IN the conclusion of his letter yesterday, Richard Walthew says “the SNP and Nicola will get back to campaigning when the time is right”. The time has been right since 2014 and the SNP should be building the case, answering vital questions, restructuring its vast army of helpers and equipping them for what lies ahead. The opposition are in permanent campaign mode.

Much of the problem is the continuing conflation between an independence campaign and a referendum campaign. The independence campaign is a long-term and permanent process and should have started again not long after 2014, and it would also motivate people instead of the current vacuum.

READ MORE: The SNP will restart the campaign when the time is right

Keith Brown’s National Assemblies offered a way forward but they fizzled out, leaving the army to march back down the hill on their own again. The indyref2 campaign will be a shorter affair, and how people vote may well depend on what they have learned about independence previously. Why would a previous No voter consider voting Yes if they have not been told anything? Imagine the announcement of indyref2 and the hostile questions we will face from a media largely against us and all the answers have to be found in a short campaign – complete folly.

We should start an information campaign now, set up forums and ask ourselves the same questions that the opposition will, and see how our answers look. Here are three topics for starters out of hundreds: a) Who will pay our existing pensions and will they rise with inflation when we are a separate country and how can we afford to pay new ones? b) How will our savings be protected, as most will now be in a foreign country, and will savings in Scotland have similar protection and c) Of course, what currency?

Richard Walthew is correct in saying Nicola should decide when the time is right, but I say get the independence campaign started now so that we are ready whenever indyref2 is called – hopefully not too soon as we are ill-prepared right now.

Alan M Morris

ALAN Lammin correctly identifies the current 54% support, while encouraging, as “fragile ... and not a mandate either”; saying, in effect, that the next referendum must be won before it takes place (Letters, August 10).

That is a tall order, as the British Government, if it ever concedes a referendum, will not make the mistakes Cameron did when he complacently agreed to a simple Yes/No-to-independence format.

READ MORE: George Kerevan: Why Nicola Sturgeon should commit to leading a major indy march

Any Westminster-sanctioned referendum will be heavily skewed by loaded questions and bogus alternatives (such as a federal UK – the consultation process for which can be spun out for years, then abandoned), a higher threshold than 50% + 1 (remember the 40% rule?), and timed to coincide with an economic uptick (or, better, a wee war somewhere, with Baroness Davidson astride a tank). There is also the elephant in the room which dare not speak its name - the 20% or thereabouts of the Scottish population who are English-born, a majority of whom will, unsurprisingly, vote the Union ticket.

All in all, pleading with Westminster for the chance to be shafted seems downright daft. Fortunately, there is an alternative:

Go all out for a thumping victory in May – obvious, but stop squabbling NOW – with a manifesto pledge that the “indy parliament” will produce (in 30 pages, not 300, and within, say, 18 months) clear, “stress-tested” proposals for a Scottish currency, better pensions, housing, transport and the environment; for re-entry to the EU, for the removal of Trident, for taking ownership of our massive resources, etc etc, and a realistic timescale for these objectives. Our backroom wonks should be working flat out on all this, and more, now.

This prospectus would then form the basis of a referendum seeking a mandate for a Unilateral Declaration of Independence. When won – and in the very unlikely event it is not, we listen, learn, then ask again in a couple of years – London is notified that we wish to negotiate the dissolution of the Union.

Europe – not least the Baltic States who bravely got rid of a bigger and more brutal bully than Bombastic Bojo – and many other countries will cheer us on.

David Roche

SO Douglas Ross is to hang up his linesman flag if he is to be First Minister but he will continue to be a linesman while leader of the Scottish Tories. I don’t think that he has really thought this through.

Aside from the ridiculous assertion that he will one day be First Minister, has he not realised that continuing to run the line at Scottish football matches would mean that the new leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party would, in fact, be facing the general public. This is something that no Conservative leader does any more. Running the line at football matches was previously okay for him because he was a complete and utter nonentity, unknown completely to the general and footballing public, but it will not be the case now.

READ MORE: Douglas Ross left red-faced over call for army testing sites in Aberdeen

I now look forward to his public footballing appearances in the former industrial heartlands of Central Scotland decimated by the very people he venerates. However fair play to him if he does turn out, and I look forward to see his appearances at such places as Motherwell, Falkirk and Dundee. Perhaps he will hold public Q&A sessions after the matches. What he will do though is have football chairmen up and down the country rubbing their hands in anticipation of adding a few thousand supporters onto their gates every week. With thousands deprived of Yes marches to go on, attendance at Douglas Ross football matches could become a new raison d’etre for lots of Scots; he could possibly single-handedly save Scottish football, filling stadiums week in, week out.

However much as it would be entertaining to see him continue as a football linesman I fear his bosses in London will put a block on the continuation of his refereeing career. He could, of course, ask the Scottish footballing authorities to install outdoor fridges along the touchlines, thus allowing him to continue his career.

Andrew J Beck
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia