LIKE many readers and supporters of independence I am heartened by the results of conference’s election to the SNP NEC.

The membership, in my opinion, have successfully reclaimed the party and its direction by electing representatives with a more balanced view of the type of society we aspire to as an independent nation. Issues like gender recognition and the proposed new Hate Crime Bill should never have been progressed at this time, they are superfluous to the immediate cause of seeking independence and indeed risk alienating large sections of support. Time enough after independence.

READ MORE: Why does the FM assert that we need London’s permission for independence?

Congratulations to the new NEC members and to our new president. On that primary objective – independence – I am totally in agreement with Alan Crocket (Letters, December 2),

Alan correctly points out that “Holyrood’s right to hold a referendum is a devolution issue”, indeed as constrained by the Scotland Act. By contrast Scotland, as a nation, like the peoples of all nations of the world, has an overarching right to assert for our own independence. This is a fundamental right recognised by the United Nations.

The party leadership’s repeatedly voiced acceptance that the Westminster government must “ grant” us a right to this fundamental point of principle does nothing but demean our case and cause.

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I first joined the SNP in 1971. No-one in the party leadership, at that time nor for a “generation” thereafter, ever suggested that Scotland needed Westminster’s “permission” to hold a confirmatory referendum before seceding from our union with England.

The party stood on a platform that should a majority of Scotland’s elected MPs be SNP and if the party carried the popular vote across Scotland, then these circumstances alone were the mandate to commence negotiations to secede from the Union. Even Margaret Thatcher, the ultra-Unionist Tory Prime Minister, accepted that position.

How we have got ourselves into the current position is quite baffling to me. As Alan states: “London has always accepted, correctly, that the decision on independence is for Scotland alone”.

I accept that a precedent was set, under the devolution settlement, in 2014. However, that opportunity under devolution will never be open to us again as it was only “given” on the basis that the establishment thought it would not even come close to winning. Alex Salmond started at 22% support in 2012.

There has never been a better time to develop a Plan B, indeed it is outlined above, and I am hopeful that the new intake will take the necessary steps to deliver it as formal policy.

Ian Stewart
Uig, Isle of Skye

I WAS puzzled to read Alan Crocket’s letter in which he asserts that our First Minister keeps expressing the need to ask the UK Prime Minister’s “permission” to call a referendum on Scottish independence. I suggest he may have got it wrong.

Not only has Holyrood been legislating for such a vote, but in her SNP conference speech on Monday, referring to the May 2021 election, Nicola said: “And in that election I will seek your [the Scottish public’s] authority – and no-one else’s – for a legal referendum to be held in the early part of the new parliament.”

I do not think she could be clearer: the only permission she will look for is that of the Scottish people, and in her eyes it is that that will make the referendum “legal”.

The aim of coming to an agreement with the UK Government, similar to the one forged for 2014 in Edinburgh is, I believe, simply step one in a process of letting the international community see that our referendum will be no “rogue” event, as we will even have consulted with the other nation involved in the Union of 1707.

Should it be impossible to reach agreement in these (international) discussions with the UK, my feeling is that the First Minister would then refer the matter to the United Nations and to any other appropriate authority (eg the European Court of Justice?) while proceeding, as is Scotland’s right, with the referendum.

I wonder if Mr Crocket’s concern, however understandable, is misplaced.

Michael F Troon
Gauldry, Fife

TO a certain extent the BBC is in a no-win situation. Conservatives accuse it of being biased towards Labour, and vice-versa. So the state broadcaster has to defend a claimed impartiality, as Clare Sumner did in her letter of November 28, declaring that “impartiality is the bedrock of the BBC”.

However, that bedrock turns to quicksand when it comes to Scotland and the BBC’s impartiality becomes an amorphous concept. BBC Scotland does not seem to realise that it has been rumbled by a majority of Scottish people. We’ve all seen the kid-gloves interviewing of Conservative guests and the aggressive, constant interruptions of answers from SNP politicians.

My own scepticism goes right back to the 1970s; North Sea oil has only just started flowing ashore when in about 1975 the BBC broadcast a documentary which claimed the oil would run out in ten years. Even then it was known that was not the case. Years later in 1992, 30,000 people marched in Edinburgh for devolution; it was completely ignored by six o’clock news and only after many complaints was given a brief mention at nine. We are now wise to the manipulations, distortions, deceits and omissions of BBC news output, and many like me take no notice of it now.

On the face of it the licence fee is fantastic value as it pays for drama, comedy, wildlife features, sport, documentaries, sitcoms and so much more. But then there is the news and its unreliability, giving rise to the suspicion that if it is being manipulated. Are other programme also being censored?

Clare Sumner makes much of BBC news viewing figures compared with Sky and Channel 5, but what about the choice millions have made – the award-winning Channel 4?

Richard Walthew