I WRITE in strong support of Ivan Mckee’s article (We should pick the depute to fill the job we need done, The National, February 7). His analysis of the work to be done by the new deputy leader of the SNP is exactly what is needed in any possible coming election, and the next independence referendum.

We should not be asking those in top leadership positions, already with key responsibility roles, to take on extra work at this critical time. I have been a member of the SNP for more years than I like to think about, and that includes when people had to be coerced into doing jobs that they perhaps felt inadequate to do!

We are no longer in that position as we have so many talented, hard-working and capable members in the party. I am continually so encouraged by the calibre of our elected members in all elected posts, when I read their articles or hear them speaking in public.

In particular I do think that Ian Blackford has a hugely important job to do as leader in Westminster. And he is doing a tremendous job there. As he said to me when he was first elected to Westminster, the only reason to be going there was to get out of there as quickly as possible.

As well as that, he is the MP for certainly one of the largest and most rural constituencies in Scotland. It takes him morethan three hours to get from his home in Skye in the west to Dingwall on the east side of Scotland, and longer in summer. On top of that it is a very diverse constituency which includes jobs and businesses in arable farming, hill livestock farming, crofting, fishing, fish farming as well as tourism, small and medium-sized enterprises, and larger employers.

He is doing an excellent constituency job and is supported by people here of all political parties and none. I for one do hope he carries on the excellent work he is doing and whoever gets the deputy job will find him a great help.

Perhaps I could end with a rhyming quip for a good contender for the deputy leadership who was a tireless and very effective campaigner in the Yes movement in 2014: “It’s Ivan Mckee, SNP MSP, for me!”

Gavin Scott Moncrieff
Isle of Skye

I’M a tad worried. You see, I agree with Michael Fry, or at least, the headline (Scotland will only be independent when we realise how rich we are, The National, February 6). I normally find his articles too prone to exhorting capitalism, never mind Greek philosophy, without addressing the ills brought about by capitalism.

This latest contribution makes the assertion that 20th-century India and China experienced starvation, but now both advance in leaps and bounds in this century. Without any reference to standards, living conditions, and the lived experiences of people in either nation, the weighted inference is that there is now no starvation in either. Capitalism to the rescue? Eradication of starvation? Somehow, I don’t think so, but would wish it would be so.

There is no need to rehash the history of capitalism: we would be here for ever, pros and cons, but I do agree (again!) that equality and socialism are early victims within free enterprise. This week, marking the 100th anniversary of votes for certain women, I find it ironic that Lenin advocated, as far back as 1919, “public catering establishments, nurseries, kindergartens – here we have examples of these shoots, here we have the simple, everyday means, involving nothing pompous, grandiloquent or ceremonial, which can really emancipate women, really lessen and abolish their inequality with men” ... and in 2018 nurseries and kindergartens are still neither universal nor financially accessible to those who require them.

I realise I am opening myself up to the argument that motherhood in the Soviet Union, whilst not synonymous with apple pie, was regarded as Mother Heroine status, complete with medals. And yes, those who had no children – from choice or not – were frequently regarded with suspicion and pity, and not the equal of a Mother Heroine. So no matter the system, equality is frequently first victim.

Striving for equality must be based on establishing communities of solidarity that intersect and demolish artificial barriers now so long in place that we accept them. Barriers that separate and divide along lines including gender, ability, race, religion. The very worth of the individual should not be based on financial output, or a status based on “acquisitions” equating to wealth frequently achieved through the labour of others.

So where does that leave Scotland and Fry’s headline? If we push our history, heritage and culture, we’re accused of living in the past. Currently, we are forced into funding allocation structures (health, education, the arts and more) that are publicly challenged. And why not, since we are encouraged to be “engaged” in local politics, civic society? But isn’t the diversity of Scotland, our people, cultures, yes, output too, part of what makes us a “rich” nation?

It’s the next step to being that independent nation that’s proving a tad difficult at the moment!

Selma Rahman

SO Scotland was too wee, too poor, too stupid to go it alone last time we had the nerve to ask the Scottish people to consider independence. What benefits will Scotland in the Union see with the projected £1bn tax from new oil finds?

What arguments will the Unionists frighten us with next time? Who can possibly doubt that we’ll be too poor with our “share” of £1bn, too wee to handle this golden goose for a mere five million citizens while Westminster has to look after 60 million, too stupid to make £1bn work for all of us while Westminster is reducing itself to a chaotic, incompetent, laughable mess in the eyes of the world.

Catriona Whitton