I WRITE this with some trepidation. I await the SNP manifesto, and fear it will not have independence “front and centre of the first line”.

If that is the case, I believe the Unionists, basically Labour, will romp the Scottish part of this vote.

The SNP should emphasise that in the event of independence there would quickly be a Scottish general election, in which only Scottish (left, centre, right) parties would be permitted.

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At the referendum too many people said “I don’t like that Alex Salmond”. More recently substitute Nicola for Alex. I believe only Mike Russell, a few months back in this paper, put this forward. I think many voted “No” as they were thinking there would be a perpetual SNP government.

Any promises should be generalities, eg declaring that current pensions are guaranteed, and that a future Scottish Government will be in a position to dramatically improve them. Warn of the current Scottish advantages, eg free tuition, which could be lost.

By the way, as an aside, I was appalled by Starmer’s crass comment in Greenock last week. He stated that a seven-year-old said to him “I don’t read”. He was obviously attempting to denigrate the Scottish education system. I taught 20 years in mainstream schools, and the last 25 in additional support needs schools. Many of those pupils, God love them, will never be able to read, through no fault of their own, despite the best efforts of teaching and support staff who, in my experience, go way above and beyond any contractual obligations.

My final school, Hampden ASN in the New Gorbals, recently won another prestigious award, due to a monumental effort from staff and children, not to mention their fundraising for a new minibus. I’m sure they read Starmer’s comments and wept, as I did.

As you can imagine, I won’t be voting UK Labour.

Mick McCready

I’VE gotten a stream of English Labour leaflets through my door. The latest one, a multi-coloured A3 trifold, features on the front a smiling Ian Murray, who is unfortunately my MP. At the bottom there’s an attempt at a Scottish thistle, beneath which is written: “Scottish Labour: The Change Scotland Needs.” It was printed by Solopress at 9 Stock Road, Southend-on-Sea, which is in England.

The first of his “Six first steps to change Scotland” is: “Deliver economic stability – with tough spending rules, so we can grow our economy and keep taxes, inflation and mortgages as low as possible.”

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This nonsense is rooted in Rachel Reeves’s iron-clad fiscal rules, and her mistaken belief that only the private sector grows the economy. English Labour won’t admit that public spending is the engine of economic growth and that the government can spend as much as is required to provide people with the public services they want and need.

Every pound spent on healthcare generates £4 of economic activity – and ensures people can work. Education spending enables children to grow into productive adults. Spending to alleviate child poverty – that it exists in a state as rich as the UK is scandalous – gives children and their families a better future. Renationalising energy and investing in a green transition not only would lower energy bills but also help the failing UK to compete.

Instead, English Labour will privatise Scotland’s NHS, saddle students with tuition fees as they’ve done in England and Wales, create a fake public company, “Great British” Energy, that won’t lower bills but will continue to plunder Scotland’s energy resources, and double down on Brexit, ignoring the huge damage it has done to Scotland.

The change Scotland needs isn’t English Labour – it’s to call time on this failed Union.

Leah Gunn Barrett

WHILE agreeing with much of Rhoda Meek’s diatribe against new houses in the Scottish landscape, and that the planning consent system is deeply flawed, the photograph accompanying the piece appears to imply that the modest timber-clad extension to a traditional whitewashed cottage shown is somehow unacceptable (Can you make it uglier? Wild landscapes and those who want to change them, Jun 9). On the contrary, it looks like a sympathetic addition, in no way jarring in the landscape.

Nevertheless, the writer is correct to lambast poor design, often grossly so, which the planners should have refused/required to be modified. It used to be the case, I believe, that planning departments were required to have an architect-planner on the staff to advise on design quality. That may still be so, but my guess is that such advice is very much “optional” or downright ignored.

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Ms Meek is correct, though, that many of the gross newbuilds in the countryside are built by incomers from – euphemism alert – “the south”, who can bring to bear consultants and expensive campaigns to wear down local resistance to their proposals.

Development is often a good thing; well designed, sensitive development especially so. The other 80% percent or so – often “designed” by non-architects – should be sent back to the drawing board.

David Roche