YOUR reader James Ormiston’s spectacular view of a tugboat on the Clyde (Picture of the Day, Aug 12) must have been secured by luck. It is taken through a train window; typically, a train passenger these days would find their views of the Clyde blocked by a window pillar, or misaligned seats on the opposite side of the carriage.

Ever since some bean counter decided in the 1970s that eight more seats had to be stuffed in to the standard class carriages of InterCity 125’s, railway rolling stock designers seem to have been obsessed with blocking passengers’ views of the scenery by putting seats in exactly the wrong relationship to carriage windows. This is apparent anywhere from the Clyde estuary to Caithness.

At that time at least it could be blamed on BR engineers based in England. The sad thing is that the practice has persisted even when the layout of new or refurbished carriages has been wholly at the discretion of the Scottish Government. It makes nonsense of the endless press releases promising “tourist friendly” trains for our scenic routes and is yet another example (among many) of how we are failing to exploit the powers that devolution has given us.

You only have to look at one of Michael Portillo’s programmes about overseas railways, or take a trip on one of our own heritage railways, to realise how Scotland’s railway is failing to make best use of one of the country’s unique selling points for visitors – the scenery. (“The finest of its kind”, according to The Corries).

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Andrew McCracken

Grantown on Spey

I FOUND your coverage in “Seven Days” of Benjamin Wray’s book enraging and completely inappropriate. There are plenty other “Scottish” Sunday newspapers in which it would

have sat very nicely. It appears mainly to be trying to revive a couple of dead Unionist arguments and no doubt there are some folk out there who will get involved in worrying about them.

In my life in the SNP since 1959 I have not once been asked about currency and I know of none of the countries marching to independence which missed a step on the issue.

The options are limitless and of course as sterling is a freely traded international currency we can use it as long as we like. Which is the SNP position. As we negotiate our way out the Union (independence is a process, not an event) and set up our own bank we will continue initially to use Sterling and an independent Scottish Government will at an appropriate time make its decision on this issue.

The SNP policy is to have our own currency at the right time and that makes sense though there is a feasible argument in favour of adopting the euro. It is possible of course to run a dual currency as some countries do. What this argument is designed to do is to frighten the naive and I am very glad to see the SNP giving it no oxygen.

And the notion that the UK would try to stop Scotland using sterling is absurd and would seriously damage the UK and sterling. Some of our voters however need to be assured that as they vote for independence on the Thursday their money will be the same on the Friday morning.

The SNP are and have been entirely straight forward about the nuclear submarine base. But it has to be removed over a period of time and there will be an ongoing issue also of the removal of dangerous elements stored in the hills around the base. There are no easy solutions here.

What I find intensely irritating is the blinkered nonsense from some political commentators who do not seem to understand that it is utterly amazing that after decades of daily pummelling in all the media, broadcast and printed, and as the Unionist case collapses and Labour in Scotland implode, the SNP and the case for independence is in a such commanding position and they don’t seem to be able to recognise this.

Dave McEwan Hill

Sandbank. Argyll

POLITICAL commentators have been saying for a few years that the Conservative Party has morphed into an extremist right-wing party. After hearing some of the comments from the leadership contenders, there can be no denying the fact.

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Anybody with a little interest in history will tell you that dictatorships creep in via the backdoor because those standing up for democracy and fairness are shouted down and the opposition leaders are denounced as an annoyance to be walked all over.

Within a very short period, a dictator emerges, then policies get enacted – often on the whim of the leader – and everybody is expected to hail the leader as a hero for saving the country.

When you see how much personal wealth the Conservative MPs have who are backing the two contenders for the leader’s role, they have no idea how ordinary people have to live or what they actually want. You can’t turn round and tell me that these two are the best they can offer the country, and hopefully Scotland can achieve our independence before the worst of the damage they will inflict on us is reached.

Alexander Potts