I FIND it generally interesting, and sometimes amusing, when former politicians seek to identify events which, often in their words, “change the course of history” and yesterday’s contribution by Jim Sillars is but another in this long list (The SNP’s 1988 by-election win directly led to the Scottish Parliament ... and then indyref).

In my 13 years as Director of Organisation at SNP HQ, every election contested was considered as a step forward towards the ultimate objective and the Govan by-election in 1988 was, although very significant, but another step.

From the SNPs standpoint, the timing of this by-election was very opportune as it came when the Scottish electorate was starting to realise the consequences of the “poll tax”, on which the party had been campaigning for some time, and it provided the electors with an ideal opportunity to say NO.

Clearly I recognise that the choice of candidate, namely Jim Sillars, was extremely important but, as he said in his article, the result (effectively his election) was a win for Scotland and not for him personally.

However, as Campaign Manager and in control of the by-election funds, my recollection of the events are somewhat different and I can recall, at a by-election campaign meeting on October 23 1988, chaired by Alex Salmond (all noted in my diaries), making it quite clear that unless the name of the party and its logo appeared on future campaign literature and posters, I was simply NOT going to pay for any such publications.

So, whilst Jim is now very self-effacing, what was happening at the time was somewhat different.

Alan McKinney

READ MORE: How the SNP's 1988 Govan by-election win led to devolution and the indyref​

THERE is a Brexit earthquake coming and Scotland is sitting on top of the epicentre.

If the Yes movement thinks the last four years have been tough, methinks we need to brace ourselves for the change in the political landscape that will emerge in the wake of The Deal, or rather The

Deal that isn’t a deal. For sure, it will be spun as a deal and an administration that has been hitherto consumed by Brexit will be free to turn its full force against the rebellious Scots in the truest of vindictive Westminster fashion.

As Yes activists will know, we have not been idle in these last four years since indyref, and social media has played a vital part in keeping the faith. Facebook discussions and a host of other sources have never swayed from the independence goal. Throughout, they have kept us informed of Westminster underhandedness, shared information on the true picture of Scotland’s economic strengths, debated currency alternatives and economic planning, explored the various Scandinavian euro models and hosted numerous discussions on a whole host of indy topics. Yes, there have even been a few arguments, but never have we lost sight of the main objective and never before have we been better informed of the possibilities that independence brings.

For me, however, the social media exchanges have done something which I consider to be of primary importance. They have allowed us to support each other through four hellish years of Brexit turmoil and consequently our resolve is undiminished.

When the Brexit fault line fractures we must be ready to withstand the shockwaves and remain standing. We can no longer allow ourselves to be drawn into sideshow discussions that divert us from our goal. Now more that ever, we need to focus on targeting the No and Don’t Know voters to support them through their journey from No to Yes by sharing our positive vision and our values for an independent Scotland.

In conclusion, to borrow from Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp, it is now time to move the emphasis of our social media contributions from winning arguments to winning votes.

Despite apparent differences, opposing people often have common values and the strength of our case lies not where we differ but where those values are the same.

Iain Jack

AFTER reading Andrew Tickell’s piece in Sunday’s National (The bigots use Neil Lennon as a surrogate victim for their sectarianism, November 4)

I thought someone should point out that the “Hang Neil Lennon” maroon graffiti in Russell Road is on a route leading directly to McLeod Street and Tynecastle stadium, a route used exclusively by Hibs fans in recent times to approach their part of the stadium on Edinburgh derby days.

Facing the other end of Russell Road is the Roseburn Bar, where Leigh Griffiths was filmed delivering his Refugee Song in “honour” of Rudi Skacel, an act which had a section of the Celtic support rail against him for a time.

I agree with Neil Lennon in saying black people used to be hanged in America, we know that, but what’s his point? Some of those unfortunates might well have been hanged by Irish white Americans or Scots white Americans. Would that make it better or worse?

As for the future, it will be interesting to see the technical area arrangements at the next Tynecastle derby, or Easter Road for that matter. Here’s hoping for a peaceful future.

If I may turn to D Gill’s letter in Monday’s National, according to the writer Tynecastle is “full of shame”. So did he hear the section of Hibs fans sing their ditty during the derby about Craig Levein’s recent health scare ? Has he heard them still on about Wallace Mercer? Does nastiness have to have a label or a specific home? Call it racism, sectarianism, gingerism, rottenism or whatever you like. It doesn’t matter what or where the source is, it’s all disgusting and hurtful and so unnecessary, but if you ask me, in order to stop it, you’ll have to change the very basic nature of some people, people from around every club and section of society.


READ MORE: Bigots use Neil Lennon as a surrogate victim for sectarianism​