AS we progress steadily and gratefully into stage two of the Scottish Government’s progress through the coronavirus outbreak, several very important things stand out.

Firstly, the excellent performance through it all of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. I have just watched her daily statement on television on Wednesday, when she spoke continuously for just over half an hour without a single interruption to the flow. No coughs, stumbles or any other impediments to clear exact information, no hand-waving circus act to distract the audience, as is all too often seen in the output from the London press announcements. Excellent. We have a First Minister who is hugely respected around the world. Where does that leave our progress towards independence?

Firstly, and most urgently, the FM should find a little time to create and send off to the EU in Brussels, before the end of the month, an official request from the Scottish Government for an extension to the consultation period for two years. I am aware that this will have no legal basis, coming as it would from the Scottish Government, but it would stand us in good stead in the EU.

Onwards then, post-virus. But what next exactly? We have never been in a better position. To build a good and prosperous Scotland in which we and all our future generations can live in peaceful and prosperous conditions, what do we need to do? Become independent!

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Right now I am saddened by the number of good people who still talk, in these pages as well as in other places, of the possibility of having, or not having, a future Section 30 referendum. Please everyone accept the fact that there is not going to be another Section 30 referendum – ever. It just isn’t going to happen. Some other route has to be found. A referendum could be held by the Scottish Government at any time – this would be declared of no value and possibly even illegal by Westminster, but could still be worthwhile.

The obvious alternative would be to ensure that the 2021 Holyrood elections do the work of a referendum and get our result that way. Even after a successful vote, assuming that was achieved, there would be no co-operation from London. We will then be into the route through the legal system, courts, withdrawal from the Treaty of Union, or even as a last resort some form of UDI.

The one certainty in all of this is that independence is the only way the people of Scotland can have the power to make the changes to our way of life and society which are needed. Look at the list of things that will be needed post-virus. The London-centric banking interests would never in a million years allow any of this.

The establishment of a universal basic income; reform of the system of basic housing availability to eliminate homelessness; setting up a fair system of dealing with refugees and other similarly disadvantaged people and the handling of such cases brought in house to government agencies and not big businesses; the setting up of a rent-control system for all letting properties to prevent exploitation; change in the law so that owners who are unable to continue with mortgage payments are not evicted, but are allowed to continue occupation as rent-paying tenants for a period of time; clear listing of ownership of all land and property in Scotland and requirement that all should have Scottish listed addresses and tax liability availability; future requirement that all land in Scotland over a relatively small size, say maybe a few hundred acres, shall only be sold to Scottish or bona fide Scottish companies; take over, by compulsory purchase if necessary, of derelict sites and long-empty buildings which are being “held” by companies as “investment” sites; complete removal from the nuclear armament scene.

Meantime, I hope that the powers that be in Edinburgh are progressing the work necessary to ensure that all the aspects of successful financial and banking requirements which will be necessary upon independence will be in place – including currency – ready to go at the touch of a button. Do not think that it will however be easy – the Westminster bubble will employ every dirty trick in the book to try and destabilise progress.

Can I end this by congratulating the Unionist enthusiasts who managed to summon up enough strength to vandalise and partly remove the “vote SNP” sign from my property a few nights ago. I am sure they must feel a sense of achievement, as indeed do I when I realise how much grief its existence must have given them.

George M Mitchell

SO the ever-cautious First Minister says it’s too early to open beer gardens and other such customer-focused businesses.

Haven’t we got to trust people that they’ve got the Covid message? They understand what’s required and can put it in place to protect customers and staff alike?

Having worked throughout the pandemic in retail, with best available protection provided, no reported cases among my colleagues and no reported record of infection from supermarket shopping to my knowledge, shouldn’t we be trusted to judge for ourselves?

And wouldn’t testing and track and trace deal with any inadvertent outbreak, particularly as the NHS is said to be dealing effectively with admissions? Surely we’re not going to have to wait for slam dunk certainty before we re-open the economy and our lives?

Wouldn’t that serve little purpose other than to trash our economy further and drive us crazy?

Aren’t we all yearning to get back to life and herald the lifting of the emergency powers?

Jim Taylor

AS the dust from this deadly virus starts to clear, many Yes groups are starting to think about when and how to return to active campaigning. This may involve placing orders with printing, banner making or other firms.

