AS usual Mike Russell’s article in The National on Saturday stands out because of his understanding of government gained through many years of first-hand experience of trying to reconcile the aspirations of the public with the practicality of government (Politics is all about changing lives for the better – we would do well to remember that, Mar 25).

Regrettably his statement that “the real purpose of politics is actually and always has been about how to constantly strive to change people’s lives for the better” is no longer the purpose for the opposition in the Holyrood parliament.

Jane Macleod’s article on the ferries contract report (SNP slam committee chair, Mar 24) contains an anonymous quote from a Labour source regarding function of the Audit Committee that “this kind of cultish refusal to accept any blame on behalf of the SNP is the exact opposite of what MSPs are on the committee to do”.

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Throughout the report the opposition’s emphasis is on constructing a ladder of blame starting from the announcement of the preferred bidder for the contract at the yard, up through the Scottish Government, ending at the First Minister.

The Audit Committee’s report is titled “New vessels for the Clyde and Hebrides: Arrangements to deliver vessels 801 and 802”.

The committee’s conclusion, “we believe that a formal review of the entire project on completion of the vessels is essential in learning important lessons for the future and preventing a similar situation from happening again,” leaves readers wondering why it chose to place this report before parliament when it was simply an admission that the committee had failed to make any recommendations that would expedite the delivery of the ferries.

By presenting this far-from-complete report to parliament just before Nicola Sturgeon’s final FMQs, the opposition has proved that their long-term concentration on the ferries has been about playing the blame game, far removed from constantly striving to change people’s lives for the better.

John Jamieson
South Queensferry

DEAR Nicola,

We at the SNP Thurso Branch would like to pass on our thanks and gratitude for the years you have served as our leader and First Minister.

You have fulfilled your duty with dignity, honesty and integrity and we have been proud to campaign for the party and to have supported you over all of those years. You have opened up the party to a whole new generation and helped people to be more engaged in Scottish politics and the country’s future.

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Although we are really sorry you are standing down, we know whoever replaces you will have solid foundations to move forward with, and that is due to your hard work and dedication. We would have liked it to be you standing at Bute House in the future declaring our independence, however it’s not to be. We know you will still be working hard for the party behind the scenes and whoever does take us forward will be carrying on your legacy.

Alistair Crawford
Press officer, SNP Thurso branch

THOUGHT-PROVOKING letter by Christopher Bruce on Saturday (What’s stopping our MPs from grabbing the world’s attention?, Mar 25). Surely it would only do the movement good to let the world now what we are about and that the independence case is still very much alive and kicking, something that Lesley Riddoch promotes in many of her articles.

Ken McCartney

I CAN’T disagree more with Bobby Brennan in his recent attack on Alex Salmond in the letters page (Mar 24). Alex Salmond is the only first minister to have delivered an independence referendum – and he didn’t have the political clowns of May, Truss and Johnson to tackle! As for the constant comments about his court case. he was acquitted of all charges. and as for the Scottish Government’s complaints process against him, it was ruled to be “unlawful”, “procedurally unfair” and “tainted by apparent bias”.

Cllr Kenny MacLaren

IN response to John Mason’s call for “more equality for all unborn babies in the future”, I would ask exactly why the patriarchy is not calling for all men to stop scattering their seed and refusing to take responsibility for the consequences? Why is it the women who are being targeted? Unless, of course, the unborn babies are the result of immaculate conception, in which case we should ALL be celebrating the miracle.

Margaret Forbes

IF things were not discouraging enough, I noted with horror on TV what seems to be nasty staining defacing the concrete of the parliament building. Years ago I pleaded for cleaning up of the architecturally imposing St Andrew’s House, home of the Scottish Executive, whose stonework is filthy. God knows my faith in the common sense of the Scottish Government has been shaken (which is not to say I don’t yearn for independence with the same passion – more actually, but now, at my age, tinged with desperation...). Please clean up Scotland’s image tout suite. You know who you are.

David Roche

IN Saturday’s National I note you used the title Queen Elizabeth II for the late queen (‘Demise’ list sees Queen’s honours given to Scots, Mar 26). As this runs a steamroller over important parts of our history, thus entrenching its questionable validity in people’s minds, would it be possible, in future, to refer to her as Queen Elizabeth II (and I) or even better, Queen Elizabeth I (and II)?

R Millar