WHEN travelling abroad recently and attempting to keep up with the news back home by reading The National online, it was disappointing to read sweeping criticisms of the SNP which lacked objective context akin to what one would expect on reading letters written by pro-Union contributors to other newspapers.

Of course the SNP, like any political party, has its faults, and the Scottish Government does not get everything right in spite of the principles behind its decision-making generally being laudable, but it appears counter-productive for pro-independence supporters to subjectively exploit such shortcomings in a manner that seems to sanction false or misleading claims made across the UK mainstream media.

It is not helpful to those endeavouring to counter often scurrilous claims made without any objective context in other newspapers when independence supporters such as Julia Pannell (September 7) writes in The National that “the Scottish Government cared nothing for the women and girls it put in danger”.

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On the subject of gender recognition reform, while the bill passed by the Scottish Parliament (which justifiably has gone to court to argue its legal right to pass the bill) had wide cross-party support, it is understandable that some had, and still have, misgivings as to how this would work in practice, especially around the protection of “women’s spaces”, but this is no excuse to slur the principled intent of MSPs, the SNP, or the Scottish Government as a whole.

Like with the Deposit Return Scheme and Highly Protected Marine Areas proposals, even some Tory MPs representing English constituencies have expressed support for the ambitions of the Scottish Government in these somewhat controversial matters, although such voices have mostly been drowned out by the overwhelming right-wing commentary in the UK mainstream media which effectively works to further the vested interests of the “UK establishment”.

While Humza Yousaf’s proposal that a majority of seats should, consistent with UK General Elections, be sufficient to trigger talks with the UK Government on implementing a clear SNP mandate to enter talks on independence, regrettably we have learned that the UK Government only abides by democratic principles that meet its own narrow political interest in winning/retaining the support of the majority of the electorate south of the Border.

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It is therefore necessary that the SNP set out a strategy to advance this proposal that will encourage the new UK Government to honour the principle of parliamentary democracy.

That aim will certainly be aided if a majority of independence-supporting MPs also represent a majority of the voting electorate, and those doubting Humza’s approach should be motivated to win that “double-majority” which would endorse the proposals of Believe in Scotland as well as the “Claim of Right” promoted by Salvo. To make this happen and preferably lift the vote in favour of the SNP to around 60%, each selected SNP candidate should be prepared to make a commitment not to seek re-election unless, at a minimum, an independence referendum is to be conducted within the new parliamentary term.

This stance (including scheduled early “stand-downs”) should be backed by the First Minister and all SNP MSPs with a common pledge to, if necessary, bring about an early Scottish parliamentary election to be fought under a single manifesto commitment to the people of Scotland to withdraw from the expired Union.

Stan Grodynski
Longniddry, East Lothian