I HAVE little hesitation in expressing my respect and admiration for Joanna Cherry but have to be critical of her article “A new SNP strategy for the long term” (May 7). In general terms the article adds little to the debate on delivering Scottish independence in the near future.

The article starts by revisiting the performance of the SNP over the last five years and reminds the reader of how successful the SNP has been as a government over this period. I do not accept her analysis that the performance of our Westminster MPs had a key bearing on the results either in 2015 or the setback in 2017, and neither do I accept that the SNP MPs performance in taking on the Westminster government resulted in the resurgence of the SNP performance in 2019.

Of course the actions and performance of our Westminster MPs had an impact, aided by an arrogant and indifferent set of Tory and opposition MPs. The SNP walkout stands out. Westminster is a sideshow at the best of times. Many feel that perhaps SNP MPs being “in absentia” from Westminster would have the greatest impact.

The article completely omits the work of SNP MSPs at Holyrood and more importantly the dedication of SNP activists, members and supporters in ensuring both Holyrood and Westminster majorities. Without the latter the 2019 result would never have happened.

The 2017 result was more about SNP complacency and taking the eye off the ball, supplemented by Ruth Davidson’s mantra “no to indyref2!”

It’s clear that Joanna Cherry, as a sitting MP, has over-egged the importance of SNP Westminster MPs and their influence on future strategy. The relationship between MPs and MSPs has always been strained, and many believe such friction has done little to ensure a strategic focus within the party. Add to this the view held by many that MPs arriving in Westminster lose their focus and become seduced by the Westminster bubble. It’s clear that the first task for the SNP is to ensure that the party leadership and all their elected politicians are “singing from the same hymn sheet”.

This article would suggest that all is not well on that front. Ms Cherry identifies, at length, a disparate number of groups and sources which could be brought to bear to help the SNP achieve policy development and strategic direction. This clearly suggests that the writer, rather controversially, believes that neither exists or that both key policies have been lost over time. I do not believe this to be the case.

The article implies that achieving independence is totally within the hands of the SNP. This is clearly not the case. Brexit, Section 30, an anti-SNP media and press corps and as yet a less than convinced Scottish electorate all conspire to make independence difficult to achieve. Even if Joanna Cherry achieves the perfect SNP strategy, in the end we have to overcome all the barriers stated above and get that elusive independence majority. In fact Ms Cherry poses the question of a new strategy but delivers no such strategy and merely indicates that there are many sources, well-appointed bodies and individuals “with a lot of time on their hands” who could develop the strategy required. This may be wishful thinking on her part.

More worrying about this article is what is not being said. The article is a challenge to the leadership and criticises the party and First Minister. It suggests the party has lost its direction and that when the health crisis is over the SNP could be swept away, with the Scottish people demanding radical change. I would have been happier if Ms Cherry had in fact overtly said this, rather than dressing up the article under the guise of a viable less-than-transparent strategic discussion paper.

Dan Wood

WHAT exactly is “good, solid British common sense”? Is it different to, say, Canadian common sense or Nigerian common sense? Within Britain are there Celtic subdivisions of it? How common does it need to be to be truly common? Does being common also mean that it has the additional quality of being “sensible” ?

It’s just one more semantic refuge for a Prime Minister who has learned nothing from his own experience and whose sole response to a crisis is to resort to bluster and waffle, vacuous phrases exhorting us to “take it on the chin”, “use common sense” (but only of a British variety), fall back on our “Dunkirk Spirit” – not something within the direct experience of most of us – and show British “grit”.

Johnson obtained his present position through the aforementioned bluster and waffle, along with a highly organised presentation of disorganisation and a populist ability to engender a “feel-good factor” through vacuous gestures like sweeping the debris from the post-riot streets of London. His path to Downing Street is strewn with lies, deceit dishonesty, ambiguity on issues until he is confident of the way the wind is blowing and an undying belief in his innate entitlement to be at the top of Disraeli’s “greasy pole”.

Increasingly we see that he has no real grasp of the role of a Prime Minister beyond photo opportunities and the chance to engage in self-satisfying emotional masturbation as he spaffs the chances of social and economic recovery against the wall of his ego.

It’s a great pity his fellow MPs did not show good, solid British common sense last year and ensure that this dangerous dilettante did not become PM.

John McArthur

If Boris Johnson was captain of the Titanic, he would be trying to convince everyone the bottom of the Atlantic was the intended destination. All while he left on the lifeboat with someone else’s wife.

Alan Hinnrichs