READING Charlie Kerr’s Long Letter on Thursday, in which he explains why he has joined Alba to give the SNP a wake-up call, somehow made me think of competition in the bus industry.

The political setup in Scotland fits well into this scenario. The SNP is a locally owned company that serves the local community very well, uses other local companies whenever possible, employs local people and reinvests most of its modest profits back into improving its services.

There it faces a problem, as all changes have to comply with complex regulations set by a body that does not favour local competition; consequently changes and improvements often take an inordinate amount of time before they reach its passengers.

READ MORE: I’m no fifth columnist, I joined Alba because I’m fed up with delays

A few long-term passengers have become annoyed at this and in protest have moved to Alba – a new start-up company that claims that its primary aim is to speed up the SNP’s delivery of services.

It is not clear how this will be achieved through competition with the SNP on the same routes using a second-hand fleet, often very obviously staffed by disgruntled former SNP employees.

The Greens are a much smaller local company that concentrates on providing eco-friendly services, mainly complementing those of the SNP. Between the two they carry the majority of passengers.

Three other competitors are like peas in a pod, all owned, operated and funded by multinational companies that share a primary objective of driving out the two locally owned companies in order to extract the maximum return for their owners investments.

Their remote management and lack of interest in providing a service that matches local needs has resulted in a major decline in passenger numbers that would have put them out of business long ago, had there not been head office funding and D’Hondt regulations that apply only to competition in local areas.

READ MORE: Alex Salmond to highlight Scotland's energy resources at Alba campaign launch

Alba has no appeal whatsoever to passengers of the three main competitors and its success is measured mainly by the number of passengers transferring from the two local companies.

The local elections in a couple of weeks can be seen as an open day for transfers on which passengers can buy a non-refundable season ticket with any bus company for the next four years.

The bus companies then rearrange their routes and timetables overnight according to demand, so passengers do not know if their preferred bus is still running until they are standing in the queue at the bus stop next morning.

John Jamieson 
South Queensferry

SUPPORTERS of independence will assuredly welcome Charlie Kerr’s very sensible rejoinder to those few of your readers who are seeking to paint members of the Alba party as defectors or fifth columnists. It is time to lay that baseless accusation firmly to rest. Pete Wishart’s unpleasant rant last week disturbed me, as he seemed to be suggesting not only that Alba members were seeking to wreck the independence movement, but that he had some right to direct the choices of independence voters according to a purely SNP agenda.

Freedom-loving Scots long to be rid of Westminster rule, but I doubt that they wish to replace it with the sort of centralising and controlling techniques so often associated, regrettably, with the SNP and with the Scottish Government.

READ MORE: Alex Salmond talks independence, gender reform, and Alba's election hopes

The SNP is certainly dominant for the present, but voters should be aware that in Alba there is an alternative open to them – an open, inclusive and good-natured party with clear thinking, excellent policies, and dynamic and experienced leaders.

Are we really to believe that there is room for only one party which has Scottish independence as its core aim? And must open-mindedness and freedom of choice continue to be represented as a betrayal? It seems to me that Pete Wishart’s comments take us to the brink of civil war within the movement. That would be a tragedy; and a tragedy this time only of our own making.

E Hamilton

THE senior Labour member who said of Billy Kay’s speech in Scots at Holyrood, “Literally nobody in Scotland speaks like this”, reminded me of Sydney Goodsir Smith’s riposte to this very same remark (Kay claps back at Unionists after Scots address, Apr 28). His Epistle to John Guthrie defends the use of Scots with the words, “There’s no-one speaks like that’, they fleer,/ – But wha the deil spoke like King Lear?”

Why is it, l ask myself, that the English have no problem with the teaching of Chaucer in schools (another language no-one speaks) while we Scots, tim’rous beasties that we are, seem to balk at the teaching of the likes of John Barbour, Robert Henryson and William Dunbar? Perhaps it is because our education authorities share the ignorant prejudices of the Labour member. If so, the wrong people are in control.

The National: Billy Kay’s speech in Scots at Holyrood was not appreciated by everyoneBilly Kay’s speech in Scots at Holyrood was not appreciated by everyone

As a resident of Edinburgh, I take it ill that the poetry of Robert Fergusson does not seem to have been taken up by its schools. Why would their pupils not enjoy a poem like Auld Reekie, with rhymes like, “Now morn, wi bonny purpie-smiles/Kisses the aircock o St Giles.”

The Labour member would, of course, be wrong to say that nobody speaks like Fergusson wrote. I’m tempted, in passing, to wonder what his own everyday speech is like; no doubt a type of robotic bureaucratese, devoid of any idiomatic life.

Alastair McLeish

SAD that oor country is still rife wi linguistic racism, or classism gin ye prefer, tho I prefer the simpler word snobbery. Jist plain ignorance fae barkin mad folk that hate their ain country an its languages, Scots an Gaelic.

John Hodgart