COP26 will soon be upon us. The Unionists and their domestic media allies will do their very best to see that the independence movement, the Scottish First Minister and the rest of us ordinary mortals are kept as far away from the international visitors and media as possible.

With only this short time to go, I wonder what plans do the SNP leadership have to make sure that the case for our independence is both seen and heard? Are plans afoot for a massive march and demonstration to as near the COP26 venues as possible? Will the First Minister lead the march?

READ MORE: Scotland set to host series of high-profile talks in run-up to COP26

Will there be firework displays, huge multi-media projections on the walls of prominent Glasgow buildings? Saltires from every lamp post and banners on every motorway bridge from the airports to the COP26 venues? Has advertising space been purchased in every newspaper and publication that the international delegates might read? Has any billboard advertising been booked and purchased?

Have preparation been made for a massive social media campaign? Will some of the £600,000 ring-fenced independence fund be used to finance this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make our voice heard in the world? Has any appeal for more funding been prepared?

There seem to be lots of questions but very few answers coming from the SNP leadership. Surely plans are all in hand. Please tell us they are.

John Baird

ON Tuesday morning on Good Morning Scotland, Paul Johnston, head of the Institute of Fiscal Studies, got it wrong and peddled an age-old story – maybe knowingly, hopefully not, as he should know better.

The discussion with Gary Robertson was on the PM’s plan for Westminster to fund recovery of NHS using an uplift to National Insurance Contributions (NICs).

In the discussion, he advised that if the UK Government changed the NIC rate there would be a big lump of money coming to the Scottish Government, as part of the Barnett consequentials.

READ MORE: Scotland is 'being shafted' by plans to raise National Insurance, say SNP MPs

This is actually a correct summary, but the words are loaded. It implies that as the UK HMRC collect this tax, and the planned increase, it is therefore within their gift that they pass on a sum to Scotland. This reinforces the unfortunate falsehood and belief, frequently repeated, that Scotland is subsidised.

This “big lump” of NIC contributions are contributed to by Scots folks working and paying tax to HMRC.

Remember that Scotland pays tax to UK HMRC, and gets returned some 65% or thereby to manage Scotland. The 35% retained by UK HMRC gets used on defence, foreign office and international development, but also on additional special projects – London Crossrail, UK HS2 to Leeds, Trident, Hinkley C and Sizewell C Nuclear power stations, to name a few – for which Scotland sees very little benefit.

It is these types of slips of tongue or poor choice of language which can be deliberately used to influence a story down a guided path.

Alistair Ballantyne
Birkhill, Angus

HIP hip hurrah for the Union Dividend:

  • No triple lock on pensions (we currently have the worst pensions in Europe).
  • An increase in National Insurance (hitting the poorest the hardest).
  • Many will still have to sell their home to pay for care so it is still unfair.
  • No additional tax on unearned income
  • No additional tax on earnings, not even for the top earners.

I somehow think Boris might regret his description of the UNION DIVIDEND.

Winifred McCartney

PERHAPS the Alba Party should have been named the Disaffected Radicals’ Independence Party (DRIP). The constant feed of anti-SNP comments expressed by some in the letters pages, and others through the privilege of columns in national newspapers, often appears to be a smokescreen for a radical socialist agenda that sometimes appears to place left-wing ideology ahead of the ambition for Scotland to determine its own constitutional and political future.

This is not a surprise to many who have, over decades, seen the drift of Labour Party supporters to the SNP, and more recently Alba, or those who have followed the activities of the left-wing 79 Group within the SNP that included Alex Salmond, Kenny MacAskill and Jim Sillars.

READ MORE: Does the Green deal guard against defections from the SNP to Alba?

Of course the “fading voices” of those who for logical reasons became disenchanted with the Labour Party in Scotland are now particularly frustrated that the First Minister and the Scottish Government are not moving faster to exploit the undemocratic imposition of a catastrophic Brexit on Scotland as well as the gross incompetence and corruption in and around the UK Government.

Like everyone who supports independence I would like to see a referendum date set sooner rather than later, but before we start to run in any ideological direction – over and above creating a democratic, egalitarian and fair society – we should first seek to walk arm in arm with as many of our fellow Scottish citizens as we can reach, irrespective of their personal political philosophies.

(PS I should add that I am not a member of the SNP or any other political party!)

Stan Grodynski
Longniddry, East Lothian

I WAS interested in your article headlined “James Kelly appointed as Scottish Labour’s new general secretary”. Perhaps an alternative headline would be “Captain appointed to political Titanic over a decade after it sank”.

Brian Lawson