RUTH Marr (Letters, October 10) contends that the re-election of the SNP is "something to do with its policies". Indeed, she is correct in that they are mostly giveaway and were seen as a tactical route to independence in a short period. That period has now extended to the point where their true cost has finally caught up and we are seeing cuts in the NHS that the country is railing against, cuts in the police that are seeing them sell off properties to finance their role and at the Station Hotel fire in Ayr where an access ladder was no longer available from the local station and the duty one took 20 minutes to come from Kilmarnock. It broke down and a further 35 minutes was lost in sourcing a unit from Castlemilk in Glasgow.

While the SNP fiddles, Ayr burns.

Ms Marr also hails the poll by the Tony Blair Institute showing the SNP in the lead for independence. She supports Tony Blair? Most of us know about this past master of economy with the truth and non-existent weapons of mass destruction, but Ms Marr should read the whole report of the institute, which is not good reading for the SNP. The poll was also carried out by Opinium, who "offer generous rewards for participating in our research. You can claim your reward in whatever way makes most sense for you." Hardly a random sample.

Ms Marr also fails to tell us that the poll was dated September 12 and showed a highly suspect swing of 20% from most of the previous polls that were averaging 6% in favour of the Union. The previous but one poll was carried out by Find out now/Independent Voices and when originally posted showed 45% for independence, 41% against but this has now been republished as 44% for and 44% against, a tie. Why was it reworked? Why was the link to the Independence Facebook account hailing the result removed?

Since Ms Marr's much-hailed, month-old "new poll" there have been two more published in the past five days which have followed the mathematical trend of a 6% lead for the Union.

It is nice to be up to date, don't you agree?

Peter Wright, West Kilbride.

Read more: The SNP must not abandon its founding principles

Party must get back to basics

THE recent difficulties of the SNP are so clear and well known that Kevin McKenna’s claim that the SNP has killed independence ("Independence is over - killed by the SNP - and it breaks my heart", The Herald, October 10) must appear obvious, but he fails to observe that support for independence remains relatively solid.

His claim that “once you’ve been persuaded of the case for independence there’s no going back to the Unionist cause” is supported by 10 opinion polls published since July 1, all reporting a higher level of support for Yes than in 2014, if we remove “don’t knows”. This makes it clear, paraphrasing Mark Twain, that "rumours of independence’s death have been much exaggerated”. What though has gone wrong in the SNP? McKenna’s focuses on “a malevolent coterie” in the SNP who opted “for elitist self-indulgence: the smacking ban”; and all the other parts of the woke agenda, rather than “devise and shape policies that might have improved the lives of those living in the poorest neighbourhoods”. Robert Kuttner makes a similar point in “Can Democracy Survive Global Capitalism?” when he writes that “any party that wants to vocally champion the rights of transgender people to choose their own bathrooms had also better redouble its efforts on behalf of wage-earning people generally, or it will be entrusted by the voter to do neither”.

Of course, in many regards this is unfair, as Catriona Clark (Letters, October 10) emphasises, enumerating “progressive taxation, no tuition fees for Scottish students, free prescriptions and the game-changing Scottish Child Payment”. However, how much would the heat generated by the trans debate rather than socially just policies dominate their word cloud, just as bafflement dominated Sir Keir Starmer’s word cloud on Sunday? The Labour Party seems set on continuing much of the present Westminster Government’s policy of disregarding devolution whenever expedient (using Section 35 irrespective of Holyrood majority votes; election of mayors on the English model; direct funding of devolved matters from Westminster) in order to destabilise and devalue devolution. It is therefore particularly important for the SNP, working collaboratively with the wider Yes movement, to re-energise our current Yes vote by demonstrating absolute determination to achieving independence in order to realise the “better, fairer Scotland” promised in 2014.

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.

What happened to our money?

RICHARD Allison (Letters, October 10) is understandably taking the recent by-election as the end for independence. But it is all based on a very biased assessment of the SNP. I'll be clear, it has its faults, but not the usual lists trotted out by supporters of the UK.

Could Mr Allison actually answer the following case against the Union?

Since the 1970s, Scotland's contribution to UK wealth has been huge. Where's the world-class infrastructure that one would expect from such wealth? The answer is one, the resources to pay for it largely ended up in the pockets of the multinationals that were given control of the gas and oil, and two, in the world-class infrastructure around London and the south-east, as the UK Government used what little money was left to fund the transformation of the UK economy to a service-based economy, centre on London.

If Scotland stays in the UK, will not the same thing happen to the green potential of Scotland?

Why has Scotland remained undeveloped, running a deficit? Can I take it that future UK plans involve using this green windfall to develop Scotland and eliminate the deficit?

Iain Cope, Glasgow.

Read more: 'Scotland is watching' Starmer tells UK as he launches bid for power

What will we get from Labour?

NOW that we have heard the Labour Party's bold predictions of a return to power in Scotland, and "through Scotland" onward to greater power at Westminster, it's time for it to put flesh on the bones of its plans for Scotland quickly. Clearly, Labour sees Scotland as crucial, and there could be a General Election within a very few months, so this must be a priority.

Here is what I want to see, and hopefully others will agree: no tuition fees for students; free prescriptions for all; continuation of baby boxes; encouragement for use of public transport by making it free to all; progressive taxation (which would require me to pay a bit more).

Some of this already exists under the SNP, so I would accept a pledge just to continue them, but perhaps others, especially Labour and Tory voters, will make it clear to Labour through your pages, just what it is they want from the next Labour government at Holyrood. But we need to start this process now, not just wait until after the upcoming General Election.

John Jamieson, Ayr.

BBC showing its bias

LABOUR politicians and supporters must be delighted with the BBC Politics Live programme, which is currently broadcasting from their party conference in Liverpool. The temporary studio which has been set up in the venue carries a large backdrop behind the panellists which screams the message “Britain’s Future” above the Labour logo. Compare this to the same programme backdrop at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester last week which consisted of a window with an outside view of trees and a large white tent.

The question of BBC bias is once again blatantly in evidence.

Christopher H Jones, Giffnock.

Peace is lost for decades

IT was unwise of Green MSP Maggie Chapman to endorse a tweet denying that the Hamas attack on Israel was terrorism (“Anger at Green MSP’s ‘vile’ tweet on Hamas”, The Herald, October 10). Of course the attack was terrorism, pure, simple and evil. However, I’m reminded of something Peter Ustinov said: “Terrorism is the war of the poor; war is the terrorism of the rich.”

The vast majority of the inhabitants of Gaza aren’t terrorists, they’re just ordinary people trying to provide food, clothing and shelter for their families in very difficult circumstances. I hate to think of the terror that innocent women, men and children must be experiencing as the Israeli Air Force drops hundreds of powerful bombs near to them, and the desperation they must feel now that Israel has imposed a blockade on food, power and medicine.

And that is just the start: it looks like Israel intends a ground invasion that will destroy much of the infrastructure and reduce Gaza to rubble. That may satisfy the desire for revenge and it may reduce the risk of terrorist attacks for a few years; but it will leave a legacy of bitterness that will endure for decades and ensure there will be no peace in the Middle East in the years ahead.

Doug Maughan, Dunblane.