MICHAEL Gove’s Department for Levelling Up is proposing to define extremism as the “promotion or advancement of any ideology which aims to overturn or undermine the UK’s system of parliamentary democracy, its institutions and values.” Anyone paying attention knows this will criminalise what remains of free speech in this dysfunctional Union and make support for Scottish independence illegal.

The definition also assumes that the crumbling UK is a democracy and has institutions and values worth saving. It isn’t and doesn’t.

READ MORE: SNP hit back at Stephen Kerr after 'shocking' post about Humza Yousaf

The head of state is a hereditary monarch who uses the system for his and his family’s advantage. The unelected House of Lords is a feudal anachronism. The voting system enshrines minority rule by disenfranchising the majority. There is no written constitution, allowing a rogue government to legislate against those who disagree with it. Vital public services have been deliberately underfunded and then sold off, leaving the population immiserated. Politicians are funded by wealthy oligarchs to whom they owe allegiance once in power. Money can always be found for war, weapons and strutting around on the world stage, but never for peoples’ needs.

And the biggest one of all – Westminster refuses to recognise Scotland’s right to leave this unholy mess because it’s still busy stealing our assets.

Leah Gunn Barrett

REGRETTABLY, history is littered with examples of individuals who have been prepared to sell out their countries in pursuit of foreign gold. Today we have UK Government minister Michael Gove.

An expert in weasel language, as is his more intellectually-challenged ministerial ally Alister Jack, Mr Gove is highly selective in his interactions with the mainstream media to the extent that he is rarely held to account. His scheming paws, however, are all over a long and increasing list of initiatives aimed at undermining devolution and the right of his fellow “Scots” to exercise their legitimate claim to self-determination.

READ MORE: Scottish cultural traditions ‘at risk of being lost’ to time

That long list includes the UK Internal Market Act, UK Government Hubs in Edinburgh and Glasgow, UK direct funding to seven selected Scottish councils, and the recent introduction of a selective £150m Investment Fund for Scotland (instead of matching the £500m contribution by the Scottish Government to the Just Transition Fund for the north-east of Scotland), all of which together falls well short of previous EU investment which we were told would be fully matched.

From recently leaked documents it appears that list could soon be extended even further as officials working for Mr Gove are apparently planning to “broaden the definition of extremism to include anyone who undermines the country’s institutions and its values” (for “country” read UK). Such a broad definition, with echoes of 1984, could be used by an increasingly authoritarian government to thwart growing support for independence through the threat of imprisonment for ordinary citizens simply expressing critical views of the current democratic chaos.

READ MORE: Donald Trump brags about Aberdeenshire golf course during fraud trial

Given the calculated recent hostile pronouncements of fellow UK Government minister Suella Braverman, heartlessly aimed at vulnerable homeless people and refugees, it takes little imagination to envision that threat becoming a stark reality.

What is even sadder to contemplate, though, is that Sir Keir Starmer as Prime Minister would be unlikely to change even the most draconian legislation curtailing freedom of speech in order to realise his declared aim of serving at least two terms as leader of the UK Government. Is this really what principled socialists in Scotland are wishing for? If there is not at least a strong SNP voice at Westminster, or preferably the prospect of self-determination, devolution supported by close to 75% of the voting public will continue to be eroded until the UK Government can ostensibly justify abolishing the Scottish Parliament.

Independent-minded trade unionists should also wake up!

Stan Grodynski
Longniddry, East Lothian

WHAT a complete and absolutely ludicrous waste of time and money to announce absolutely hee haw at the complete and utter farce that is the “King’s Speech”. Perhaps instead of a load of auld men dressed as clowns pretending to search for gunpowder and kidnapping a minister and checking it’s Black Rod, or whatever the nonsense is named, they could get out of pantomime garb, off their lazy arses and actually do something that might start to at least try to improve people’s lives after the catastrophic stupidity of Westminster leaders over the last decade.

Droning on about completely irrelevant matters whilst people are having to resort to going to money-lenders to feed their children and pay the energy bills, whilst the authorities let energy companies kick down people’s doors, tells you absolutely everything we need to know about the charade that is the establishment down south.

READ MORE: 'Play act' State Opening of Parliament is a 'cover up' for the royals

Scotland quite simply must extricate itself from this medieval and nonsensical tiny clique of landed morons who are absolutely ruining the good folk of England’s lives too, but we have a option to take control of our own affairs and it cannot come a moment too soon. I can just hear the bleating now from the wee fearties wi’ the Scottish accents screaming “don’t forget the ferries, but don’t mention the aircraft carriers fiasco that cost 20 times more”.

This is not an anti-English thing in any way, this is plain common sense as one country is being completely abused on every single level by its ever-more-rapacious neighbour’s tiny, backward, ruining “elite” and there’s a much better world out there waiting for for us all if we actually grasp the thistle and earn the moniker “Scotland The Brave” for once after years of kowtowing to people who deep down can’t stand the sight of us but covet our huge resources and innovation.

Iain K