OCCASIONALLY I read articles in The National which genuinely raise my hackles. Those which appeared in Monday’s edition from Chris McEleny and George Kerevan fell within that category.

Both McEleny and Kerevan felt the need to be critical of the SNP convention of last Saturday without either having been present to witness the event or listening to the discussions that took place at it.

The convention was the first time in a very long time that ordinary SNP members have had the opportunity to meet en masse with the leadership of the party, listen to what they were saying and, in return, let them know the opinions of ordinary party members.

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As expected, those opinions were wide-ranging and varied, but as everybody who attended Saturday’s event (myself included) knew well in advance, no specific proposition was going to be taken forward without full and proper consultation with the membership through our SNP branches, constituency associations and our party conference.

When the final position is reached, it will be one which has been decided by the party’s membership, not one individual or small group of individuals within it.

McEleny spoke in his article about the benefit of a “Scotland United” approach to the next election.

Had he been present at the Caird Hall on Saturday he would have heard that particular position being expressed by various speakers at the rostrum as well as during an on platform discussion by Lesley Riddoch, Gordon McIntyre-Kemp and Paul Kavanagh.

The “Scotland United” approach was not discounted by any speaker at Saturday’s event and my advice to Chris McEleny would be not to jump to any conclusions that it will be.

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George Kerevan’s article did, however, irk me more. As per usual George was attempting to offer the SNP advice on what it should and should not be doing to further Scotland on the road to independence. While he is perfectly entitled to have an opinion on this and pontificate, it might be a wee bit more helpful if he could actually offer some hard and practical advice on the matter.

Telling us that we need a “Jacobin response” to make “Westminster rule slowly unworkable north of the Border” is all very easy. What George omitted to provide, however, was hard examples of the “Jacobin response” that he is telling the SNP to take. Perhaps if he reads this letter he’ll complete that part of his article next week. In the meantime, I and other members of our local SNP branch will be out on the doorsteps delivering leaflets and actually trying to do something practical to progress the case for independence.

Jim Finlayson

NOT for the first time, George Kerevan is critical of the SNP without offering any practical solutions as to how Scotland might gain its independence.

He refers to “an elected Scottish Government representing a sovereign Scottish people actually refusing to accept the dictates of the Westminster and Whitehall establishment.” Precisely how is that achieved, if those dictates are legal: for example, as a result of the Internal Market Act?

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He also says: “But demonstrating in support of a radical Scottish Government that is defying the UK Treasury over welfare spending or immigration rights is a different matter.” Precisely how can a Scottish Government defy the UK Treasury when the latter holds most of the purse strings on welfare spending? How precisely can a Scottish Government defy the UK Government on immigration rights when it has no influence or control on immigration?

This article is typical of many that choose to criticise the SNP and its various attempts to gain independence. The author offers no practical plan as to how Scotland can gain its independence. When will such critics offer a plan that will gain a legal independence recognised by the international community? I suspect never!

David Howie

WELL said George Kerevan, your article was timely and to the point. Where are the SNP going under the current leadership?

It looks like a dead end for independence under the SNP’s custodianship of the independence movement. “Gently does it” moves lead to nowhere and in 50 years we’ll be where we are just now, or maybe have gone backwards.

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Keep asking nicely for independence and those nice people in Westminster will eventually give it. That seems to be current policy. It assumes independence can only happen if England bequests it. That’s as likely as Ian Paisley junior becoming the next Pope!

It’s time to change course and become the awkward squad in dealings with Westminster and prepare to withdraw from the place. The present ways of doing things are getting nowhere fast and going round in circles politically.

Drew Reid

READING George Kerevan’s article this morning, I was moved to reflect on how disconcertingly accurate Saturday’s independence rally in Stirling was as an illustration of his key point. In some respects the Stirling event was a success: there was a good turnout, the atmosphere was cheerful and festive, and we heard some fine, rousing speeches at the rally. But the distance from Stirling Auld Brig to Bannockburn must have been at least four miles, far longer than any other independence march I have been on; and by the time we reached the end not only were my feet very sore, but I was feeling that if I heard “What do we want – INDEPENDENCE! When do we want it – NOW!” one more time, I would lose the heid. George Kerevan’s ominous words “Marching ourselves into boredom or oblivion” might have been suggested by Saturday’s event.

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Marching cheerfully along in an orderly fashion, waving Saltires and chanting slogans, is a sign that the independence movement is alive and well, no doubt; but we have been doing this for long enough to see that it is not bringing about any progress. When are the SNP going to heed the exhortations from George Kerevan and others, and start some decisive action?

Derrick McClure