FOR nearly 100 years our political representatives have organised well to achieve independence. Never have we been so close to grasping the prize that many campaigners have not lived long enough to enjoy.

Scotland has a history of clawing defeat from the jaws of victory, whether that be in sport, politics, military battles, economic opportunities etc.

In the last few years, just when we are approaching the finishing line, we have seen the big players haul their over-inflated egos onto the stage and gift the Unionist media with ammunition they could never hope to acquire otherwise. Time and again we have had to read publicity-seeking rants from Jim Sillars, Alex Neil, Kenny MacAskill and others which offer these gifts to the opposition. Then we have seen Peter Murrell and the SNP’s National Executive Committee making comment in writing, or taking decisions that smack of personal vendettas.

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We now have the chance of sweeping up almost every seat at the next Holyrood election by giving the SNP our constituency vote and giving our list vote to ONE other party, other than the SNP. What happens? Well, enter the giant egos. Firstly, the SNP, Greens, Scottish Socialists and a variety of new list parties refuse to come to an agreement that would not split the vote and hand a whole swathe of undeserved seats to the Unionist parties. You couldn’t make it up, unless you assumed that their egos came before their wish for independence.

Surely, as the independence-supporting Greens already exist, and because this is going to be a quite unique election, they could have buried their egos and agreed together to stand back and let the Greens have a clear run, on condition that they did not stand in the constituency vote.

Tommy Sheridan has come in for much criticism over the years, largely because the Unionist media has always seen him as a threat. He is one who buried any sense of ego and chose to throw his party in with a single option on the list vote.

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If we lose our chance at independence next year, the other so-called independence parties will never be allowed to forget the day they sold our chances to a corrupt Westminster. Just before the 2014 referendum, I sat in a public hall in Farr, near Inverness, and listened to Tommy Sheridan articulate to about 100 listeners a clear and convincing case for our freedom. He had travelled hundreds of miles north, at his own expense, and returned south the same day. In those two hours he hardened the convictions, and in some cases changed the opinions, of his audience. He didn’t need notes because it all came from a mind that overflowed with facts and details and a 100% commitment to the cause.

Our First Minister has an amazing ability for saying the right diplomatic thing when under pressure. She just doesn’t put a foot wrong .... until last Sunday. On the Sophie Ridge Show she allowed herself to be drawn into the personal conflict with Alex Salmond and voice it in public. Taking one’s husband’s side is not uncommon, but her contribution was quite out of character and she will live to regret it. The Unionist press is enjoying it.

If any of the big egos choose to read this letter, can I plead with them to put aside their wee vendettas, or their need to be leaders of their own wee group, or their need to gain print space in a Unionist rag? The next few months will determine whether we win or lose. The Unionists have virtually no ammunition left. Let’s stop rearming them.

Alasdair Forbes
Farr, Inverness-shire

FREE speech is crucial to a democracy. Unfortunately it means we have to endure blowhards and liars like D Trump, B Johnson and, in Scotland, the publicity-crazed controversialist and “libertarian” Dr Stuart Waiton, self-appointed defender of sectarian chanting at football games and, now, the right of Scottish fans to mix as they choose, the risk of spreading coronavirus notwithstanding.

He actually said – on Radio Scotland Drivetime on Friday – that he believes First Minister Nicola Sturgeon regards Scottish football fans as “despised, white working-class ‘deplorables’”. His problem – or one of them – is that he hates the Scottish Parliament. Nevertheless, I am sure he will defend to the death our right to ignore his ravings and run our country as best as we Scots can.

David Roche