Letters: We all lose if we let the SNP continue to run councils into the ground

IT has become a characteristic of every election that now takes place in Scotland, whether it be the UK General Election of MPs to Westminster, the Scottish Election of MSPs to Holyrood, or the local elections of councillors in every town, city and burgh of Scotland, that they now have less to do with left, right or centre politics but are now used as barometers for the one, single, sole, solitary constitutional issue of independence. This unhealthy stasis has come about as a consequence of a vociferous minority voting en bloc at every election on a single issue. Thursday’s elections are ostensibly being contested over local issues such as bin collections (or lack of), libraries (closed), litter, fly tipping and rats, failing education standards, traffic cones and potholes, but we can be sure of one thing for certain.

If the SNP wins more seats Nicola Sturgeon will declare this as a mandate for independence, whereas if the SNP loses seats this will be explained away as a result of the Covid/Brexit effect that only independence will cure. Heads I win, tails you lose will be Ms Sturgeon’s spin whatever the outcome, but we will all lose if we have to face another four years of Holyrood running local councils into the ground. Allan Thompson, Bearsden.

AN ACT OF CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE IN your leader on Saturday (“Herald View: The importance of a strong turnout on May 5; and the census shambles”, The Herald, April 30), one probable reason for the low census return was overlooked. The SNP Government has fostered division and distrust, particularly since its refusal to accept the result of the 2014 referendum.

As a consequence, a significant proportion of the population have no truck with anything this Government does or says. My guess is that non-completion of the census is probably an act of civil disobedience for many. Alan Dougan, Milngavie.

WHEN WILL VOTERS COTTON ON? A CENSUS which is a legal requirement that needs to be completed by all households had to be delayed by a year because of Covid even though the rest of the UK managed it without any issues and achieved a 97 per cent return. An independence referendum, however, would not have to be delayed for anything, least of all a war in Europe, according to the First Minister.

Of course, once the local elections are out of the way, that position will no doubt change. That carrot is brought out for every election and then buried again. How much longer will it take for the SNP voters to realise they’re being played?

Jane Lax, Aberlour. STOP PASSING THE BUCK IT really takes the biscuit for John Swinney to advise that the SNP Government faced “cross-party pressure” to transfer untested hospital patients into care homes, causing the deaths of thousands from Covid (“Swinney: Ministers under pressure over care home discharges in Covid crisis”, The Herald, May 2).

This is nothing short of political chicanery on his part, doing all he can to get his leader off the hook or at least divert attention away from such a calamitous decision. He would do well to remember, as we have all been told far too often by Nicola Sturgeon, that the “buck rests with me”. Mr Swinney and Nicola Sturgeon patently knew about the transmissibility of the virus following the attempts to cover up the Nike conference outbreak in February 2020.

Ms Sturgeon has endeavoured to do everything in terms of managing the pandemic just that little bit differently from the rest of the UK simply to further her own political ambitions. One can only hope the public inquiry will bring those ambitions to an end. Richard Allison, Edinburgh.

WHY WE MUST KEEP TRIDENT I NOTE with interest your lead article today (“Sturgeon: Ukraine war will not stop us ditching Trident”, The Herald, May 2). The fact that placing an American burger chain in Moscow does not result in the transference of civilised western human values is now indisputable.

The additional fact that post-Second World War Russia did not enjoy the economic boom and growth which the United States generally experienced is even more obvious. The reported scale of murders, rapes and atrocities I have read coming from Ukrainian sources, however, cannot be explained by any rational thinking and reveals to the West that Russia has not changed. Most people are aware of what Russia’s capture of Berlin was really like.

They seem to be re-enacting those events in some kind of national psychosis. Sadly, the First Minister seems to have lost touch with reality if she thinks that an independent Scotland without a nuclear deterrent would still be safe from Russian aggression. Not only must we, on this island, keep Trident, but I suggest we must now start re-investing in conventional weapons, as we can no longer pretend we can predict the actions of leaders in the east.

Bill Brown, Milngavie. ENGLAND CAN HAVE ITS OWN SYSTEM IT seems that Trident and its future is the issue of the day, in The Herald, on the Today programme and with Andrew Marr putting in his five pence-worth.

There is no reason why an independent “Greater England” should not host its own WMD weapons system, and no reason why Scotland should carry on being a “first strike” target. Scotland has no role in building these weapons, and refitting them was moved from Rosyth to Devonport for political reasons: a veto over their use, by Scotland as host country, would not be contemplated, or feasible. A10-year leasing arrangement could easily be negotiated, allowing time for the construction of new facilities down south, or they could temporarily be hosted in France or America.

Jackie Baillie talks of “flip-flopping on … our nuclear deterrent”, but it is Scottish Labour whose Trident policy is a shambles. And why on earth is Donald Cameron, the Scottish Conservatives’ constitution spokesman, content for Scotland to be a host to (and target of) nuclear weapons it has no commercial or military interest in? Does he envisage the Naval Base Clyde still being under Scottish legal jurisdiction, or would it be an enclave of England?

I think a few serious questions to Mr Cameron would be instructive, because it sounds as if he is making this nonsense up on the hoof. By the by, I was based at Faslane twice whilst serving in the Royal Navy, and the use of nukes was as contentious among us “matelots” as among the civilian population – but we were mostly of the generation of the Cuba crisis. GR Weir, Ochiltree.

FOLLY TO IGNORE ALL THE WARNINGS VICTOR Clements (Letters, April 29) is right to warn against “inflammatory and bombastic rhetoric against Russia”. Boris Johnson and Liz Truss would be well advised to moderate their language and remember President Theodore Roosevelt’s maxim on foreign policy: “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

President Roosevelt’s approach involved “the exercise of intelligent forethought and of decisive action sufficiently far in advance of any likely crisis”. The most important words there are probably “intelligent forethought”. The West ignored all the warning signs from a decade of Russian brutality in Syria, and even the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

There was no forethought whatsoever as major European powers signed up to energy dependency on a regime headed by a vicious dictator. We’re playing catch-up now, which is all we can do. But I hope the hard lesson has been learned that dealing with autocratic regimes with alien cultures carries risks for the democratic West; risks that far outweigh any short-term gain from cheap goods and supplies.

Doug Maughan, Dunblane. TENNIS STARS’ DOUBLE FAULT WHAT is it with these pampered prima donna tennis millionaires like Andy Murray, Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic and others, who have been criticising Wimbledon’s ban on Russian and Belarussian players?

Are they so caught up in their own supposed importance to the exclusion of everything else that they are blinded by the war crimes being enacted by Russia/Belarus in Ukraine and that no civilised country should have any kind of normal relations with either country? To their credit, almost every other body of world sport has banned participation by the two pariah states, and yet we have the embarrassment of these aloof, preening tennis players taking an opposite stance, saying it’s “not fair”. I think all right-minded people think it’s “not fair” what is happening to Ukrainian men, women and children who are being systematically butchered by Russian troops, not to mention the devastation being carried out to their towns and cities.

These misguided tennis players should hang their heads in shame.

James Martin, Bearsden.

: Put away the woad and the Saltires