IT increasingly appears that the primary objective of management and staff at the BBC’s Reporting Scotland news programme is to persistently exploit issues arising in Scotland’s NHS in a seemingly deliberate attempt to undermine the SNP-led Scottish Government.

Hardly a day passes without another lead story on another NHS issue that one of BBC Scotland’s team of dedicated reporters has revealed.

Of course the NHS is a huge organisation which by its very nature is confronted with massive numbers of incidents every day, many of them life-threatening, but compare this to the number of stories around the even larger NHS in England on the one o’clock, six o’clock and 10 o’clock news programmes, and it is evident that BBC News for the rest of the UK is directed according to a different agenda.

Where is the balance? For every “bad news story” relating to Scotland’s health and social care services there are probably 10 or more “good news stories” occurring every day, in spite of our ageing population and real-term cuts in spending imposed by Westminster. Yet, our intrepid reporters at the BBC rarely seem to be capable of discovering anything positive to say about Scotland’s NHS which statistics attest performs better overall than the NHS in England or Wales.

Progress Scotland under the guidance of Angus Robertson has apparently started to have a positive impact and there has been an increase in appearances this month of SNP MPs on the Daily Politics show. But the fact that these appearances are often only for a short period during the show, with the time allowed to speak strictly limited by the host presenter in comparison with the total time allowed for Conservative politicians (often two Tory MPs in addition to a right-wing media representative on the same show), indicates that the BBC still has a long way to go to achieve anything like a semblance of political balance, especially for Scottish audiences.

That said, in the few minutes that Dr Philippa Whitford was recently confronted with Andrew Neil’s “cross-examination” of the SNP’s position on Brexit and Scotland’s future relationship with the EU, she succinctly destroyed both his slanted argument against freedom of movement for Scotland and his mischievous proposition of the creation of a so-called hard border between England and Scotland. He stated “Carlisle and Berwick”, which suggests either that Neil truly is out of touch or he interestingly thinks Berwick will be governed by the Scottish Parliament when Scotland achieves self-determination.

Stan Grodynski

AS an 88-year-old SNP member who lived in South Africa during the last few years of Nelson Mandela’s imprisonment, I have to ask those who supported the release of Mandela to ask themselves if he had been alive today, would he have spoken up in support of Julian Assange? I am sure that he would have in no uncertain way.

As a Scot who has lived through the many years of – not all justified but continuous – wars that have plagued this planet since WW2, including the Malayan campaign where I served as an 18 year old National Service man, I support people like Julian Assange who have the guts to stand up for freedom of speech on behalf of people like me.

All I ask is that the Scottish Government make very clear their disapproval of what is happening to Assange. I am sure it is not the kind of Scotland we would want to inherit from the UK when we get Sexit from their realm in the not too distant future.

Dave Beveridge

I WAS not fortunate enough to play an active role in the independence referendum of 2014 but from an external perspective it was evident how much of an issue the question of currency was for the Yes campaign and how much of an advantage it provided for those who opposed independence.

The referendum of 2014 was dominated by an eternal battle between hearts and minds, between stability and ambition and between the status quo and real, meaningful change.

In the later stages of that campaign the issue of currency was utilised by the likes of Alistair Darling to strike fear into the hearts of undecided voters by building upon the fear of the unknown which the No campaign had developed over the years leading up to September 2014. In polling stations across the country, hundreds of thousands of voters experienced an internal battle between hearts and minds.

The reality is, though, that neither side of the argument was able to declare a victory in both realms.

Going into the next campaign, we need to be able to unite people’s logical understanding of the issues with the perhaps more abstract feelings of hope and ambition.

As a movement, we have a duty and a responsibility to deliver an independent Scotland which strives to promote stability and security for the people of Scotland. The last few years have demonstrated what can go wrong when politicians play politics with people’s lives. An independent Scotland cannot and must not make the same mistake.

The motion being put forward by Keith Brown and Derek Mackay at the SNP’s spring conference plants us firmly on this ground by setting out a clear framework for the establishment of a currency while recognising the complexity of the journey to reach that point.

The proposal being put forward at this conference safeguards the financial security of people across Scotland who need to pay mortgages, buy the weekly shop and put fuel in their car by setting out a deliverable policy on currency fit for an independent Scotland.

