MICHAEL Shanks let the cat out of the bag when interviewed by Martin Geissler on BBC Scotland’s Sunday Show. Anas Sarwar and Keir Starmer “are saying the same thing”.

While the duplicitous Sarwar can contrive popular soundbites that appear at odds with the words of his boss, the fine details, including the various caveats, are more quietly expressed. Whether it is on continuing to sell offensive weapons to Israel or on calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, both of these artful politicians (“sleekit” might be a more appropriate Scottish word) are joined at the hip in refusing to unequivocally endorse SNP calls in spite of words that are uttered, especially by Sarwar, to exploit any apparently popular stance on a controversial issue regardless of previously expressed “principles”.

READ MORE: Anas Sarwar defies UK Labour over arms exports to Israel

On devolving aspects of immigration policy to Scotland to counter the extreme shortage of people available to work in our agriculture and hospitality industries, only consideration of a possible “UK-wide solution” is on the Labour Party agenda.

(At least Mr Shanks turned up to discuss a key aspect of growing the Scottish workforce following the damaging impact of Brexit, which is hitting Scotland harder because of its different economy and ageing population. That’s more than can be said of Alister Jack, Douglas Ross, and Tory MPs and MSPs who persistently call for both governments to work together but are repeatedly found missing when action is required.)

Those who would suggest (naively or otherwise) that in spite of the many benefits of living in Scotland, a marginally higher tax rate at the top end of earnings is deterring people from coming to Scotland need to get a reality check, as a visa annual earnings threshold of nearly £39,000 may be close to average earnings in the south of England but it is not the average in the agriculture and hospitality industries of Scotland.

No doubt some people have been put off coming to Scotland by the constant barrage of negative “Scottish stories” on all UK TV channels and in London-controlled newspapers, but clearly many people from England have assiduously done their research and have moved to Scotland in spite of the moral, democratic and economic handicap imposed on a devolved government endeavouring to make progress within “Broken Brexit Britain”.

Stan Grodynski
Longniddry, East Lothian

POLITICAL opportunism has a habit of backfiring on those who practice it. I read a good example of it in our paper.

Rutherglen MP Michael Shanks, who abstained in Westminster on a Gaza ceasefire and supports the continuation of the export of arms to Israel, appeared uninvited at a religious ceremony host by Minhaj-ul-Quran International. The Muslim ritual is something where, irrespective of views or thoughts in the community, you can attend.

READ MORE: Minhaj-ul-Quran distances itself from Scottish Labour MP Michael Shanks

Members raised concerns about his attendance, causing the organisation to issue a clarification. I assume it has been circulated on social media, taking it to a wider audience than Rutherglen.

How did he have the nerve to appear? I suppose he was ill-advised and considered it a good political opportunity.

I wonder who advised him!

Bobby Brennan

ONCE again in Wednesday’s National a clear and well-written letter from Campbell Anderson, making, once again, the important points which the SNP leadership need to address, points that have been made before by so many of us.

He highlights the need to address the currency issue and the land tax issue in order to address the need for NHS investment, and the need for pensioners to get a state pension equal to that paid on average in the EU, and a number of issues which could be successfully addressed in an independent Scotland. How will the SNP leadership answer Campbell’s letter? Well, on past form, they just won’t bother to try.

READ MORE: Patrick Harvie 'angry' as climate targets dropped amid criticism

The SNP leadership’s standard response to many of these important questions, which are vital for an understanding of what the new Scotland after independence will look like, is “no comment”, like some criminal faced with serious charges and trying to evade the consequences of his/her own actions. When will someone from the SNP leadership team start to address these important questions? Are they unable to address these issues, or do they know we will not like the answers they have?

We are urged by SNP party loyalists to continue to vote SNP, and Campbell and I, along with many of others, will do this because it is the best option we have, but really it is just not good enough for the SNP leadership to go into hiding like this.

Andy Anderson

I AGREE wholeheartedly with Brian Lawson (Letters, Apr 18) – the thought that the Greens can dictate who will attend independence marches and rallies fills me with dread. I also have a concern that Believe in Scotland can dictate to a political party who is allowed to speak – it’s this authoritarian nonsense which has driven me to independence but the stance by Believe in Scotland is fast putting me off.

If parties like the Greens don’t want to share a stage with others then don’t invite them, I’m fed up with their schoolboy policies, very little of which have anything to do with environmental issues. They are more about virtue signalling, while their MSPs make a very good living from telling the rest of us how to live! I simply can’t understand after all the policy failings why the SNP have not ditched the Greens – they are an electoral liability. They’ve already ditched independence as a red line in any talks with other parties and as far as I’m concerned they have never fully supported Scotland’s right to self-determination.

Alex Beckett