THE furore over Tony Blair’s knighthood (while the man who exposed the truth, Julian Assange, rots in jail at her majesty’s pleasure) reminded me of an idea I had years ago; a distinctly Scottish honours system run on egalitarian and democratic principles.

People could only be nominated by ordinary citizens, not politicians, and not for simply being wealthy or powerful. Only people who had contributed to the community by voluntary hands-on work could be nominated; nobody who gained a name via paid employment or business could be nominated; such as an OBE for “services to the chemical industry”. Successful nominees would be allowed to use a Gaelic title such as Urram (Respected), or similar.

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The English system of awarding honours is rotten to the core and always has been. Far more honourable is the long list of people who have refused to be part of this debased clique, which includes so many questionable characters tainted by dubious money, business practices or party donations. Refuseniks include Arnold Bennett, John Cleese, Jack Jones, Benjamin Zephaniah and hundreds of other principled people.

Obviously my suggested alternative requires honing. A panel of citizens (no politicians, clergy or aristocracy allowed) would have to be convened to process nominations and organise presentation ceremonies. Administration costs could come via crowdfunding or nomination fees. These are just ideas – what do readers think?

Richard Walthew

TONY Blair and Keir Starmer are both cut from the same cloth. The great pretenders, selling their parties and souls to Westminster elites, even betraying the people of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales by hiding under English rule as if it’s the British empire of Victorian times. These two are really English nationalists – one previous PM, one wannabe but will never be. Is this political pair what Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales want? I know we deserve better.

Glen Peters

THE narrative on any progressive SNP/Labour pact within the UK must change now and forever. It’s time we took this issue off the front page for the next and any future election, as the future direction of Scotland is not in the hands of politicians either Labour or SNP.

READ MORE: Keir Starmer says UK is 'better together' as he rules out pact with the SNP

If we gain a majority of support – VOTES, NOT SEATS – for independence, that’s what will happen. Until then it won’t ... simples. Until that point, we will stop asking for anything which looks like backroom favours and we will support policy proposals in Scotland’s best interest on a day-by-day and week-by-week basis. Nothing more and nothing less.

We won’t be blamed for Westminster future failure, irrespective of who is in charge.

Gus McSkimming

I AM keen to see an end to the current uncivil war in the Scottish independence movement to no less a degree than Ruth Wishart is (Time to bring an end to this uncivil war and focus on independence, Dec 19). However, I think Joanna Cherry and Maggie Chetty (Letters, Dec 24) are right to make it clear that unity can’t be achieve by ignoring differences. Only by facing up to differences, even if people agree to disagree, can unity be built.

I, like Joanna, accept without question that Nicola Sturgeon is the best leader, and the SNP are the best party to take us to independence, but unlike Joanna I am not a member of the SNP. If, however, the SNP is to retain a leading role in the independence movement, they need to firmly establish principles which make leaders effective and respected.

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To have differences of opinion in political and philosophic ideas is natural and healthy, particularly in a democratic society, indeed it is one of democracy’s strengths. The leadership of the SNP needs to be seen as defending the right of individuals to openly debate issues which are controversial in the party and in society. Vigorous debate will not harm any democratic party, but personal attacks and attempts to suppress debate will do great harm.

It is clear that some issues can’t be openly discussed in some sections of the independence movement today, because to address them is to insight friction. Important issues such as currency, or matters of gender, or establishing our own statistics agency, or alternatives to a referendum are no longer subjects for debate. They seem to be taboo, and raising them seems to be provocative.

This is not healthy, and political unity can’t be built on such foundations. So yes, Ruth, we do need unity, and yes, the SNP leadership is central to this, but we need to build this from a position of open, democratic debate and without personal rancour.

Andy Anderson

I WAS intrigued by the headline on page 14 on Wednesday which read: “Yellow snow warning is put in place”. Surely the article should have just read “Don’t eat it!”

Dave King