LIKE most people, I was surprised by Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation as First Minister.

Nicola had some very good qualities as a political leader and the SNP will find it difficult to replace her. Nicola’s ability to communicate, her progressive political views, her ability to debate issues and to express common understanding of people’s problems all stood out like a lighthouse among UK political leaders in the last decade, and people could see this.

However, Nicola was human, with human weaknesses like we all have. Nicola was very conservative, with a small “c”, and found it difficult to make major political advances even when she understood the political necessity for them. This held her back on the currency issue, on fiscal policy, on social policy and most significantly on finding a road to independence.

Another problem which was developing in the SNP, probably because Nicola’s husband was also in a senior position in the party, is that those close to them began to appear as a tight-knit core who dominated the party structure. Some of this core group have recently been suggesting that party representatives who do not agree with their views of party policy should be expelled from the SNP, which would be a dangerous thing for  democracy.

I believe that Nicola knew this. She recognised that her insistence on a “legal” road to independence had failed, and she had led us into a UK establishment trap. She understood that to get out of that trap and move forward required much more political initiative and courageous leadership than she felt she could offer, and I think that, once again, she judged that right.

So the SNP now need to make the same assessment as Nicola did and seriously consider who the next SNP leader should be.

Nicola herself came to the leadership of the party when the SNP had a successful joint leadership team, with Alex Salmond in the UK Parliament and Nicola in the Scottish Parliament. That team worked well and helped us all to see and recognise Nicola’s ability before she became leader.

Maybe we should learn from that and look again for a fresh leadership team of leader and deputy leader, one in each parliament, and try to develop a new team structure which involves the whole SNP membership and which is seen as leading the wider Yes campaign in Scotland.

Nicola carried the torch for a long time and did a very good job, but it is now time for the movement to get a new leadership team, to defend Scottish sovereignty from the Supreme Court attack and to step up a political gear in the independence movement. If the SNP get a new dynamic leadership team and start addressing the needs of the Scottish people, independence will be open to us in a relatively short time.
Andy Anderson

WORDS have meaning, they signpost to us – so we ought to be careful that we meaningfully use them, else they lose their significance and become nonsense, or worse, they signpost in a counter-productive way to the intention of our use.

This is why we ought to stop referring to “the movement” when describing the entirety of individuals, organisations and political parties that support Scottish independence.

The term “movement”, although a noun, refers to an act of moving – which is to say actions of movement – ie movement towards independence. There is no “the movement”. There is movement, and it is people who make movement, or not, with their acts and omissions. A gait of a horse is not the same as the horse itself. A wave on the ocean is not the same as the water itself. Movement is not the same as the movers themselves.

This is of crucial importance to get right if we are to win the fight for independence. If we implicitly disempower independence supporters through using well-intentioned but clumsy, and powerful, language, then the movers won’t do the moving, as they will see themselves as it, which determines that all that needs done is just to support the cause and be alive, which is itself enough; that we simply need to grow the volume of support and increase the size of the Yes population, and that this will do the moving as they are the movement. This creates passivity, and a serious top-heavy emphasis on the acts and omissions of politicians and media-types, while independence supporters watch on and wonder why things are not moving.

Instead, let’s use it correctly – it’s the movers, the people, that move and make movement. All actions, great and small, achieve this. Actions generate movement. Movement generates momentum. Momentum generates acceleration. Acceleration generates advancement.

Therefore, let’s empower the Yes community to make moves, rather than just feeling pontificated to, frustrated and bemused. Let’s enable independence supporters to act in the here and now. We need the movers to move it, and so if using the term movement, in respect of Scottish independence, let’s use it correctly and meaningfully, else the phrase at root has the power to hinder movement towards independence.

There are several existing words to choose from to describe a collective of people. Let’s choose words from these, or even coin new ones – but not “the movement”, as it does not exist. Let’s use language that will empower the movers to make ripples and waves, and together whip up a storm.
Neil Mackay
via email

KATE Forbes’s religious beliefs are irrelevant. If she’s the best option on offer to get us Scottish independence, then it wouldn’t be of any consequence if she believed we should all wear tinfoil hats to counter the alien mind-control ectoplasm beaming down from Betelgeuze. We can sort all that out later. Without independence, we get what Westminster forces us along with the advice, with menaces, to suck it up.

