill case and everyone and their dog knows it. But they have painted themselves into a corner and will not accept their new law was not thought through and many eminent legal minds considered it to be putting women and girls in danger.

And so, to save face and, more importantly, cause more grievance with the UK Government and perhaps bring the Holy Grail of separation closer, they are prepared to pay hundreds of thousands of our taxes on a patently unwinnable case. Money that could be used to help alleviate the drugs deaths tragedy unique to Scotland and poverty on our streets will instead be blown on the fees of top lawyers. There is a good argument, as well, that there are many in the SNP who were far from happy with the GRR bill anyway.

But these matters will not change the SNP’s direction of travel or induce clearer, pragmatic thinking. Ironically, it is this way of thinking that prevents any real separatist advance and we on the pro-UK side should be grateful for it.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

Who’s paying the Tory bills?

Herald columnist Mark Smith (“The Scots who will be forced to vote Conservative,” The Herald, September 19) in his convoluted theory wishes for a fairer voting system, but admits it will not come about via a Tory Government, but he will still vote Conservative.

He freely admits he is right of centre and has voted Conservative several times in the past; surely then he cannot feel the comfort of a warm glow if Labour win the next General Election.

I wonder if Mark might contemplate where the funding came from for the glossy full-colour A3 leaflet, not delivered by volunteers but by Royal Mail at some cost, in this early Conservative bid by Martin Dowey to become a Westminster MP for Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock.

Is it just possible the expense of this early bid to become a Conservative MP was funded by the widely acknowledged lobbyists and Tory party funders via 55 Tufton St, London, or via the secret contributors who donate through the Private Members Carlton Club again based in London?

The UK under the Tories will never reform the current unfair first-past-the-post voting system, or accept a written constitution, not forgetting the wholly undemocratic House of Lords. Perhaps a column on the secret overseas funders of the Tory party and what they hope to gain might be more worthy of Mark Smith’s talents.

Alec Oattes, Ayr

Critical questions on oil and gas

It is incredible that a First Minister of Scotland could accuse Western leaders of “catastrophic negligence over climate change” when he appears unaware that China, a country in the East, is the biggest polluter in the planet. Hence, before he acts to ensure “Scotland is no longer the oil and gas capital of Europe” (The Herald, September 19) Humza Yousaf should provide answers for the people of Scotland to the following questions.

First, why does the SNP Energy Plan require 85GW of generation capacity to meet a maximum 2045 demand of only 20GW? Surely scrapping the 60GW of solar/wind units and trust that the 25GW of gas turbines will keep the lights on is a better policy to minimise consumer debt over repaying for 60GW of capacity that will be surplus to requirements especially if the sub-sea cables being manufactured at Hunterston mean England will be powered by electricity from North Africa and will not require power from Scotland.

The second question is what is the SNP estimate of the Constraint Payment Nill arising from 60Gw of solar/wind units and will English consumers continue to cover 92% of the cost?

The final question is why the refusal of a Holyrood Parliament to site any solar/wind units on the Pentland, Sidlaw and Kilpatrick Hills to minimise grid line losses in transferring the power to the people?

Ian Moir, Castle Douglas