ASSUMING, as we must, that Pete Wishart is not entirely delighted at having been appointed poster-boy for the uglier fringes of anti-democratic One Nation British Nationalism, he will doubtless be glad of the succour offered by Andrew Tickell (Sturgeon must show post-Brexit case for indy, April 6). The veteran SNP MP will surely be aware that there’s precious little support for his call to inaction across the Yes movement.

Having trained as a lawyer, Andrew Tickell will probably be aware of the Latin term argumentum ad verecundiam. The rest of us may be more familiar with the English translation argument from authority, or appeal to authority.

Pete Wishart’s public intervention is helpful, not least because his description of the lie of the land better reflects the ambivalent conversations between independence supporters you hear behind closed doors than the noisy certainties which dominate pro-indy debates in public about where Nicola Sturgeon should turn from here.

I don’t doubt that this reflects Andrew’s experience. But, despite his derisive dismissal of alternative accounts as noisy certainties, there is no reason to suppose that his experience is any more valid or representative of reality than, say, my own. I have no way of knowing the extent of his eavesdropping on conversations between independence supporters. For all I know, he may devote an inordinate amount of time to this pursuit. It may well be that these overheard conversation really were as ambivalent as he claims. He may consider that he has amassed sufficient evidence to justify his conclusion. But is it sufficient to satisfy those whose minds are open to alternative accounts?

In recent months I have travelled all over Scotland meeting and talking with individuals and groups from just about every part of the Yes movement. I found very little sign of the ambivalence to which Andrew refers. On the contrary, and despite my expectations, these conversations between independence supporters revealed a calm, considered confidence that a new referendum in September 2018 is advisable or essential or both.

Just as Andrew’s argument from the unverifiable authority of unquantified private conversations among unidentified independence supporters isn’t quite as conclusive as he might wish us to believe, so Pete Wishart’s exclusive claim to pragmatism isn’t finding the unquestioning acceptance he seems to think it deserves. The implication that those who reject his appeal to inertia are being impractical, or overly emotional, is actually quite offensive. The people I speak to aren’t driven by mindless nationalistic fervour. They are at least as capable of rationally assessing the political situation as Pete Wishart is.

Speaking to voters on the doorsteps in his Perth and North Perthshire constituency may give Pete Wishart some insight. But there is no reason to suppose this trumps insights gained by talking to people in Troon and Thurso and Elgin and Lerwick and Glasgow and Portree and Dunfermline. And Pete Wishart’s preference for indefinitely deferring a new independence referendum is finding very little favour in any of those places.

Peter A Bell

I REFER to the incredible letter from Kenneth McRae (Letters, April 6). Mr McRae seems a bit short on facts. Russia has under the aegis of Putin invaded Georgia and the Ukraine. Russia seized the Crimea from Ukraine and took over a Georgian province – this was done by might alone and was in international law illegal. Further to this Putin has been trying covertly to take over Ukraine’s eastern province, arming and assisting the insurgents there.

Were Mr McRae to study he would understand the reason why there is currently a Russian majority in the Crimea; it goes back to Stalin. As regards Putin, this is a completely unreconstructed and unrepentant NKVD colonel who would dearly like to annexe the Baltic states and would do so at a drop of the hat were they not members of Nato.

Russia under Putin is a rogue state and must be treated as such. No amount of trendy lefty thinking can change that.

R Mill Irving
Gifford, East Lothian

HIGH-HANDEDNESS hardly suits the UK and US in their accusations against Russia as the culprit for the nerve gas incident in Salisbury. Here are two countries whose duplicity in international politics is near enough a trademark in their foreign policy.

Iraq is only one instance: their governments well enough knew that there were no weapons of mass destruction at Saddam Hussein’s disposal and that the accusation was a mere excuse to displace the secular rule of Saddam with a compliant puppet regime of their making. Had the alleged WMDs been there, no invasion would have happened.

Likewise in Ukraine, the meddling particularly by America was obvious to anybody except those prone to believe such vassal media outlets as Britain’s BBC and similar. The Crimeans saw through the duplicity and not surprisingly preferred alignment with Russia rather than with a compromised Kiev administration. Nobody in the Western mainstream media bothers to report present-day events in Kiev, probably because the situation there is too messy to relate, with Georgia’s ex-ruler Saakasvili becoming mixed up in events there and leading a revolt against the president Poroshenko, who was the US protege leader.

In the same way that we are no longer treated to headlines about events in Ukraine we hear nothing about Abkhazia, which after acquiring independent status on the expiry of the Soviet Union was invaded by Georgia then later liberated by Russia. Maybe events have either become too complicated for some mainstream Western media to comprehend, or else they prefer to forget what turned out to be failures in US-UK foreign policy. Such forgetting will be repeated no doubt when eventually the Salisbury-Skripal incident has sufficient light shed on it.

Ian Johnstone