THE way Willie Rennie et al insist that the public are weary of the ongoing focus on constitutional matters, including Scottish independence, you’d think the latter was some kind of rarified subject for nerdy Nats and academic discourse – a distraction from the “real” issues affecting people’s day-to-day lives.

When it comes to the question of independence, it suits Unionist politicians to make such assertions, of course, because they’re perfectly happy with, and doing very nicely from, the status quo – and they canny hack their “precious Union” boat being rocked!

For those of us who are indy supporters, it can be fair scunnering to hear such mince spouted ad nauseum – especially when we consider some of the heinous things foisted on Scotland as a result of us being part of the UK; for example, poll after poll over the years has shown that the majority of folk in Scotland don’t want nuclear weapons, yet we have weapons of mass destruction on our doorstep by virtue of the fact that we’re part of the UK.

Turning to more day-to-day concerns: the Scottish Government are having to pay millions every year in order to mitigate the under-occupation penalty aka the bedroom tax; we have growing numbers of people experiencing food poverty/food insecurity, and people having to choose between heating or eating, many of them as a result of the piecemeal dismantling of the social security safety net via the notorious work-capability assessments, the flawed-by-design Universal Credit, savage benefit sanctions, the rape clause, the benefit cap, the ongoing benefit freeze now in its fourth year, etc, etc. All this by virtue of the fact that under the current constitutional arrangements we have these vicious policies inflicted on our communities and our country by successive Westminster governments Scotland didn’t vote for.

Willie Rennie frequently raises concerns in the Scottish Parliament regarding support for people experiencing mental health difficulties – a perfectly laudable thing to do; however, he never seems to take cognizance of the fact that the deliberate erosion of the safety net under the auspices of so-called “austerity”, something his UK-wide party helped the Tories deliver in Scotland as elsewhere, is a major contributory factor in the deterioration of people’s mental (and physical) health.

In suggesting that the campaign for Scottish independence is a distraction from the “real” matters of concern to people, it’s Unionists like Willie Rennie who are the ones trying to deflect people’s attention from just how pernicious being part of the UK is to our people and our country. We need to counter this by highlighting the impact of the constitutional democratic deficit on the bread-and-butter issues affecting people’s daily lives – of which there are countless examples!
Mo Maclean

I WAS very interested in your feature “A woman who changed history” about Winnie Ewing in the Seven Days supplement on October 27.

In November 1967 I was either branch chairman or just newsletter editor of Peterhead branch, I cannot remember exactly when I became chairman. In any event I sent a telegram on behalf of the branch, which said “The eyes of Scotland are upon you and our hearts are with you” – slightly melodramatic, but true!

We knew something about Winnie as our branch secretary had heard her at the SNP conference in Edinburgh that year so we had high hopes. I did not try to put any money on her as I had tried to do that for George Leslie in the Pollock by-election to be told: “Nah nah, min, I dinna ken onything aboot politicians – jist aboot horses!”

The National: Winnie EwingWinnie Ewing

The first time we in the north-east saw Winnie was at the Aberdeen conference in 1968; she was wearing a pink trouser suit, and as she came down the stairs she positively radiated – it was an experience I had never had before nor since.

She lost the seat in 1970, as anticipated, but Donald Stewart won the Western Isles at that election. Since then the SNP have always had representation at Westminster.

Winnie had even more influence on my life; after losing her seat the SNP had her recruiting candidates. I had been happily working away as a branch and constituency chairman, when she collared me at one National Council. “Jim Lynch! Why are you not on the candidates’ list.” Clever Dick, I responded “Winnie, many things I would do for Scotland, but to hell with going to live in London”. She said “I had to do it – what makes you so good?”

I was flattered, but when I mentioned it to my wife she said: “I married a cost clerk in Keiller’s – not a budding MP.”

Anyway, I filled in the forms, got vetted, and stood four times for Westminster, twice in Edinburgh North in 1974, in Central Fife in 1979 and in Dundee West in 1983. I then decided to concentrate on earning a living.

That challenge from Winnie really dominated my life, right until the present – I am now 85, and while not physically active I keep plugging away in the press.