I personally think religious belief is The Worst Thing Ever to happen on this planet, but that’s irrelevant. Independence first; then pick the lumps out of it.

The SNP (not me) have three options: an oil-based, Tory-adjacent weathervane, a Status Quo fan, or a smart Wee Free. Forbes isn’t going to chain up the swings or ban CalMac on Sundays. She gets one vote on such matters, same as any other in Holyrood; but she just might get us independence. That’s all that matters. Then you can vote for whatever you like.

Until then … suck it up, or back the best option on offer.

There is, of course, a fourth option: civil war. I’d like to avoid that one, if at all possible.

None of the above is not a thing … sorry ‘bout that.
Gwilym Barlow

I JUST finished reading the article “Graeme McGarry on Thursday” where he makes many valid points about the game of football in Scotland, more specifically “The Old Firm” and the dangers of pyrotechnics and the chants of the fans on the terracing.

Looking at the detail in the article by Graeme, certain aspects can be changed immediately! Others, probably never in my lifetime.

The pressing and most important change that MUST be made is to prevent pyrotechnics from being carried into a stadium, ANY STADIUM!

How do you achieve this? Quite simple. At each entrance to the stadium, you “filter” supporters from a group into a single file. Each fan will be searched for items such as pyrotechnics – any item that can be considered “dangerous”, such as a “stick” or an “offensive” banner, will be removed or that person will not have access to the event.

Oh, I can hear the screams from the officials – “it’s too expensive” or “it takes away the enjoyment of the spectacle”. Well, I for one would be much happier

if these so-called fans were rooted out and never allowed into a sporting event ever again.

How many of the “fans” attending a football match have passed through a security check at a building or, more probable, just prior to boarding an aircraft to fly to an away game or go on holiday?

We know well WHY these safety checks are necessary and if we don’t comply, we don’t get to board the aircraft. It’s much more simple than one would think to set up, but only if those in authority such as the police (never will it be the SFA) insist it is implemented.

Immediately, you have addressed the most dangerous of the problems!

As for the obscene and offensive chants, it is with a heavy heart that I must accept that is one problem that will never be solved.

The person who makes these chants has their own hatred and bigotry ingrained within their psyche, it will never leave them, and during events such as the Old Firm matches, it surfaces.

This obscene and offensive chanting is not limited to sporting events, it also happens at a school football game, gay pride marches and independence marches.

Where you have differing views, you will always have an element who will resort to obscene and offensive chanting, and, occasionally, violence.

So, until you “filter out” the offensive supporters, you will never be allowed to enjoy a pint of your favourite beer, or whatever your tipple, at a football match.
Jim Todd

GENERAL Question Time before First Minister’s Questions heard a very pertinent question in the midst of the cost of living crisis and considering increases to energy prices are just around the corner.

MSP Bill Kidd asked how many payments of the Scottish Child Payment had been made in his constituency of Glasgow Anniesland since its roll out. The minister Shona Robison was able to inform the chamber that more than 331,000 payments had been made in the Glasgow City local authority area between February 2021 and December 2022 – an amazing achievement for Social Security Scotland and a huge move forward in tackling poverty.

Bill Kidd called for the UK Government to follow the Scottish Government and introduce the Child Payment in other parts of the UK. This move would be groundbreaking for households in other parts of the UK and the Chancellor and the Conservative Government at Westminster will have the opportunity to demonstrate any commitment they may have to tackling poverty by announcing the introduction and roll-out of the Child Payment for all children and households in the UK in the spring Budget on March 15.
Catriona C Clark

IF it can be arranged for Northern Ireland, it can be arranged for Scotland and leave the remainder to the fate they voted for.

We must demand what we voted for and have first-class ferry routes established from Rosyth to Europe.
Tom Gray