THURSDAY’S front page featuring the 33 times that the words “Nicola Sturgeon”, “independence”, and “no more referendum” appeared on the Scottish Tories’ recent election letter is an entertaining read but should be seen in the context of Scottish Tory strategy in the 2017 election, well described by Tim Shipman in his book Fall Out (Chapter 23: Political Alchemy, p383).

This strategy was informed by the work of James Kanagasooriam who, between 2014-2018 (according to a recent post on Conservative Home) was Head of Analytics for Populus, where he and his team utilised data science techniques to optimise political campaigning’ to great effect in Ruth Davidson’s successful 2017 election campaign.

Kanagasooriam’s data operation produced a “crucial insight”. Areas that looked like Conservative areas in England & Wales were, in Scotland, shared between the four political parties. Two things emerged from the data: 1) the Scottish Tory vote was scattered and, less surprisingly, 2) temperamentally Tory voters in Scotland overlapped with large numbers who backed the Union in 2014.

They then concluded that rather than run a campaign on bread-and-butter issues they’d be better concentrating purely on promoting the Tories as the main Unionist party and ruthlessly targeting (assisted by their data analysis, which had clearly identified the battleground seats) those constituencies where this message had most resonance.

With perfect logic this involved ruthlessly targeting “Nicola Sturgeon”, “independence” and “no more referendum”.

Meanwhile, and complementing this, the data also identified a demographic overlap between Labour and the SNP which meant they were “engaged in a death-match for the same voters”.

We know that this strategy worked. We know that the Scottish Tories’ success in 2017 is one of the reasons Mrs May is still with us. We can laugh at the Tory letter, and say they are obsessed with the constitution. But we need to be aware of what they’re up to and come up with a better response.

Frances Roberts

THE front page of Thursday’s National skillfully dramatises the irony which pervades the position taken by Ruth Davidson in particular and the Scottish Tories in general.

An obsession is an intrusive thought which often pushes aside more important concerns. So Davidson’s inattention to the imminent Brexit threat is heavily ironic, as she obsesses over Scottish independence. It’s doubly ironic that she uses the word “obsession” as an accusation against the SNP, who are in fact not at all distracted from their day job by a policy which does not meet the criteria for an “obsession”.

And a third, parallel irony is that terms like “ram” and “rip” which she uses against Scottish independence could equally be used against her own party’s Brexit policy ... or obsession!

Derek Ball

WEDNESDAY’S National headline reminded me of cartoonist Shultz’s famous quotes for Lucy. Namely “I’m always right” and “If you can’t be right ... be wrong at the top of your voice”. Ruth was obviously a fan too!

Robin MacLean
Fort Augustus

WE are all too aware of Ruth Davidson’s anti-independence rhetoric, so why give her the publicity on which she thrives? There are many far more deserving issues which should grace the front page of The National.

MD Clark

I MUST admit to being concerned about the inclusion of aluminium cans in Zero Waste Scotland’s recycling initiative (New deposit return scheme will include cans, May 9). Is it really possible to attach a monetary value to a can?

£4.80 to an £8 box of 24 soft drinks? Am I now to abandon my domestic recycling habit because I would be literally throwing money away? A lot of money away? Or if I stupidly did use my recycling bin, should I expect to find my bin upturned in the night by those in search of its contents? Who could blame them.

Being old enough to remember the days of “ginger” bottle return I understand the appeal of a monetary reward for recycling, especially for kids, but I will await with interest to see if the inclusion of can recycling in zero-waste Scotland, as opposed to the current recycling practice, is efficient, practicable or in need of a rethink.

Iona Easton

GREAT to see we are going to have returns for plastic, aluminium and glass products. While Ruth Davidson offers us the dreary same old status quo, the SNP are offering Scotland a cleaner, brighter, happier greener future.

Stevie, Motherwell
via text

REGARDING the letter “Europe must prioritising sustainability and wellbeing over growth” from Nick Meynen et al (Letters, May 9). This should be the strategy of this Scottish Government and future ones.

Shelving the proposed cutting of the Air Passenger Tax is just one step. There are other policy areas that require to be “de-siloed” and an open, inter-disciplinary approach is required.

Reference to the report on the caissons for the Aberdeen harbour development on page 3 of The National on the same day posses similar issues (Caissons prepared for harbour role, May 9). Just how sustainable is it for these giant concrete structures to be manufactured in Spain and towed to Scotland? Should there not be a “sustainability” factor in the tendering process for all national and European contracts?

Willie Oswald