IN his interview, Alex Salmond agrees when asked if the SNP are shooting the Yes movement in the foot by telling voters not to rank other parties (‘How can a land of plenty energy be in fuel poverty?’, Apr 29).

I concur. It seems a peculiar own goal, given the single transferable vote system unique to these council elections. If you don’t vote till you boak, the effect is to favour Unionist candidates. And, in terms of the broader referendum campaign, we need as many pro-indy representatives as possible.

I regret the divergence between the SNP and Alba, the party Salmond set up for the May 2021 Holyrood election. Salmond proposed then a super-majority of pro-independence parties, but Alba got just 1.7% of the list vote. The SNP leadership will have nothing to do with Alba, while many in the new party are at odds with some SNP policies, especially on gender reform.

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Imagine Salmond and Sturgeon still together. The brilliant strategist and the consummate tactician united, leading the drive for independence. And more than that – those disenchanted with SNP inertia who’ve joined Alba, or just drifted off, all working alongside the loyal foot soldiers who’ve stayed, slogging away for the cause.

Dream on. Not going to happen. Yet don’t the SNP need a partner or partners to challenge and push them on the core aims of the movement? Are they too used to exercising power single-handed? Going solo might be admirable in some ways, but now seems a disadvantage. So, if not Alba, who? The Greens have priorities even more urgent than getting out of the rotten-to-the-core United Kingdom.

At the heart of all this is the pace of progress towards independence. The Unionist jibe – get on with the day job – is now, for many restless indy supporters, the main problem. The SNP leadership is consumed by managing the system.

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And why wouldn’t they be? Mitigating the worst ravages of Tory rule and coping, hands tied by the constitution, with the day-to-day running of a country – it’s more than a full-time job. Besides, that was always part of the plan: gentle persuasion of waverers by deeds rather than words.

What’s more, it’s worked, up to a point. Most people think Holyrood has made a better job of things than Westminster.

Nobody’s perfect. There have been several own goals – the ferries fiasco, BiFab, Prestwick, underselling offshore wind etc. Piecemeal public investments have been, as George Kerevan wrote recently in The National, reactive rather than strategic.

Add in events like Brexit, Covid, Ukraine and inflation, plus the Tory demolition mob, and we can see that we’ve come as far as devolution can get us.

We’re eight years on from indyref1 and 15 since the SNP started to govern. Time makes fools of us all; our only comfort is that greater shall come after us, said Scottish mathematician and writer ET Bell.

For months, if not years now, polls have shown how evenly divided the people of Scotland are. We’re stuck unless we get to choose independence (or not). It’s no longer enough to govern. To break out of this impasse we need to aim for the higher goal of independence and we need a target date to get things moving.

’Mon Nicola, name the day – now!

Paul Bassett

BEING filled with bonhomie and goodwill to all by the lengthening of evenings and the spring sunshine, I feel this is a good time to thank Nicola Sturgeon for her leadership during the Covid crisis. She deserves a relaxing holiday.

Unfortunately politics is a hard task-master and council elections loom, with a possible referendum on the horizon as well. Tony Kime of Kelso writes in The National asking whether he should vote SNP or Green (Letters, Apr 29). Twenty years ago I paced up and down outside the polling place asking myself the same question and decided SNP, but the Green agenda has become an overwhelming necessity. There can be no doubt now that survival is the priority.

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However, there is no need to relent on independence. The Scottish Greens are committed to it, as are Alba and the Scottish Socialists. The SNP are set on achieving freedom by governing well and overcoming the constant criticism of the three Unionist parties by reason and competence. This, as Tony Kime may feel, has blunted their edge. For example they seem to be on the ropes over the new ferries.

Alex Salmond, if in parliament, would have made a riposte with his point that the the selling off of Scottish wind cheap was a much greater mistake, or that resource-rich Scotland is suffering fuel poverty. I therefore cannot wait until all the independence parties take over first local government and then the independent parliament – for surely the Unionist parties have forfeited all expectation of future representation by their fight against Scottish democracy – and we can enjoy the SSP and Alba grilling the Green First Minister and an SNP Finance Secretary in a future blissful Scottish spring time.

Iain WD Forde

REGARDING the Alex Salmond Alba interview. He must never have read the contract for the sale of the Scottish Crown sea bed for wind farms. It was an auction for the LEASE for a certain time, not a one-off sale.

William Purves