She served in all three Parliaments – Westminster for Hamilton, then in Moray, then in the European one where she was known as Madame Ecosse, and finally in the Scottish Parliament where she opened it with: “The Scottish Parliament, adjourned on 25th March 1707, is hereby reconvened.”

Today’s SNP, and Scotland, owe her a tremendous debt Jim Lynch Edinburgh THE SNP must be the party of positivity. Analysis of the success of the “Vote Leave” campaign showed that people are attracted to positive messages and are turned off by negative ones. Hence the victory of “Take back control” over the list of negative outcomes resulting from Brexit offered by the Remain campaign. Recall the success of Barack Obama’s campaign mantra, “Yes we can”. People are drawn to positive slogans and affirmations which offer them hope of a better future.

In this election the SNP must provide a positive slogan. A message that sticks in the mind. Words that encapsulate the SNP’s blueprint for the future – only then can they outline EXACTLY, point by point, how the lives of the people will improve if they vote SNP. No generalisations. Specifics. Climate change is of great concern to many people. A new climate protection industry could be announced bringing together many disciplines. This would provide work for many people from scientists and engineers to the cleaners and canteen workers who support them in their work. A new electric car production industry could be forged. This would be even more helpful if their factories were placed in areas of high unemployment. We could build our own pharmaceutical industry to provide affordable medication rather than be at the mercy of American manufacturers. Can we do this? Yes we can.

IT is perhaps perverse to suggest that if this UK Tory government hadn’t existed, those seeking independence, would have had to invent it, but it’s true.

When considering silo working, partnership working and integrated working, these can be seen to be not only distinctly different in what outcomes they can deliver, but they have very different productivity rates, and have varying levels of sustainability. In political terms they might well be reflected by the government executive, the parliament and the parliament committees.

At the heart of these three types of working lies information control, where information is controlled at its most draconian for silo working, so as to deny access to information that may enable alternate views to be developed. Partnership working which only avoids the denial of information at the final delivery stage, and integrated working that enables freely available information at the conceptual stage.

It is unfortunate for the people of the UK, that the UK government executive chose to further subdivide its own executive along these three lines as well. The result is that after three years, a simple withdrawal agreement to facilitate EU future trade arrangements has not been adequately progressed. The UK quite rightly is now required to have a General Election to rectify this UK Government executive failure.

It’s not simply that the UK Government chose silo working as its preferred mode of working, but that it doubled down on denying information, by adding misinformation to its official databases and figures, rendering partnership working difficult and integrated working almost impossible.

In response and in contrast, the focus of the Scottish Government executive has been to instigate a Citizens’ Assembly which by its very nature opens up the data for discussion and reference at the outset, that the Scottish Government executive, and the Scottish Parliament and its committees, may then utilise at the conceptual stage.

An independent Scotland will therefore be hugely reliant upon the Citizens’ Assembly to generate general support for fundamentally honest national governance, and to bring the divided viewpoints of Yes/No to at least some degree of consensus. The UK Government branch parties currently appear at best lukewarm over its existence, which is only to be expected.

Once again, it is the gratuitous duplicity of UK Tory governments, and their fellow travellers, that have quite unintentionally generated a sustainable way forward for the improved governance of the people of an independent Scotland. The examples of poor substandard governance may well exist for some time in the rUK after Yes2, but it will be important to enable the Citizens’ Assembly to further develop for the future and not be wholly reliant upon continued rUK democratic failures.
Stephen Tingle
Greater Glasgow

DECEMBER 12 is now the defining date for Scotland, the European Union and the United Kingdom. Unlike the divided Unionist parties, let the direct message of the SNP on Brexit and independence guide Scotland in its final Westminster election.

The brilliant and hard-working MPs of the SNP who have constantly spoken up for Scotland and tolerated the rudeness and insults of the Unionists, as opposed to the silent Scottish Tory and Labour MPs, deserve our support and a substantial increase in their numbers.

In this third Westminster General Election in just four years, these MPs have worked tirelessly for all their constituents, yet always with the pressure of another election campaign pending due to the continuing Tory party division.

With independence at the very heart of this election, Scotland deserves better than this continuing Brexit uncertainty by a hopelessly split Tory Party in the grip of increasing right-wing English nationalism.
Grant Frazer