IT should not be in any way automatic that an independent Scotland joins Nato (Alyn Smith: This is why indy Scotland must be a part of Nato, Feb 14). We should put it to the sovereign Scottish people in a referendum once independence has been achieved. The people, not politicians, should decide.

Alyn Smith is entitled to his opinion, of course. But Nato is a first-strike nuclear alliance and a vehicle for US imperialist foreign policy, in my view.

Other issues that should be put in the hands of the Scottish people in an indy Scotland, and could be usefully resolved through referendums, are:

  • Whether or not to retain the monarchy or become a modern democratic republic.
  • Whether or not to join the EU or Efta or neither.
  • The correct balance between sex-based rights and rights of personal gender identity.
  • Whether or not to abolish religious segregation in our schools and move to a single, secular and wholly public, wholly comprehensive education system, ending the elitism and privilege of private education.
  • Whether to enshrine public and community ownership of our key utilities, services, land and seabed in our democratic constitution.

Different indy supporters will have different views on these things, naturally. To maximise the potential indy vote, no one take on these things should be “front loaded” into any independence offer.

An independent Scotland is a chance to do things differently. Let’s be the first country in the world to be serious about making important decisions through mass direct democracy – the fairest and most efficient way of determining the will of a sovereign people – rather than through the vagaries of corporate lobbying and the agendas of individual politicians and parties.

Steve Arnott


ALYN Smith told us that EU and Nato membership will be the twin pillars of Scottish security. It’s curious he didn’t mention Ireland, which shares Scotland’s strategic position but shows no interest in joining nuclear-armed Nato, and indeed works hard on the world stage to encourage dialogue and co-operation, scale down conflict and keep the peace.

Malcolm Bruce


SINN Fein are apparently confident of winning the most seats in the Dail Eireann whenever the next Irish general election is called.

The party has been buoyed by years of opinion polls putting it ahead of the traditional parties of government, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail.

In the 1997 Irish general election, Sinn Fein got 2.5% of the vote share – the party’s best result since 1961. In 2016, it breached 10% for the first time in 90 years. In 2020, led by Mary Lou McDonald, it came first in the popular vote, with 25%, but she was excluded from power by an alliance between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael.

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Since then, her party’s support has surged above 30% in the polls, consistently leading its rivals by more than 10%. The next election is due by January 2025 and it is likely that McDonald will become Taoiseach.

In the North, Michelle O’Neill, Sinn Fein’s deputy leader, has made history as the first nationalist to hold the role of first minister at the Northern Ireland Assembly. Sinn Fein became the biggest party at Stormont after the election in May 2022, meaning Ms O’Neill has been entitled to the role since then.

Sinn Fein have consistently refused to take their seats in the House of Commons.

In June 2018, the SNP group of MPs walked out of the House of Commons – but only for a day. Even this very minimal protest led to the biggest single rise in SNP membership since the 2014 referendum.

In 2019, the SNP had around 125,000 members. During the leadership contest to succeed Nicola Sturgeon in the spring of 2023, it was eventually revealed that the total had declined to just 72,000.

The party had a total of 69,235 members at the end of December 2023 as revealed by the SNP national secretary in a meeting of its National Executive Committee last month.

Perhaps there are lessons to be learned and the radical or even the unthinkable needs to be at least considered by the SNP leadership as we approach the UK General election, or are we simply to continue to plod along and decline with the present policies and personalities for yet another five years?

Brian Lawson


I watched the latest SNP party political broadcast with growing despair. Not once did they mention their reason for existing – independence. Not once did they mention how much better small north European countries are doing than Scotland. Not once did they compare UK pensions and GDP with, say, Ireland or Holland.

They completely ignored the fact that 50% of the voting public want independence. The broadcast had no contribution from real people – only obvious actors repeating old stories about past policy successes – and no vision for the future.

I will probably vote for them because the others are worse but the old hope and excitement of a Scotland free of the shackles of Westminster seems no closer. The SNP have become a timid shadow of what they once were.

James Duncan