BORIS Johnson’s visit to Scotland inadvertently provided an excellent insight into why there is currently a heated debate in the independence movement over “both votes SNP” and the associated calls for a change of SNP leadership.

Most negative reaction to this debate tends to focus on the danger of undermining the independence cause. But, while this is understandable, it’s also worrying that the response of the SNP establishment and party loyalists, in classic “shoot the messenger” style, has been to demonise the dissenters and to completely deny there is any real problem. Independence is apparently inevitable if only people would stop rocking the boat.

But there clearly is a problem – the current open expression of dissatisfaction with the party leadership and the calls for alternative independence parties would have been unthinkable just one year ago – and to see why, you just need to look at the SNP’s reaction to Boris Johnson’s visit.

First we have Ian Blackford declaring that Johnson “has to recognise democracy. He cannot be a democracy denier” and then Nicola Sturgeon tweeting that Johnson’s presence shows Scotland has “its future decided by politicians we didn’t vote for, taking us down a path we haven’t chosen”.

But of course Johnson can deny democracy, and Nicola Sturgeon’s comment is a perfect illustration of why he’ll get away with it – this wasn’t a rallying cry for independence, it was an acceptance of the status quo. Johnson knows that he can do what he likes because Nicola Sturgeon and Ian Blackford have no realistic plan to stop him.

If the SNP’s leadership have a plan at all, it appears to be to refight the last war, but the situation is now vastly different to 2014. Getting pro-indy support up to, say, 60% will simply ensure that Johnson never grants a Section 30 order. Why should he agree to a referendum that he would lose, when there’s no political cost to him to deny it?

The Scottish population is irrelevant. Coming here to remind people where the actual power lies, and making it clear he will never give it away, plays well with his English Nationalist, Brexit support base.

What’s really depressing is that, despite the overwhelming evidence that the current Tories have no respect for law or decency and are now behaving more like a crime syndicate than a government, the SNP’s position has not evolved at all.

Instead of calling advocates for change “agents provocateur” and “enemies within” like one particularly deranged SNP loyalist (who also flatly denied that there was any split in the SNP), would it not be more useful to think about why a significant number of independence supporters feel drastic measures may be necessary? The people who want change, even if it is drastic, know divided parties or movements often fail and that, at best, a change of leadership and/or the rise of competing pro-independence parties will be a setback for independence.

However, as long as the SNP leadership continues on its current ineffectual path, this is beginning to seem to many people like a price that will have to be paid for ultimate independence. Pretending it’s not happening or demonising advocates of change is counterproductive – you can’t solve a problem if you won’t admit that it exists.

Gordon Millar


I WAS intrigued by the letter from Andy Anderson in The National

on July 23. The intrigue is because it is increasingly obvious that

Mr Johnston has very little knowledge of the Good Friday Agreement, and with a moving border floating about in the Irish Sea, he is all at sea.

Our SNP Government is well aware of this issue and while people, not all friendly to the SNP, keep calling for a Plan B, I would think our government will use this scenario to overcome the negative attitude of Mr Johnston.

We should not expect the SNP Government to lay out its strategy at this stage and calls for this are anti-SNP, unwittingly in some cases. Once International Law becomes involved in the Irish dispute other lines will be opened.

It might be hoped that the undemocratic Treaty of Union could be cancelled.

Jim Lynch


PM Johnson’s Grand Tour of Scotland is worthy of comparison with Dr Johnson’s tour, with James Boswell, to see Scotland shortly after the defeat of the rebel army at Culloden and the purging of the Highlands thereafter.

Dr Johnson covered much of Scotland, by coach on the relatively small mileage of roads that allowed wheeled transport, but mostly by pony and boat.

He sought out and spoke with lord and peasant alike. PM Johnson, with the benefit of aircraft and roads fit for the progress of motor vehicles, met and spoke with what must have been a carefully vetted few. All in all then, a very successful and effective visit, as far as the establishment media machine will present it.

Ken Gow


I THINK it increasingly likely that the English people will break up the UK before Scotland is given another opportunity to do so. They are wearying of us – we see it in the polls. The sympathetic will reluctantly “let us go” and the unsympathetic will want to see the back of us. Johnson and his like will profess to defend the Union while manipulating opinion towards the idea of an England unshackled from subsidised Scotland.

We know there are those who will be easily seduced by him. When the polls give the green light, he will call for an English referendum on the future of the Union and England will vote to dissolve it. Scotland will be kicked out before it is allowed to walk out (that would be too much of an insult for England to bear). Johnson will go down in history as the man who gained England its independence, all the while wrapped in the Union flag.

Ian Kennedy

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