LANGUAGE is important. The Tories are following a deliberate strategy of substituting “nationalist” for “national” in misnaming the SNP because they understand the importance of language in forming impressions in voters.

Boris Johnson has been repeatedly using this strategy at Prime Minister’s Questions, and last week at their conference Michael Gove joined in, showing that they must believe this strategy is working. Talking about the pot calling the kettle black! Brexit was won on the back of British and English nationalism.

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A further example is the Tories continually calling supporters of independence separatists. This from the party which tore the UK and Scotland in particular out of the EU! Sadly the SNP seem reticent in answering these jibes. Rather than countering these unjustified labels, they seen content to accept this coordinated attack without responding.

In my opinion the SNP are missing an opportunity to return these labels with interest. To do so however would require a clear declaration from them that there is no place in an independent Scotland for nationalism or separatism. That an independent Scotland would not only seek to rejoin with our European neighbours but would have a totally different attitude to what is happening in the English Channel with refugees with the rejection of nationalism.

Hopefully the other nations of the British isles would soon want to rejoin us after witnessing the benefits of cooperation rather than pursue the current UK separatist agenda.

Scotland could yet lead the nations of these isles by example but only after independence through the freedom of national, inclusive policies.

Campbell Anderson

SO, Mr Johnson, you have your wish – out of Europe. Result – shortage of HGV drivers, nurses, doctors, care workers to name but a few. Vegetables and fruit rotting in the fields because of the lack of skilled workers to pick it. Empty shelves, another miserable Christmas. Perhaps we should now call you the Grinch.

At what point – hopefully in the near future – will you see the damage you have wreaked on the economy and in particular on poorly paid families? For the latter it will be a very bleak winter worthy of a description by Charles Dickens of the Victorian poor. No heating or lighting – cant afford it; no groaning Christmas table – can’t afford it; no presents round the tree – can’t afford tree or presents. Let’s not forget the pensioners freezing to death because of no heating and oh, the hospitals unable to cope with cold and nutrition-related illness – and the waiting lists getting longer.

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What will your Christmas be like, Mr Johnson? Bet there will be a table laden with fine food, expensive presents round the tree for your many children. I would imagine your colleagues and grandees who made their pile from PPE contracts will be similarly ensconced in warm, well-lit, many-roomed mansions.

You evidently don’t have decency or compassion. You are the very epitome of the emperor fiddling while Rome burns (an analogy you will understand). Businesses closing down, serious causes of illness from lack of affordable heating, and worse – rising prices making nutritious food unaffordable.

There will come a reckoning, Mr Johnson. People will only take so much then will take their chance to oust you from your high tower, to turn to those who offer fairness and a better way forward. Your way is leading to misery and ruin.

Frieda Burns

WHAT a wonderful report back from our still lively columnist Paul Kavanagh (This is how life is one year on from having my stroke, Oct 12). It’s good to hear from you Paul.

Your strength of character, and the many friends you have accumulated over the years, must have have been a wonderful source for survival over the last 12 months. Long may it continue. I myself have been to see your talks on your earlier sojourn around our beautiful country, at meetings in and around Fife, enjoying your tales and opinions, and actually seeing the “ginger dug”. As your found Spanish street hound, I used to wonder how much of the Scots/English language he understood.

Your reference to “life after a stroke having its many challenges, but it’s still life and so there is hope” – I concur completely. Not that I have had a stroke myself, but over a past period of around five years I had three major operations myself, including a triple bypass.

So I too, count on every day as a blessing. Occasionally, we get asked what is our favourite thing. In more recent years mine has been waking up each morning. It’s one of those personal philosophies we develop as we get older and are able to put life into a better perspective.

You must be looking forward, Paul, to having another dog and so reinstating that connection you had with Ginger for so many years. Good luck for the future – one where we can all live happily and comfortably in an independent country we call Scotland.

Alan Magnus-Bennett

I REFER to John Baird’s letter in Monday’s paper. He writes that “two years ago the Covid pandemic and its consequences would have been unthinkable”. On the contrary, it has been well known for at least 30 years that a pandemic was on the way. The government’s own public health specialists, virologists and epidemiologists warned three times in the last 10 years that a pandemic was coming, and that health services were totally unprepared.

The USA had a department that monitored outbreaks of disease all over the world but the president dismissed it as it was too expensive.

Margaret Forbes