I HAD hoped to hear a coherent and thought-out strategy for achieving independence during the SNP leadership debates, but found that all candidates, perhaps understandably, hedged their bets.

After the defeat in 2014, the independence movement, including SNP, should have given priority to discovering what went wrong. Had they so done, they would have realised that they had prepared a programme to convince their support to turn out rather than one to win over those who were unsure. The 600-plus-page “Scotland’s Future” is one example if this, as few undecided were likely to wade through such a massive tome. A shorter pamphlet outlining the benefits would have been more useful. But, vitally, that tome did not anticipate the questions that were asked of those out knocking the doors in an effort to win support for independence.

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The most frequent questions – the pound in the pocket, cross-border travel, the effect on pensions and wages – were exploited by opponents to undermine confidence about what would happen after independence. The planners were so busy arguing for independence, they did not consider how Unionists would argue against: and Scotland paid the price for their failure.

The suggestion that the next General Election be used as a de facto referendum is suicidal. The pro-independence vote will be split between SNP and Alba, leaving the way open for Labour to win seats and the other Unionist parties to retain those they hold. Political ambition will, as ever, frustrate any attempt to unite and have only one pro-independence candidate in each seat, and Westminster will be quick to point out the General Election is a first-past-the-post system, and, despite the numbers of votes cast for independence candidates, that the electors rejected independence.

What Scotland needs is leaders who plan properly and carefully, explain their case clearly and simply, giving priority to anticipating how their opponents are likely to attack their case and how to counter their arguments.

It has been said a good general does not plan how to attack the enemy position, he plans how to defend it: that way he knows how to win the battle.

T J Dowds

IT’S cards on the table time in Scotland with a party in power whose ultimate goal is, as members believe, to gain independence for our country by severing our union with the remainder of UK, in effect breaking our ties with a government at Westminster which has been disrespectful of Scotland’s interests throughout our lifetimes and, it would seem, throughout the entirety of the Union.

What on earth are we waiting for?

Key areas of concern in run-up to devolution were removal of nuclear weapons from our shores, land reform to counter the chronic imbalance of landownership, and urban poverty – to a large extent a consequence of uninhibited landownership right up to this day.

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In the meantime we’ve had Brexit thrust upon us and its subsequent detrimental outcomes glazed over by Westminster as if the big B had never happened (and a less-than-welcome dose of Johnson in case anyone is confused).

Nuclear subs are still with us.

Land reform moves at snail’s pace despite calls for revolutionary change to replace council tax and fund public services by land tax. Meanwhile urban poverty is as rife as ever while the social divide escalates with food banks opening as public services stretch to breaking point.

None of this need be the case if we simply taxed those who hold the wealth of the nation bound up in our land, that single asset we all share by necessity yet are largely denied by accident of birth. We don’t all want to own the land but we all deserve to benefit from its wealth.

To my mind the priority for our party is election of that person with the determination to focus all efforts toward gaining our independence while nominating another to lead government.

Ash Regan 1, Kate Forbes 2 get my votes.

Tom Gray

PLEASE, candidates for FM, don’t pander to the Daily Mail and the right-wing Westminster Eton Mess!

It seemed everybody and their auntie wanted to know how many SNP members there were, and worryingly you joined in – with one of you asking for an independent observer. Really?

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At a time when the Tories are bringing the country to its knees as well as blocking Scottish legislation, asking UK worldwide embassies to keep an eye on the Scots when they visit to promote Scotland – the message being don’t encourage them – purchasing new nuclear weapons that we will have to help pay for, a Budget that favours the 1% top earners and not forgetting the Moray Tories and their bridge that will be repaired at a cost of £1.5m – really, when kids are starving and cold?

The list is long. Advice for candidates – stop falling into the right-wing propaganda and media trap. Work together and get us out of this Union that doesn’t work for Scotland and, with 55 million people in England, never will!

Jan Ferrie

THANK you for the retro National front page on Thursday’s issue by Damian Shields. This is far superior to the usual clutter of headlines and causes your paper to stand out on the news stands from the Unionist crud. Please use this frontage more often in the future.

Kenneth Burnett

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RISHI Sunak upgrades his connection to the National Grid in order to heat his new luxury swimming pool. The following week his Chancellor gives him a tax cut to help pay for it.

You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Watson Crawford