I WAS curious to read the moderate view of the former SNP “spin doctor”, Kevin Pringle, in rejecting the short time frame for a referendum to be conducted next year – the first year of the newly elected Scottish Government, no doubt it will be an SNP one (Indyref will not happen in 2021, says former SNP spin doctor, December 28)!

Mr Pringle opines that indyref2 is a matter for the medium term of the Scottish Parliament and not the short term of 2021. I wish to challenge that assertion by reminding him that there will likely be a transition period of preparation from the point when a referendum is formally “given the green light” by a majority of Scottish voters. Therefore the effect of a positive early referendum result would transcend into the long term if the expected two years of prep concludes in a new era of self-determination for Scotland.

He omits the fact that such a successful conclusion would happen in the longer term if he is willing to defer said referendum, possibly well into 2022. I regard that idea to be totally unreasonable and out of touch with the Scottish independence movement at all levels.

May I also point out that he conveniently misses out the inevitable political conflict between our newly elected Scottish Government, the Scottish independence movement and the Brexit charlatans, Johnson et al, who pose as an accountable British Government.

I think the majority of our populace are well aware of this unacceptable face of English nationalism that is at the heart of this Brexit charade, and the expected aggressive political incursions and right-wing media spin against the Scot Government will not “go down well” in Scotland, even after Johnson’s recent bogus unifying speech full of his usual array of soundbites that must have had officials of the Guinness Book of Records scurrying about checking if this serial liar had finally broken the all-time record of soundbites in a live broadcast to the nation.

Bernie Japs

I WAS both pleased and disappointed by George Kerevan’s article on Monday (How May’s election could be used as a mandate to negotiate indy, December 28).

Based on your front page, I expected a whole article explaining exactly how using the election as a replacement for an independence referendum would work. Instead, we got a couple of paragraphs at the end of the article. That disappointed me.

However, I was pleased to see that George had brought this subject up and had managed to get it a mention on the front page. I was particularly pleased since this is something I have been advocating for months now. I believe that the SNP’s “Plan A” is not going to work since everyone is agreed – almost unanimously across Scotland, and probably also across Westminster – that Boris will refuse a Section 30 order regardless of the outcome of the May election.

In my opinion, I believe that their Plan A should be dropped and replaced with a statement in their May election manifesto that in the event of a majority of independence-supporting MSPs being elected to Holyrood in May, then this will be taken as a demand by the electorate of Scotland to commence negotiations for independence immediately; or to declare independence unilaterally if Boris refuses to take part in such negotiations.

I am very sure that the leaders of all parties fielding independence-supporting candidates would be more than happy to put such a statement into their election manifestos also. Going by the results of recent opinion polls, not only would they have a majority of independence-supporting MSPs elected, probably within the SNP party alone, but they are also likely to have a majority of the vote also in favour of those new MSPs.

Such a result would do away with the need for any “cap-in-hand requests” to Boris for a fresh referendum, would save time in having to go through the preparations for yet another trip round doors knocking and asking for support, and would also save the electorate the bother of having to traipse once again to a polling booth to simply restate what they have already indicated in their May vote.

With 17 consecutive opinion polls now indicating overwhelming support for independence, why waste any more time (and money)? Let’s get it all done and dusted in one single vote.

Charlie Kerr

THE Dunce of the Year and public disgrace schoolboy Johnson has robbed Scotland in ways few are aware of. In Monday’s National Effie Samara summed up much of what Scotland will lose by being thrown out of the fantastic Erasmus scheme – set up in 1987 by an EU body chaired by Winnie Ewing – against any iota of democracy.

I met many Erasmus students while working at Dun Flodigarry Hostel on the Isle of Skye. A booking would come in for late September for, say, five folk. You would note their names, suggesting they were from different parts of the EU. These would be students on the Erasmus programme having a wee tour of Scotland before commencing their studies.

It was normal that they had never met before, yet it was obvious having craic with them they were quickly becoming lifelong friends. Others would book in the springtime to celebrate the end of their term but not their time in Scotland. What great fun conversing with them and hearing their views and love of each other’s culture – unlike their grandparents and ours, who suffered the evils our wee continent endured until not so long ago.

