WHAT a splendidly articulate and inspiring article by Andrew Wilson, just when we needed it most (We need to put the question when the Scottish people are ready to answer, January 31). How well he sums up all our hopes and aspiration, as well as our fears and frustrations.

There is no denying the rising tension within the indy movement, whether at grass-roots level or within the SNP, and whilst I agree with Andrew on the negative aspects of an untimely charge ahead, I feel it is entirely understandable that some people are near breaking point and are expressing themselves in perhaps less than favourable terms. Andrew is quite correct in that we will have to cool our jets when we enter the campaign proper, but I do feel that Nicola Sturgeon must act decisively to cool the jets now.

Personally, I would dearly love to press ahead before the EU withdrawal deadline. But I know that I am not in a position to second guess Nicola Sturgeon, nor is she in a position to second guess the insanity that now passes for responsible governance in a parliament that is no longer fit for purpose. But what I would like to see, is what I think indy supporters are crying out for. What I mean by that, is a distinct shift in the political agenda. This, I believe, would help divert the focus of the polling organisations and reconfigure the debate where we want it.

What we need now is to be given a direction to follow, and I can only hope that Nicola can find a way to inspire indy supporters with a single sense of purpose. I see nothing wrong with a withdrawal of all our elected representatives to Holyrood, so that we can at least have a civilised debate on the constitutional implications of Brexit and try to give indy supporters a better insight into our legal options.

Goodness knows, we have to make sense of this mess somehow, and at some point. So it might as well be now.
Iain Jack

MR Wilson – there is another old saying: “Carpe Diem!” I feel as though I am on a five-car train. We are headed full tilt towards a bridge over a huge chasm. The bridge is out but the maniacal train conductor and the first four cars think their train is so special that if they go at it fast enough they can defy gravity and span the gap (and, hey! If the last car gets jostled around a bit – who cares – it’s only Scotland).

Meanwhile, we are all sitting in the back car genuinely panicked by what is about to happen. The folk in the front of the last car that have the ability to pull the pin are smiling at us and saying, “Oh let’s wait and see what they do”. We scream back: “For God’s sake – PULL THE PIN!” All this in spite of the ugly taunts and insults they can see through the glass of the other car.

I don’t know who these people are that you refer to: Yes voters turned to No – I know of none like this. Nor do I know of anyone who is unclear on this subject. I do, however, know of No voters who have turned to Yes, and in doing so are the more militant of us as they feel betrayed. One of the easiest ways to lose is to underestimate your enemy. After the Continuity Bill was passed that should have been the catalyst to call a vote. It went unanswered! Also, the civil servants have already admitted that they are only a sixth of the way through the legislation coming back from the EU, and state that they are at least eight years out from being finished, thereby allowing Westminster to abscond with even more of our powers, exposing us to fracking and heavens knows what all else. The time isn’t just now – it was yesterday. Prevaricators like yourself will get us in a trap from which there is no way out. Once the Scottish Parliament is closed we are dead!
Julia McConoughey-Shields
Argyll Alternatives, Campbeltown

THE monotonous repetition of Theresa May’s claim that Westminster is protective of the interests of the whole of the UK has equally monotonously been again exposed as a naked untruth. Referring to the conduct of the Tory members’ behaviour during the recent proceedings in the House, it is absolutely clear that Scotland’s Scottish National Party members will continue to be subjected, with the obvious approval of the Government benches, to a pattern of outright hostility which cannot possibly afford them an effective or even a decent hearing.

Not only has the leader of the third largest party in the House been in the recent past told to “sit down young man” or to ”go back to Skye”, but he has also been told to “ fu*k off”. It was also noticeable that during this week’s debate the speeches made by SNP members were made to a chamber denuded of members, except for a very few real parliamentarians – a chamber which patently has no interest whatsoever in anything from the SNP benches. It was the fact also that the SNP leader’s Amendment was completely ignored in the voting lobbies by more than 50% of members, who abstained. These instances are the factual measure of the worth of Theresa May’s fatuous claim, as are the now forgotten promises of “belonging to this family of nations”.

Scotland’s interests are not being protected, or even given an honest hearing by Westminster, and there is no evidence that that “policy” is about to change. Scottish independence is the one and only remedy available to a country which wants and deserves a system which can provide proper, fair government for its people by its people. It cannot come soon enough!

J Hamilton Bearsden BIT of a disappointment to read what appeared to be negativity and looking back from Dr Jim Cuthbert in The National (Marginal tax gap is another failure of ‘Fiscal Flodden’ ... and a big driver for independence, January 31).

