THE headline of Andrew Tickell’s column in the Sunday National (Insulated and unchallenged – the real issues with middle-class Scotland, February 14) – rang bells. The comfortable middle class is preventing our country from going forward. The urban form uses fee-paying schools, owns houses that increase in value and thus are able to leave money to their children. The rural type is the same but by owning land is even more insulated. As long as there is no threat to their foreign holidays, they want no change.

READ MORE: Andrew Tickell: This is the problem with Darren McGarvey's representation of middle-class Scotland

They both have various tributaries from those with big pensions or business people that made a killing, which soon join the main stream. They cannot be changed by education or debate. The only answer is to take from those that have and give to those in want, as a Middle Eastern teacher once proposed.

Iain WD Forde

KIRSTEEN Patterson’s article on the folly of yet another of Boris Johnson’s attempts to cover up his mishandling of everything he puts his hand to was funny, ie being led by Puff the Magic Dragon (‘Boris Burrow’ is backed by Jack as report due, February 15). Nevertheless, what we need now is some serious investigative journalism on Scotland’s rail, road and sea port infrastructure.

For example, driving around some of the major and minor roads is akin to what I imagine it was like travelling the Oregon trail in the USA in the 1800s or manipulating the Serengeti in a fiat panda today, constantly dodging potholes and lumps of tarmac.

Johnson’s big ideas never seem to come to fruition nor will they benefit the masses, and yet while these are trumpeted from the walls of bastion Britain, real problems exist in transport infrastructure both on land and sea. Where are the long-term ideas for the Rest and Be Thankful (why not a tunnel?) which is, after all, a major lifeline for the west coast. Where are the plans for a sea lane infrastructure enabling goods and people to travel to Europe or the Scandinavian countries directly from Scotland?

READ MORE: 'Early April Fool's' for Boris Johnson over Scotland to Ireland tunnel

Currently sitting right in front of my flat in Old Kilpatrick is a temporary Bailey road bridge constructed with great skill and very quickly despite massive storms last February and because the original road/rail bridge was crumbling.Why was the original bridge not repaired or replaced years ago? Why is the Scottish rail network not being expanded on a massive scale?

And while all of the above is not happening, the massive but dubious high-speed rail link in England is ploughing its way across areas of natural beauty with no real benefit to ordinary people. And then we have Faslane, which is growing exponentially as I write but giving no security to hundreds of thousands of people living within its probable blast range.

Infrastructure projects that benefit all both economically and socially are what Scotland needs, now and in the future.

Alan Hind
Old Kilpatrick

LIKE John Drummond, I have watched with a mixture of sadness and alarm the decline in the moral and ethical standards of both political thinking and actions by the British establishment, especially over recent years (St Valentine’s Day massacre of morals and ethics by a British government made up of spivs and gangsters, February 14). I have often pondered the reasons for this.

READ MORE: St Valentine’s Day massacre of morals by a UK Government made up of spivs and gangsters

It used to be held almost as a truism that the end seldom justified the means. Amongst numerous possible answers to the above, I wonder whether the throwing out of this valuable maxim is partly responsible for the decline – ie, so long as the end is held to be good by the party in question, almost any means become acceptable. So if, say, the preservation of the Union is seen as a “good end” by the Unionists, then any amount of money can be squandered, any even illegal means can be justifiably used to achieve this end? A moral somersault has been accomplished?

Yes, for all our sakes, an independent Scotland needs a non-partisan, morally sound, written constitution to be introduced right at the outset of this new era.

Valerie Waters
East Lothian

I WAS very interested in the letter from Ivor Telfer in this week’s Sunday National, because I have also been chatting to Marvin from Mars (he’s a charming little fellow, isn’t he Ivor?)

He told me he is learning a range of Earth languages, but is having some problems with English, certain words and phrases in particular. One of the things that has got the wee guy really perplexed is the word “mandate”.

The Chambers dictionary gives the following definition: permission to govern according to declared policies, regarded as officially granted by an electorate to a particular political party or leader upon the decisive outcome of an election.

Our Martian friend asked me to explain why the SNP, having been repeatedly, decisively elected on a declared policy of holding an independence referendum, were being told over and over again by Westminster politicians, Unionist MSPs, and various other commentators that they did not in fact have a mandate to do so, and furthermore if they were once more elected decisively (on a majority gained under proportional representation), they still wouldn’t have a mandate.

“Does the word mandate,” asked Marvin, “have a different meaning when applied to Scotland?”

I didn’t really know how to help him. “I think it’s called cognitive dissonance, Marvin,” I said. He rushed off to look that up in his Martian-to-English phrasebook. I hope for his sake he doesn’t come across the word “democracy” any time soon. That’ll really blow his Martian mind!

Maggie Milne