KARL Rosie parades before your readers a wandering list of many of the problems facing the Highlands and Islands (It’s time for Highland communities to take control of own destiny, Mar 11).

All of them can be addressed if we had a democratically elected and progressive government in an independent Scotland.

At local level, here in Caithness, one of our main problems is that our politicians are just not up to the job. The cabal of “independent” Caithness councillors have proven time and time again to be worse than useless, partly due to the arithmetic of the Inverness-based Highland Council and partly due to their conservatism.

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf: Scottish independence not about ending cultural union

Currently our MP is the LibDem Jamie Stone, who is the equivalent of the ghost at a wedding. Whatever he says, he says nothing. Our MSP is Maree Todd, who is a an honest and hard-working individual, but her constituency is the size of a small European country, as is the Highland Council area, which is not local nor particularly democratic. To hold up Fergus Ewing as an “inspiring political hero”, as Karl does, is baffling as he is a political reactionary who in my opinion is in the wrong party.

Land ownership, housing, energy, education, transport and the NHS are all crucial issues which a devolved government operating within a fixed grant from Westminster, with limited tax-raising powers and no ability to borrow, can only crisis-manage.

Devolution was designed to fail and it is failing all across Scotland. Those who voted No in 2014 and Leave in 2016 and who resign from or who will not vote for the only party which can deliver independence need to own their choices. I would suggest to Karl Rosie that there are indeed many holes in the A9, which stretches from Scrabster to Perth, and that Alba is just another one.

George Gunn

I WAS disappointed in Leah Gunn Barratt’s letter, “It’s clearer than ever the Ukrainian conflict is a proxy war” (Mar 6). She speculates whether the Ukrainian war has been engineered by Nato and the West in order to push Russia back. Putin claims the same. But we should be careful to steer round conspiracy theories.

A little knowledge of recent Ukrainian and Russian history does help explain why Ukrainians are fighting for their lives at the front. In Scotland we have not forgotten Culloden in 1745. But Ukrainians have not forgotten that in the 1930s, in their grandparents’ time, Russian deliberately starved to death four million Ukrainians and shot farmers and farm labourers in cold blood on the pretext that they were deliberately “hoarding grain”, though that grain was only the next year’s seed (look up the Holodomor Genocide).

READ MORE: David Pratt: Joe Biden banks on attack as the best form of defence

In the 1940s and 1950s, Russia under Stalin sent millions of their own people to die in the Gulag. Being also under Russia, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia and Ukraine shared in the same experience.

It is a month since the murder and possibly torture in prison of Alexei Navalny. His only crime had been to propose standing against Putin in the forthcoming Russian General Election.

This is why Ukrainians are fighting and dying: to protect their people from Russia.

Ms Scott Moncrieff
Fort Augustus

I WANT to propose the idea that democracy has been six feet under since the rise of neoliberalism in the 1980s. Neoliberalism oversaw the assassination of public services. Through its champions such as Margaret Thatcher the deconstruction of workers’ rights, communities and government were imposed for unregulated profit. Simply put, lots of money for the few without consideration or care for whom it may harm.

So, what has been the impact of the deregulation of public services? Well, the results are in and according to research by Ben Tippet and Rafael Wildaur of the University of Greenwich, in 2023 the richest 50 families in the UK held more wealth than half of the UK population (33.5 million people). For me this is a clear statement from our country: we have replaced democracy with a modernised feudalist system. But rather than being ruled over by lords and queens, we are ruled over by conglomerate business owners.

READ MORE: Brexit 'directly cost Scotland £1.6bn in tax receipts in 2023', Humza Yousaf says

No longer are workers’ rights protected, and a fair wage given to an individual’s labour. The fall of trade unions has given rise to competing billion-pound monopolies. The perception of public services changed from a universal right to economic capital. The question became what household name would now own the trade that controls the conditions of human welfare. Thus, the continuous slashing of public services has led us back to the Victorian times.

Workers are expected to work increasingly longer hours with a pay rate that has not been adjusted to annual inflation rates. The consequence of this incompetence has caused a ripple effect throughout the entire welfare system. The UK’s government has become dependent on private enterprise to fund, paradoxically, public services. Power, I believe, is with those who can offer security.

Jack Williamson