IT is to be taken for granted that SNP policies are egalitarian, progressive, and internationalist, and that an SNP government is at least more competent than those of other parties. The fact that all of this is lauded at conference is therefore of no significance.

What is hugely significant is what is unsaid. The party’s virtual paralysis on any move towards independence is monstrous, because that is the very reason for its existence. It has adopted May’s mantra – “now is not the time”.

The surrender is reflected in Mike Russell’s statement that a referendum is “not in our gift”, and in other otiose mouthings like “wait for the fog of Brexit to clear”. We are only to advance to a referendum when we’re “sure we can win”. “It’s not the when”, we are told, “but the how”. It might as well be never.

We are urged to “knock on doors and talk to people”. Aside from the sheer emotional drain of such activism, a few moments’ reflection will show that it would take over a decade to cover the country, long before which the whole thing would have gone stale. It’s the same kind of hogwash as the notorious National Conversation, which turned out to be a shameful con-trick on the activists who carried it out.

READ MORE: Mike Russell: SNP must pick the 'right moment' to call indyref2

The mandate (a triple one, remember) is to stop Scotland being dragged out of the EU – not for any form of Brexit. Already, things have been left too late for that to be possible.

It is the height of folly to rely on Brexit to do our work for us. People did not take to the streets after the great crash of 2008, an outrageous fiasco which continues to shrink the average family’s resources by thousands of pounds per year. They are not going to rise up over Brexit, however ghastly, and the Tories (and Labour too, if they get in) will fudge and fudge their way through it.

Not talk, but political action is required, and that consists of two things: a date for a referendum (or an independence election), and a blazing campaign in the run-up. The first is in our gift. Sturgeon should not ask, but demand it of May, with the threat of a Scottish independence election (which could easily be brought about using the terms of the Scotland Act). And the campaign could be won by concentrating on the central issue, namely that within the UK Scotland is not a country.

Supporters of independence want Scotland to be a country, and Unionists do not. Stripped of all extraneous issues, that is the nub of the matter. It should be hammered home loudly and remorselessly. And that being the case, it is irrational and defeatist to allow the struggle to be fought out over this or that detail.

We must accept that only the SNP government can fire the starting gun. Let them master their fear of losing, instead of succumbing to it, and pull that trigger.

Alan Crocket

READ MORE: 'Frustrated’ SNP looking to Nicola Sturgeon to launch Yes push​

IN the midst of the increasing speculation on indyref2, how disappointing and frustrating it is to see the caution and timidity being expressed by some in the SNP and the wider Yes movement. What is particularly galling is that we should still be obsessing about the need for a Section 30 Order, or giving any credence to the notion that this is in the gift of Westminster and requires the approval of any Prime Minister.

I suggested in these pages, many months ago, that Scotland’s Claim of Right trumps any such requirement. The Claim has antecedents going back all the way to 1320 and The Declaration of Arbroath. As recently as July 4 this year, the House of Commons endorsed “the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of government best suited to their needs”. In view of the informality of the constitution, it would seem that this position is every bit as valid as any other. Any talk or suggestion that this route is unofficial or illegitimate deserves only contempt.

For those remaining unconvinced by this course, I also suggested an alternative some months back. We should go into the next available election, whether Holyrood or Westminster, with a clear and explicit manifesto commitment that all votes cast would be counted as support for independence. The election becomes the referendum de facto. There should then be no question of validity or legitimacy and if the result is in our favour then the negotiations for dissolution should commence. It was therefore very encouraging to see Joanna Cherry advocating something similar. It is completely beyond my comprehension that any in the party or any who desire independence should be unconvinced. I can only hope that such doubters do not prevail, although I fear that, as in any successful long-running organisation, complacency and caution may overcome commitment and urgency.

We must make sure it does not!

J F Davidson

READ MORE: Party troops reassured by Sturgeon's indyref2-heavy speech​

READER Martin Geraghty objects to the presence of a “Rangers Fans Yes For Independence” banner at the All Under One Banner event (Letters, October 9). I am not a Rangers fan, but while not convinced that the banner would do any good for the independence cause I don’t see that it would do any harm.

We are all aware of the stereotypical Rangers supporter – Protestant background, follows the Orange Lodge, loyal to Queen and the Union. None of the Rangers fans I know would go anywhere near an Orange Lodge event. Most are neutral about the monarchy and vote Labour. If some of them wish to march for independence with a banner saying they don’t conform to the stereotype, then good on them. I can’t imagine the banner would discourage anyone from voting for independence, but perhaps Mr Geraghty can.

However, there are banners which I think could harm the cause. I have seen Jacobite banners at independence rallies. Indeed, I have seen people dressed as Jacobites. The Jacobites of 1745 were Unionists who wanted to regain the UK monarchy – not to improve the lot of the people but for the wealth and power it brought. I don’t think Scottish independence was part of their plan.

If the independence movement wants to be seen as modern and progressive, then it needs to distance itself from some so-called historical Scottish heroes.

Douglas Morton

READ MORE: Letters: Football colours have no place at Yes marches​

TO throw another tuppence into the independence-supporting Rangers fans debate, it would be valid to speculate that a decent proportion of Govan residents follow that team.

Apart from the residents of Hamilton, it was the sensible people of that domicile who gave us not one but two inroads into the hitherto elusive Central Belt by getting behind SNP candidates in elections. Indeed it can be easily argued that it was Jim Sillars’s November 1988 by-election victory over Labour that sent Labour into a panicked tizzy fit.

A mere six weeks earlier, party leader Neil Kinnock was asked by a journalist during his party’s conference if they had discussed devolution at any fringe meetings. Kinnock, responding with typical Unionist generosity, said: “We didn’t discuss Icelandic weather conditions either”. Suddenly a Saul-like conversion took place and Labour were found running about, arms wide open embracing, then hijacking, the Constitutional Convention. But, all Unionist perfidy aside, it was that Govan event that vividly contributed to the rarefied place we find ourselves in now.

Martin Tierney
via email

READ MORE: Letters, October 10