IN October 2014 my husband and I travelled with a tour group by rail from London to Catalonia in Spain. Prior to leaving Scotland I asked my husband to avoid any discussion of independence with the rest of the group, which consisted mainly of English travellers. This was mainly because I still felt so disappointed by the referendum result.

On the Paris-to-Figures leg of the journey we were allocated seats beside two elderly ladies from Cumbria. I had just sat down when one of the ladies observing my Scottish newspaper enquired if I was a Scot. When I said I was, she stated that she expected I had voted No in the referendum. Ignoring the advice I had given to my husband, I said indeed I had not. I had voted Yes to independence.

Thereafter I was subjected to a torrent of abuse about Scotland and the Scots. Both ladies referred to our “arrogant” politicians and in essence gave the well-worn arguments about Scotland being too small, too poor and too stupid to manage on our own. The whole carriage could hear what was being said.

I politely tried to counter each of their arguments and after a considerable time I ended the discussion by suggesting that for many Scots, one of the main reasons for wanting independence is to have the freedom to build a society free from the kind of prejudice that I was experiencing from them. One of the ladies got up and sat on a free seat further along the carriage; the other sat for a while in silence and then took out a crossword.

After a while she invited me and my husband to help her with the crossword. We completed the crossword with the help of fellow

EU French and Spanish travellers who had joined in helping with clues. Her companion returned and quietly sat down.

During our stay in Catalonia my husband and I frequently accompanied these aged ladies when they required extra help to get about. When we parted at the end of the tour, one thanked us warmly for our friendship and invited us to visit her in Cumbria.

I often reflect on this experience as I watch our MPs in Westminster. The level of abuse that they have to endure from the Tory benches is quite shocking. The example Theresa May sets when replying to Ian Blackford and other politicians of opposing parties is unacceptable. She never answers a simple question with a direct answer. She is disrespectful and hectoring. What an example to give to her MPs, many of whom are all too ready to be bullying and nasty to the SNP Scottish contingent.

Thankfully the SNP group has conducted themselves extremely well in the face of this disrespect. I am extremely proud of them for their forbearance.

Even at this late stage I would advise the Prime Minister to carefully consider what she is doing. Many Scots, of all political persuasions, like me will be appalled at the treatment of our SNP members at Westminster. Her actions, and those of some of her Tory ministers, MPs and MSPs will never be forgotten. When this sorry Brexit saga is ended, things will never be the same again. However, when I reflect back to my train journey I realise that efforts can be made to change behaviour and form respectful friendships. May I suggest to Theresa May that inclusion, harmony and hospitality is the way to go, starting with an invitation to all the party leaders in Westminster to join in the talks to resolve the Brexit saga.

I Gibson

I FEAR the political myopia of the Finance Secretary, and the current SNP leadership, over their lack of critical analysis on the weak points of the Yes campaign pre-2014 will lead them inevitably to make the same mistakes again.

It is salutary to recall that in the months leading up to the 2014 referendum only the SNP, in glorious isolation, held to the view that a shared currency with Westminster was credible and possible. The convener of the Yes campaign, Dennis Canavan; the Greens; the SSP; and former members of the SNP leadership team in the 1980s (Gordon Wilson, Jim Sillars, and Jim Fairlie) all cautioned against the shared currency option. They were proved right.

It was not that the option was not possible. It was entirely correct to try and be consensual and reasonable. However, the day Chancellor George Osborne announced that a shared currency was not an option was the day when the policy lost all credibility, with both the wider Yes campaign and the voters.

The Finance Secretary’s “optimal point of change” sounds almost metaphysical in its vagueness, but for the fact that it is far clearer to explain the changes of, say, transubstantiation, than it is this nebulous concept of “optimal point of change”.

Not to mention the elephant in the room, which is: if these six hypothetical tests set by the Finance Secretary’s motion to SNP conference, on proceeding to a separate Scottish currency, are never met, does this mean a Scottish currency is postponed indefinitely?

Cllr Andy Doig (Independent)
Renfrewshire Council

THE front page of Sunday’s National depicts the Maypole in terpsichorean mode, leading her cronies and Corbyn in the conga. Has she realised it takes two to tango? If so, no more poll-dancing – the last dance beckons: a ladies’ choice for the elimination waltz and she’s finally invited Corbyn.

Will they feel they’re Better Together in this danse macabre, or should they stick to limbo dancing on their own?

James Stevenson

ADVICE for those who like to leave their copy of The National lying to be picked up and read: despite the excellence of the layout, don’t leave it front page up. Instead, have it open at the racing card or football pages (great for the pub!) or any of the feature pages, especially TV and music. These are more likely to get the paper into the hands of the as yet unconvinced.

Jack Foley