SNP MP Dr Philippa Whitford adds her name to the ever-growing list of Westminster nationalists abandoning ship. However, the irony in her stated reasons for going cannot be ignored ("Whitford stands down calling out contempt towards SNP MPs as ‘the norm’", The Herald, July 19). She names Boris Johnson as the cause with an increase in aggression and contempt for SNP MPs with the comment that “his toxic legacy remains”.

Might I suggest she looks just a little closer to home? She might like to reflect that Nicola Sturgeon was found to have misled the Scottish Parliament and was arrested for questioning as part of a police investigation. She might like to reflect on the SNP Westminster MP and the Holyrood MSP who breached sexual misconduct policy and failed to meet the behavioural standards required respectively.

She might like to reflect on the recently-leaked WhatsApp messages from Elena Whitman, SNP MSP, when referring to Angus Robertson noting “Angus in Cabinet – the ego has landed” or perhaps her comment on Shona Robison, the SNP's deputy leader, that “she is a bit of a cold fish” ("SNP minister apologises after criticising colleagues in WhatsApp leak", heraldscotland, July 18). She might like to reflect on the suspension from the Westminster party of Angus MacNeil MP who had the temerity to launch a withering attack on the leadership of Nicola Sturgeon and her failure to progress the cause of independence.

It is abundantly clear why Dr Whitford is running for the exit and no amount of spin or deflection can hide the ever-increasing toxicity levels within her own party.

Richard Allison, Edinburgh.

If only more were like Ewing

HE may not be everyone’s cup of tea and he is certainly not mine on most matters, but Fergus Ewing’s stand on the A9 upgrading as promised by his party many years ago and then abandoned, or at least kicked into the very long grass, is admirable ("Fergus Ewing sets A9 ultimatum for First Minister: 'dual or resign'", heraldscotland, July 19). If it had a few more with the same integrity perhaps the SNP would not be imploding before our very eyes.

Honesty is still the best policy and the rest of the SNP has no conception of that simple fact.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.

Dangerously Unspun

TOM Gordon really must take more care with his columns. Just look at his most recent Unspun contribution ("In such tired and constrained environs... who will be next to lash out?", The Herald, July 18): “Some MSPs are gifted public speakers, some are Shona Robisons” and then again “Nor is it controversial to detect an out-sized ego swelling within Angus Robertson. As I’m sure the constitution secretary would agree, it’s a side-effect of towering genius.”

It is one thing to ridicule the fraying of a political party at its edges, never mind the collapse of its centre, but to put at risk the health and welfare of his readers is surely a step too far.

Has he no regard to the sensibilities of his readers? Is the man bereft of mercy? Any more of this and we will all die laughing.

Bob Scott, Drymen.

Yousaf must drop this idea

NORMALLY when you are deep in debt it is a good idea to reconsider your spending pattern. Once you are in the Scottish Government then the reverse is true.

Scotland's debt burden is unsustainable, even when taxing the middle classes into oblivion. Why then is Humza Yousaf even vaguely considering having Scotland host the Commonwealth Games in 2026 ("Scotland could 'save' Commonwealth Games", The Herald, July 19)?

There is an answer: 2026 is also the year of the next scheduled Holyrood election. Given the amount of publicity that the Saltire will receive, as these are the only games with Scotland represented as an "independent" country, this can only be seen as a boost to the political party most associated with it. Cynical? Perhaps, but when you have no money, why seek another bottomless pit?

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow.

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Dangerous step for democracy

TRYING to ban Scottish civil servants from working on one of the key policies on which the Scottish Government was elected ("UK Government confirms probe into Scottish Government indy spend", The Herald, July 19) is a very dangerous political route to go down in any democracy. One can only assume that unionists do not want to hear the facts on independence or make economic comparisons with our nearest independent neighbours.

At a time when the UK national debt is £2,300 billion, Westminster has failed to publish the Whole of Government Accounts for the years 2020-21 and 2021-22 which is the only publication by the Government that provides a true and fair view of the Government's debt. The delay must also cast doubt on the validity of the annual GERS figures. By contrast, the Republic of Ireland, without oil revenues or Scotland’s vast energy resources, announced a budget surplus of £7 billion for 2022.

Although health care is means tested in Ireland, the lower-paid and single pensioners over 70 earning £474 a week or less, or a couple on up to £905 a week, receive a medical card that entitles them to free healthcare. The basic Irish state pension is £220 a week compared to £203 in the UK and the average annual salary in the UK is £31,447 whereas it is £39,000 in Ireland. Inflation in Ireland is currently running at 6.1 per cent compared to 7.9% in the UK.

Irish citizens live a year longer than the UK average and are far more likely to describe their personal health as good. Fewer are in poverty and have far lower levels of income inequality. Their media is deemed far freer. As part of the EU, Ireland has built a well-working, modern republic that delivers for its citizens. Why not Scotland?

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh.

Apply the laws universally

I THINK Peter A Russell (Letters, July 19) is being somewhat pedantic when he accuses me of misunderstanding the Belfast Agreement. For a start I said it was a reserved matter – ie, not within the remit of the people to choose. Nor did I suggest that it was a right as he claims but rather it’s an option that is available. This would be the opposite of a categorical ban on holding a Scottish referendum until 100 years had elapsed.

The point I was making was: what is the justification for having different criteria for holding a referendum in different parts of the country, especially when holding referenda is a reserved matter? The whole purpose of a unitary state is that its laws are applied universally unless devolved. If an independence vote looks like succeeding in Scotland does he believe the Secretary of State for Scotland should allow it in line with his counterpart in Northern Ireland? If not, then why not?

Robert Menzies, Falkirk.

Read more: Labour MSPs risk snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

What's the point of Labour?

SIR Keir Starmer is currently mimicking a Tory tribute act for the following reasons; 1, 40% of the UK population live in the south of England, and they overwhelmingly vote Tory. That’s why Thatcher could win three elections, without caring about anywhere north of Watford.

2, The lowest social class in England has the highest percentage of Tory voters (43%). Unbelievable for most Scots, but true nonetheless.

3, English pensioners always vote, and always vote Tory.

4, The first thing Tony Blair did when he succeeded John Smith as Labour leader was to go cap in hand to Rupert Murdoch to beg for his Sun newspaper to support New Labour. The Sun decides UK elections; just ask Neil Kinnock.

Despite the UK debt now exceeding 100% of GDP, personal taxation at the highest rate since 1945, an absolutely heinous immigration policy, next to no GDP growth for the foreseeable future, painful interest rates, rampant inflation, a disastrous Brexit and more, Labour’s healthy lead in the polls will narrow significantly once the right-wing media get to work next year.

Sir Keir should be grasping the nettle with a radical manifesto that includes changing the UK election system, rejoining the EU, re-instating family allowance for every child, increasing universal benefits, increasing higher tax rates, and other socially inclusive policies. Of course, he will never do this, as he calculates it would be electoral suicide. And he’s right.

So the question for the Scottish Labour diehards, even if Sir Keir Starmer does manage to scrape home next year, and this is far from certain, is: what is the point of a Labour government in name only?

John McFadyen, East Kilbride.