AS the excellent Andrew Tickell observes in the Sunday National, the SNP’s recent successes in the local elections are all the more remarkable when considering the media’s overwhelmingly hostile antipathy to the party (Press is set to crown Sarwar despite leader revealing his lack of savvy, May 8). The party, or indeed the Scottish Government, is rarely shown in a good light, even when the factual evidence of their achievements is undeniable. By contrast, the disastrous performance of the Conservative party is either ignored or discounted as mid-term blues – a transparent effort to change the narrative from the social and economic travails that currently stalk the UK.

The billionaire owners of the largely right-wing press share tangible responsibility for the nefarious disaster that is Brexit and the nurturing of a xenophobic and menacing English nationalism. The corrupt and mendacious inhabitant of 10 Downing Street is their man, moulded in their own amoral image, and they will endeavour to keep him there irrespective of rising levels of inflation, fuel prices and genuine poverty.

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They dream of a 19th-century economic ideological nirvana, where deregulation is the order of the day and workers’ rights are non-existent. The hard Brexit they advocated has unleashed a far-right, dogmatic Pandora’s Box espoused by a Conservative party that houses extremist immigration policies and is led by an arrogant and entitled Prime Minister and Chancellor who care nothing for those unfortunate enough to be born outside of their obscenely wealthy bubble and who are careering the UK off an economic, social and political cliff edge like an odious latter-day Thelma and Louise.

The Scottish media will, as Mr Tickell suggests, continue to try to belittle the Scottish Government and the First Minister and seek to revise their support for the insubstantial and unsophisticated Anas Sarwar, the Scottish Labour leader, who is currently claiming that their second-worst result in local elections is an encouraging victory of sorts.

Lightweight Douglas Ross will doubtless be a sacrificial lamb in the immediate future as a punishment for hiding behind his buddy Ruth and for being just not very good at his job. Presumably the so-called Scottish quality press, represented by The Scotsman and The Herald, will embellish the credentials of Scottish Tory party stooges like the vacuous Annie Wells or the gibbering Stephen Kerr so we can all enjoy their political demise in the months ahead.

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As the UK staggers towards a recession, the media cannot forever conceal the obvious. This draconian Conservative government is presiding over the most challenging political and economic conditions for at least a generation. A self-inflicted Brexit in tandem with the effects of the pandemic has wounded the economy badly, but a philosophically intransigent government offers little or no support to ordinary people.

Northern Ireland has taken its first baby steps in offering a vision of reunification and Wales has rejected the Tory party from all its local councils. The Union now stands on a historical knife edge and Scotland must now do all it can to disentangle itself from this self-serving and antediluvian charade.

Owen Kelly

I WOULD like to make a small but important correction to the heading of the article “Complaints after polling station is ‘covered’ in UK flags” as it appeared in the print edition on Friday. I did not say that the polling station was “covered” in Union flags. I said “festooned”, which is quite different.

In fact the offensive display was two quite large crossed Union flags prominently displayed at the focal point in the hall. The returning officer agreed that this constituted a political statement that is not allowed inside or attached to the outside of a polling station. The displays do not need to be extensive nor to cover the hall.

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Why is it important? The message from such displays is that you are voting on Unionist premises. Your ability to vote is provided by Unionists; the community is Unionist and by voting in a different way you are betraying your own community.

It is the Tories and the Unionists who have fetishised the Union flag. It is their diktat that has stuck the thing on everything from car number plates to packs of supermarket lamb. Every government minister who makes a televised statement is practically draped in the thing. It is they who have made the flag a symbol of division rather than inclusion.

So a precedent has been set that displays of Unionist symbols including the Union flag are not allowed.

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The other thing to say is that I was not a representative of any candidate. I am not a member of any political party, nor in fact was any party I come close to even standing. So anyone can complain.

This was a local election in a small village but the implications are much bigger. Next year we will be voting for our independence. If you think the Tories and Unionists aren’t that Machiavellian then you are naive. Next year, if your polling station has Union flags or other symbols then complain. Complain in person to the staff on duty at the polling station and follow it up online to the returning officer as soon as you can. You will find them through the local council website. Don’t leave it to someone else. Let’s keep our polling stations neutral.

Ian Richmond

THE results of the recent Scottish council elections clearly indicate the SNP are undoubtedly top of the poll, the dominant force in Scottish affairs. The people of Scotland have said yet again: “We want away, we want to run our own affairs, we are well and truly scunnered with Westminster.” So stop the dithering, Nicola. The shilly shallying must end. Get a move on ... you have a clear mandate. ... act on it!

Robin MacLean
Fort Augustus