SADLY, polling day in the local elections brought with it another of the regular letters from Cliff Purvis, apparently the leader of Veterans for Independence. In true military style it was yet another all-out, over-the-top, frontal attack on Alex Salmond and the Alba party, including use the rather offensive term “fifth columnists”.

I am not sure how one becomes leader of Veterans for Independence, I don’t remember hearing about any elections to the post, so it is difficult to judge who he is speaking on behalf of or even how many are actually enlisted (pun intended) in the organisation.

Apparently Mr Purvis served for 24 years, much of it overseas, with the Queen’s Own Highlanders & Royal Army Medical Corps. In an online video, dressed in his tartan waistcoat, Glengarry on his head and with medals proudly on display, he admits to having been “like most squaddies, very apolitical.”

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Since leaving Her Majesty’s armed forces he has clearly decided that online politics and letter-writing is his new role in life. Perhaps he was serving overseas as an apolitical squaddie when the likes of Alex Salmond and many of those ex-SNP members who have joined Alba were campaigning in the years from the 1970s to get the SNP to where it is today.

Mr Purvis regularly mocks the current small popular support for Alba but he would do well to remember that pre-1970 and pre-Salmond, the SNP were in a similar situation. Not so very long ago the electoral positions of the Labour Party (Scottish Branch) and the current SNP government were reversed. The SNP should really try to remember that fact.

I have been following with interest the folk who are actively involved with the Alba party. I met some of them on the campaign trail and at SNP conferences over the past 40 years. I counted a few as friends. I am sure they have not found it easy to leave a party they spent most of their adult lives supporting both financially and organisationally.

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I have spoken to some of them and they are genuine folk with genuine fears over the policy direction and lack of progress towards independence of the current SNP leadership.

If the promised 2023 referendum fails to materialise, as I fear will be the case, the SNP and its leadership will have a lot of explaining to do.

The Alba party might then become an attractive home for many more non-armed forces veteran SNP members.

Iain Wilson

YET another bitter letter from Cliff Purvis attacking Alba, this time for Alex Salmond’s advice to reject the SNP’s call to vote only for the SNP in the local elections.

Yet no criticism from Mr Purvis of senior SNP politicians such as Pete Wishart (April 19) or Alyn Smith (May 4) for giving the same “vote till you boak” advice in The National, which indeed used the same statement as the front-page headline on election day itself.

Honest debate within the independence movement strengthens the cause for self-determination but personal attacks such as those repeatedly made by Mr Purvis only help Unionists.

He also fails to recognise that when Alex Salmond was First Minister the SNP was the broad political wing of the independence movement.

One consequence of Nicola Sturgeon’s actions and inaction during her tenure as leader of the SNP has been to convince many committed activists that other political parties are necessary if we are ever to achieve self-determination.

Michael Baldry