Some would return on holiday with their parents to show them the Scotland they were so proud to have been educated in. Johnson killed that goodwill with his nasty school bully lunacy.

Now is the time to kick this bully and his chums out of Scotland’s affairs forever. Forget referendums – they are meaningless. Sixty-two per cent vote one way and are ignored. We don’t need a referendum. The Scottish Parliament should do what the representatives were elected for: delivering independence now. We have the mandate – use it now.

Bryan Clark

LET me give my hobby horse another airing. All that the present weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth simply prove, whether anent tatties, Erasmus or anything else, is that Boris and the Tories are succeeding in using every opportunity they can find to weaken Scotland and damage our economy.

Come the next set of GERS guesstimates, they will be able to show a vastly increased deficit for Scotland, and claim that it has resulted from “disastrous” devolved government, in spite of Westminster generosity to try to help us stay on our feet. No-one will convince me that this is not part of a long-term, detailed plan, devised even before the Union Unit was set up.

The final goal? To prove Holyrood is useless, a waste of money and therefore must be removed. After all, did Rees-Mogg not say that devolution could only have worked with Tories in charge? So the simplest solution is to bring Scotland under Tory control – at Westminster, since the Scots do not have the sense to vote Tory!

Boris and co were never going to give us the least say in the Brexit deal, but surely we should have realised that on day one? Why did we not take pre-emptive action when the opportunity was there? Alyn Smith did an excellent job for us in Europe and his contacts and friends must be widely spread there. Would it not have been wise to create a post for him of Liaison Minister for the EU, so that he could use these contacts to ensure that at least the EU negotiators were well-versed in Scotland’s position and needs? Instead, we let him go to Westminster to be derided, insulted and ignored, to no good purpose.

We are indeed expert in snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, and are now proving also to be passed masters at providing and scoring own goals.

L McGregor

THE problems are starting to roll out now that the transition period is about to end. An abundance of red tape for business, customs declarations for mail and parcels, the same checks on air and sea passengers that you would get if you were from South Africa or any other non-European country, delays to goods at ports and airports, the end of JIT manufacturing which is certain to make manufactured goods more expensive as they have to commit resources to stockpiling, delay problems for fishermen who need to deliver 80% of their catch to Europe before arriving at “sell before” time. This is only the tip of the iceberg of damage to the whole of the UK watch this space as the nightmare unfolds.

It cannot be right that a few lies promoted by big money can inflict such damage to a nation.

Mike Underwood

HAMISH MacPherson (Back In The Day, Seven Days, December 27) reckons that “Bonnie” Prince Charles Stuart has been too long ignored. I’m afraid I reckon he fully deserves to be quietly dropped from the canon of Scottish hagiographies.

Like his direct ancestor James VI, who ruthlessly abandoned Edinburgh for the top job in England, it was the crown in London that he coveted. Thousands of feudal Scottish “Jacobites” died and suffered “for Cherlie” in order to further the dreams of another aspiring southern oligarch.

Douglas Hunter
Ancrum, Roxburghshire

IN reducing tax burdens in the longer term there should be: zero National Insurance paid on income below £15,000. Zero income tax paid on income below £15,000.

Zero council tax paid on income below £15,000.

The triple guarantee on tax would ensure that tax burdens are reduced lifting 100% of workers and in reference to tackling poverty amongst millions of low-income households specifically pensioners the outcome would be the lifting of the most vulnerable and most impoverished out of direct taxation completely.

The demand for council tax benefit would be seriously reduced because the reforms proposed above would cancel out the need for council tax benefit expenditure in the first instance.

The demand for Working Tax Credits would be reduced because simply why should you be taxed and then given back the same money in the form of benefits.

When you should just keep your own income tax free to begin with.

Aligning the tax thresholds with minimum wage increases would increase the post-tax income that workers have in their pay packets to spend in the economy especially after the pandemic crisis has crippled the economy.

Oliver Healey