MICHAEL Settle asserts in his Analysis article ("Time has come for Labour to step up and reinvent itself", The Herald, May 14) that Labour has to reinvent itself. I would dispute the implication that the Labour Party has to conjure up some magic formula of empty rhetoric to try to fool voters into giving their votes to Labour. The Tories did it with Brexit and the nationalists with independence, both with potentially disastrous results.

Labour policies must concentrate on social justice. Health, housing, education and employment are the fundamentals that need addressed in the UK and particularly in Scotland. Young people especially are increasingly affected by lack of affordable housing, disrupted education and uncertain career opportunities. Labour couldn’t go far wrong with advocating a return to council house building and well-funded vocational training.

James Quinn, Lanark.


A WEEK on from the Holyrood election, a time when voters had had time to digest the result, it was back to the polling station for voters in Airdrie and Shotts. Like last week the victor was once again the SNP and just like last week’s Holyrood election, the SNP was defending the seat. The difference for the SNP this time was this was the first Westminster by-election in which it was defending the seat and again the voters sent a clear message, albeit with a reduced majority.

It is not so many years ago since this seat and the whole surrounding area would have been painted red, red of the Labour Party and once the constituency of Labour Home Secretary John Reid, Labour’s Scottish Secretary Helen Liddell, so was this result yet another catastrophe for Scottish Labour? Did the UK Labour Party even notice the result? I ask in light of the result of the Hartlepool by-election the week before, when Labour lost the long-held seat to the Conservatives. Sackings and reshuffles followed for Sir Keir Starmer, yet it has been all quiet on the Airdrie and Shotts front.

Catriona C Clark, Falkirk.

* IT used to be a truism, especially in the west of Scotland, that you could pin a red rosette on a monkey and he would win the seat. After 14 stagnant years of SNP rule the results suggest that the wee fellow now sports a black and yellow rosette, but that it's attached to a tee shirt emblazoned with the word "FREEDOM!".

Andrew Trombala, Stirling.


NICOLA Sturgeon has shown a remarkable degree of courage in proposing that an independence referendum be called during the life of the present Scottish Parliament. The SNP does not hold an overall majority, which would suggest that such a referendum would result in another No vote. The Greens would exert such demand for their support that no responsible First Minister, which Ms Sturgeon most certainly is, could possibly agree to them.

Furthermore, there is no way that Scotland could be viable economically on its own. Nor could Scotland be part of the European Union. For a start, Spain would veto such a proposal. Over the years Scotland has received enormous subsidies from Europe to develop its infrastructure. The EU, therefore, would hardly welcome a country which it would have to subsidise. Then again there would undoubtedly be a hard border with England. This would result in problems currently being encountered in Ireland and in England.

However, the status quo may not be the only alternative. Clearly the time has come for the four home nations to get together and draw up a new constitution, probably on federal lines. Lets all get together and find ways of keeping together for the common good.

W Findlay, Bishopbriggs.


I READ with interest David Leask's article ("Beware the British nationalists threatening to partition Scotland", The Herald, May 14). Whilst it is debatable how realistic a threat this is (I do not think George Galloway has much sway these days), it is worth noting that in February 2008, SNP MSP Christine Grahame called for Berwick upon Tweed to be given the opportunity to become part of Scotland, should Scotland become independent. Alex Salmond later (somewhat opportunistically) announced that he would make the necessary representations to Westminster should this occur.

It would seem that neither side considers the Scottish/English border to be particularly "fixed".

Gavin David Bell, Lanark.

* I TAKE issue with Leask’s mention of Orkney and Shetland remaining with rUK if Scotland chooses independence. The people of these islands, offered a democratic choice among Scotland, rUK and Norway, would probably opt for Norway. Look at an atlas; this makes sense.

The Declaration of Arbroath (1320), a beloved icon of the SNP, was signed by Scottish barons – the posh people, many of Norman origin – when Orkney and Shetland were under Norwegian jurisdiction.

William Durward, Bearsden.


I SEARCHED in vain for any evidence produced by Struan Stevenson in his article about Iranian interference in the recent Scottish elections ("Did Iranian cyber trolls score a victory with fake independence propaganda?", The Herald, May 13). He posits only possibilities, rumour and comment as proof of such interference.

The Henry Jackson Society has been discredited as a right-wing, neo-conservative outfit which suggests to me that, where Scottish independence is concerned, some bias might be evidenced in its findings.

I also must question Mr Stevenson's examples of the Scottish Government kowtowing to "the mullahs" – the use of this phrase itself suggestive of a less than neutral view being opined. It is strange that Mr Stevenson describes Alex Salmond in 2015, in his role as SNP International Affairs and Europe spokesman, as somehow kowtowing to Iran whilst the record shows the UK Government trade deals with Iran amounted to some £181 million during 2020.

Mr Stevenson's assertions relating to the First Minister's invitations to participate in the various Ahl Al Bait conferences merely highlight that no matter what decision she took, she was wrong in Mr Stevenson's opinion.

Whilst I appreciate it must be difficult for Mr Stevenson to accept the SNP's landslide victory, he really should check his facts before giving vent to surmise and gossip.

Eileen Michael, Ralston.


I AM intrigued to observe that there appears to be a condition which could be described as blinkered vision suffered by those advocates of the Union which is the United Kingdom.

I listened to Alister Jack, the Conservative Secretary of State for Scotland, listing the many massive benefits that Scotland gifts to the UK. The list was long and the praise effusive. It merely confirmed to me the significant assets which Scotland enjoys. These would of course benefit an independent Scotland and their loss would cause serious economic pain to an rUK state.

However, when I read the contributions from the unionist supporters in the Letters Pages, I seem to see a completely different picture. It would appear that these unionists can only see a Scotland bereft of any assets perpetually going cap in hand to beg the largesse of the English-controlled Westminster Parliament. They see no connection between 300 years of belittlement of Scottish aspirations and what reads like obviously deep-rooted feelings of inadequacy.

It is therefore apposite to point out that they also fail to see the major failings of the NHS in England which are at record levels while incessantly criticising the NHS in Scotland. There are many other instances which makes me think it is actually a definable psychological condition. Hopefully time will bring a cure.

David Stubley, Prestwick.


IF we are forced by the SNP to endure yet another referendum regarding Scotland’s independence from the UK I believe the following points need to first be considered.

Nicola Sturgeon has repeatedly said that Scottish people should determine their country’s future, so why does she not propose to allow Scots currently living in another part of the UK (probably as defined by those born and/or reared in Scotland) to vote for the future of their country? This exclusion is particularly hurtful given that non-UK citizens just arrived in the country would be allowed to have their say.

If the union between Scotland and the rest of the UK is to be questioned in a referendum, it could well be argued that all UK citizens should be consulted. Scotland is not a British colony seeking independence but is a closely integrated partner within a highly successful union of nations. There can be few Scottish residents that don’t have family members living in other parts of the UK and surely everybody’s view should count on whether they should be separated by a hard national border.

Jim Duncan, Monmouth, Wales.

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