I NEVER understand how researchers research to find what they’re looking for. But the BBC found me in 2014. Maybe it’s the name, or the fact that I’m a bit gabby, but very infrequently, they call.

I think they’re far down the list when someone says: “Well, who’s left? Is that woman is still around, you know, that one in Edinburgh, what’s her name?” And there it is, my name on a list.

So, here was this polite voice, a young man (nowadays, everyone is younger than I) from Victoria Derbyshire’s team asking if we could “chat”. Gabby or not, there was a cautious “why?” from me. He explained the programme on February 13 and the quizzing of the four Labour wannabe leaders. Despite my interruptions and protestations about having left Labour, being pro-indy, cross-party, no-party, we talked for nearly half an hour.

READ MORE: BBC's Labour leadership debate IGNORES only question asked on Scotland

I was in full flow by then with this mad idea in my head – he’d become a secret Yes supporter in the heart of the BBC, a tartan mole no less. He interrupted my comic strip thoughts and promised to be in touch since “you’re exactly what we’re looking for”. Really? But there I was how many days later, I wasn’t “feeling the love”, just feeling totally excluded from the debate and dialogue. Even as a Dr Who fan, seeing the Tardis in the lobby didn’t do it!

I had been informed there would be an audience of “around 40 from all over the country” but I was immediately struck by the waves, nods, recognition and chats going around small groups, a few councillors, union members. Gabby me, I went around introducing myself as best I could, but no fellow Scot. Lots of surprise: “Come so far?”. Even a question about my carbon footprint getting there, but nothing about Scottish politics. More worry then as we went through dummy runs minus the four politicians with Victoria, including her intro lines about the “Labour supporters”.

I had visions of my limited street cred with EdinburghWFI going down the tubes. Four openers had been identified, three men, one woman and through their questions, we were encouraged to interact. The partisan splits emerged – support for a favoured candidate, rooted in a very Anglo-centric perspective around “constituency, area, branch, union, Brexit”.

I’m neither a politician, nor a statistician, but I’d revisited framing and reframing. I’d seen the latest EU Scottish salmon fisheries info, and despite her apology I wanted to know why Emily hated the SNP and why Lisa wanted to de-platform the FM. Waving hysterically, I got rewarded with a mike and three reactions. Victoria agreed I could question Emily, some man shouted: “Would you have cared if she’d said she hated Jeremy Corbyn?” and the man next to me whispered he was from Helensburgh.

I have certain sympathy for Emily who admitted on-air she’d “zoned out”. I almost did. The discontent and division within the audience, Labour past, present, first-time Tory voters, demonstrated the discord not just within individual support for the candidates but across the party itself. Not one of the four showed the gravitas nor vision to unite their party, far less govern. Their accompanying lack of concept for the political, social cultural future of rUK was matched only by the hollow wring of their self promotion.

Sheer frustration kept me going, and the fact they didn’t have the political courage to address the sweeping changes occurring on the island of Ireland nor that they’d lost Scotland years back. I think I got my points across.

Yes, disappointment there wasn’t time for responses, but that a former member had to use the S word confirms that Labour, as is, is currently irrelevant to and in Scotland. That speaks more than they did. Labour may form and fashion in the future, but that will be in a future, indy Scotland.

And me? Rededication to the indy grassroots movement: that’s where success lies.

Selma Rahman

HOW on earth could John Barstow from West Sussex think HS2 is a great idea (SNP talent is wasted in London, but that’s where most powers lie, February 14)? Isn’t this really just another manifestation of everything that is wrong with the UK’s economic make-up?

HS2 is designed to move people, not goods. Sold as extending development to regions in the north, isn’t the reality that it merely extends the commuter belt to the already wildly overheated London economy, another osmotic effect of economic centralisation?

At a time when we’re seeking modern approaches to assuage climate concerns, shouldn’t we rather be encouraging industrial and commercial development away from infrastructure stressed areas like London, move enterprise and jobs, not people, to the regions where higher quality of life/work balance would benefit people, while reducing the commuting need that mitigates against it and the climate?

And wouldn’t such a modern solution like this be readily achievable by harnessing the communications technology already available, along with further developments to follow, making information exchange over distance, rather than commuters, the green solution our world’s needs?

