THE article on Jess Philips’s attitude to Scotland (Jess Phillips: ‘I don’t think we should have another indyref’,, January 7) is only one half of the story.

Scotland is now in a Catch-22 position as both parties in the Westminster duopoly have realised that Scotland is now lost to them and consequently politically irrelevant, at least in the short to medium term. Their path to government is tied to the floating vote in the English shires which has now been extended to include the northern belt.

All pretence that the UK is a union of equals has been abandoned – retaining the assets of their northern colony is now their only interest in Scotland.

READ MORE: Jess Phillips: 'I don't think we should have another indyref'

Scotland could be tied to the UK in perpetuity by the Westminster duopoly simply refusing to issue a Section 30 order without a clear indication that there was majority support for an independence referendum in Scotland.

If the SNP win less than 50% of the vote in a general or Holyrood election then they do not have majority support for independence; however if the SNP win more than 50% of the vote in a general or Holyrood election then it would still not be a majority for independence as it was not won on a single-issue manifesto.

Scotland is in the vice-like grip of a hostile UK Government, our Holyrood parliament is an adjunct of the Westminster parliament, and in the two years following Brexit UK ministers will be rewriting laws returning from the EU as and when they see fit. Westminster has taken back a raft of devolved powers for up to seven years to ensure common standards across the whole of the UK. It is quite likely that in these seven years the Holyrood parliament will have been stripped of a significant number of its current powers, which will be retained by Westminster to ensure conformity and a level playing field across the whole of the UK.

John Jamieson
South Queensferry

JESS Phillips – a candidate for the leadership of the British Labour party – has stated: “I can’t see a circumstance where I think it would be better for Scotland to leave the UK”. She also rejects a second Scottish independence referendum.

It is self-evidently just and proper that membership of a country in any political union should be voluntary.

Indeed, this principle is enshrined in the European Union, with each member having voluntarily joined the union and having the right to withdraw from it, as the UK is in the process of doing. Moreover, the UK Government endorses this principle in the case of Northern Ireland, for the 1998 Good Friday Agreement permits it to leave the Union (the United Kingdom) if the citizens of Northern Ireland choose to arrange – and win – a referendum to that effect.

Denying the people of Scotland (and Wales) the same facility – as Mrs Phillips does – demonstrates gross and breathtaking prejudice and double standards. It is absolutely outrageous that English MPs, because of their overwhelming majority in the Westminster Parliament, and not the people of Scotland are the ones with the power to decide whether or not Scotland can hold an independence referendum.

The unions of Wales, Scotland and Ireland (in that order) with England were certainly not voluntary – they were all, essentially, political shotgun marriages, in which the vast majority of their populations were opposed to the imposed Union. The people were not even consulted in any way. In the intervening centuries the colonialist/imperialist country has had the means and determination to indoctrinate and soften up the people of these countries to believe that extensive domination and control by England is their best option.

It is high time that the UK Government passed a law that made membership of the UK voluntary, for Scotland and Wales – not just for Northern Ireland.

Gwyn Hopkins
Llanelli, Wales

THE election system for the Scottish Parliament is not too complicated to understand: after all your average 15-year-old Modern Studies pupil usually “gets it” after an explanation and a worked example. The real problem is how to beat the system.

I suspect that “two votes SNP” is not the way to do it: remember the SNP got only four seats from the regional list because they had won so many seats from the constituency vote. Nor is “SNP 1, Green 2” the answer – just look at how the Greens try to hold the SNP to ransom over the Budget every year. Nor is “SNP 1 and Wings 2”, as proposed by Stuart Campbell, a solution. He is too divisive a figure.

To my mind, the obvious solution is “SNP 1 and YES 2”, which I think would attract a lot of support all over the country. YES would need to put up candidates only for the regional list and come to an agreement that the SNP would not oppose them. This would require both sides to be flexible but there is much to be gained.

Remember the Tories and Labour won only 10 constituency seats between them in 2016 but 45 seats from the regional vote. Imagine the prize: no James Kelly, no Adam Tomkins and no Annie Wells, with both Labour and Tories reduced to a rump. I am just surprised that neither YES nor the SNP have proposed this before now.

Jim Paterson

I HAVE just heard the response to the call from SNP MPs to get on with setting the Budget so that essential allocation of monies can be carried out. The delay was due to SNP opposing Brexit, according to the Scottish Tory branch office, so the problems it will cause are down to them.

This is the beginning of Boris’ mission to unite the UK. The one nation he refers to is obviously England. I look forward to more insulting emissions soon.

Colin Harvey
via email