KATHLEEN Nutt ("Arrests, rows, issues in government, so why does SNP still top polls?", September 24) asks some pertinent questions, but the answers may not be difficult to find.

For those who support a self-governing Scotland there is no alternative to the SNP, and the three Unionist parties operating in Scotland have abandoned previous commitments to enhancing and entrenching devolution. Nor is the electorate stupid: context and perspective show Scotland performing at least as well as any other UK administration.

But Scottish Labour will be relieved at the polling stats as it has grossly over-promised over the years. It pledges more doctors, nurses, teachers even though Scotland, per capita, has more than Tory England and Labour Wales (and all better paid).

Labour has criticised the spending provision of the Scottish Government on every issue, from local government to housing, waiting lists, dentistry, roads, nurseries, universities, taxation and pretty well every responsibility devolved to Holyrood. But Labour “commitments” would have it spending much more money while raising a lot less. Sorry, but that is not serious politics.

Labour also has a by-election candidate who is “in step” with the party leadership while disagreeing with all their policies. Is this even possible?

GR Weir, Ochiltree.

Stop the empty virtue-signalling

THE SNP/Green coalition running the ever-shakier administration here in Scotland simply wallows in virtue-signalling.

Nothing of importance, ever, is thought through. Thus you have the group that has supervised Scotland failing to meet any of its climate targets lecturing and attempting to score points over the UK Government adjusting what is generally regarded in Europe and elsewhere to be an unattainable time scale for Net Zero. In any case, the UK adjustment merely moves it more in line with the EU, which I thought the SNP/Greens would welcome.

Every single project the SNP touches, without exception, fails. It is once again Reverse-Midas syndrome. No-one, anywhere, with any sense, would listen to a single word it has to say on anything.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.

Read more: Rosebank move just piles on the agony for Scotland

Just what is the case for indy?

RUTH Wishart's article ("Urgency is key to convince ‘softer’ unionists on indy", September 24) is a tired exposition of the case for Scottish independence and offers no enticement for the “softer” unionists to be persuaded that Scottish independence is a good idea.

I do not believe her claim that the UK treats the Scots with disdain and contempt is entirely accurate. For example, the UK Government currently provides a family of four in Scotland with an extra £6k per annum via the Barnett Formula over and above what similar families in England receive and which the nation would automatically lose following independence.

There is no mention of a Scottish currency.

There is the usual insistence that the SNP’s hands are tied because so many levers of power are controlled by the UK Parliament, conveniently ignoring the fact that the SNP has governed the nation for 16 years with absolute control over the NHS, education and the economy and it performance in each sphere of activity has been utterly appalling.

As a supporter of Scottish independence, it would help if Ms Wishart provided a proposal which makes it clear to the Scottish public what benefits the nation would accrue from independence.

This pile of waffle adds nothing to the case for Scottish independence.

Dr Jim Hay, Menstrie.

Strikes could have been averted

THE Scottish Government could have stopped this week's school strikes going ahead as it did with the teachers by finding the cash to settle the dispute instead of spending loads of taxpayers' money on pursuing the dead duck of independence.

Many of the support workers in our schools are on the poorest rates of pay and are struggling with high energy bills and rising prices, often being forced to use food banks to get by.

It is not surprising that the SNP is fast losing support. It has completely lost the plot.

Dennis Forbes Grattan, Aberdeen.

Down in the mouth over dentists

IVEN the impact that poor dental care can have on one's general health, it's a matter of great concern that patients in some regions of Scotland are having to wait a year for NHS dental treatment.

Covid certainly had an effect on the provision of dental treatment throughout the UK, but even before that NHS dentists were turning to providing only private treatment as it was more lucrative than being in the government scheme.

I am fortunate in being with an excellent NHS dentist but I feel for those who have no access to NHS treatment and can't afford to go private. The Scottish Government alludes to its £1 billion recovery plan but it's like drawing teeth trying to find out if it's having any success at all.

Bob MacDougall, Kippen.

Read more:  Food banks and children freezing: who will rescue Rutherglen?

Crack down on migrant charities

HOME Secretary Suella Braverman correctly said not to treat Channel boat migrants as refugees. More than 110,000 have landed on our shores since 2018.

She also warned that unrestricted immigration poses an "existential challenge" for the West and could lead to our way of life being erased. They are not refugees but economic migrants who travelled through Europe, ignoring numerous safe havens where they should have claimed asylum to cross the Channel. The vast majority on these boats are fit young men who pay large sums of money to traffickers, with a few women and children to get the sympathy vote.

Migrants know that it is highly unlikely they will be deported since migrant charities and migrant lawyers keep the appeals process going and going and going. These Channel chancers are after the UK's NHS, welfare benefits and free housing.

There is a quick solution. All pro-migrant charities should lose their charitable status. Why should our taxes be given to those charities who want to allow migrants to flood our NHS, welfare and housing? Migrant-chasing lawyers should only be paid legal aid fees once and this would stop them making numerous unwarranted appeals and thus halt rightful deportation.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow.

Rushing through wind farm plans

IT has been announced that the Scottish Government is cutting the planning process for onshore wind farms to 12 months. It's a surprise move since most of the existing applications can't get a grid connection for several years.

Why the rush? With National Planning Framework 4 and now this easing of the planning process, Scotland is the wind developers' paradise.

How can we plan to reach net zero using such an intermittent and unreliable source of energy? Throwing up more turbines isn't the answer.

What is going on and who will be held accountable? This will be a huge clean-up headache for future generations.

Alison Jarman, Chesters, Roxburghshire.

Make parks more girl-friendly

I AM writing in response to Make Space for Girls' new Parkwatch report which for the first time reveals the full extent of how teenage girls are designed out of parks.

Parkwatch was a citizen science project where we asked people to go to their local park and count who was using the teenage facilities, and how many of these were girls. We got more than 250 counts from across the country, giving us the first ever data on who uses the teenage facilities in our parks.

The results are quite shocking. Over 90% of those using the most commonly-provided teenage facilities in parks are boys and young men. Girls and young women are left with nowhere to go.

This is a problem which has been hiding in plain sight for a long time. The vast majority of what we provide in parks for teenagers are skate parks, BMX tracks and fenced pitches for football and basketball. Our research demonstrates for the first time that these are used 90% by men and boys, which means that girls don’t feel safe or that they belong.

This inequality has a whole range of impacts. Girls don’t feel that they are meant to be outdoors, or that they are part of the community, and this has an impact on both their physical and mental well-being. We know that girls are less active than boys – but is that surprising when they don’t have places to be active in? And it’s proven that access to parks and nature is really good for the mental health of young people, so in a world where girls are three times more likely to have a problem than boys, getting them into parks should be a priority for everyone.

So we’re recommending that councils look at their provision and see if it really does meet the needs of teenage girls. A broader range of facilities need to be built, which are more inclusive for everyone. And most of all, they need to talk to teenage girls themselves, to find out what they really want.

We know that councils are short of money right now, but a lot of the facilities that teenage girls would like to see - swings, social seating and trampolines for example - are actually cheaper than the facilities that they currently provide.

And we also know that no one has created this situation deliberately. But now we understand just how much teenage girls are designed out of public spaces, we can’t go back. If there is one message that we take from the Parkwatch report, this has to be that it’s time for a change.

Susannah Walker, Co-Founder, Make Space for Girls, Frome, Somerset.