Reading between the lines, he appears to be downplaying that the Scottish Government can now set out a fairer, simpler and more inclusive tax system of the future. Future Scottish Parliaments (subject to the devolution of other taxes), or indyref2 delivering a Yes vote, could enable such changes.

The Tory/Ukip UK Government cutting taxes for the wealthy, then cutting services for all society, including the most vulnerable, effectively pretty much defines UK austerity, and its tax system.

Currently the combined Scotland/UK taxation rates appear to be 0%, 30%, 50%, 70% or thereabouts, if grossly simplified, and inclusive of employer contributions, etc. Such large banding steps do seem to be somewhat dated and at odds with the economy of today and of the future.

There are no easy answers to tax system changes, as some will obviously gain, and some will obviously lose, but the prize is for the cumulative gains, both direct and indirect, to be perceived to mitigate those individual losses/gains.

Perhaps Dr Jim Cuthbert could return to this issue with a view to again describe the total tax rates effectively faced by individuals and how they are and could be differently banded. If he could also show such cumulations with the addition of pension contributions both direct and indirect, and what he would consider to be a reasonable timeframe for the amalgamation of such taxes, possibly inclusive of pension contributions, I am sure this would be most helpful.
Stephen Tingle
Greater Glasgow

ANYONE with any grasp of recent history knows that a government or individuals who stand in the way of American corporations getting their hands on a country’s resources will be taken down if possible by any means necessary, and US proxies put in their place.

That is the scenario now being played out in Venezuela. They tried a coup in 2002 to bring down Hugo Chavez, which only failed due to his popularity and the people pouring on to the streets when he was imprisoned. From the time Chavez was elected and the oil nationalised for the benefit of the poor of Venezuela and the country as a whole, they have been employing every dirty trick they can, with the help of the Venezuelan oligarchs, to destabilise the country and bring in a right-wing government that will denationalise the oil to allow its exploitation by US oil companies.

Apart from economic war through sanctions and seizure of the country’s overseas assets to ensure internal hardship and division, the proven strategy of employing a compliant western media and political class for a propaganda campaign to discredit and vilify the government has been rolled out to soften public opinion for whatever further actions are necessary to achieve their ends, including military intervention.

We know that New Labour were part of that compliant and opportunist political class, as demonstrated by Blair and his followers who have blood on their hands with their grovelling complicity in the destruction of Iraq and Libya, but we thought things might be different under Corbyn. Instead, he has shown himself to be too weak to stand up to the Blairite right wingers who are clearly still in control of the party. But, to hear SNP voices joining in the right-wing chorus of support for the overthrow of the Venezuelan Government comes as a shock, particularly when they should know better, having had a taste albeit insignificant compared to the Venezuelan Government of the forces that will be rolled out against you should you challenge hegemonic power.

Are they unaware that the greater part of their constituency have the savvy to see the complete hypocrisy and anti-democratic nature of what is afoot in Venezuela, and would have wanted them to take a principled stand and show solidarity with the besieged government? If they continue on this track they will be viewed as mere political opportunists, and the struggle for independence will be badly damaged. Let’s hope that other voices in the SNP will come forward quickly to express support for the elected government of Venezuela and condemn the coup plotters, otherwise they may also end up with blood on their hands and be politically bankrupt.
Gerald Kavanagh B Arch
via email

THE offer by the “Scottish” LibDems to “work” with the Scottish Government on the budget if the SNP dropped plans for an independence referendum was petulant and childish. While they say a referendum five years ago was, final Willie Rennie is demanding a re-run of the Brexit referendum just over two years ago.

This party finished fifth at the last Holyrood election. As such, they are only slightly less relevant in Scotland than Ukip. When they were in coalition with the Tories at Westminster, they traded an increase in a plastic bag tax in England for a tightening up of benefit sanctions.

As for the other two Unionist parties, they are as silly and as intransigent as the LibDems. The Tories have cut the Scottish Government grant by 9.3% since 2010. They and their media allies consistently lie about this, aided by the Labour party.

As for Labour, their ideological commitment to PFI in the first few years of Holyrood has the left the Scottish Government with an annual toxic debt of £1 billion to the fat cats.

The Unionist parties have shown yet again they offer nothing other than fake anger, empty posturing and opposing independence. These jokers are doing serious harm to Scotland.
Alan Hinnrichs