THE grassroots movement for independence is still a vibrant force. Countless thousands of ordinary folk are active on a daily basis, online, on marches, in the streets, anywhere they can talk to people about the reasons why Scotland should be an independent country. Their passion is unabated.

These are people who think. People who think that we deserve better than Westminster. People who think that the current level of Tory corruption and cronyism is unacceptable. People who think that jokes about the death of mining and fishing communities are not funny. People who believe in a fairer, more compassionate Scotland. People who believe in the NHS, free education, and support for the elderly. But where is our Lech Walesa?

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There is now an increasing number of organisations that push the nationalist agenda. Most of them have their own ideas of the way forward, how to achieve independence, and what Scotland will look like in the brave new world. They do not seem to have a group focus; instead they often appear to be competing against one another.

This was epitomised at the 2021 Holyrood election, where the “SNP 1 and 2” mantra cost the smaller pro-independence parties the opportunity to represent their followers at Holyrood.

More than one million regional (or list) votes were cast for the SNP, resulting in TWO seats, while the Unionists gained 46 seats at less than 25,000 votes each. And this was not a surprise; history told us this would be the case.

Just one strong, trusted, independent voice could have made these results dramatically different. So where is our Nelson Mandela?

We could have had a clear pro-independence majority and, perhaps more importantly, a pro-independence opposition holding the SNP government to account.

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By contrast the Unionists, in typically amoral fashion, voted for their traditional enemies to prevent SNP constituency gains (Dumbarton is an obvious case). They got organised, swallowed their pride and their beliefs, and voted for candidates whose politics they despise.

So how do we overcome this? Should we be asking if the SNP, our great hope for self-determination, has become not just the solution, but part of the problem? Do their members, like the Tories, put party before country?

This is not a party issue. This is about Scotland, and the Scots.

The SNP has entered into an agreement with the Green Party and this has huge support. The cross-party Day of Action on September 18 aims to begin a sustained campaign for independence lasting right up to indyref2. But we are in desperate need of someone to lead the way, to unite the disparate groups, to bring a new focus to the tens of thousands of footsoldiers, and to drive us forward with a clear timetable and a common goal.

Where are you, Jimmy Reid?

CE Ayr and Jenne Gray

GLENDA Burns raises a good point about the lack of visual presence by the SNP leadership at rallies, marches etc.

Do they consider it beneath them to be seen publicly campaigning once they achieve office? It looks kinda like it to ordinary supporters.

Could it be their “don’t scare the horses” approach means that they’re afraid to be associated with anything the could be construed as radical?

What’s the the point of independence if there’s no change or even the prospect of change? Is the message to supporters now one of simply “we’ll try to mitigate the UK’s policies” rather than promoting a different approach openly?

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“Steady as she goes” is fine in calm waters, but a change of course is advisable when visible hazards are on the horizon. Maybe they’re using the wrong compass (moral?) to navigate the political course.

Time is ebbing fast for the current leadership approach, though they seem not to be aware and to be self-satisfied with what they’re doing. It’s time to put the spoon in the pot and start stirring.

Drew Reid

AT a time when the country is facing huge financial challenges, the UK Government is proposing spending up to £180 million over ten years on a voter ID scheme that will make it harder for people to vote in elections.

We live in a country that doesn’t have mandatory photo ID cards, yet the UK Government wants to insist on everyone having one if they want to vote in elections. That’s despite millions of people not owning a photo ID – often the elderly, the young and people with disabilities.

If those people want to keep their right to vote, then they face either paying out to get one or having to go to the council offices to apply for a free one – at a cost of up to £180m for taxpayers.

No-one knows how long it will take to get this ID, because even the government hasn’t worked it out properly.

The whole scheme is an expensive distraction that risks people being turned away from the polling station when they go to vote. I urge people to support organisations like Unlock Democracy, the Electoral Reform Society and Fair Vote, in writing to your MP asking them to oppose these plans.

James Buchanan
via email

I WOULD like to point out to Frieda Burns that while Monday August 30 was a Bank Holiday it was not a Public Holiday. In Scotland a Bank Holiday and a Public Holiday are not the same thing. A Bank Holiday is exactly what it says – a holiday for the banks – but for the rest of us it’s a normal working day.

Louise Bradley
via email