HAVING read the letter in The National of April 16 by Cameron Crawford on voting rights, I should like to reply, as this is a concern that I have felt ever since the new rules about who can vote were announced; effectively disenfranchising those who do not travel abroad and who do not drive.

It looks a bit like an income bar for the right to vote. If I do not choose or cannot afford to travel abroad (passport) or drive a car (photo-licence) then I have lost the right to vote UNLESS I make the effort to apply to be allowed to vote!

This is not universal suffrage.

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I find it iniquitous that there are now requirements for voting in elections when so many generations have campaigned for universal suffrage, from the Levellers in the 17th century during the English Civil War; via the suffragette movement (1840-1920) and finally the passing of the universal suffrage act in 1928.

And now I have to write to ask for permission to vote! Well NO!

This requirement will of course predominantly disenfranchise the younger voters, the older voters, the less-well-off voters and immigrant voters and occasionally the politically motivated would-have-been-voters.

I am not going to ask for this special dispensation to be allowed to vote without a driving license or a passport and I am not going to – not out of laziness, but because it is just contrary to the whole concept and practice of franchise for all.

Clare Darlaston

SOME indy supporters get upset when the SNP/SGP Scottish Government is criticised, and, in the context of an upcoming General Election would rather see the indy cause present a united front against its enemies and free up energy for urgent “larger” causes in the outside world.

I disagree.

The best way for Scotland to be seen and to act in the wider world, in the face of war and climate breakdown – action desperately needed – is to model a strong democracy, good governance, and a responsive and innovative government.

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That is not what we have. Governments have a duty to govern, after all. The SNP party has not been separate from government. We have a devolved administration which is preoccupied by virtue signalling, rather than by robust green policies to build Scotland’s self-sufficiency towards a goal of independence, using what levers it has.

In the ten years since 2014 it has failed to build on how really close we were to achieving a Yes vote at that point. The Scottish Government is controlled by Westminster and Westminster’s money; it has copied the prevailing Tory and Labour neoliberal tendency to command and control in its policies. Its strategy for reclaiming Scotland’s independence is to ask for, rather than to demand and insist.

Yet Scotland needs independence in order to address the multiple challenges we face at home. We need the autonomy to shape appropriate and effective policy, backed up by public investment in Scotland and in its people, consulting and listening, adopting evidence-led examples and solutions from inside and outwith the country. All eminently and evidently doable; but not actually happening here and now, and little prospect in view.

Scotland needs a people’s movement now. Country before party.

Mary MacCallum Sullivan

I ATTENDED my first march and rally at Bannockburn in the summer of 1975. I have marched and rallied many times since then. I was considering attending the Believe in Scotland march and rally on Saturday but as the bizarre list of speakers increased, my enthusiasm decreased.

While the First Minister is apparently topping the bill, there is a very distinct lack of other SNP politicians from both Holyrood and especially Westminster. The news that the Green Party apparently can dictate who can address the rally is proof, if proof is needed, that the tiny Green tail is wagging the independence dog. I suspect the independence movement would have to march more than a million miles to compensate for the Green-led policy failures of the past few years.

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Judging by recent statements the Bute House Agreement is rapidly turning into the Bute House Disagreement. Humza Yousaf has now said that voting for the Scottish Greens at the next General Election would be a “wasted vote”. In reply The Scottish Greens have hit back, with Ross Greer saying that people and the planet “don’t have time to waste on voting for parties who are unwilling to take bold climate action. Only the Scottish Greens recognise that capitalism is the problem and that half-measures simply won’t do in the face of the greatest threat we all face.” This is the kind of unthinking schoolboy rhetoric that is destroying the independence movement.

Ironically Mr Greer himself has made a pretty decent living from the proceeds of capitalism since his Scottish Parliament salary comes directly from taxation of what remains of the capitalist working population of Scotland.

Sadly the Scottish Cup Semi-final, kicking off in Aberdeen at the same time as the march, will attract a lot more folk and a lot more interest from the Scottish public

Brian Lawson

THE Justice Secretary Angela Constance was quoted last week as saying the 7000-plus complaints in the first week of the Hate Crime Act proved the need for legislation. By logical extension, does the much-reduced figure of around 1000 the second week disprove the need for legislation? Or is it simply the case that the “rising tide of hatred” of which Humza Yousaf talked has receded already?

John Quinn