THE significant change in the composition of the SNP leadership is receiving coverage. The pieces in Thursday’s National from Richard Walker and Lesley Riddoch were especially perceptive.

Everyone in the indy movement must take Richard Walker seriously. Had he not taken the brave step, as editor of the Sunday Herald in 2014, of making that highly influential title the only mainstream media organ to support independence, it’s unlikely that we’d have secured nearly 45% of the vote. And remember, this was on the highest national turnout EVER secured in the history of democratic voting in the UK. The words of such a person after the SNP conference must be taken seriously: “We are where we are – and it’s a better place than we have been before.”

Lesley Riddoch’s piece a few pages earlier is equally positive, as I have come to expect of such a perceptive journalist. Anyone who has learned from several decades of political experience will agree with her wise words: “Personality wars nearly always arise when vital democratic channels for debate are blocked and normal levels of disagreement between committed, intelligent people become demonised”.

If the SNP had held their recent conference two years ago, it’s likely that I would still be a member. Lack of democracy is why I left. Democracy is a problem for all those in power – but power and entrenchment is but a brief new experience for Nicola and her government, and they are fundamentally decent folk. So

unlike other politicians, I’m sure they will adapt and welcome the changes in the SNP.

Democracy is the only way to ensure that it’s the Scottish people who remain sovereign – including inside the dominant party. That’s our unique hard-won birthright as Scots.

Dougie Harrison, Milngavie

STUC economist 1976-1990

AN absolutely excellent piece by Richard Walker in Thursday’s National. Every political party and, for that matter, every organisation involving humans, is made up of chiefs and Indians (or Native Americans, if you want to be PC). The problems arise when some Indians want to replace some chiefs.

The sensible way to deal with this is by using the democratic principle, allowing the aspiring chiefs to point out to the rest of the Indians, how they could do things better. Sadly, the aspiring chiefs frequently resort to rubbishing every action of the existing chiefs, and making criticisms of a personal nature. “Ye’d think he could afford a suit and tie” or “huv ye seen her shoes??”

If enough Indians are gullible enough to accept this, and vote for the aspiring chief in sufficient numbers, the aspirer becomes a chief. The deposed chief, obviously annoyed by the constant rubbishing and personal criticism, then proceeds to undermine (surreptitiously?) the new chief.

As Richard pointed out in his piece, the time and effort devoted to these machinations contribute little or nothing to the wellbeing of the organisation. When the leadership of any organisation loses touch/involvement/contact with the rank and file, it will suffer, whether it be a church, a party, a company, or a social club. Delusions of grandeur is a constant risk for anyone leading anything and must be avoided. I know “pride goeth before a fall” is a cliche, but it’s still true.

Barry Stewart


GOOD to see Mr Richard Walker going into print in respect of changes within the SNP NEC, but perhaps it is time to be clearer in the paper, and in far more detail, about how things actually work in both political and public governance, generally.

If there was anything in particular, I would take from the multiple cross bow intemperate salvos of others, it was that the dichotomy of the reluctance to change, and the urgency to change, is alive and well.

The great problem for the First Minister, is that in 2014, those registered to vote in Scotland, chose the dichotomy of no change, and reversing changes already made.

To state the obvious, the whereabouts in the dichotomy of change Scotland should go, as suggested by the political leadership as a whole, the NEC, conference delegates, Local branches, will be eventually voted upon by the citizens of Scotland as a whole.

Currently the citizens of Scotland are generally supportive of First Minister Sturgeon’s expressed views, and they know little of the actual views of the NEC, conference delegates, or local branches. The political coming together as one SNP, was traditionally the time of the election and/or referendum manifesto, so we are nearly there.

The big issue on the horizon, however, is probably not as some appear to think, women’s safety from self-identifying (no prescription) trans in toilets, but the anti vaxers and the consequences/implications of their non-compliance intent, which will be front and centre May 2021.

Stephen Tingle

Greater Glasgow

FULL disclosure: I am not and SNP member and have no desire to be one. I am, however, a committed supporter of Scotland’s independence and have subscribed to The National since 2017, having never been a reader of newspapers in the past.

I do find myself reading less and less of the paper though as more and more columns are dedicated to the fractions and debates within the party.

A friend approached me a few months ago interested in subscribing to the National but asked how much of it was SNP-centred. I reassured him that whilst there is obviously reporting on SNP policies and with Holyrood elections looming perhaps more so in the coming months, he should subscribe as there is lots to learn about the independence campaign.

However, I am now finding it increasingly difficult to challenge when people dismiss the paper as an “SNP mouthpiece”. Is it just me?

I’m not disputing that what’s going isn’t newsworthy or of interest to many but three of your four columnists in Thursday’s paper (Lesley Riddoch, Richard Walker and David Pratt) were all passing comment on the ongoing debates within the SNP. It’s just a turn off for me.

It’s not that I don’t care. I do, of course I do, if for no other reason than the fact we need the SNP to win a majority at the Scottish Parliament elections next year, and divided parties do less well in elections.

Can we get a better balance though please? Do we really need to read every Saturday about the SNP MSPs standing in every constituency? Surely SNP members have somewhere else to go to for that? I’ve not seen anything reported for a while on the wonderful work Business for Scotland are doing – Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp used to be a regular columnist for the National. How about informing people on how to help with the issues we’re likely to be challenged on around independence and leaving the fuelling of the flames on the SNP fractions to those that oppose independence?

Maggie Rankin

via email

WATCHING Ruth Davidson’s performance at First Minister’s Questions each week, it is noticeable that nothing ever pleases her. Even the news of the vaccine turns out to have its downsides in her view. With this in mind I found the perfect quotation, courtesy of Robert Burns: “Where sits our sulky, sullen dame, Gath’rin’ her brows like gath’rin’ storm, Nursin’ her wrath to keep it warm.”

John McCall