IN his very interesting letter on Monday Tony Grahame makes a number of good points, most of which I agree with, particularly that Nicola Sturgeon is an excellent First Minister and it is ridiculous to claim that she is not committed to independence. He ends his letter with a strong plea that we in the independence movement must not split the independence vote.

The problem we have is that the independence vote is being split not by independence supporters like Tony and I, but by the electoral system.

The simple slogan “both votes SNP”, if widely supported, is a policy which will entirely discount thousands of independence supporters votes and give the Tories and other Unionists a great opportunity to get seats in the Scottish Parliament and to have a platform from which to attack the SNP government, backed by their media power.

READ MORE: We are ahead in the polls – don’t split the independence vote

That division is happening now. The question is, what is the intelligent way to stop it? The Greens have played the system – as those who designed it intended that it should be used – to keep the SNP from power, often standing against the SNP and sometimes allowing Tories to steal the seat from the SNP. I think, and I hope, that the Greens have learned from their mistakes. Their policy was the same as the SNP, “both votes Green”.

This is a meaningless slogan about party loyalty, which may be comforting to party loyalists but is not designed to keep the Yes vote united – on the contrary, it divides it. The SNP is by far the most important political part of the independence movement, but the movement is much larger that the SNP, and it needs to be if we are going to win.

There are many people in Scotland who are prepared to vote for the SNP with their first vote because, like me and Tony, they recognise that the First Minister is doing a great job, But because that is so – and the polls are confirming it to be so at this stage – it means the SNP will win most, if not all, constituency seats. They may even win a majority on that vote alone.

The bad news of course is that if we all continue to vote SNP in the second vote, thousands of our votes will now be “discounted” and the Unionist parties will benefit from that and pick up these seats. It is not rocket science; it’s easy to work out. If, however, the thousands of us who are not SNP members vote for the SNP with our first vote and for another independence-supporting party with our second vote, and a fair number of SNP supporters do the same, this will change the result. Not to the detriment of the SNP, but very much to the detriment of the Unionist parties, who will lose a significant number of seats to independence-supporting parties.

Now if that happens it will not weaken Nicola’s position, on the contrary it will make her government much stronger and the Unionists much weaker. What’s not to like, Tony?

Andy Anderson

FORTY of America’s 50 states have reported a massive rise in virus cases and deaths. Many states are returning to complete lockdown. England is also expecting a second wave. Thus they have finally adopted the mandatory use of masks. Further U-turns are expected as the virus takes hold in an increasing number of hotspots caused by their fingers-crossed philosophy and their premature relaxing of lockdown restrictions. All for the sake of the economy!

I believe, although reluctant, Nicola will have to take measures to prevent the virus travelling north. Already in the Highlands we are seeing a trickle of campervans and English tourists appearing. Wouldn’t it be good if England put their own house in order first and banned people travelling north? This would be the decent and responsible thing to do. And not wait for Nicola to save the day and criticise her for doing so.

Robin MacLean
Fort Augustus