AS one of the most important conferences ever staged by the SNP draws to a close, what will the verdict of history be on the performance of our First Minister of six years standing? Has she presided over the hollowing-out

of a party whose very being is supposedly the independence of our country, or has she proved herself to be the most accomplished of public service managers in the modern era, worthy of the highest echelons of the UN or WHO?

Covid might well be an excuse for inaction on the indy front but there was no Covid in Scotland when she allowed us to be dragged out of the EU against our will. An accomplished politician, no doubt, but she wasted valuable political capital on a rearguard action to prevent Brexit. England voted for Brexit, Scotland didn’t – why did we have to pretend to interfere?

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No doubt my views will be regarded as the height of blasphemy towards a political deity. However, in the traditions of free speech which used to be the cornerstone of the SNP it is important, particularly at this time, that those who purport to lead in fact lead, rather than merely manage, and are entitled to be criticised if they don’t.

I’m in the last chance saloon with my membership as I firmly believe that you can’t influence an organisation if you’re not part and parcel of the organisation. However, in view of the see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, speak-no- evil control freakery and the anodyne composite motions which are a towering tribute to Scottish Labour at its finest, unless there are significant and important changes in the accountability of the organisation, I’m no longer prepared to subscribe to a party of megalomaniacs when the money would be of better value to my local food bank.

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In the face of an ever malignant and venal Westminster operation, our leaders are fiddling while Scotland burns:

• The weasel-word multilateralism of last week’s contribution to the Integrated Review of Foreign Policy and in denial of the expressed wish of the Scottish people to be rid of nuclear weapons on our soil at the earliest possible opportunity.

• The continued pedalling of the Andrew Wilson nonsense on the Sustainable Growth Commission. How is it possible that Denmark using its own krone and New Zealand with its homegrown “kiwi dollar” can cope with the same vicissitudes of a pandemic yet Nicola Sturgeon proposes we go cap in hand to the money markets of London for her sterlingisation plan?

• We have the nonsense of the Justice Secretary dancing on the head of a pin in his defence of the indefensible Hate Crime Bill, which the former governor of the country’s only women’s prison is utterly opposed to, leading her to do the honourable thing and resigned her party membership.

• Alyn Smith and his perception of factionalism when as policy development convener he presides over the biggest map of unacceptable NEC factions in the SNP’s history.

It’s been six years in which the government, preoccupied by a pandemic which appeared on the horizon only within the last year, has made no effort to upgrade either Scotland’s Future or the commendable Scotland’s Right to Choose. Six wasted years on the back of the energy, enthusiasm, excitement and hope of a population that grafted to get from 28% in the opinion polls to 51%, ultimately knocked back to 45%. What’s next, opinion polls need to be at 65%?

To hell with the opinion polls; let’s have a plebiscite election. If it was good enough for Margaret Thatcher, why oh why is it not good enough for us now being screwed by a UK that’s in its dying days?

But then again perhaps the leader’s St Andrew’s Day closing speech to the conference of 2020 will be remembered as the speech of her life.

Iain Bruce

STUART Campbell did not get off to the best of starts in his reply to Alyn Smith’s column (Letters, November 27). His claim to be unaware of who the fictional character Voldemort is lacks credibility as his website, Wings Over Scotland, has numerous references to JK Rowling’s fantasy world. Not least because of his previous antipathy, and now sometime support of, the author. If you’re going to attack someone’s credibility, it’s best not to start off with a statement that brings your own into question.

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He also claims the SNP have done nothing to advance the case for independence. However, the SNP has always maintained it would build support for independence through demonstrably good government, instilling a belief in the Scottish people they are more than capable of governing themselves. This policy has seen support for both independence and the SNP reach unprecedented heights over a sustained period of time. For the first time in modern history, independence has become the majority view among Scots and looks more than achievable. But for Mr Campbell and his followers this is not good enough. The fact is nothing the SNP do will ever be good enough for them.

Similarly, his closing comment lacks credibility. He claims he and his followers are still fighting for independence. Where is the evidence for this? The Wings site has been remarkably free of anything other than anti-SNP articles for more than two years now. There is little, if anything, there that seeks to persuade people to vote for independence. Its sole goal has been to persuade people that the SNP are exceptionally bad, with a focus on genitalia and the right to incite hatred.

Perhaps many of the visitors Mr Campbell boasts of on his site are not indies after all, but Unionists come to marvel at the allegedly pro-independence site doing all their dirty work for them.

Despite all of that, support for the SNP has grown to well over 50%. This implies the Wings site has had little success in its urelentingly negative campaign against the SNP. In this respect, Alyn Smith was probably right. Wings looks like a busted flush.

Stuart Allan