Furthermore, it also allows for a much easier process of negotiation. Confusion and uncertainty over currency is not in the interest of Scotland or the rest of the UK. Scotland is and will continue to be a major trading partner for the UK. Having a sensible plan on currency will allow the UK and Scotland to deliver an independence which does not harm the economy or stability of either state.

I have become acutely aware of differing opinions that exist around the issue of currency. This is something that we, as a movement, must welcome and encourage. However, there comes a point when we must agree a strategy and stick to it. I have far too much faith in the Yes movement to think that we would allow division which has developed within the Labour or Conservative parties to find a place among us.

Therefore, following the decision that is taken at SNP conference, we need to move on and begin to give a platform to the other key issues which will allow us to put forward a coherent and deliverable plan for independence.

Going into the next referendum, we have an opportunity to reach out to the voters to unite hearts and minds in support of a new nation which has fairness, respect, internationalism and equality at its very heart.

The referendum of 2014 and the aftermath of the Brexit referendum has shown us that voters in Scotland share one basic urge: an urge for stability. We were unable to deliver that in 2014 but Brexit has now taken it away entirely and shown that the UK is anything but “strong and stable”.

In the next campaign, we need to show we are serious about protecting people’s future which in turn will create a more prosperous and brighter future Scotland.

John Cumming
Convener of YSI

Glasgow HAVING read all the letters in The National regarding currency I am clearly not smart enough to chap doors to try and convince people the benefits of Scottish independence – I would suspect that the majority of activists aren’t experts on currency.

Does this mean we shouldn’t bother? How many countries that gained their independence from British rule gave it a thought? I can’t imagine that on the eve of the Easter Rising that James Connolly or Patrick Pierce were arguing about currency.

It is clear to me that there is a plan and it is well documented. But at the end of the day many theories will be hashed out and ultimately the Scottish government will agree on a solution.

If you put 5 economists into a room and ask them to solve a problem you will get 5 different answers. The public, having watched the British performance over the past two years, probably think we need take no lessons from them.

Bryan Auchterlonie Perthshire EVEN if revocation of Article 50 is the outcome of Westminster’s tragic farce, independence for Scotland is essential.

The uncertainty caused by the 2016 referendum will now always be with us because Brexiteers are determined that the UK will leave no matter the cost. They will pursue this objective relentlessly forever, so no-one can ever be sure what the future is going to be. This uncertainty will deter investors both here and abroad. Migrant workers will be reluctant to come to a UK which is hostile towards them, with the economic effect that will damage many industries.

The Conservative and Labour parties are basically two sides of the same coin as voting patterns in Parliament have shown, and on Brexit both are split regarding a solution. Unless a no-deal Brexit happens, it seems inevitable that anti-EU parties will harvest new supporters in all future elections, and every so often chaos will erupt again.

If we want stability and a secure future in Scotland, the only option is independence.

Richard Walthew

THE results from the Israeli elections are in. As predicted, it’s dire. It appears that Benjamin Netanyahu will build a coalition to give him another term as prime minister, which will be even more extreme in pursuing Israel’s brutal occupation, apartheid policies, illegal settlement-building and even annexation.

Overt racism and shameless fear-mongering won at the polls. Instead of having a genuine conversation about the future, candidates boasted about the number of Palestinians they have killed, and of sending Gaza back to the Stone Age. They called for beheadings and joked about being fascists. And that was all before Netanyahu’s outrageous announcement that he was prepared to annex the West Bank.

Of course, we already knew the limits of Israeli “democracy” – complete disenfranchisement of 4.5 million Palestinians under Israeli control in the West Bank and Gaza, and the refusal since the founding of the state to include any Palestinian-led political parties in a governing coalition.

Palestinians should be free, and it is our responsibility as people from all communities to create the conditions where that can happen. The coming weeks are going to be intense. We can’t take the threat of annexation lightly. We need to expect ongoing attacks on freedom here and there. And we should assume the US administration will cheer it all on.

This new Netanyahu government will think that they have total impunity. We need to boycott Israel and encourage our politicians not to support the new extremist government and their friend Donald Trump.

B McKenna