At the same time, as we come out of lockdown many of us will be hiring tradespeople, buying cars, clothes and other goods. A well-deserved holiday may be on the horizon. How do we prevent plans being exposed and funds being rechannelled to Unionism?

Could The National set aside some space, if only one day a week, for small ads at reasonable prices for small pro-independence traders to advertise? It would help us all do our bit to lift our country out of recession.

Ian Richmond
Dumfries and Galloway

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THANK you for identifying Loyalist activists more accurately. The sectarianism involved is always dodged. To misquote a title Young, Gifted And Black (Bob and Marcia 1970), “Gay, Foreign, RC” sums up the focus of hatred encapsulated in certain loyalties.

I have never seen any high level of outrage by the mainstream media against obvious race/religious hate behaviour here in Scotland. When the Loyalists invaded George Square post-indyref 014, I watched in disbelief as the cameras stopped showing events whilst Jackie Bird said “Oh we don’t want to see that” or some similar sentiment. They were carrying Union flags. Had it been Saltires, would we have witnessed the blackout?

And if that was the reaction to indy defeat, may our Gods help us when we secure victory.

Margaret Clarke
via email

TIM Tams will now be tariff-free from one side of the world to the other – Australia to the UK – for which tariff-free Marmite will be allowed to travel across the world in the other direction.

The requirements to repackage chlorinated chicken, hormone-reared beef and crated pork to ensure such USA products are labelled as “British”, is unsurprisingly not headline news, nor are the consequential Scottish border requirements being necessary to retain a farming sector in Scotland.

Closer to home it has been declared by the UK Government that any text within a written and nationally agreed treaty can be simply ignored, without further recourse to the UK Parliament, as can any nationally government-agreed political declaration. It is in effect the UK Government declaring universal independence from the UK Parliament.

So, put simply, the levels of self-determination and sovereignty that Scotland requires, whether republic or monarchy will not be negotiated in good faith by the Government of the United Kingdom, as it has no grasp of the fundamental meanings of truth, integrity and honesty.

We appear to have reached the stage where Scotland needs to vote in the Holyrood 2021 elections with a proviso that if there is a pro-independence majority in Parliament, then the elected Scottish Government and its then universally declared independent Parliament of Scotland will invite the UK Government to make any necessary interim arrangements.

Indyref2 will still be required but after the Holyrood 2021 elections and will probably be more focused upon whether Scotland should be a monarchy or republic and whether it should be an EU nation.

Stephen Tingle
Greater Glasgow

YOUR right-wing columnist Michael Fry’s spirited defence of the political legacy of his biographical hero Henry Dundas has prompted some interesting responses from some of your readers, illustrating that he was indeed a controversial character.

To date most comment has focused on his alleged support for or opposition to the slave trade, but I wonder if Michael would agree with me that at least in a purely Scottish context his main claim to fame – or rather infamy – was his staunch ideological opposition to the activities of the infant Scottish Radical movement of the 1790s, Friends of the People founded by Thomas Muir, the true father of Scottish democracy.

With the support of his nephew, Robert Dundas, then Lord Advocate, Henry was able to orchestrate the arrest and trial on sedition charges of Muir as well as some other leading lights, who along with Muir are commemorated in a 90ft monument erected in 1844 on the nearby Calton Hill – perhaps as a belated response to the earlier Dundas monument erected in belated response to the earlier Dundas Monument erected in St Andrew’s Square in 1821.

I suspect that despite Michael Fry’s efforts the majority of your readers would prefer to pay their respects to the Scottish Radicals rather than to the prominent ancestor of today’s Scottish Tories.

Ian O Bayne

THE sight in London of lout Andrew Banks urinating on the statue of murdered policeman Keith Palmer was disgusting but here in Scotland I doubt if it would have brought about an immediate 14-day prison sentence.

In Scotland a first offender like him would have been sent for a social enquiry report first if and, if according to family and friends of Banks he has psychiatric issues, therefore here he would have had such evaluation before sentencing.

Personally the way I’d have dealt with it would have been to hand him a mop, scrubbing brush and pail of warm soapy water and made to clean it up, a far better solution than sending him in beside bad influences in prison.

Sally Mannison