Clearly, HS2 simply exacerbates the problem, not resolve it. It perpetuates everything in our economic thinking that puts political expedience above our real interests; a political salve from a government intent on masking its political failures with a big con policy – private profit from public purse contracts the real intention.

Perhaps Mr Barstow and his ilk should consider the huge environmental benefit if the now certain £100 billion plus being squandered on HS2 were to be spent on public transport infrastructure instead, and the benefits of carbon reduction this would bring?

Here in Scotland our transport needs are at variance to any desire for HS2 to be brought here. As an outward-looking nation our internationally focused needs would be better served with transport links to Europe and beyond.

London can keep its intended shiny new train set. We Scots have more serious solutions to our economic needs to be getting on with.

Jim Taylor

I WAS so happy to read the resolution of the case first by The National highlighting Juli and Tony Duffy problems with the Home Office (Visa row couple in call to scrap income barrier, February 12). Me and my partner find ourselves in a similar situation.

My fiancee, Caitlin (who was originally from Canada) was deported in April 2019 after having her request for permanent residency in the UK refused. She is a beautiful, intelligent soul who has an incredible talent in making people at ease and also throws herself into whatever captures her attention and imagination. Truly she is (or was) a valuable asset to our country as she’d lived here for eight years and was well and truly woven into the fabric of our society, with a good career working in an opticians and hoping to move into retinal photography.

The problems for her started when her previous visa and subsequent application for settled status was was predicated on a previous relationship that then broke down, and the subsequent situation she had to remove herself from. After paying thousands in applying for the privilege (non-refundable of course) and a perfect score in the citizens test no less, she was turned down.

The reasons given were that she hadn’t provided enough evidence (despite testimonies from ex-flatmates and witnesses to corroborate her application) and the subsequent appeal of the decision was also dismissed out of turn which meant she was ordered to leave the country within 28 days, leaving behind all that she had spent building over nearly a decade here. I witnessed first-hand the hell she went through, dismantling her life here and leaving for a country that she didn’t even see as hers any more.

Now Caitlin finds herself time-barred from returning here until this coming April/May and has lost all the years she spent here into the bargain as well. Yet for all she went through she still considers Scotland her “hame” and wants to come back as soon as possible and for us to marry here.

The outcome for Juli and Tony has given me cautious yet renewed hope that I can be reunited full time with my beloved, and that I feel a bit more emboldened to continue my fight for her and our rights to bring her back to where she she rightly belongs, with me and her fellow Scots – which is why its so heartening to see so many sign up to the petition against the inhumane actions of the Home Office.

Scotland is a land that has a healthy mix of other cultures and people who have – and want to – come to our country and become part of the fantastic society. In my opinion we need to focus on non-EU members with as much attention as we do those who come from mainland Europe, because they’re as important as any other who wish to come and embrace our culture, identity and our unique way of life. The SNP and their push for the ability to control immigration is one that has to take as much precedence as pursuing the lawful right to another independence vote, which there is a clear mandate for.

Dear readers, use mine and all the examples when the subject of immigration is raised by others within these pages, because unless we continue to shine a light on his wicked and deplorable situation, we’ll truly never understand one of the real crimes perpetrated by people who seem to take great pleasure in punishing those only guilty of nothing more than making Scotland their home.

Keith Murray

A WEEK after Jackson Carlaw called on his Scottish Tories to end their Nat-bashing, he claims that he understands the SNP and it is not a political party, but an “evangelical faith based cult” (Jackson Carlaw calls SNP an ‘evangelical faith-based cult’, February 15)!

Jackson Carlaw, the newly elected leader of the Scottish Tories – or more accurately “the passer on of instructions” from his London-based Tory Party headquarters to its Scottish branch – is without a doubt unable to understand how the SNP functions.

His own party’s policies are decided somewhere in back rooms by the representatives of often unknown persons, companies and organisations that fund the UK Tory Party.

These policies are then imposed on the party and country by the Prime Minister’s hand-picked appointees in government.

Policies that we have already seen to be written in the sand, changeable at a moment’s notice.

In contrast, the SNP puts its faith in its members who provide almost all funds for the party as well as being entrusted to debate and decide party policies and elect all office bearers at annual conference.

The SNP office bearers then implement these policies on behalf of the members.

Jackson Carlaw is confused, a dyed-in-the-wool Scottish member of a London-based, led and controlled Unionist party who can not be expected to understand the operation of a democratic political party.

John Jamieson
South Queensferry